#358 July 9, 2019
Matt writes: Over this past Fourth of July weekend, we were saddened to learn of the passing of an enormously influential icon in the Chicago film community, Milos Stehlik (1949-2019), co-founder of Facets Multimedia, who passed away on Saturday at age 70. Chaz Ebert hailed him as one of cinema’s biggest advocates and humanitarians. Click here to read Brian Tallerico’s eulogy for Stehlik, as well as the official statement released by the Chicago Film Critics Association, penned by Peter Sobczynski and excerpted below…
The Czechoslovakian-born Stehlik passed away on July 6 at his home in Lincoln Park. Having lived in the city since the early 1960s, along with stage director Nicole Dreiska (whom he later married for a time), established Facets Multimedia in 1975, first in a church with projectors placed where the choir once stood, and eventually in a permanent home on Fullerton Avenue, where it continues to thrive today. From there, he brought in films from all over the world to screen for audiences who yearned for something different and is even credited as the man who first exposed Roger Ebert to one of his favorite movies, Errol Morris’s groundbreaking “Gates of Heaven.” In addition to the theater, Facets would also establish a home video business that would evolve from videocassettes to DVDs to streaming and embraced everything from established classics to bizarre obscurities that would stump even the hardiest cineastes. Facets would also cultivate new generations of film fans through an annual summer film camp for children as well as an annual children’s film festival.
Judy (2019). Directed by Rupert Goold. Written by Tom Edge (based on the play by Peter Quilter). Starring Renée Zellweger, Rufus Sewell, Jessie Buckley. Synopsis: Legendary performer Judy Garland arrives in London in the winter of 1968 to perform a series of sold-out concerts. Opens in US theaters on September 27th, 2019.
Knives Out (2019). Written and directed by Rian Johnson. Starring Ana de Armas, Chris Evans, Daniel Craig. Synopsis: A detective investigates the death of a patriarch of an eccentric, combative family. Opens in US theaters on November 27th, 2019.
Queen & Slim (2019). Directed by Melina Matsoukas. Written by Lena Waithe. Starring Chloë Sevigny, Indya Moore, Daniel Kaluuya. Synopsis: A couple’s first date takes an unexpected turn when a police officer pulls them over. Opens in US theaters on November 27th, 2019.
Loro (2019). Directed by Paolo Sorrentino. Written by Paolo Sorrentino and Umberto Contarello. Starring Toni Servillo, Elena Sofia Ricci, Riccardo Scamarcio. Synopsis: During a tumultuous period in the career of Silvio Berlusconi, as his marriage to second wife Veronica Lario fractures, this film speculates on what may or may not have taken place behind closed doors, depicting a wide variety of characters from multiple levels of society and their attempts to either ingratiate or distance themselves from him. Opens in US theaters on September 20th, 2019.
Angels are Made of Light (2019). Directed by James Longley. Synopsis: A sweeping, profoundly compassionate group portrait of Afghan students and teachers still weathering national turbulence. Opens in US theaters on July 24th, 2019.
Driven (2019). Directed by Nick Hamm. Written by Colin Bateman. Starring Erin Moriarty, Lee Pace, Judy Greer. Synopsis: Intense thriller where politics, big business and narcotics collide. Opens in US theaters on August 16th, 2019.
Midway (2019). Directed by Roland Emmerich. Written by Wes Tooke. Starring Luke Evans, Patrick Wilson, Ed Skrein. Synopsis: The story of the Battle of Midway, told by the leaders and the sailors who fought it. Opens in US theaters on November 8th, 2019.
Streetwise (1984), restoration. Directed by Martin Bell. Synopsis: Gritty documentary that looks at the lives of teenagers living on the streets of Seattle. Opens in US theaters on July 19th, 2019.
Cold Case Hammarskjöld (2019). Directed by Mads Brügger. Synopsis: Danish director Mads Brügger and Swedish private investigator Göran Björkdahl are trying to solve the mysterious death of Dag Hammarskjöld. As their investigation closes in, they discover a crime far worse than killing the Secretary-General of the United Nations. Opens in US theaters on August 16th, 2019.
Vision Portraits (2019). Directed by Rodney Evans. Synopsis: An in-depth exploration of the creative paths of blind and visually impaired artists including a photographer, dancer, writer and filmmaker. US release date is TBA.
Frankenstein’s Monster’s Monster, Frankenstein (2019). Directed by Daniel Gray Longino. Written by John Levenstein. Starring David Harbour, O-Lan Jones, Kate Berlant. Synopsis: David Harbour delves into the enigmatic history of his legendary acting family, as he examines his father’s legacy and role in a made-for-TV play. Debuts on Netflix on July 16th, 2019.
Jacob’s Ladder (2019). Directed by David M. Rosenthal. Written by Jeff Buhler and Sarah Thorpe (based on the screenplay by Bruce Joel Rubin). Starring Nicole Beharie, Jesse Williams, Michael Ealy. Synopsis: After returning home from the Vietnam War, veteran Jacob Singer struggles to maintain his sanity. Plagued by hallucinations and flashbacks, Singer rapidly falls apart as the world and people around him morph and twist into disturbing images. Opens in US theaters on August 23rd, 2019.
The Good Liar (2019). Directed by Bill Condon. Written by Jeffrey Hatcher (based on the novel by Nicholas Searle). Starring Helen Mirren, Russell Tovey, Ian McKellen. Synopsis: Career con artist Roy Courtnay can hardly believe his luck when he meets well-to-do widow Betty McLeish online. As Betty opens her home and life to him, Roy is surprised to find himself caring about her, turning what should be a cut-and-dry swindle into the most treacherous tightrope walk of his life. Opens in US theaters on November 15th, 2019.
Charlie’s Angels (2019). Written and directed by Elizabeth Banks. Starring Naomi Scott, Elizabeth Banks, Kristen Stewart. Synopsis: Reboot of the 2000 action comedy based on the 1970s television series. A new generation of private detectives working for the mysterious Charlie. Opens in US theaters on November 15th, 2019.
Jumanji: The Next Level (2019). Directed by Jake Kasdan. Written by Jake Kasdan, Jeff Pinkner and Scott Rosenberg (based on the book by Chris Van Allsburg). Starring Karen Gillan, Madison Iseman, Dwayne Johnson. Synopsis: A team of friends return to Jumanji to rescue one of their own but discover that nothing is as they expect. The players need to brave parts unknown, from arid deserts to snowy mountains, in order to escape the world’s most dangerous game. Opens in US theaters on December 13th, 2019.
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (2019). Directed by Joachim Rønning. Written by Micah Fitzerman-Blue, Noah Harpster and Linda Woolverton. Starring Ed Skrein, Elle Fanning, Angelina Jolie. Synopsis: Maleficent and her goddaughter Aurora begin to question the complex family ties that bind them as they are pulled in different directions by impending nuptials, unexpected allies and dark new forces at play. Opens in US theaters on October 18th, 2019.
Mulan (2020). Directed by Niki Caro. Written by Lauren Hynek, Rick Jaffa, Elizabeth Martin and Amanda Silver. Starring Donnie Yen, Yifei Liu, Jet Li. Synopsis: A young Chinese maiden disguises herself as a male warrior in order to save her father. Opens in US theaters on March 27th, 2020.
In Praise of “Stranger Things 3”
Matt writes: The must-see summer blockbuster of July 2019 dropped on Netflix on the Fourth of July, the hotly anticipated third season of “Stranger Things,” and it did not disappoint. In his rave review, Brian Tallerico declared “Stranger Things 3” as the most purely entertaining season of the series to date. You can find my conversation with two of the show’s stars, Dacre Montgomery (a.k.a. Billy Hargrove) and Cary Elwes (playing new villain Mayor Kline), here.
Lulu Wang on “The Farewell“
Matt writes: One of the summer’s most acclaimed films, Lulu Wang’s “The Farewell,” received four stars from our critic Christy Lemire. Wang spoke with Nick Allen about how horror films had a surprising influence on her fact-based dramedy (click here to read their full conversation).
Anastasia (1956). Directed by Anatole Litvak. Written by Arthur Laurents (based on the play by Marcelle Maurette and Guy Bolton). Starring Ingrid Bergman, Yul Brynner, Helen Hayes. Synopsis: An opportunistic Russian businessman tries to pass a mysterious impostor as the Grand Duchess Anastasia. But she is so convincing in her performance that even the biggest skeptics believe her.
Indiscreet (1958). Directed by Stanley Donen. Written by Norman Krasna. Starring Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, Cecil Parker. Synopsis: An actress who has given up on love meets a suave banker and begins a flirtation with him…even though he’s already married.