Monthly Archives: February 2015

The Last Ten Movies I Saw

1. Actress (Greene)
2. N: The Madness of Reason (Kruger)
3. Life of Riley (Resnais)
4. A History of Violence (Cronenberg)
5. Silver Linings Playbook (Russell)
6. Menace II Society (Hughes/Hughes)
7. The Lady Eve (Sturges)
8. The Awful Truth (McCarey)
9. Brief Encounter (Lean)
10. Actress (Greene)

Robert Greene’s Actress / Bob Dylan and the Oscars


Opening at the Siskel Center tonight is Robert Greene’s Actress, an astonishing documentary/melodrama hybrid about Brandy Burre, a real-life actress (best known for a role on HBO’s The Wire) who attempts to reinvent herself as a housewife and mother. It’s one of the best non-fiction films I’ve seen in recent years and I couldn’t recommend it more highly. Find out why by peeping my review at Cine-File Chicago:

Also, I have a few words about the songs of Bob Dylan in this year’s Oscar-nominated films at Time Out Chicago:

The Last Ten Movies I Saw

1. Le Pont du Nord (Rivette)
2. L.A. Confidential (Hanson)
3. Bringing Up Baby (Hawks)
4. The Roaring Twenties (Walsh)
5. Man with the Movie Camera (Vertov)
6. Freaks (Browning)
7. Casablanca (Curtiz)
8. The Last Seduction (Dahl)
9. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (Hawks)
10. Gemma Bovery (Fontaine)

Kevin B. Lee’s Transformers: The Premake / Flickering Empire News Roundup


At Time Out Chicago today, I have a review of Kevin B. Lee’s Transformers: The Premake, an astonishing 25-minute video essay that interrogates the role of social media in the making and releasing of Hollywood blockbusters. Released online last year, it has also just screened at the recently concluded Berlin International Film Festival. You can both read my review and watch Kevin’s short in its entirety by clicking on this link:

In Flickering Empire news, Adam Selzer and I conducted an interview with Transistor Chicago’s Andy Miles for his webcast to promote the official book release party this Saturday night. Out of the four audio interviews we’ve jointly done, this one is by far my favorite; Andy asked good questions and the mood is fun and relaxed. Listen to the 20-minute interview and then come out to our book talk/book signing at Transistor. This free BYOB event will include the screening of four Chicago-shot silent films (An Awful Skate, The Roller Skate Craze, From the Submerged and His New Job), all of which will be live-scored by Chicago saxophonist Labrat:

There’s also a nice story about the book in today’s Chicago Tribune (with a couple quotes from yours truly):

And, finally, here’s a superb review by Chicagoist‘s Joel Wicklund, who says that Flickering Empire “immediately joins the ranks of essential film references”:

Stephen Cone’s Black Box / Memories of Underdevelopment


At Time Out Chicago yesterday, I posted a review of Stephen Cone’s haunting backstage drama Black Box, one of the best locally produced indies of recent years. It premiered in 2013 but is newly available to rent or stream from the enterprising distributor Devolver Digital. Read all about it here:

At Cine-File today, I have a review of Tomas Gutierrez Alea’s 1968 Cuban masterpiece Memories of Underdevelopment. It screens next Thursday at 7pm at the Black Cinema House. As I say in my review, “What better way to celebrate the United States’ recent re-establishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba than by watching the film considered the greatest ever produced under Fidel Castro’s regime?” More here:


The Last Ten Movies I Saw

1. Far From Heaven (Haynes)
2. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Wiene)
3. M (Lang)
4. Redes (Muriel/Zinneman)
5. Her Aim is True (Whitehead)
6. Manuscripts Don’t Burn (Rasoulof)
7. Double Indemnity (Wilder)
8. Every Man for Himself (Godard)
9. City Girl (Murnau)
10. Dancer in the Dark (Von Trier)

Sara Vaux on Clint Eastwood / Celine Sciamma’s Girlhood


At Time Out Chicago yesterday, I interviewed Sara Vaux, author of the fine new book Clint Eastwood: A Biography. In our brief e-chat, she does an eloquent job of defending American Sniper, a film released after her book went to press. I highly recommend both Vaux’s book and Eastwood’s movie (the latter especially to those who’ve been circulating articles and memes about it on social media without actually watching it). Peep the interview here:

I also have something old and something new to recommend in today’s Cine-File: Michael Curtiz’s immortal Casablanca turns up for a single screening at the Park Ridge Classic Film Series next Tuesday night and Celine Sciamma’s Girlhood opens at the Siskel Center for a one-week run beginning tonight. You can read my reviews for both films here:

I’d like to spare a few additional words for Sciamma’s film because I feel that, unlike Casablanca, it may need a little push to find the audience it deserves. When was the last time you saw a film with a black teenage girl as its protagonist? Never? This coming-of-age story, chock-full of the kind of naturalistic performances in which French filmmakers seem to specialize, is warm and wise and captures life in the banlieues in a way that you’ve never quite seen before. I was quite taken with it and so I’m linking to a clip of the best scene below, in which the main characters get drunk and dance to a Rihanna song. Featuring gorgeous blue-tinted lighting, ‘Scope framing and exuberant performances, it’s a two-minute blast of pure cinema:

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