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The CHIRP Blog

Entries categorized as “Movies” 22 results

KSanders writesMovie Review: “Urgh! A Music War”

written by Kyle Sanders

Earlier this spring, I got the chance to see Grace Jones: Bloodlight & Bami, a candid look into the artistry and personal life of Grace Jones. While the familial moments show a softer, rarely seen side of the iconoclastic singer, it's the inclusion of her live performances in various cities that really sell the documentary (or should I say, "rockumentary"?) about what drives Jones the most: fusing her striking physicality and unusual vocals into performance art.

It showcases both truth in spectacle and soul, the former being what has often defined Jones throughout her career, the latter rarely ever exposed to the public. In other words, there's a context behind the art--what often drives the performer on the stage is something far more persuasive off of it.

Urgh! A Music War on the other hand, does not appear to have any context. A concert film released in 1982, it features over two dozen musical acts widely ranging from punk to reggae, performing around the globe. The lineup is inconsistently arranged, as each artist/group is given one song to perform, aside from The Police (perhaps the most commercially successful of all the acts), who bookend the film with two songs and an encore performance featuring some of the other featured bands.

As far as rockumentaries go, Urgh! doesn't contribute anything new to the medium. There's nothing historically remarkable as compared to the likes of Woodstock, Gimme Shelter, or Monterey Pop. It doesn't provide enough of a showcase for the actual musicians either, unable to flesh out significant artists such as in Stop Making Sense (Talking Heads) or The Last Waltz (The Band). And as pointed out in Jeff Stafford's Streamline article, even the title is a tad confusing, as the so-called "music war" mentioned would suggest a Battle of the Bands-esque event offering some sort of competitive conquest. And while no particular band or artist comes out solely victorious, Urgh! A Music War does triumph in one particular battlefield: nostalgia.

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Categorized: Movies

Topics: urgh a music war

Clarence Ewing: The Million Year Trip writesTONIGHT! ‘Urgh! A Music War” at The Music Box Theatre!

On Monday Night CHIRP Radio and the Chicago Film Society present a very rare and special screening of the 1981 motion picture Urgh! A Music War at the Music Box Theatre (3733 N. Southport Ave. 60613). It's not just a movie, but a performance experience of 26 bands that helped define the New Wave era, including Devo, Echo & the Bunnymen, X, 999, Klaus Nomi, Au Pairs, Oingo Boingo, UB40, The Cramps, The Go Go's, Gary Numan, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, and XTC. The '80s never left, they've just been waiting for moments like this. You can buy tickets here.

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Categorized: Event Previews, Movies

KSanders writesOscar Night Special: All the 2017 Best Picture Nominees Reviewed

by Kyle Sanders

Lights, camera, Oscars! It's time for the 90th Annual Academy Awards, highlighting and celebrating the best films 2017 had to offer. This year's nominees range from basketball legend Kobe Bryant to Mother of French New Wave Agnes Varda, and feature a diverse Best Director category, a first time nomination for a woman in Best Cinematography, and a record-breaking 21st nomination for Meryl Streep, the most nominated actor in the Academy's history.

And this year's list of Best Picture nominees is no different, representing a multitude of different genres and directed by a varied group of talented filmmakers. This year, I accomplished a goal I had previously been unable to complete: seeing ALL Best Picture nominees prior to the telecast. For those of you not as awesome as me, here's a rundown of all Best Picture contenders to catch you up before the awards are handed out!

Call Me By Your Name (aka The Sensitive Film)

Like its predecessor, Call Me By Your Name draws comparisons to Brokeback Mountain, as it is a literary adaptation about a budding romance between two men that screams Oscar gold. Substituting the cold Wyoming wilderness for the sweltering summer heat of Italy, Luca Guadagnino's direction highlights the palpable attraction between teenager Emilio and grad student Oliver, beginning as a friendship that gradually builds into something much more. The chemistry between Best Actor nominee Timothee Chalamat and co-star Armie Hammer is almost as smoldering as the sun drenched Italian countryside and the subject matter never falters into tragedy. The melancholic mood is set by the dreamy soundtrack composed by Sufjan Stevens (who scored a much deserved Best Original Song nomination). Like Brokeback Mountain, the tender love story is anchored well with the lead performances, but the "ick factor" regarding the forbidden love between a man and a teenage boy could hinder the film's chances of winning.

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Categorized: Movies

Topics: academy awards

KSanders writesReview: The 53rd Annual Chicago International Film Festival

by Kyle Sanders

Bonjour, my fellow CHIRPers! As we close out the month of October by dressing in costume and raising the dead, we also bid adieu to another year of foreign film viewing at the 53rd annual Chicago International Film Festival! This is my second year reviewing the fest for CHIRP, and this year did not disappoint! From big screen debuts to reflective re-releases, this year's crop of celluloid offered a little something for everyone.

There were special presentations of upcoming mainstream films such as Guillermo Del Toro's fanciful The Shape of Water and Reginald Hudlin's biopic Marshall. Audiences also got a peek at The Square (this year's winner of the Palm d'Or at Cannes) and Call Me By Your Name, both of which are considered early Oscar contenders. There were special tributes to acclaimed performers Vanessa Redgrave, Patrick Stewart, and Alfre Woodard thrown in as well. Finally, there was the presentation of awards, and this year's Golden Hugo award went to the Argentinian film A Sort of Family. All high-profile events were eagerly anticipated, and all the above events I was--naturally--unable to get into (damn you, expensive passes!).

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Categorized: Movies

Topics: ciff

Clarence Ewing: The Million Year Trip writesThe Fourth Wall: The Ides of March

[Welcome to the Fourth Wall, CHIRP's weekly e-conversation on cinema. This week's subject is the film The Ides of MarchThis edition is written by CHIRP Radio volunteers Kevin Fullam and Clarence Ewing.]

Clarence: Kevin, after watching The Ides of March, I want to ask you about two of the bigger names in Hollywood in 2017.

First, a summary: Based on the novel Farragut North, the movie stars Ryan Gosling as Stephen Meyers, a hard-charging campaign manager who is working for Governor Mike Morris (George Clooney, who also directed, co-wrote, and co-produced the film). Morris wants the Democratic party nomination for the upcoming presidential election but, as is made clear several times, he is a Man of Integrity who will not compromise his principles to win any election.

Meyers and his senior campaign manager Paul Zara (Philip Seymour Hoffman) are locked in a metaphorical chess match with Tom Duffy (Paul Giamatti), the campaign guru of Morris’ main opponent, to see who can collect the last batch of delegates needed to get their guy a shot at the White House. As events unfold, loyalties are tested and secrets revealed in a way that addresses the question, how far are you willing to go to get what you want?

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Categorized: The Fourth Wall, Movies

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