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.
It’s the Christmas season, a time when movies at the theater are popular and fun for holiday cheer. It’s also a time when thriller and action films gain a lot of attention. I would define Violent Night as a comedy thriller with Santa Claus fun thrown in. It’s basically Bad Santa meets Die Hard, topped off with Home Alone.
In Violent Night, David Harbour plays Santa Claus. A wealthy family is together for Christmas and they are being held hostage by mercenaries, including a man, played by John Leguizamo, who refers to himself as Scrooge. In addition to delivering all the Christmas gifts, Santa has the additional task of trying to save the family, despite being drunk most of the time. So does Santa have what it takes to be a savior with also getting all the Christmas presents dropped off? The Christmas spirit is powerful, but is it enough for Santa Claus to save the family and Christmas?
There are lots of twists in this bonkers Christmas Eve adventure. As the tension and violence between Santa Claus and Scrooge increases, Santa needs his naughty and nice list to decide who to take down. It makes for a wild ride with Christmas magic, loaded machine guns, and lots of explosions.
Violent Night may focus on action and violence, but Harbour’s performance does bring holiday cheer in a fun, yet explosive way. The many twists and excitement of Violent Night will have audiences laughing out loud.
I have not had this much fun with a Christmas adventure in a long time. Harbour makes one heck of a Santa Clause. Violent Night is a grown-up Christmas comedy for adults. Be prepared for some Christmas fatalities that happen in magical and amusing ways. This is a film where the fun never ends. I found it to be creative and clever, with more twists than expected. Three stars for Violent Night.
There are many films in which creatures want to live normal lives. There are ones in which they wish they were not what they were born to be. Luca Guadagnino’s Bones and All involves a gruesome trail that is harrowing, but mesmerizing. With Taylor Russell and Timothee Chalamet as the creatures, Bones and All is a poetic journey dealing with society and irreparable consequences. The film portrays many grotesque situations and Guadagnino delivers fragments of difficult questions. In Bones and All, the film’s premise speaks for itself.
Bones and All starts with Maren (Russell), a young and lovely lady who cannot resist her urges. She is a cannibal. The time frame the film is set in is Ronald Reagan’s America. Maren’s father has left her to fend for herself. She goes on the road in hopes of starting a new life. She first meets another individual named Sully (played by Mark Rylance) and he is also a cannibal. She does not click with him. Then she meets Lee (Chalamet), another cannibal, but they are both looking for the same thing, a life that is normal. They team-up and drive thousands of miles through Ohio, Kentucky, Iowa, and many other states. They are two cannibals falling in love, but do not want to live the rest of their lives as cannibals. Their journey together makes them want to reconcile with their pasts. They also meet Jake (played by Michael Stuhlbarg) who is a shady guy. All the characters in Bones and All make the audience curious about whether Maren and Lee can find love or acceptance in the rough journey they embark upon. The movie is quite graphic in the beginning, but its overall landscape is rich in feeling for all its characters.
I love Bones and All because of how Guadagnino knows how to blend emotions in the film. He tones down the moments with sad sound effects and captures his characters’ emotions. Bones and All is a story of redemption, but with horrific creatures. However, the director makes it clear that Maren and Lee wish they did not have their cannibalistic urges. Their journey slowly disregards the Hannibal factor and makes love and society the more important elements in Bones and All.
Bones and All has many of the same loving themes as Guadagnino’s Call Me by Your Name (2017). Chalamet and Stuhlbarg both starred in that film as well. Guadagnino transitions Chalamet’s performance from one questioning who he loves to someone wanting love. The only difference is he wants love as a cannibal. Bones and All is strong in the heavy emotional scenarios. Guadagnino can incorporate love and feelings into his films, no matter how obscure the subject matter.
Will Maren and Lee start a new life? Will their urges come back to haunt them? Can they do good for the world? Bones and All is a ride of curiosities on a bizarre level. While repulsive at first, ultimately effective in terms of its message. Three and a half stars for Bones and All.
I have watched Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio twice. The first time was in digital projection and the second time was in 35mm projection. Both editions were mesmerizing. As the wonderful world seen through the eyes of Toro grasped my attention, I felt like a young kid again. I love and feel connected to the characters of Pinocchio and Geppetto. There are so many amazing voices in this atmospheric adventure including Pinocchio (voiced by Gregory Mann), Geppetto (voiced by David Bradley), Sebastian J. Cricket (voiced by Ewan McGregor), Spazzatura (voiced by Cate Blanchett), Candlewick (voiced by Finn Wolfhard), Count Volpe (voiced by Christoph Waltz), and Dottore (voiced by John Turturro). Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio is a world of wonder and joy with an imaginative storyline. Toro knows how to connect his audience to the love Pinocchio wants in the film. It is simply a grandeur of cinema creativity and magic.
The story begins with a woodcarver, Geppetto who has recently lost his son. Filled with grief and despair, he puts his woodcarving skills to work to create a boy figure. Suddenly, that boy comes to life and calls himself Pinocchio who is full of energy and spreads love all around. At first Geppetto struggles to accept that Pinocchio has come into his life. Over time, however, Geppetto starts to feel like a father again. Pinocchio has some difficulties because he struggles to understand right from wrong in the world. He also finds it difficult to understand he is much different than the people around him. Despite all the differences Pinnochio is eager to feel like a real human being. His encounters with good influences including Sebastian J. Cricket, Candlewick, and of course Geppetto are the ones that care about Pinocchio the most. Sadly, Pinocchio does not understand who truly cares about him which causes him to run away with the evil Count Volpe in hopes of finding attention. With Geppetto still suffering from depression from the loss of his son, he sets out on a journey to get Pinocchio back.
Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinnochio is an adventure of love, peril, and deceit. In between the happy and sad moments, there are many wonderful musical moments that are just extremely heartwarming. Toro’s direction is incredible in the way it makes the audience sense the love around Pinocchio. Of course, as people know from the famous story, Pinocchio’s biggest issue is that when he lies his nose grows. Pinocchio’s nose is at the center of him learning to make the right choices during this joyful ride of magical animations.
The adventures which are filled with confusion, frustration, and sadness for Pinocchio and Geppetto are spellbinding. I was captivated with the disconnect the film displays in many loving ways. Toro knows connection and imagination. He creates a picture where love is enticing for everyone in the film. He even portrays admirable moments during the perilous scenes. Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio has many moments which deliver silver linings, but the best ones are between Geppetto and Pinocchio which is why I adore Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio. It is about connection, love, discovery, and acceptance portrayed in many endearing scenes.
The second time I saw Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio, I attended the 35mm format at Music Box Theatre. The best part about this experience was that the director attended virtually along with the audience. Hearing Del Toro talk about his imagination and the process of making the film was captivating and surreal. Del Toro is not afraid to throw his creativity into full swing. He is also not afraid to do what it takes to make his audience feel a sense of connection to his projects. Both of his strengths are in full display and spot-on in Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio. Come experience the love with Geppetto, Pinocchio, and many other wonderful characters in this not to miss movie. Four stars.