The Spy Behind Home Plate: Moe Berg’s Story

The Spy Behind Home Plate is Aviva Kempner’s newest documentary that tells the true true story of catcher-turned-spy Moe Berg.  Moe Berg may not be Hank Greenberg or Sandy Koufax but his story is unique for Jewish ballplayers. A year ago, the Paul Rudd-starring The Catcher Was A Spy premiered during Sundance.  While that film does manage to tell Berg’s story in narrative form, the documentary goes the whole nine yards.  While the biopic means…

"The Spy Behind Home Plate: Moe Berg’s Story"

Woodstock: Three Days That Defined a Generation

Woodstock: Three Days That Defined a Generation turns to archival footage to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the legendary concert. Woodstock was the brainchild of Michael Lang, Artie Kornfeld, Joel Rosenman, and John P. Roberts.  What’s so fascinating is that this juggernaut grew out of plans to open a recording studio in Woodstock, N.Y.  Things changed and soon they would plan for one of the hugest weekends in history.  Think about it.  Roughly one month after man would…

"Woodstock: Three Days That Defined a Generation"

The Souvenir is A Contender

Joanna Hogg’s The Souvenir is a very well made film and make no mistake that we’ll be talking about the indie film during awards season. Aspiring British filmmaker Julie (Honor Swinton Byrne) attends film school in the 1980s while also dealing with boyfriend Anthony (Tom Burke).  It’s not the best of relationships to say the least.  Perhaps the most comical moment comes when Anthony fights her over their bed space.  More fun comes with references…

"The Souvenir is A Contender"

Chicago Critics 2019: Yesterday

Danny Boyle’s Yesterday may be inspired by a world without The Beatles but unfortunately, the film loses its focus somewhere on the long and winding road. Imagine a world where The Beatles never came into existence.  This is what screenwriter Richard Curtis asks in a crowd-pleasing screenplay.  Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) was about to give up his dreams as a singer-songwriter.  Best friend Ellie (Lily James) shows support for Jack but it isn’t enough.  For…

"Chicago Critics 2019: Yesterday"

Trial by Fire: Texas Killed An Innocent Man

Trial by Fire not only makes the argument that Cameron Todd Willingham was innocent but points to evidence that Texas killed an innocent man. After Cameron Todd Willingham (Jack O’Connell) has been sitting on death row for a dozen years, Elizabeth Gilbert (Laura Dern) comes into his life.  She may have her own family issues but she’s touched by his letters and decides to help him out.  If not for Elizabeth, not only would new evidence…

"Trial by Fire: Texas Killed An Innocent Man"

Photograph takes us to Mumbai

A  Mumbai photographer has to do everything he can to persuade a woman to pose as his fiancée in Ritesh Batra’s’s romantic drama, Photograph. Mumbai street photographer Rafi (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) has to persuade Miloni (Sanya Malhotra) to pose as fiancée Noorie.  Let’s get one fact out of the way right now.  Rafi has to create Noorie if it means stalling the family pressure.  Oh, yeah–he uses Miloni’s photo in the process.  His grandmother wants nothing more…

"Photograph takes us to Mumbai"

A Dog’s Journey Tugs At Emotions

A Dog’s Journey is an emotional rerun of predecessor A Dog’s Purpose so please prepare yourselves accordingly with the right amount of Kleenex. A lot has changed since we last saw Bailey reunited with Ethan (Dennis Quaid) in A Dog’s Purpose.  Ethan and Hannah (Marg Helgenberger) now have a granddaughter, Clarity June or CJ (Kathryn Prescott as an young woman).  Hannah’s son, Henry, died in a car accident when Gloria (Betty Gilpin) was 8 months…

"A Dog’s Journey Tugs At Emotions"

The Sun Is Also a Star Isn’t Believable

The Sun Is Also a Star is a film that manages to look at the love between a star-crossed couple by way of the scientific method. When they first meet, Daniel Bae (Charles Melton) and Natasha Kingsley (Yara Shahidi) are at very different points in their life.  Daniel had just saved Natasha’s life from an out-of-control driver.  Had she not been wearing a Deux Ex Machine jacket that morning, it’s possible that he wouldn’t save the day. …

"The Sun Is Also a Star Isn’t Believable"

What’s My Name: Muhammad Ali

What’s My Name: Muhammad Ali follows the recent trend of resorting to all-archival materials in telling the story of The Greatest. What filmmaker Antoine Fuqua seeks to do is tell Muhammad Ali’s story through his own voice.  This is the way to go.  There’s no reason for a narrator here.  Ali lived through both ups and downs.  Many of us know his story but this documentary takes it to an entirely different level.  We get both…

"What’s My Name: Muhammad Ali"

All Creatures Here Below shines light on society

All Creatures Here Below sees two people returning to the one place that has been the source of traumatic memories plaguing them over the years. There’s a few things going on here.  Gensan (David Dastmalchian) and Ruby (Karen Gillan) are living in poverty in Los Angeles.  Ruby also wants a family–this is easier said than done.  When Gensan loses his job, he turns to gambling as a way of making ends meet.  Communication may be key here…

"All Creatures Here Below shines light on society"