Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

The 6th Annual Edgy Award Winners

6th Annual Edgy Collage

Almost let these get away from me. However, I just can’t seem to get enough closure on last awards season and kick off the current year of moviegoing until I get these down in writing. So without further adieu, the winners of the 6th Annual Edgy Awards:



“Till It Happens to You” featured in “The Hunting Ground”

Music and Lyrics by Lady Gaga (1st win) and Diane Warren (2nd win)

RUNNER-UP: “It’s My Turn Now” featured in “Dope”




Johann Johannsson (1st win)

RUNNER-UP: “Mad Max: Fury Road”



“Mad Max: Fury Road”

Damian Martin (1st win), Nadine Prigge (1st win) and Lesley Vanderwalt (1st win)


RUNNER-UP: “The Revenant”



“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

Chris Corbould (2nd win), Roger Guyett (1st win), Neal Scanlan (2nd win) and Pat Dubach (1st Win)

RUNNER-UP: “The Revenant”



“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

David Acord (1st win) and Matthew Acord (1st win)

RUNNER-UP: “Mad Max: Fury Road”



“Mad Max: Fury Road”

Chris Jenkins (1st win), Ben Osmo (1st win) and Gregg Rudloff (3rd win)

RUNNER-UP: “The Revenant”



“The Danish Girl”

Paco Delgado (1st win)

RUNNER-UP: “Mad Max: Fury Road”



“Mad Max: Fury Road”

Colin Gibson (1st win) and Lisa Thompson (1st win)

Runner-Up: “Carol”




Tom McArdle (1st win)

RUNNER-UP: “Mad Max: Fury Road”




Roger Deakins (5th win)

RUNNER-UP: “Mad Max: Fury Road”




James Gay-Rees (1st win) and Asif Kapadia (1st win)

RUNNER-UP: “The Look of Silence”




Nick Hornby (1st win)

RUNNER-UP: “Steve Jobs”



“Inside Out”

Josh Cooley (1st win), Ronnie Del Carmen (1st win), Peter Docter (1st win) and Megan LeFauve (1st win)

RUNNER-UP: “Spotlight”




Billy Crudup, Brian D’Arcy James, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, Liev Schreiber, Jamey Sheridan, John Slattery, Stanley Tucci, Elena Wohl

RUNNER-UP: “The Big Short”



Rooney Mara – “Carol”

1st win

RUNNER-UP: Kate Winslet – “Steve Jobs”



Mark Ruffalo – “Spotlight”

1st win

RUNNER-UP: Benicio Del Toro – “Sicario”



Brie Larson – “Room”

2nd win

RUNNER-UP: Saoirse Ronan – “Brooklyn”



Eddie Redmayne – “The Danish Girl”

1st win

RUNNER-UP: Johnny Depp – “Black Mass”



George Miller – “Mad Max: Fury Road”

1st win

RUNNER-UP: Thomas McCarthy – “Spotlight”



“Inside Out”

Pete Docter (1st win) and Jonas Rivera (1st win)

RUNNER-UP: “Spotlight”



“The Big Short”




“It Follows”


“Inside Out”


“Mad Max: Fury Road”




“The End of the Tour”




Mark Watney – “The Martian”


 The Catholic Church – “Spotlight”


Alejandro – “Sicario”


Eilis and Tony – “Brooklyn”


“It Follows”


“45 Years”


Juarez/Border Crossing – “Sicario”


“F*ck you, Mars.” – “The Martian”



MY TOP TEN of 2015

1. “Inside Out”
2. “Spotlight”
3. “Son of Saul”
4. “Mad Max: Fury Road”
5. “Room”
6. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”
7. “Sicario”
8. “The Revenant”
9. “45 Years”
10. “Brooklyn”


4th Annual Edgy Award Winners

February 5, 2015 Leave a comment

4th Edgy Collage Final

I didn’t commit to writing up my Top Ten List for last year. Under normal circumstances, one would think such circumstances would provide an element of suspense going through these awards. Any other year, that might be true, but unfortunately there was a heavyweight that didn’t have much trouble cleaning up the lion’s share of the categories. In fact, not since “The Return of the King,” and before that “Schindler’s List.” has a single film taken  out the competition as extensively as, well…you’ll find out soon enough.

I’ve tried to provide as many video clips as possible, to help to justify my decisions here. No winner would also be complete without a runner-up because my labor of indecision is insurmountable. Finally, once you’ve seen what’s been crowned the top honors, keep scrolling for some fun extra awards that will tie up any loose ends of 2014.

Without further adieu, here are the winners of the 4th Annual Edgy Awards:



“Young and Beautiful” featured in “The Great Gatsby”

Music and Lyrics by Lana Del Ray


 Runner-Up: “The Moon Song” featured in “Her”


Read more…

“Blood on the Plain” Review

February 5, 2012 Leave a comment

I thought I’d take a break from the insanity of the awards season to provide a little spotlight on an outstanding short film to come out of the Chicago area. Having spent six years in film school, I can both understand and relate to what it’s like to be an unrecognized talent, attempting to make a standout film with practically no budget. With that being said, to this little endeavor in moviemaking, I say “bravo.”

The story is set against the backdrop of small-town life in Kansas on the day of the high school homecoming dance. A tribe of people, thought to be extinct for hundreds of years, have returned, evolved into a form of creature never before seen or imagined. Seeking revenge for the sins of the town’s ancestors, the demons strike at what is most precious to them, prompting the residents to band together and put a stop to the evil, once and for all.

Director Mac Eldridge (helmer of “Chemical 12-D,” which played at last year’s Fantasia Fest in Montreal), has gone above and beyond in crafting a fantastic, cross-genre experience: a horror-western. Imagine, if you will, the ominous, wayfaring overtones of “No Country for Old Men” meeting the gruesome action and thrills of “Predator.” The film packs some genuinely philosophical vibes that, while not reaching fruition, raise its caliber a notch or two above what a short like this could normally offer, and yet never skimps on its level of pure excitement.

For a movie in which the characters are not usually the main draw, the actors really hold their own. Otis Fine does a remarkable job of anchoring the ensemble as the thinking-man’s bartender. Richard Alpert, meanwhile, nails the film’s climax, encompassing everything you could hope for from a hard-nosed, eyepatch-wearing sheriff who can still handle a Winchester rifle. The emotional core of the film, however, is held by Joey Bicicchi and Dani Wilkin, the two star-crossed high school lovers who bear witness to the town’s tragedy. Caught in a whirlwind of horror and carnage, we see the massacre through their eyes, and it isn’t pretty.

The above-mentioned storm pertains to the horror element of the film, which will likely draw a large amount of viewers and they will not be disappointed. First off, the creature design is stellar. The makeup team created a lean, mean, savage superhuman with plenty of unique touchups and details that add a distinct element of character. They meet all the necessary criteria to be added to the long list of things you would not want to run into in a dark alley. Meanwhile, the title of the film really lives up to expectations with some outstanding gore. There’s enough stabbing, throat-cutting and general slaughter to keep any self-respecting horror fan glued to the screen.

It’s worth mentioning that much of the film’s success would not have been realized without its fabulous technical qualities. This film, which was made with a minuscule amount of money, looks, sounds and feels like a movie that should garner envy from any big-budget Hollywood producer. The cinematography, crafted by the young Chicago phenom David Wagenaar, is top notch. The film’s warm color palette help heighten the authentic western vibe, while Wagenaar’s staunch, high-contrast lighting during the massacre greatly elevates the level of terror. The film’s production design team successfully pulled off transforming suburban Chicago into rural Kansas (not an easy feat). Finally, the sound mix by Rob Davis adds a quality to the film that absolutely cannot be beaten.

Perhaps the greatest compliment one can give to “Blood on the Plain” is how well it works as a short film. Some may argue that the movie lacks a solid build-up. Yet, all in all, what more could you want for your twelve minutes? The film wastes not a second of its running time and delivers more scares, thrills and raw emotion than any other short that I’ve seen this year. The filmmakers wish to soon expand this film into a feature, and I can only hope beyond hope that it happens. When you see this short you will know what I mean, because, by the time the credits roll, the only thing you will want is more. You’ll be begging for it.

“Blood” is about to start its international festival run and is not yet available for streaming. However, you can go to the film’s website and can find all sorts of ways to see it. The DVD is on sale for ten dollars and is packed with all kinds of great extras. Or, if you’re as self-conscious about blind buys as I am, the film is also available for download in a stunning 2k (a quality higher than HD) transfer for only four dollars. Trust me, this film is worth your four dollars. Help support these phenomenal young indie filmmakers.

Below is the film’s official trailer and a link to their site:

Blood on the Plain’s Official Site

Interview with Michael Rooker

This is certainly worth a read. A little while back, The Edge of the Frame, on behalf of The DePaulia, got a chance to interview actor Michael Rooker at the James Hotel. He was in town on a press tour for his new film “Super,” which he co-stars with Rainn Wilson, Ellen Page and Kevin Bacon.

Rooker is both one of the most iconic, while at the same time, under-appreciated actors of his generation. If you enjoy movies and see them fervently, it’s almost guaranteed that you have seen him in a role at some point in the last twenty-five years. He is one of those actors who barely ever headlines, yet always delivers a memorable performance.

To refresh some folks’ memories, he got his start right here in Chicago playing the title role in John McNaughton’s influential and disturbing “Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer.” Since then, he has hammered out loads of fantastic supporting performances. Certain standouts include racer Rowdy Burns in “Days of Thunder,” the brutal racist Frank Bailey in “Mississippi Burning,” the courageous lawyer Bill Broussard in “JFK” and the infamous chocolate-covered pretzel-eating Svenning in “Mallrats.” Aside from “Super,” most recently Michael has appeared on the AMC TV series “The Walking Dead.”

A great interview subject, Rooker discusses working with director James Gunn, his life in Chicago, his favorite of films that he has worked on, and more. Here is a short excerpt:

DP: You worked with director James Gunn on “Slither.” How was it the second time around?

MR: Just as bad as the first time around [laughs]. He’s so demanding. He’s always telling me what to do [laughs]. He’s not the boss of me. He’ll learn.

DP: When did he first approach you about the film? I know it’s been in the makes for a while.

MR: It has been in the makes for a while. But this last time, it actually got cast and got done, of course. But the film was actually written ten years ago. So it’s gone through several casts and never got made. This time around, it just so happened that James’ ex-wife, Jenna Fisher, knew and worked with Rainn Wilson. So she showed the script to him and he loved it and that’s how the film finally got made. I’ve been friends with James since “Slither” and he eventually asked me if I wanted to do a role. He was a little embarrassed about asking me to do it since it was like three lines [laughs]. But, I mean, we all did it for nothing. We did it because we all knew each other and we’re all friends and wanted to make the movie.

Read the full interview over at the new DePaulia Online website. Afterwards, you just might feel the need to go back and truly notice this actor in some of his best works.

Here is the full INTERVIEW and below is a clip from “Mississippi Burning,” my favorite role by the actor. I apologize for the poor quality, but it was the only version of this scene that I could find. Enjoy.

“Hanna” Review at The DePaulia

April 11, 2011 Leave a comment

I had attended an early screening of this film a few weeks ago, but had to embargo my review until opening weekend. The review got published in The DePaulia today. Once again, here’s a short excerpt:

“Joe Wright, the young director of such films as “Pride and Prejudice” and “Atonement,” goes far out of his usual element to direct this fantastic thriller. It’s as though the man has suddenly started using artistic steroids or been abducted by aliens. Whatever the reasoning, Wright’s new style is not necessarily an improvement, but a welcome change. The pace and tone that he brings to the film create a sensation that I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced from a film.”

This is film honestly still has my head spinning. I have no doubt that it’s already in contention for my eventual Top Ten List of the year and I had a lot of fun writing this review. Check out the full article through the link, below:

“Director, actress take a thrilling break from the norm”


“Win Win” Review at The DePaulia

As some of you know, I recently started writing for The DePaulia, DePaul University’s official newspaper. It’s not the Chicago Tribune, but it is a highly respected student publication and is a big step for me in building my reputation in the Chicago area. I recently published my first review for them and it is available online. Here’s a quick excerpt:

“Over the last decade, writer/director/actor Tom McCarthy has championed himself as a voice for the underappreciated. His pair of independent features (“The Station Agent” and “The Visitor”) stands as an ode to those ordinary people we see on the street and don’t give a second thought to, despite them having interesting stories to tell. With “Win Win,” the director crafts a true modern parable of contemporary middle class life and it’s a treat to behold.”

I was very pleased with the film, as well as my own review. I’m still not sure about the ethics or permissions of posting the actual reviews on my blog once they’ve been published in the paper. Meanwhile, below is a link to the full review at The DePaulia Online. Hope everyone enjoys it and wishes me luck on this new venture.

“Win Win” is a Victory for the Common Man” (DePaulia)

Why I’m Re-Watching “LOST” and Unnecessary Censorship

March 30, 2011 1 comment

As some of you may know, I am presently re-watching all six seasons of ABC’s “LOST” on my Netflix instant queue. I had originally shown up really late to this show. I didn’t begin to start watching it on Hulu until a few months before the final season was about to air. I, of course, became addicted like everyone else, and watched the entire series on my computer at home, at work, on film sets, and even on my phone during my CTA commute. I finally got caught up only a few episodes prior to the finale.

Overall, I enjoyed the show. It makes incredible use of close-ups and editing. Michael Emerson and Terry O’Quinn fully deserved their Emmy wins. Most of all, the show contains one of the greatest musical compositions I’ve ever heard come out of the small screen. Michael Giacchino ended up winning an Oscar for “Up” during the course of the final season’s airing.

However, I definitely have a few qualms. The biggest, by far, is the liberties that the show takes in the crafting of it. Similar to the issues that I had with “Rango.” The show gives itself a blank slate that basically allows it to do whatever the hell it wants. If something doesn’t make sense or just breaks every law we can imagine in the world of filmmaking or common sense, it doesn’t matter. Why? The island’s magical.

Despite all of that, it’s a great show. One reason as to why it seems so great, however, is not necessarily because of its quality, but it’s addictiveness. There seem to be at least four or five cliffhangers PER EPISODE. The suspense that the show creates is literally out of control. That has always presented an interesting question to me: whether the show will hold up a second time around. If there’s no longer any suspense as to what’s going to happen the next episode, five episodes down the line or several seasons away.

Some of the greatest shows of all time are just that because they can create a single episode that can stand alongside some of the best feature films that you’ll ever see. Examples include “Irregular Around the Margins.” from season five of “The Sopranos” or “Bartlet for America” from season three of “The West Wing.” If “LOST” cannot function as a great, quality show, episode per episode, without relying simply on what happens next, then I’m not sure if it will remain one of my favorite shows of recent years.

This is truly a rambling post of mine, but I felt like getting it off my chest. So, for fun, check out this hilarious video my friend put me on to. It doesn’t contain any straight-up spoilers. However, if there is anyone who intends to watch the show and doesn’t want to know ANYTHING about it, which is totally acceptable for a show like this. If not, watch this video. You won’t be sorry: