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Column Fri Sep 04 2015

The Transporter Refueled, A Walk in the Woods, Queen of Earth, 7 Chinese Brothers, Meru, Rosenwald, Stray Dog & Bloodsucking Bastards


The Transporter Refueled

After three Jason Statham-starring Transporter films, I'm not sure why producer and co-writer Luc Besson felt the need to bring back the series without Statham. Granted, the films were adapted into a television series with another actor as well, but that almost makes sense to a degree. But the new driver/bodyguard Frank Martin (Ed Skrein of "Game of Thrones" and the villain Ajax in the upcoming Deadpool film), I'm not quite sure what the filmmakers had hoped to achieve. There's no debating Skrein is less of a personality and is far more generic looking than Stathan (Skrein might be taller), so the only possible excuse to make The Transporter Refueled is a cash grab on the series name. There, I've cracked it.

It's not that Besson and director Camille Delamarre (Brick Mansions; editor on Transporter 3, Colombiana and Taken 2, all Besson productions) don't make some effort; it's just that the effort is made entirely in staging the action scenes, with no real though given to an original plot or characters in whose fate we ever feel invested. And just to make sure we don't fall asleep due to all of this lack of effort or originality, Refueled is set in the world of Monaco's prostitution game, giving the filmmakers ample excuses to include beautiful, scantily clad women (although setting a PG-13-rated film in such an environment is about as exciting as a LEGO playset of Amsterdam's Red Light District — actually that sounds more interesting).

Refueled also attempts to give us a little history on Frank by bringing his equally shadowy father (Ray Stevenson of "Rome," Punisher: War Zone and the Thor films), who claims he's an Evian salesman, but historically always turns up in "transitioning" nations. A bit of Frank's British military background also surfaces when a former colleague, Arkady Karasov (Radivoje Bukvic), turns out to be the CEO of prostitution in all of Monaco. Frank is hired by Anna (Loan Chabanol), one of said call girls for a secret job that turns out to be robbing Karasov and his partners blind, while attempting to keep her identity a secret. Anna has three equally seductive partners that manage to get Frank to work for them beyond the parameters of their original deal by kidnapping his dad, and threatening to kill him if Frank doesn't help (dear old dad is actually kidnapped twice in the film, which makes his usefulness truly limited).

The rest of The Transporter Refueled is just chases and shooting, some of which is quite exciting, especially the car stunts down ridiculously narrow and winding streets. But action not tied to characters we care about is so empty and dull. Skrein is probably a decent actor, but when he's given stale one-liners and dialogue like "That wasn't part of the contract" to say over and over again (always answered by "We're changing the contract."), the film wears out its welcome at an alarming speed.

I'm not usually one to harp on product placement in film. It's a necessary evil, and I usually don't dwell on it. But the way the filmmakers profile the Audi cars that Frank drivers isn't so much car porn as car hand jobs (not to mention flagrant nods to American Express and Frank Sr.'s constant references to his job with Evian). And I realize that Dumas is too dead to collect royalties, but the hookers have modeled themselves after the Three Musketeers, complete with quotes and copies of the book scattered throughout the film. Who puts actual literature in a Transporter movies?!

If you're in the mood for other annoying and unnecessary references, the fact that Stevenson's character keeps calling Frank "Junior" doesn't exactly make it easy to ignore how much the film is pinching from a certain Indiana Jones film featuring Sean Connery. According to the credits, it took three people to write this film... three. Hell, even when the action gets good, the editing is so rapid that you lose your sense of geography, timing and direction, making all of that staging and stuntwork largely wasted.

Maybe Refueled coming so close on the heals of the latest Mission: Impossible film has soured me to anything that doesn't try to make the action comprehensible, but there are a couple of stunts here that don't make sense even using the loosest junk science and exaggerated physics. And while we're on the subject of science, let's talk about medicine — namely a scene in which one of women is gut shot and Stevenson reaches in, pulls out the bullet, uses COBWEBS to coagulate the blood, and she's back on her feet and fighting without so much as a visible Band-Aid the next day.

I think in the course of writing this review, I've talked myself into disliking this film even more. The action is average, the jokes aren't funny, and with the exception of Stevenson (barely), the performances are flat and uninspired. Extract the action scenes and combine them into a 25-minute short, then come back and see me.

A Walk in the Woods

If travel writer Bill Bryson's book A Walk in the Woods, about his attempted long walk (from Georgia to Maine) at an advanced age, strikes you as somewhat similar to Cheryl Strayed's story told in Wild, there's one colossal difference. Strayed made her walk on the Pacific Crest Trail because her life, in many way, depended on it. Bryson just did it so his old ass wouldn't feel quite so old. As portrayed by Robert Redford, Bryson just didn't like the way being retired felt, so he decided to abandon his lovely wife (Emma Thompson) and family for a few months to walk the Appalachian Trail with his long-lost friend Stephen Katz (Nick Nolte), the very definition of long-distance wheezing.

Directed by Ken Kwapis (He's Just Not That Into You, Big Miracle, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and many episodes of "The Office" and "Happyish") and adapted by Rick Kerb and Bill Holderman, A Walk in the Woods doesn't chronicle anything but late-age panic and selfishness. The stakes aren't high for Bryson, so we rarely care about those moments when he's contemplating quitting or at least driving part of the way. Then again, since director Kwapis seems to specialize in more comedic takes on life lessons, the film is largely played for laughs, with Nolte's out-of-shape Katz barely able to put one foot in front of the other, and the pair making jokes at each other's expense about their age.

Brief supporting appearances by the likes of Mary Steenburgen, Kristen Schaal and Nick Offerman are certainly welcome just as a change of scenery, but they don't offer much in the way of expanding our knowledge of the lead characters. In a strange twist, it's Katz that seems to need redemption more than Bryson needs to feel younger. Katz is borderline homeless, is running away from debts that he owes, and his young-buck days of womanizing and surviving on charm are long behind him. For him, this trip is partly about recapturing a bit of his youthful vigor. I'm not sure he succeeds, but at least someone is making an effort.

Naturally, there's a bear "attack," they do indulge themselves with hotel stays and restaurant meals every so often, and trip and fall into a racing river because they're old. Oh, the hilarity. I guess I'm not used to (or don't believe) Redford as someone who's meant to be rusty. The man is one of the healthiest older actors out there, and after seeing him a couple years ago survive on a sinking boat in All Is Lost, it's tough to buy him struggling though a hike in the woods. Making a Grumpy Old Men jokes is almost too easy for this one, but A Walk in the Woods is one or two pratfalls away from being that silly, and at least those two actors had a history to play off of. Granted, Redford originally wanted to make this film with his old pal Paul Newman, and that pairing would have been incredible. But Nolte is no slouch as an actor, and with better material and a more substantive director, this might have been something special.

Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine

Documentary film director Alex Gibney is certainly no stranger to covering controversial topics in his films, which include the Oscar-winning Taxi to the Dark Side, as well as The Armstrong Lie, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, We Steal Secrets (concerning Wikileaks), and from earlier this year, the scientology exposé Going Clear). But his latest work actually goes after a figure whose contribution to the world is so significant, it's still being assessed by most. Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine doesn't attempt to give us a complete portrait of the Apple co-founder, who passed away in 2011 at the age of 56. Instead, Gibney strives to understand the public outpouring of loss and emotion upon the death of Jobs, who in the end was a high-profile CEO interested in maximizing profits for his company's investors just like any other executive. So why was he different, when so many other corporate leaders are looked at as greedy and shady?

Using a great deal of archival material and interviews with former Apple employees and other who knew Jobs, the movie glides through his youth as an adopted child, an above-average tech wizard, and a kid who could somehow see several steps down the road of where computers were going. He believed early on that people would use computers for non-business, home purposes one day and quickly adopt a new way of living with home computing. Early on, Jobs established himself as the equivalent of the counterculture in the tech world — the famous photo of him giving the middle finger to the giant logo outside of IBM headquarters is a prime example of where his head was in the early years of Apple. He positioned the company as the underdog, which it was for a time... until it wasn't.

But as his subject tries to paint one picture of Apple, Gibney paints another one — or perhaps one to go alongside the sanctioned version (needless to say, Apple did not in any way participate with this film) — where Jobs takes ideas and passes them off as his own, where he treats long-time friends like dirt when it comes to monetizing products, and perhaps most bafflingly, where he treats his young daughter Lisa like she doesn't exist, denying she is his until a paternity test proves otherwise. An interview with his long-time girlfriend, Lisa's mother, is undeniably illuminating and casts the first of many chills over Jobs as a human being. Having been a child of adoption himself, his virtual abandonment of his own child is shocking.

The Man in the Machine spends about 90 minutes going through fairly standard-issue biographical information about Jobs and Apple, including his eventual ousting as Apple CEO, only to be re-hired years later. Gibney, who also narrates the film, tinges this chunk of the film with a few questioning moments, but the last 30 minutes is a complete teardown of the Apple "values" myth, presenting a couple of examples of the company's and Jobs's behavior that appear quite against the squeaky-clean images both had in the eyes of the public, including accusations of exploiting the Chinese workforce that builds Apple products and a scary story about a iPhone prototype that was lost, eventually landing in the hands of a tech website.

Gibney himself admits to loving his iPhone, of being a member of the cult of Apple and its user-friendly products. And watching footage of Jobs unveil the first iPod or iPhone or iPad might give you chills and thrills, the way it did stockholders and consumers alike. If you ever lined up for an Apple product, you're a prime audience member for this film. More than anything, The Man in the Machine gives very clear examples about how both Apple's products and the CEO were carefully crafted to represent something that may not have been totally truthful. The film opens today in Chicago at the Landmark Century Center Cinema

Queen of Earth

On the heels of his uproariously bitter comedy from last year, Listen Up Phillip, writer-director Alex Ross Perry brings out the explosive and tragic Queen of Earth, starring one of his Phillip stars, Elizabeth Moss ("Mad Men"), in a career-best performance as Catherine, who retreats to a friend's country vacation home to escape two emotionally destructive moments in her life — the death of her famous artist father and a breakup with her boyfriend (Kentucker Audley) — and spend quiet time talking to her best friend Virginia (Inherent Vice's Katherine Waterston).

But in a significant and spellbinding turn, the film also flashes back to a year earlier at the same cabin (actually owned by Virginia's wealthy family), when it was Virginia in need of time with her friend, and Catherine being unavailable due to her bringing said boyfriend with her unexpectedly, uninvited and certainly unwanted by Virginia. Queen of Earth drifts back and forth between the two time periods, setting up what can only be described as a passive-aggressive revenge scheme by Virginia to get back at being emotionally abandoned by her friend a year earlier.

Perry is not subtle about making certain the viewer is aware that this is a form of psychological torture, and the damage being done to Catherine as a result is very real. With the help of suspenseful music from Keegan DeWitt, haunting camera angles (courtesy of cinematographer Sean Price Williams, who shot on film), and Moss's own devastating performance, Perry wears his '60s-era Roman Polanski influences on his sleeve. The two women don't so much engage in verbal jousting, which would require some degree of deft phrasing and precision targeting; instead, they bludgeon each other with blunt instruments — insults, petty bickering, if they'd started pulling each other's hair, I would not have been surprised.

Perhaps the bluntest weapon in Virginia's arsenal to aggravate Catherine is Rich (Patrick Fugit of Almost Famous and Gone Girl), the handsome young neighbor who ends up spending most of his days hanging out, and eventually sleeping, with Virginia, taking up all of the time she might be spending with her needy friend, whose psyche is slowly slipping away. Virginia catches Catherine whispering conspiratorially on the phone to an unknown party, and we suspect that something is amiss. The most chilling moment comes when Catherine casually strolls up to Rich and says with the perfect blend of earnest and threat, "I could kill you and no one would know."

Queen of Earth is more about the damage done to both women than the cause of it. The camera lingers on Moss's blanched face when Waterston is berating her with just enough honest criticism that it might pass as constructive, but we know better. There comes a point where Virginia might realize that she's gone too far, and there's very little she can do to course correct Catherine's sanity at that point. In many ways, the film is about the type of emotional bullying that only people who truly love and know each other intimately can inflict. This is fearless filmmaking from Perry, who knows full well that some portion of his audience will likely loathe him and/or his characters. I'm guessing he's okay with that reaction; he's also smart enough to have designed the film exactly for those purposes. The film opens today in Chicago at the Music Box Theatre.

Queen of Earth director Alex Ross Perry and producer Joe Swanberg (who will also moderate) will take part in a Q&A at the Music Box Theatre on Saturday, Sept. 5, after the 7pm screening; Perry will also be on hand for a Q&A after the 9:30pm showing, moderated by yours truly.

7 Chinese Brothers

The latest film from director Bob Byington (Somebody Up There Likes Me) answers a question that I legitimately have been asking myself for years. What would a film be like if one of my favorite actors, Jason Schwartzman, were set loose in a story with few restrictions and only one character guideline: to be the biggest mooch on the planet? Welcome to the answer: 7 Chinese Brothers, in which Schwartzman inhabits Larry a consummate Austin-based slacker whose sole purpose in ever showing up to a job is to interact with others, often in an aggressively irritating or abrasive manner. He lives with his equally listless dog (the actor's real-life dog Arrow), and requires no excuse to drink or pop pills in order to make it through each and every laborious day.

Schwartzman appears to be unbridled in his performance, which makes it all the more strange that he choose a personality that is so unlike his own. It's a challenge to find anything to like or admire about Larry. Even his own grandmother (Olympia Dukakis) has a tough time seeing qualities in him worth loving or wanting to support. As soon as he loses one job, he stumbles in a Quick Lube auto repair place to get a new job and immediately irritates co-workers and customers alike while simply detailing vehicles — a seemingly isolated task that he manages to turn into a group project.

Larry does have his eye on the boss, Lupe (Elenaore Pienta), but his skills as a seductive creature are, shockingly, limited. His only real friend is Norwood (Tunde Adebimpe), who takes care of his grandmother in the retirement home, and when Norwood and Lupe meet, she immediately takes a sweet liking to him, much to Larry's despair and annoyance. Both at the Quick Lube and other places in Larry's life, there are interesting characters who might have been explored just to flesh out Byington's paper-thin screenplay, but the filmmaker seems more interested in focusing on Schwartzman's admittedly funny delivery and often-hilarious tossed-off lines. Not every film needs to have a clear, concise story, but sometimes ones that don't really suffer as a result. 7 Chinese Brothers is saved because of one actor who knows how to make people laugh. Whew! The film opens today in Chicago at Facets Cinémathèque.


There are documentaries about extreme sports; there are those concerning treacherous climbs into the thin air of some exceedingly tall mountains; and then there's Meru, that rare story of men attempting to scale a place that no other climber has ever successfully reached. The Shark's Fin on Mount Meru is, for many, the end game for Himalayan climbing, and not just because it sits more than 20,000 feet high. The terrain, the obstacles, the weather, and a bevy of possible health issues that could crop up at such heights are just a few of factors that make have made the climb both so dangerous and appealing.

What's nearly unfathomable about the film, in addition to all of the other hazards of this ascent, is that the three men shown making the journey actually kept it together enough to film everything. Co-directors Jimmy Chin (who also shot the climb) and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi pieced together Meru, which won the Audience Award in the Documentary category at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. The film chronicles three of the best big-wall climbers in the world — frequent climbing partners Chin and Conrad Anker (the older leader of the small team), as well as Renan Ozturk (who was the other cinematographer), a talented climber whom neither of the other two have worked with prior to this. The unfamiliarity with Ozturk becomes a serious factor journey, and it only adds to the ever-present tension that is woven into the very fabric of the film.

Without letting itself get too distracted from the main event, Meru gives us the necessary background on each climbers, especially Anker, who is married to the widow of his previous climbing partner Alex Lowe, and effectively breaks a promise to her in order to ascend the Shark's Fin. To add to the danger, the team has to haul all equipment up the mountain themselves, without the usual help of sherpas, since they refused to make the trip. Making the film even more of a terrifying watch is that the three men's first trip up in 2008 turns into a magnificent failure when they become stranded on the side of the mountain for days on end with only enough food and supplies for seven days. The ultimate torment comes when they make the decision to turn around just 100 meters from the summit. They can see it, point to it, but realize that to attempt it could easily end in death.

As if anyone needs to be told, this extreme near miss haunts Anker deeply, and three years later, the same three climbers find themselves back at Meru. In the interim, two of the three have sustained major trauma in their lives, including head injuries that could easily be made worse at high altitudes. Thankfully, Meru never paints these three travelers as heroes or saviors of the sport of mountain climbing. There are certainly moments when saner heads threaten to prevail and the idea that the Shark's Fin was never meant to be reached does rear its head, but Anker is determined. The only objecting voices in the film belong to the women in the climbers' lives, who express a combination of understanding and resolve that any protests they might voice may be heard but ultimately ignored. They also seem to understand that instilling too much fear into the climbers' minds might be a perilous distraction.

Meru certainly has plenty of peril to keep things on edge. Simply observing the act of building a small enclosure on the near-vertical face of the mountain is enough to make one's heart stop, especially when said structure becomes damaged and haphazardly repaired. The film is also very much an emotional journey, particularly for Anker, who is seen by many to be past his prime. He feels he has a great deal to prove, largely to himself, but certainly to a host of doubters. At various points in the film, each climber acknowledges that death is more than a possibility on a trip like this, but that thought somehow fuels their desire to make this work. Meru is not a story of supermen; it's about ordinary people doing extraordinary things, pushing themselves beyond limits they likely didn't know existed. And every second on the movie is fraught with danger, beauty and human drama the likes of which audiences rarely get in a sports documentary. The film opens today in Chicago at the Music Box Theatre.

Meru co-director Jimmy Chin will participate in a Q&A at the Music Box Theatre on Friday, Sept. 4, after the 7:20pm screening, as well as on Saturday, Sept. 5, after the 5pm screening.


At the screening where I saw the new documentary Rosenwald (about the great Chicago-based businessman, Civil Rights activist and philanthropist Julius Rosenwald, who also happened to be a co-owner of Sears) there was one other critic in the theater with me who turned to me after the film and asked, "Did you learn any of that in your history class at school?" Of course, the answer was no, partly because I didn't grow up in Chicago, so I didn't have any pre-college schooling in the area. But the more complicated answer is that the teaching of any amount of black history in public schools when I was in high school was practically nonexistent.

In fact, despite Rosenwald's deep Chicago roots, if you grew up in the segregated South, you were more like to know his name because he founded the Rosenwald Fund, which donated millions to education programs for black youth, primarily in areas of the country where a decent education or school house was denied them. Many of the facilities (there were 5,300, all told) were referred to as Rosenwald Schools, and it is estimated that 660,000 black children went through their doors before federally mandated desegregation began.

Director Aviva Kempner (The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg and Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg) walks us through the life of this generous and modest man, whose acts of charity and philanthropy are not as well known as the mark he left on the business world thanks to expanding the Sears Catalog (which he saw as a more fully realized version of his family's pedlar-cart background). Thanks to a healthy dose of the teachings of Booker T. Washington, as well as the Jewish ideals surrounding charity and repairing the world, Rosenwald was deeply troubled by racial inequality in the first half of the 20th century and became one of the richest men in America to tackle the issue head on with his foundation.

With interviews from such esteemed subjects as the recently departed Maya Angelou and Julian Bond, as well as Rep. Danny Davis, Rita Dove, Benjamin Jealous, Rep. John Lewis, Clarence Page, Eugene Robinson and Ambassador David Saperstein, Rosenwald does ample justice to the man's legacy and impact on so many political and cultural leaders, most of whom attended one of his schools (as did Gordon Parks Jr., Marian Anderson, W.E.B. Du Bois and Langston Hughes). The film offers up a rich and complete history lesson, while also capturing the human being behind the posed black-and-white photographs. It gets to the core question of why this rich white man would choose to devote his life to establishing some sort of equality for working-class black children. The answer is here, and it's enough to choke you up a little. Rosenwald opens today in Chicago at the Landmark Century Center Cinema.

Filmmaker Aviva Kempner and Julius Rosenwald's grandson, Peter Ascoli, will appear at the Landmark Century Center Cinema on Friday, Sept. 4 for Q&As after the 4:15pm and 7pm screenings.

Stray Dog

Writer-director Debra Granik isn't a name that comes off too often in discussions of successful female directors or the new wave of female directors, but the truth is, she's a critical part of the conversation, or at least she should be. Including her latest, the documentary Stray Dog, she's only made three features. The first was 2004's little-seen Down to the Bone, which effectively launched the career of Vera Farmiga as a leading actor. Six years later, Granik helmed Winter's Bone, featuring the first leading role for a young Jennifer Lawrence (she was nominated for an Oscar). The film also threw light on one of our great character actors, John Hawke (also nominated); Granik herself was nominated for her work on the screenplay and the film was nominated for Best Picture.

Stray Dog may feel like a change of direction for Granik, but the fact is the terrain is the same, under the shadow of the Ozarks in southern Missouri. More to the point, Granik continues to search for good people in the midst of what could be — and often is — a bad situation. Her focus here is on Vietnam vet Ron Hall (who had a small role in Winter's Bone), a biker and trailer park manager who has devoted his life to honoring prisoners of war, as well as those who have returned from the war changed men and are struggling back home.

I can almost guarantee you that when you first lay eyes on Hall (nicknamed Stray Dog) and his ilk, you're going to cringe at having to spend time with these redneck warriors, but when you start to discover the intricacies of their lives, their beliefs and their priorities, you'll find some truly kind souls among the gun owners in leather chaps. Hall becomes a sounding board for so many veterans; he shares a bit of his experience, and they unload on him with some truly terrible stories about their time in combat. Emotions are high, tears are flowing, and lives are likely improved.

Granik also taps into Hall's family life, which includes a Korean ex-wife (with whom he has two daughters) and his new Mexican-born wife, for whom he is learning Spanish. Part of the film involves arranging for her two grown twin songs to legally immigrate to the United States, but the culture shock they experience upon their arrival is almost more than they can take.

Stray Dog is a portrait of compassion and understanding, the likes of which I'm simply not used to seeing on screen. The way Hall reacts to the most adverse conditions in his life are so mannered that I get a sense that his wife's Buddhist prayers might be having an impact on him. The access Granik is granted seems unlimited, and she is silently present at significant events in Hall's life. There are moments when the emotion is almost too much to observe, let alone experience.

Even at Hall's advanced age, we still get a sense that he sees himself as a work in progress and not, as his nickname implies, someone who cannot be taught a few new tricks. This is an extraordinary little film designed to bring Americans together, rather than underscoring what is tearing us apart. Stray Dog wasn't designed as an escapist film in the slightest, but almost unexpectedly, that's what it feels like at times — an example of how we might lead our lives, be more accepting of those not like us, and embrace what makes us different rather than fearing it. I can't wait to see how Debra Granik astonishes me next.

The film opens today in Chicago at the Gene Siskel Film Center for showings on Friday, Sept. 4 at 8:15pm; Saturday, Sept. 5 at 7:45pm; and Thursday, Sept. 10 at 6pm.

Bloodsucking Bastards

I'll admit, I thought the idea of infusing an office-place comedy with vampire blood was actually a pretty clever idea. In one of the least efficient sales offices ever committed to the big screen, secretly introducing the bloodsuckers into the mix actually improves efficiency and offers up a truly dedicated workforce. Bloodsucking Bastards is the product of the comedy group Dr. God and directed by Brian James O'Connell, and it sometimes feels like a half-baked (in more ways than one) sketch idea that sometimes ventures into being fully developed, and other times goes off the rails into random silliness that might still make you giggle.

The film isn't afraid to get ridiculously gory at times (taking a cue from "True Blood," when the vampires die they explode, shooting blood and gore everywhere), and that certainly keeps things moving along. The terrific Fran Kranz (Cabin in the Woods) plays Evan, probably the most productive office worker in the building. He's attempting to get a big presentation done by week's end in hopes of a promotion, but those around him (including Joey Kern's Tim, Evan's best friend who reminds me of McConaughey Lite) seem dead set on accomplishing nothing. Evan is also nursing a broken heart, the result of girlfriend/head of the company's HR department Amanda (Emma Fitzpatrick) breaking up with him under quite painful circumstances.

The film is elevated by a couple of spot-on performances by Joel Murray, as the perfect corporate boss, and an old nemesis of Evan, Max (Pedro Pascal of "Game of Thrones"), who ends up getting Evan's would-be job; he may or may not also be the bringer of all things vampire (but also a more unified work environment).

Bloodsucking Bastards swings wildly from dick jokes to commentary about corporations caring more about productivity than people, sometimes within seconds of each other; and thankfully some of it lands. Kranz does an excellent job of keeping the train on the tracks as best he can, and the film is good for a great deal of laughs that would probably be increased if drink were consumed before and during a viewing. I hope the folks who got this made get a chance to do another film; I suspect they have better material in them, maybe even outside the horror genre. But if you're the kind of comedy lover that loves getting in on the ground floor with a new creative team, this is a worthy first effort and a fun place to start.

The film will be playing in Chicago for two shows only at Facets Cinémathèque: Friday and Saturday, Sept. 4-5, at 10:30pm both nights. On Friday, Sept. 4, filmmaker Brian James O'Connell, producer/actor Justin Ware, and actor Parvesh Cheena will be on hand for a post-screening Q&A.

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Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »


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