Film Review: “I’m Your Man” Is a Smart, Bittersweet Meditation on Desire

by Alexander C. Kafka Is loneliness a choice? Is love? Such timeless questions resonate particularly a year and a half into the coronavirus pandemic as we continue to weigh the risks and rewards of companionship, of intimacy, and calculate our capacity for solitude. Those quandaries propel the bittersweet romantic, sometimes droll meditation I’m Your Man,…

Film Review: ‘Ailey,’ Evocative Portrait of an American Icon

by Alexander C. Kafka During the pandemic, my family binge-watched the National Geographic Genius miniseries about Albert Einstein, Pablo Picasso, and Aretha Franklin. We imagined ourselves the producers for such a project and considered whom we would select as geniuses to feature. On my short list would surely be the choreographer, dancer, and entrepreneur Alvin…

‘Coming 2 America’ Has Some Chuckles but Mostly Falls Flat

by Alexander C. Kafka Covid has killed two and a half million people worldwide. A conspiracy-embracing, white-supremacist, fascist cohort of Americans are represented by opportunistic enablers in Congress. Texas diverts attention from its fatal mishandling of a winter storm by prematurely and irresponsibly declaring the end of the pandemic. And after a year, we’re all…

FILM REVIEW: Beautiful, Befuddled Blarney via Broadway

by Alexander C. Kafka Can the moon strike twice? Sadly, no. The question hovers over John Patrick Shanley’s new film Wild Mountain Thyme because it aims for the same sort of bittersweet heartache seasoned with gritty and eccentric comedic beats that characterized his Oscar-winning script for Moonstruck (1987). The grit then was of the Brooklyn Heights…

Film Review: Gore vs. Libido in Brandon Cronenberg’s Sci-Fi Sojourns

by Alexander C. Kafka The Canadian Cronenbergs are body-horror royalty, and while father David has veered toward more straightforward dramatic fare, his earlier career is echoed uncannily by son Brandon.  No one should screen a Cronenberg film expecting to be merely entertained but rather provoked, intrigued, seduced, disgusted, and possibly outraged, occasionally all at the…

Film Review: A Turkish Director’s Orwellian Feature Debut

by Alexander C. Kafka What do you get when you combine unrelenting nihilism with art-school swagger? The Antenna, the first feature film of Turkish writer-director Orçun Behram, a 2011 graduate of Columbia College Chicago who until now has worked on music videos, short films, and documentaries. Ihsan Önal plays a heavy lidded, bug-eyed building superintendent…

Film Reviews: A Combustible Curie and a Chummy Freud

by Alexander C. Kafka The French scientist Pierre Curie, in the new film Radioactive, is impressed by a colleague’s paper on the magnetic properties of steel. It’s an apt reflection of his attraction to that steely colleague herself, the Polish-born Maria Sklodowska. They become labmates, chisel through four tons of rock pitch over four years,…

John Lewis Documentary Portrays a Civil-Rights Icon Afraid for His Country

by Alexander C. Kafka John Lewis: Good Trouble couldn’t be more timely.  The new documentary, which will be available Friday on demand, arrives amid Black Lives Matter protests and renewed and deepening threats to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. It shows one of the architects and key drivers of that legislation, the longtime civil-rights…