In the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the adjective form of “special” can be defined as “held in particular esteem” and “readily distinguishable from others in the same category.” For a film to earn that distinction it has to do more than have the word in its title, as is the case with the Jeff Nichols film “Midnight Special.” It has to possess exemplary qualities to revere that enable it to stand out from its peers. As one of the most striking, imposing, and spell-binding original science fiction films in recent memory, “special” is fitting trademark for “Midnight Special.”
Through two parallel veins of his filmmaking career, director Richard Linklater freely operates between free-wheeling fun and poignant realism with scant middle ground. His movies are either a party or a deep character study. Kick back and turn off the introspection for “Everybody Wants Some!!” This is a shameless dudes’ flick and Party Linklater of the highest order. Those of you with Y chromosomes are going to love every minute.
Any savvy film fan should know that first-rate musical biography films are less about the music and more about the artist. The music becomes extroverted accompaniment to the introverted human elements behind the persona. Presenting a career-best performance from Ethan Hawke, “Born to Be Blue” earns its place as one of the best jazz movies to grace the screen. The film is an impressive creative step forward for Canadian director Robert Budreau in just his second feature-length effort.
Do we all remember the infamy of William Hung from 2004? You should. Take William Hung, turn back the clock 80 years, and, here’s the kicker, give him a judging audience that won’t tell him he’s bad. If you can do that, you can step into the foreign film “Marguerite” from French director Xavier Giannoli playing now at the Landmark Theater locations in Lincoln Park and Highland Park. Divided into five chapters, “Marguerite” is an immersive character study into a would-be singer’s obsession with talent.
Click each of the titles for Don Shanahan’s full reviews from Every Movie Has a Lesson!