All posts by Tarek Fayoumi amateur film critic in Chicago!

I am someone who strives to become a professional critic. I watch and review many movies. I view the eyes of movies as something as an art form. I have followed many critics over the years, but once I was thirteen I knew writing film reviews was going to be my passion. I learned from watching multiple episodes of Ebert And Roeper in my teen years, and then in middle school I began writing film reviews for a newspaper club. I am also an avid fan of the arts of Chicago including Theatre, Comedy, and music. Films, however, are my primary focus.

Cop Shop Review

Director Joe Carnahan’s Cop Shop has some cheesy moments, but those moments only add to the fun. In fact, I thought Cop Shop was as funny as Carnahan’s The A-Team (2010), although the violence and profanity are up several notches in Cop Shop.

Cop Shop is set entirely in a small town Nevada police station. Frank Grillo plays Teddy Murretto, a con artist who gets detained in the station along with hitman Bob Viddick, played by Gerard Butler, and psychopath Anthony Lamb, played by Toby Huss. Alexis Louder plays police officer Valerie Young.

Cop Shop displays Gerald Butler’s witty sense of humor and sarcasm well. As he tangles with Grillo, Huss and Louder it becomes hard to know who the main antagonist is. The pacing of the destruction and disasters, arriving in unexpected moments, makes for unexpected laughs as well. Cop Shop is a rollercoaster ride of a cat and mouse game.

Again, the violence in Cop Shop is extreme at times, but I didn’t find it over the top or too disturbing. Overall, the film has lots of laughs and is a general good time.

I actually had low expectations for Cop Shop, but it was a thrill ride of fun that I ending up loving. The premise and humor are brilliant. The destruction is out of this world. And there was seemingly something new and exciting at every turn. Three and a half stars for Cop Shop.

Blue Bayou Review

I knew that Blue Bayou was going to be an emotional film, but it felt so real and is such a compelling topic that it elicited a range of emotions, from sadness to surprise. I actually found myself crying several times during the film.

Justin Chon is the director and had the lead role in Blue Bayou. The film is based on real-life issues in our society, and Chon creates a portrait of an emotional journey that can have irreparable consequences. His directing  and dramatic portrayal in Blue Bayou are astounding.

The title Blue Bayou comes from a place that carries much of the film’s cinematic empathy. The lighting and cinematography in the bayou scenes deliver surrealism and sympathy. It is also the epicenter of the film’s dark moments.

In Blue Bayou, Chon plays Antonio LeBlanc, a Korean American adoptee living in the United States with his wife Kathy, played by Alicia Vikander, and Kathy’s daughter. Antonio has a criminal background and little education and he struggles to make a living for his family. After Kathy becomes pregnant and Antonio discovers he’s on the verge of being deported, his life begins a downward spiral.

Justin Chon’s performance as Antonio as well as his directing are calculated to elicit maximum emotion, and he also displays a great amount of understanding about the subject matter. Antonio’s fight for his right to stay in the United States relates in many ways to present real-world America. And both Chon and Vikander give extremely vivid performances.

Blue Bayou is certainly a heavy film. But Antonio also gives us a life lesson on not giving up, and a picture of how far a family will go to fight for the ones they love. Three and a half stars for Blue Bayou.

Demonic Review

Demonic has a promising premise and it has its harrowing moments, especially at the beginning. It also has a talented director in Neill Blomkamp. But overall the film is just a mess.

Neill Blomkamp has directed a number of excellent films with futuristic settings, ranging from District 9 (2009), Elysium(2013), to Chappie (2015). I definitely enjoyed those films. But Demonic is scientifically strange, it can be confusing at times, and it’s not in the same class as those previous films.

Demonic focuses on a woman named Carly, played by Carly Pope, who is selected to participate in an operation done via brainwaves, to get to the center of her mother’s issues. The operation goes awry and Carly finds herself in danger. The medical staff involved with the operation are Michael, played by Michael J. Rogers and Daniel, played by Terry Chen.

The premise of Demonic is similar to another film from earlier this year that that I also considered a flop, Reminiscence. There was simply too much confusion in Demonic, too many moments where you couldn’t put the pieces together, which contributed to Demonic being not very thrilling or suspenseful.

Demonic may be worthy of a watch for some viewers, and I was actually looking forward to the film. But it was very disappointing. I still have faith in Blomkamp to make brilliant films in, and about, the future. But until then I would prefer to revisit his other classics. I give Demonicjust two stars.