Between going to the movies, working full-time, and attempting to have a life, I have fallen behind on some reviews.  So instead of writing up full reviews for all of these movies, I am going to do quick, one or two paragraph reviews of some of the movies I have seen recently.  For these movies, I am going to focus on some of the movies that I saw at the Chicago International Film Festival a couple weeks ago.

You can watch all the trailers for these films by clicking on the title.

45 years

“45 Years” (Andrew Haigh)

“45 Years” is one of those movies that really makes the case to never get married.  Kate and Geoff Mercer (Charlotte Rampling & Tom Courtnay) are on the verge of celebrating their 45th wedding anniversary when Geoff receives a letter about a past love that could change their lives forever.

This is a very slow, yet mesmerizing movie, as you watch this couples seemingly perfect marriage slow disintegrate right before our eyes.  It is very depressing and moody.  Showing that this couple has been in love for the last almost half century and this letter might change everything in an instant is an almost horrifying realization that this could happen to anyone.  The performances by Rampling and Courtnay are spectacular.  Courtnay shows us everything Tom is thinking after getting the letter.  He’s confused, amazed, and has mixed feelings about who sent the letter and Kate.  Rampling shows us the power of subtlety.  She tries to keep it together, but you see it in her face and in her actions that something is not right.

“45 Years” is a captivating, yet melancholy look at love with two outstanding performances.

MY RATING –  3/4


“The Laundryman” (Chung Lee)

This movie had a very interesting premise, yet it kind of collapses on itself at the end.  A hitman (Joseph Chang) begins to see the ghosts of the people that he has killed.  he hires a medium (Regina Wan) to talk to the spirits and figure out how to get rid of them.  This causes the hitman’s life to spiral out of control as he becomes hunted by the cops, begins to fall in love, and has his boss (Sonia Sui) thinking he’s crazy and eventually trying to kill him.

“The Laundryman” starts off really well.  It’s a darkly funny, bloody, and quite creative.  When the hitman and medium encounter the spirits is pretty funny.  However, the second half of the movie has a weird tonal shift and drags on for far too long.  It takes a bizarre tonal shift into a dark, murky psychological drama and the ending, though insanely violent with cool choreography, is far too long and becomes boring at times.  The ending is unnecessarily ambiguous.  With a more focused and refined screenplay, this could have been great.

MY RATING – 2.5/4

Mia Madre

“Mia Madre” (Nanni Moretti)

The opening night film of this year’s Chicago International Film Festival was a complete dud.  Margherita (Margherita Buy), a film director in the middle of an existential mid-life crises, has to deal with the impending death of her terminally ill mother while also making a new film with an enigmatic actor (John Turturro).

While the performances from Buy and Turturro are solid, the movie is incredibly boring and ultimately pointless.  Margherita is a stagnant character.  She does have a moment of two where she slightly breaks down emotionally, but those are few and far between and the rest of the time.  Since the movie is with Margherita for about 95%, the entire movie is one note.  The ending drags on and on until the inevitable comes and then it ends right when we could have actually seen some character development.  “Mia Madre” fails to excite and and connect with its audience.

MY RATING – 1.5/4

Red Spider

“The Red Spider” (Marcin Koszalka)

“The Red Spider” is almost a great a film, yet falls short.  Karol (Filip Plawiak), a relatively normal college student befriends and becomes obsessed with a man whom he believes is a serial killer terrorizing Carcow in the 1960’s.  He also meets Danka (Julia Kijowska), a photojournalist working for the local newspaper.  As their feelings become stronger and Karol’s obsession with the murders becomes stronger, he makes a decision that forever alters his life.

The concept of the movie is great, but it was handled incorrectly.  I really liked the moody tone and genuine creepiness of the film.  Setting the movie in the frigid landscape of Carcow adds to the tone.  This is a meticulous film, and had me interested for what was going to happen.  I don’t usually say a movie needs to be longer, but this one did.  The love story felt rushed, and the obsession wasn’t portrayed as well at it should have, which ultimately hurt the ending, which is shocking and thought provoking.  “The Red Spider” would be a perfect movie for David Fincher to remake.  Then, we would get everything this movie missed and then some.

MY RATING – 2.5/4


“Tag” (Shion Sono)

This movie is like “Live. Die. Repeat. The Edge of Tomorrow” (2014) on copious amounts of cocaine.  I can’t really plain the plot in full without giving a lot away, but let’s just say a girl (Reina Triendl) is living in an alternate universe of sorts where she continuously is threatened by random acts of violence towards her and her friends.  This movie is an absolute trip and and insanely fun time.  The violence is extreme, ridiculous, hilarious, and perfect.  The plot takes a complete 180 half way through and I was lost for a little bit, but it all comes full circle at the end, which is one of the weirdest, craziest endings of the year.  If you’re looking for a violent, bloody good time, see “Tag”.  


For more reviews, follow me on Twitter @kevinwoz2988.

Images courtesy of YouTube.

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