Full Cavity Search
UR A Meatball Rating System

Everybody's Doing It

 

Lurk No Further

Tuesday
Feb022016

A Good Wife

A Good Wife [Dobra zena]
Directed by: Mirjana Karanovic
Released at: Sundance Film Festival 2016
Grade: 3 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: John Esther

Commencing and concluding with a disrupting male gaze that focuses on two circles of sorts, Serbian actor Mirjana Karanovic makes an impressive debut as director and co-writer in A Good 
Wife, a film about personal and political cancer in current Serbia. 

Milena (Karanovic) is 50-year-old mother of three taking care of hubby (Boris Isakovic) and household in a small suburb outside of Belgrade. A woman with little identity of her own, Milena fills her days shopping, gossiping with other equally vacuous (yet not so wealthy) housewives and watching home videos. 

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Feb022016

Pleasure. Love.

Pleasure. Love.
Directed by: Huang Yao
Released on: Sundance Film Festival 2016
Grade: 2 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: John Esther

In Huang Yao's Pleasure. Love. people in their 30s essentially have love (and career) worked out and it is up to them to impart that wisdom on their younger counterparts so they may in turn bestow such wisdom and assurance on future lovers. 

Two stories with overlapping narratives, the first one, "Pleasure" is the more interesting and developed one. Nan (Daizhen Ying) has moved to Beijing, China, to go to school, but he is soon expelled due to lack of payment. This leads to a job selling books on the street (how novel), which pays so little he is threatened with eviction (a distracting, underdeveloped subplot). One night he meets Yajie (Nan Yu). Gorgeous, middle class, older and more mature, only in cinema land would a painfully awkward guy like Nan get a woman Yajie's caliber.

Click to read more ...

Monday
Jan042016

REACTION NYE w/Purity Ring & Skrillex

Reaction NYE w/Purity Ring & Skrillex
Where: Donald E. Stephens Convention Center
When: December 31st, 2015
Grade: 4 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed and Photographed by: Neil Miller, Jr.

To ring in the New Year, it seemed apt to go hard or go home – the latter of which is what I normally choose to do every year.  Of all the events happening around Chicago, React Presents’ Reaction NYE event seemed the most appealing.  With a diverse lineup teeming with great artists like Purity Ring, Skrillex, and Chicago’s own Autograf, it made sense to check out what was happening in Rosemont on this special evening.  When held up against the other options Chicagoans had for NYE plans, this certainly ended up as the place to be to bring in 2016.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Dec232015

Uncle Nick

Uncle Nick
Directed by: Chris Kasick
Released on: December 4th, 2015
Grade: 3 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: John Esther

Featuring a performance and physique few A-list actors would maintain in a Holiday-centered film, Brian Posehn plays the eponymous character in Chris Kasick's directorial debut, Uncle Nick.

We first meet Nick at home, lounging around in his boxers, surrounded by empty bottles of booze and X-rated material streaming on his laptop. When he stands up, he is all flab, rubber and smooth (except for a stretchmark he will inquire about later). Audiences may also ask: Is he too drunk to get an erection?

A lonely guy with seemingly nothing positive going on in his life, Nick finds out from his mother's nursing home that she will not be able to spend Christmas eve with her family. This does not sit well for Nick. He wanted his mother along, at least to serve as a buffer against his detestable brother, Cody (Beau Ballinger), and as a ride over to said brother's house. Nick just got a DUI.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Dec012015

HEALTH @ Lincoln Hall

HEALTH w/Pictureplane
Where: Lincoln Hall
When: November 28th, 2015
Grade: 4 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: Neil Miller, Jr.

I’ve always had a passing interest in HEALTH – their music is polarizing to say the least.  Either you can appreciate the organized noise and the slightly comforting abrasive electronics they inject into their music, or you just consider it to be hot garbage.  For those in the latter category, now may be the time for you to rediscover the LA band.  Their new album, Death Magic, is the reason I made it a point to check out the guys at Lincoln Hall.  It’s far removed from their previous work, sounding more like a band who would sound at home on labels like Digital Hardcore or even Wax Trax!.  There are hooks, the production is clean as a whistle, and although there are still blasts of noise a la the old days, the record is largely based on electronic sounds rather than organic instruments (although Benjamin Jared Miller’s drums are still quite prevalent).  I just bought the album the day before the show and decided that I had to hear how this all translated onstage and thankfully, the results were scintillating.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Nov172015

I Smile Back

I Smile Back
Directed by: Adam Salky
Released on: November 6th, 2015
Grade: 4 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: John Esther


Featuring Sarah Silverman in what may be the best performance in any American film this year, I Smile Back offers a tragic look into a woman who can no longer take the artifice of her milieu.

Laney (Silverman) seems to have it all: a very nice home; a loving, handsome husband who has just published a book named Bruce (an excellent Josh Charles); two healthy, adorable children (Shayne Colman and Skylar Gaertner) and all the leisure time she can handle.

Yet she is not happy. Everyone around her is bogus in some way, falsifying her or his (mostly his) testimony everywhere Laney looks. Trapped in such existential horror, what is a bourgeois women to do other than consume copious amounts of cocaine and alcohol? Oh, and have an affair with a close friend, Donny (Thomas Sadoski), who is one fraudulent mother pumper. Has Laney never heard of going shopping in order to fill the void?

Click to read more ...

Monday
Nov162015

Love

Love
Directed by: Gaspar Noé
Released on: October 30th, 2015 [LIMITED]
Grade: 4 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: John Esther 

Nothing should be surprising when one goes to see a film by writer-director Gaspar Noé (Irreversible; Enter the Void). In the opening scene of his latest film, Love, a woman named Electra (Aomi Muyock) and a man named Murphy (Karl Glusman) are fingering the genitals of each other. His cock is as hard as rock (a stiffy in cinema!) while she is just squeaky wet. The scene does not end until he ejaculates — money shot and all.

Clearly, the two are in love.

With the cinematic blink of an eye, which Noé used masterfully in Enter the Void, Murphy now occupies his bed with Omi (Klara Kristen). It is New Year's Day and their son, Noe (Jean Couteau), is screaming in the other room. As Murphy goes to retrieve the boy, we learn Murphy is suffering from veisalgia (AKA a hangover) and has been hung out to dry up in a relationship he does not want.

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Nov152015

Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits: A Novel

Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits: A Novel
Author/Publisher: David Wong/Thomas Dunne Books
Release Date: Oct 6th, 2015
Grade: 5 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed By: Pawl Schwartz

Wong has excelled so far, graduating from Cracked.com university and now on to being a big-time author. His first book you already know is John Dies at the End, a fun-as-hell, hilarious ride for any fan of the great horror comedies (Evil Dead, Dead and Breakfast, Shaun of the Dead, etc.), which was made into a pretty mediocre movie. Weird, right? Wong is horror/comedy on the page, but when translated to film, it just doesn’t feel as explosive or clever. Perhaps it’s because I read the book first; but one thing is for sure: Wong hasn’t painted himself into a corner with his genre island, and he has excelled in his newest novel Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits.

Click to read more ...

Friday
Oct232015

Heart of a Dog

Heart of a Dog
Directed by: Laurie Anderson
Released on: October 17th, 2015 [Chicago International Film Festival]
Grade: 3 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: John Esther

In her autobiographical documentary, Heart of a Dog, renowned artist-composer Laurie Anderson utilizes 8mm home videos, the artist's own hand illustrations/drawings and musical compositions (old and new), her artwork, and that notable affected voice of hers to offer her own musings on life and death in the 21st century.

Although the documentary is dedicated to Anderson's late husband — the fine, fine, rock 'n' roll legend Lou Reed — surprisingly and thankfully, rather than focus on her relationship with Reed, Anderson uses her rat terrier canine pet, Lolabelle (who died in 2011, a year before Reed), as the springboard for her musings.

Click to read more ...

Friday
Oct232015

Experimenter

Experimenter
Directed by: Michael Almereyda
Released on: October 16th, 2015
Grade: 4 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: John Esther

One of the most influential and innovative American psychologists of the 20th century, Stanley Milgram gets some long overdue recognition, via cerebral cinematic biopic form, in the latest film by Michael Almereyda (Nadja; last year's Cymbeline).

Growing up Jewish during mid-20th century America, Milgram (a stellar Peter Sarsgaard) was deeply affected by WWII and the Holocaust. How could so many people commit so much evil? An incredibly intelligent person who knew better than to assign it to "the brilliance of Hitler," Milgram wanted to understand the obedience of the populace before authoritative figures.

Click to read more ...