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‘Last Laugh’ A Controversial Comedy At Chicago Film Festival

November 1st, 2016
Director Ferne Pearlstein

NOTE: Nationally known film critic Connie Corcoran Wilson is providing coverage of this year’s Chicago International Film Festival for QuadCities.com. The Last Laugh by Director Ferne Pearlstein provoked crowds at the Chicago International Film Festival by mining tragedy for comedy with one of the most infamous tragedies of the 20th century. Can the Holocaust be funny? Is “Springtime for Hitler” in bad taste, and, if it is, should we not have laughed at it in Mel Brooks’ “The Producers”? It’s a great concept. At times, the documentary is funny and witty. It discusses decades of humor... Read More

‘Bright Lights’ Is A Shining Masterpiece At The Chicago Film Festival

October 27th, 2016
‘Bright Lights’ Is A Shining Masterpiece At The Chicago Film Festival

“Bright Lights,” a documentary from Fisher Stevens (Oscar-winning “The Cove”) and his wife Alexis Bloom played the Chicago Film Festival and was absolutely one of my favorite films of the entire festival. It is the story of screen icons Debbie Reynolds (“Singin’ in the Rain”) and Carrie Fisher (“Star Wars”) showing two generations of show business life in a fantastically entertaining warts-and-all portrait as they battle aging, celebrity and each other. Fisher Stevens told us on the Red Carpet, “Carrie called me to film her and her mother and she thought it might be kind of... Read More

Oscar-Winning McQueen A Gracious Interview And Award Winner

October 26th, 2016
Oscar-Winning McQueen A Gracious Interview And Award Winner

NOTE: Nationally known film critic Connie Corcoran Wilson is providing coverage of this year’s Chicago International Film Festival for QuadCities.com. British director Steve McQueen came to Chicago to receive an award on the 20th anniversary of the Chicago International Film Festival’s Black Perspectives program. Jacqueline Najuma Stewart, professor of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago, interviewed him onstage. Prior to Ms. Stewart’s questioning, McQueen spoke to us on the Red Carpet and answering a question about the climactic hanging scene in “12 Years A Slave,”... Read More

Danny Glover’s ’93 Days’ Is A Tough, Taut Medical Thriller

October 26th, 2016
Danny Glover’s ’93 Days’ Is A Tough, Taut Medical Thriller

NOTE: Nationally known film critic Connie Corcoran Wilson is providing coverage of this year’s Chicago International Film Festival for QuadCities.com. 93 Days Genre: Medical Thriller 124 minutes Director: Steve Guka Actors:  Danny Glover, Abimbola Akintola, Zara Udofia Actor Danny Glover (“Lethal Weapon”) came to Chicago to support the Nigerian film “93 Days,” a tough, taut medical thriller, and received the Chicago International Film Festival’s Visionary Award from Cinema Chicago founder Michael Kutza. The film, directed by Nigerian director Steve Gukas, is based in truth and deals... Read More

‘Small Enough To Jail’ A Powerful Return For ‘Hoop Dreams’ Creator

October 26th, 2016
‘Small Enough To Jail’ A Powerful Return For ‘Hoop Dreams’ Creator

NOTE: Nationally known film critic Connie Corcoran Wilson is providing coverage of this year’s Chicago International Film Festival for QuadCities.com. Abacus:  Small Enough to Jail Genre:  Documentary 88 minutes Director:  Steve James (“Hoop Dreams”) As the Cinema Chicago program said, this is a saga of the Chinese immigrant Sung family who own and run the Abacus Federal Savings Bank in New York’s Chinatown. I remember reading the Matt Taibbi investigative piece on this case when it came out, which is in his book “The Divide.” (Taibbi’s last investigative work gave birth to the... Read More

‘The Oath’ Is A Winner From Start To Finish

October 25th, 2016
‘The Oath’ Is A Winner From Start To Finish

NOTE: Nationally known film critic Connie Corcoran Wilson is providing coverage of this year’s Chicago International Film Festival for QuadCities.com. The Oath Genre: Thriller Director:  Baltasar Kormakur 110 minutes Actors:  Baltasar Kormakur (Finner), Hera Hilmer (Anna), and Gisli Orn Gardarsson (Ottar) This film from Iceland (with English subtitles) was my favorite drama from the 52nd Chicago International Film Festival. Directed by Baltasar Kormakur, who also directed the Hollywood films “Everest”, ‘Contraband” and “2 Guns,” this action-packed story of a successful heart surgeon ... Read More

An Interview In Chicago With Another Famous Siskel – Charlie Siskel

October 19th, 2016
An Interview In Chicago With Another Famous Siskel – Charlie Siskel

“American Anarchist”: A Q&A with Director Charles Siskel Documentary filmmaker Charlie Siskel (nephew of Gene) has a new documentary set to be released in March that should earn him an Academy Award nomination, just as his work on “Finding Vivian Maier” did. Speaking to viewers at the Chicago International Film Festival on Saturday, Oct. 15, Siskel, who was a field producer on “Bowling for Columbine” in 2002, told the audience that this was only the third time showing the film. (It premiered at the Venice Film Festival August 31st and then showed at the Hampton Film Festival.) Chicago,... Read More

Don’t Bother With ‘Last Days of the City’

October 18th, 2016
Don’t Bother With ‘Last Days of the City’

This requiem for a lost Cairo follows Khalid, a filmmaker, in December, 2009, as he attempts to complete a film that is pieced together from footage of his hospitalized mother, his neighborhood, his girlfriend Laila and 2 friends, and street events, all caught on the eve of an approaching revolution. For Khalid and his compatriots, life will never be the same, nor will Cairo. THE GOOD I was eager to see this glimpse of Cairo, Egypt, before the Arab Spring toppled Mubarek. I felt this was as close to the Middle East as I would ever get. All the countries mentioned—Egypt, Turkey, Yemen, Jordan,... Read More

Gosling, Stone’s ‘La La Land’ Opens Chicago Film Festival With Musical Bang

October 17th, 2016
la-la-land Chicago Film Fest - Quad Cities

“La La Land”—that place where “they worship everything and they value nothing” (i.e., Hollywood and Los Angeles)—is the subject of Writer/Director Damien Chazell’s third film, following on the heels of his highly acclaimed “Whiplash” with Miles Teller. (Bad teacher J.K. Simmons even has a bit part in this one as Gosling’s boss in a supper club). Miles Teller was originally supposed to play the lead in “La La Land,” Chazell’s attempt to make a musical like those from “the old days.” This is where I’m supposed to sing the merits of musicals of old (“Singin’... Read More

Chicago Film Festival Opens With One Of 2016’s Most Heralded Films

October 14th, 2016
Chicago Film Festival Opens With One Of 2016’s Most Heralded Films

Opening Night of the 52nd Chicago International Film Festival featured one of the year’s most heralded movies, a musical entitled “La La Land.” The film’s opening musical sequence set on a busy freeway ramp received a standing ovation at the August 31st Venice Film Festival and was equally warmly received in Telluride and Toronto. Emma Stone won the Best Actress Award for her role in “La La Land” in Toronto and Oscar buzz is not premature. Along with the Writer/Director of “La La Land,” Damien Chazelle, Rosemarie DeWitt, who plays Ryan Gosling’s... Read More