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Journal Archive


This week over at CINE-FILE Chicago, under "Also Recommended," I wrote about Armando Iannucci's THE DEATH OF STALIN, where the ironic intelligence, and essential humanity, of English farce runs up against its opposite, the humorless stupidity of authoritarianism. It plays this week at the Gene Siskel Film Center. 


GHOST HUNTING at 17th Annual Chicago Palestine Film Festival (on CINE-FILE Chicago)

This week at CINE-FILE Chicago I recommend Raed Andoni's GHOST HUNTING, which plays Saturday, April 28 at 8:15pm at the Gene Siskel Film Center as part of the 17th Annual Chicago Palestine Film Festival. It's a real surprise: a film about torture that comes to reaffirm your faith in the human spirit. To read my review, please go over to CINE-FILE Chicago. For more information, please head to Gene Siskel Film Center.


THE DESERT BRIDE at 34th Chicago Latino Film Festival (on CINE-FILE Chicago)

The week I recommend Cecilia Atán and Valeria Pivato's THE DESERT BRIDE, a wonderful film playing this week at the 34th Chicago Latino Film Festival. For showtimes and to read my review, please go to CINE-FILE Chicago.


THE KING at DOC10 2018 (on CINE-FILE Chicago)

For CINE-FILE Chicago, I wrote about Eugene Jarecki's stunning new Elvis Presley film, THE KING. (Scroll down to the "DOC10 Film Festival" section to see my writeup.) Consider not missing THE KING this weekend at DOC10 2018. It plays closing night, Sunday, April 8th at 7:45pm. For more information and the full schedule, please go to


21st Chicago European Union Film Festival (March 9-April 5, 2018), Report No. 2 (RAINBOW: A PRIVATE AFFAIR, ISMAEL'S GHOSTS, MISS KIET'S CHILDREN, KINCSEM—BET ON REVENGE)

The Gene Siskel Film Center's European Union Film Festival brings more cinematic fresh air to Chicago this week, as we continue celebrating the end of Winter and the beginning of Spring. In terms of the upcoming week's slate, I can reccomend the pictures below. For the entire schedule, please visit

Paolo Taviani's RAINBOW: A PRIVATE AFFAIR (Italy) is on Friday, 6:30pm and Wednesday, 6pm.

It's said that RAINBOW: A PRIVATE AFFAIR will perhaps be the final film from Paolo and Vittorio Taviana, the venerable brothers whose credits include Padre Padrone (1977), The Night of the Shooting Stars (1982), and Caeser Must Die (2012). (Co-written by the brothers, their putative swan song finds Paolo receiving solo credit for direction.) If so, it's a haunting, memorable sendoff. The picture is based on the work of novelist Beppe Fenoglio ("Johnny The Partisan," "A Private Affair"), an Italian resistance fighter known for setting his stories in Italy's Piedmont region, in the foothills of the Alps. It's winter and there's fog, so much of it it's surreal, dreamlike. Moving through it, the men are like ghosts. In fact, perhaps the moviegoing experience Rainbow most put me in mind of is Kurosawa's Dreams, though its atmospheric and psychological resemblance to the beach scene in Apocalypse Now may be even more à propos. Fenoglio's protagonist, Milton (Luca Marinelli), a partisan, was a student before the war. He emerges from the fog to stumble upon the villa where he used to visit with Fulvia (Valentina Bellè), who was his unrequited love from Turin, and their mutual friend Giorgio (Lorenzo Richelmy). In what now seems like another life, they'd spin Fulvia's favorite song, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," Judy Garland's version, on the turntable. The score by the Taviani brothers' usual composers, Giuliano Taviani and Carmelo Travia, consistently teases the theme of "Rainbow," as if it is somewhere out there in the mists of Milton's consciousness, ever receding, a signpost to a lost time to which the shellshocked young man is always trying to find his way back. In a memory, we see Giorgio and Fulvia climbing a tree from Milton's point of view, taken further and further away from him up into its heights. Wafting about them, we hear those famous lyrics: "...way up high." When word reaches Milton that Giorgio, who'd also joined the partisans, has been captured by the fascists, he hunts obsessively, desperately, for a fascist to swap for his boyhood friend. He's haunted by a rumor that the two people he loved most, Fulvia and Giorgio, may have been together behind his back. Fulvia and Giorgio must always remain enigmas, to us and, finally, to Milton. Rainbow contains one wordless scene, involving a little girl, that speaks volumes about the unspeakable nature of war.  Taviani's late style is serene. He composes in widescreen frames that are quiet, but for the howling wind, and quietly beautiful. The critic Adam Cook has called the Taviani brothers' style "magical (neo)realist," and that seems spot on. 
Arnaud Desplechin's ISMAEL'S GHOSTS (France) is on Saturday, 5:30pm and Thursday, 6pm.

"Arnaud Desplechin's sprawling, lovably shaggy ISMAEL'S GHOSTS fairly bursts with life and ideas."

To read the rest of my writeup, please head to CINE-FILE Chicago and scroll down to the section titled "EUROPEAN UNION FILM FESTIVAL at the Gene Siskel Film Center – Week Two."

Peter Lataster and Petra Lataster-Czisch's MISS KIET'S CHILDREN (Netherlands) is on Friday, 2pm and Sunday, 2pm.

"I needed a film like Peter Lataster and Petra Lataster-Czisch's MISS KIET'S CHILDREN about right now: a pro-human, pro-child film that is never "political," yet, in its quiet way, says more than any tract."

To read the rest of my writeup, please head to CINE-FILE Chicago and scroll down to the section titled "EUROPEAN UNION FILM FESTIVAL at the Gene Siskel Film Center – Week Two."

Gábor Herendi's KINCSEM—BET ON REVENGE (Hungary) is on Wednesday, 7:45pm and Saturday (March 24), 3pm 

"Jaunty, smashing entertainment, Gábor Herendi's KINCSEM—BET ON REVENGE is as irresistible as it is formulaic. Occasionally, it's just as interesting to see mainstream fare from the EU, such as this crowd-pleasing romance, as it is to see an art film."

To read the rest of my writeup, please head to CINE-FILE Chicago and scroll down to the section titled "EUROPEAN UNION FILM FESTIVAL at the Gene Siskel Film Center – Week Two."