BY BRIAN BELAK Borrowing heavily from ‘70s and ‘80s slasher films, The House of the Devil (2009), showing at Doc Films at the University of Chicago on Thursday, June 5, is a classic horror film in style, though its actual substance remains a little lacking. Set in the early ‘80s, the film focuses on broke(…)
BY BRIAN BELAK In 1939 Warsaw, before the invasion of Poland by Germany, Adolf Hitler is discovered strolling along the street, pausing to glance in the window of a delicatessen. The narrator asks, what is Hitler doing alone in Poland? Why is he eying that delicatessen? Isn’t he a vegetarian? In this way, comedic mastermind(…)
BY BRIAN BELAK In Stranger by the Lake (2013), showing at Doc Films at the University of Chicago on May 24, murder and sex combine at a sun-drenched lake locale to create a slow-burning, yet passionate, thriller. The film takes place on a quiet, lakeside beach, where male sunbathers meet and go into the woods(…)
By BRIAN BELAK A child’s view of the world, with the presence of magic and wonder, can be very different from the view of an adult who has long since left such magic behind. The power of Pan’s Labyrinth (2006), showing at Doc Films at the University of Chicago on May 8, rests in writer/director(…)
BY BRIAN BELAK Hardboiled detective Philip Marlowe is perhaps the most famous “private eye” of the early/mid-20th Century, appearing in numerous stories by Raymond Chandler and portrayed in film by such great actors as Humphrey Bogart and Robert Mitchum. By the 1970s, however, this image of a chain-smoking, fedora-wearing detective had fallen out of favor, now(…)
BY BRIAN BELAK Alain Resnais’ 1984 film Love Unto Death, showing at Doc Films at the University of Chicago as part of a career retrospective for the late French filmmaker, features a title that reveals the film’s plot rather plainly. This is a love story between a man and a woman, Simon Roche and Elisabeth(…)
What makes a good sequel? When Pixar Studios produced Toy Story 2, showing at Doc Films at the University of Chicago on April 18, they provided what is one of the better answers to this question in film to date. Originally conceived as a direct-to-video sequel to Pixar’s smash-hit Toy Story (1995) (and possibly related(…)
In Nicolas Roeg’s 1971 film Walkabout, showing at Doc Films at the University of Chicago on April 7, a white teenaged girl and her younger brother are stranded in the Australian desert and must make their way back to civilization, meeting an Aborigine boy who helps them on their way. But that’s not nearly what(…)
When George Cukor’s 1938 film “Holiday” hit theaters in the midst of the Great Depression it did rather poorly — and it’s easy to see why. By BRIAN BELAK.
Though it remains clearly influenced by the ghost of Hitchcock, Brian De Palma’s 1984 film “Body Double” falls flat. By BRIAN BELAK.