In episode 16 of the White City Cinema Radio Hour, I welcome my Chicago Independent Film Critics Circle brethren Jason Coffman (The Daily Grindhouse) and Daniel Nava (Chicago Cinema Circuit) back to the program to discuss the year in film. In this 85-minute “super-sized episode,” we each talk up our top five favorite films of the year as well as engage in a lively discussion of encouraging and discouraging cinematic trends and the most underrated and overrated movies of 2016. This episode was recorded in front of a live studio audience while beer and homemade peanut-butter cookies were consumed!
The episode can be streamed for free on the Transistor Chicago website.
In today’s Cine-File listing, I have a new review of Long Way North, my favorite animated film of the year (barring Tower, a non-fiction film that mixes rotoscoped animation with live action). I’m reproducing the review in its entirety below:
Remi Chaye’s LONG WAY NORTH (New French Animation)
This delightful French/Danish co-production, the directorial debut of one Remi Chaye, sneaks into the Gene Siskel Film Center just in the nick of time to claim the title of best new animated film to play Chicago in 2016. LONG WAY NORTH is a rollicking adventure story that centers on Sasha (voiced by Christa Theret and Chloe Dunn), a 15-year-old girl in 19th century Russia who defies the wishes of her aristocratic parents and sets out for the North Pole to look for her grandfather, an explorer who went missing there while on an expedition during the previous year. The grandfather’s reputation is at stake since his ship, the Davai, was supposed to be “unsinkable” and his ill-fated mission has branded him a laughingstock and a failure. While the story is alternately poignant and thrilling, and likely to give young viewers a genuine and welcome dose of grrrl power, the real star of the show is the beautiful hand-drawn animation; Chaye got his start in filmmaking as one of the layout artists on Jean-Francois Laguionie’s THE ISLAND OF BLACK M’OR (2004), which LONG WAY NORTH resembles both in its conception as an almost Herzogian young-adult adventure on the high seas as well as in its early comic-book style of illustration, where clean lines and broad, clearly separated planes of color create bold and indelible graphic images. LONG WAY NORTH will screen at the Siskel in both its original French-language version with English subtitles and in an English-dubbed version. Check the venue’s website for detailed information on the showtimes of each version. (2015, 81 min, DCP Digital) MGS
On Sunday, December 18, Transistor Chicago will host the first ever LIVE recording of my White City Cinema Radio Hour podcast. This event, which is open to the public and BYOB, will feature me talking with fellow critics Jason Coffman (Daily Grindhouse) and Daniel Nava (Chicago Cinema Circuit) about the year in movies. All three of us will discuss our top five favorite films of the year — with commentary — as well as engage in what is sure to be a lively discussion of the most encouraging and discouraging cinematic trends in 2016. WCCRH listeners may recall that Jason and Daniel were on my year-end show in 2015 and that, miraculously, none of us had any of the same titles in our personal top fives. Will that happen again this year? Show up to Transistor in Andersonville this Sunday night to find out! I’ll be bringing homemade peanut-butter cookies and beer.
The sixth episode of the White City Cinema Radio Hour is now online. I had a lot of fun talking with film critics Jason Coffman (The Daily Grindhouse) and Daniel Nava (Chicago Cinema Circuit) about the year in movies. We each count down our top five favorite films of the year — with commentary — as well as engage in a lively discussion of the most overrated and underrated films of the year. Incredibly, there was no overlap in our top five lists! You can listen to the episode on the Transistor site here (it will also be up on iTunes shortly).
In other news, I will be introducing a screening of Vincente Minnelli’s Some Came Running at Transistor this Saturday evening to celebrate the Sinatra Centennial. Here is the description I wrote for the website:
Saturday night film screening: Chicago independent filmmaker, author and film studies instructor Michael Glover Smith presents Some Came Running on the Sinatra Centennial. 8:00 p.m. Free, BYOB.
Come celebrate Frank Sinatra’s 100th birthday at this special Transistor screening of Vincente Minnelli’s 1958 masterpiece ‘Some Came Running.’ While Ol’ Blue Eyes will always justly be remembered first and foremost as one of our greatest singers, this classic melodrama proves that he also had positively Brando-esque acting chops. In Minnelli’s boldly stylized adaptation of a James Jones novel, Sinatra plays Dave Hirsh, a writer and Army vet who struggles to re-adjust to civilian life after returning to his hometown of Parkman, Indiana. Joining him are Dean Martin and Shirley MacLaine in juicy supporting roles, making this the first and best of the ‘Rat Pack’ movies.
Hope to see you there!