Best Films of 2016

1. Moonlight (Barry Jenkins, U.S.) — A masterpiece on many levels, the deeply engaging and empathetic Moonlight has extraordinary writing, acting, directing, cinematography, sound and music. The central character barely speaks a word at times, but the three actors playing him at various ages still manage to communicate so much with Continue Reading

Favorite Films of 2015

1. World of Tomorrow Yes, it’s a short film, so few people would put in the same category with the year’s best feature films. But independent American animator Don Hertzfeldt’s 17-minute masterpiece is the most original, affecting and memorable piece of cinema I saw all year. A science fiction story Continue Reading

Best Films of 2010

Here, belatedly, are my choices for the best films of 2010. Even now, I feel like I’m not quite ready to decide on my list, since there are several significant, critically praised films I haven’t had a chance to see. But like any year-end list, this is just a snapshot Continue Reading

Best films of 2009

A SERIOUS MAN (Joel Coen) — In this brilliant black comedy, the Coen Brothers pose philosophical questions as they drag their poor protagonist through one humiliation after another, ending it all with a beautifully enigmatic shot. THE WHITE RIBBON (Michael Haneke) — A haunting portrait of a small town in Continue Reading

Best films of the decade

THERE WILL BE BLOOD (2007, Paul Thomas Anderson, U.S.) — A masterpiece on many levels: Visceral cinematography that makes you feel like you’re out standing there in the landscape by those oil wells. That amazing performance by Daniel Day-Lewis as a despicable, yet somehow charismatic man with just a few Continue Reading

Patti Smith at the Block

A rock icon who hates being called a rock icon, Patti Smith, was at the Block Museum of Art in Evanston last night (Jan. 30), where director Steven Sebring’s documentary about her, “Patti Smith: Dream of Life,” was being shown. I was privileged to sit in on a press conference Continue Reading

Best Films of 2008

1. MAN ON WIRE (Philippe Petit) – The act of walking on a tightrope suspended between the towers of the World Trade Center might seem like a pointless stunt, but in this documentary, it comes to feel like an amazing achievement, a strange testament to what people can accomplish when Continue Reading

Interview with Guy Maddin

My interview with director Guy Maddin, whose film Brand Upon the Brain! just came out on DVD from Criterion, is up today at the PopMatters web site. It has to rank up there with the strangest interviews I’ve ever done.

In the City of Sylvia

The Gene Siskel Film Center’s annual European Union festival is ending, and, alas, I managed to see only a few of this year’s films. One of them was the remarkable In the City of Sylvia (En la Ciudad de Sylvia) by Spanish director José Luis Guerín. This profound film is Continue Reading

Best films of 2007

1. THERE WILL BE BLOOD (Paul Thomas Anderson) – I waited until this movie opened in Chicago Jan. 4 before I finished my 2007 list, and I’m glad I did. (Arguably, if you go by Chicago release dates, this one should be saved for the 2008 list, but I’m sticking Continue Reading

Tortoise does Nosferatu

Dissonant, atonal and avant-garde music shows up occasionally in one cramped corner of mainstream pop culture: horror and science-fiction film soundtracks. It sounds like scary stuff to most ears, making it the perfect accompaniment to looming vampires or psychosis. And so it seems fitting that the instrumental group Tortoise attracted Continue Reading

Chicago Film Fest

Some thoughts on movies I saw at the recent Chicago International Film Festival: All the Invisible Things (Heile Welt) – This Austrian film was a real find, a total surprise for me. I hadn’t read any reviews of it. The only reason I went was my interest in Austria and Continue Reading

Lights in the Dusk

Lights in the Dusk quietly came and went here in Chicago last month, playing one week at the Gene Siskel Film Center. Nevertheless, I still feel the need to proclaim the glories of this film, one of my favorites of 2007 so far. The latest gem from one of the Continue Reading

David Lynch at the Music Box

(Photo by DTA Photography (VL) from Flicker.) Sitting in a big, red chair in front of the Music Box Theatre’s old red curtains, David Lynch raised one of his hands in a fluttering motion. Those fingers kept twitching as he spoke, answering audience questions after a screening of his new Continue Reading

New Films and DVDs

Some upcoming films I’ve seen: “Memoirs of a Geisha” — sumptious, beautiful, likely to be popular, but I found myself a little skeptical about it all. I mean, while it may be well researched, it is based on a book by a white American guy, directed by a white American guy Continue Reading