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Three (Really Good) Chicago-Based Blogs that Review Films

March 18, 2011 | By | Add a Comment

Dying for a review but don’t know where to turn?  Here’s a group of three local blogs that you are most likely to find reviews on DIY, undistributed films.  Each site has its mission; here they are laid out so that you can see which one is right for you.

Nick’s Flick Picks: The Blog is a great place to look if you’re into festival films.  Blogging weekly, Nick lays out all the insightful criticism one could ever hope for from a film- no spoilers, compares the flick to other similar flicks (all the better to guide our tastes with) and talks about the nature of the characters, the plot and the direction: we know what we’re getting into, and it makes for a great rental find.  Coverage of this past year’s Chicago International Film Festival can be found here.

However, he doesn’t stop at festivals- the thing I found the best about this blog is the right bar side panel, where a simple grading system is given out, which is absolutely perfect for new releases, what to rent, top 10 titles, what to see in theaters, and coming attractions.  This blog provides a quick-list of titles that I found particularly useful, especially when I’m stuck on what to rent next.

24 Frames per Second, a subsidiary of Gorilla Nation Media, is geared towards covering all that the Asian/World/Horror/ sci-fi world has to offer.  The coverage of this site is pretty wide, although the subject matter is quite tight; Gorilla Nation Media, an Evolve Media Corp Company, has headquarters in Chicago, as well as in Los Angeles, New York, Toronto, San Francisco, Montreal, London and Melbourne.  Targeting a demographic of 18-34 year old men, if you make horror/ action flicks with an international appeal, this would be the site for you.  There’s also plenty of room for genre crossover here- what really got me was a news piece they did of Shangdown, an indie/kung-fu/spaghetti western; the genres are encouraged to inter-mingle.

Antagony and Ecstasy is a local film review blog run by Tim Brayton, and has been going strong since August of 2005.  Just over 6 years later, Brayton’s blog provides a wide assortment of honest, in-depth reviews, which averagely get posted over 20 times a month.  What makes A&E distinct in its style, is its adherence to the film, without heavy stipulations of the culture surrounding film genre; Brayton’s statement stresses that Antagony and Ecstasy “only infrequently engages in the discussion of culture ‘surrounding’ cinema but not ‘within’ cinema; as a rule (though not a binding rule), there are not to be found topics pertaining to film production, cinephilia (including the appreciation of specific individuals, as actors or directors), or secondary issues inspired by film, unless those topics are brought up in specific relation to a film being reviewed.”  The films are the real ticket here: want to know what you’re getting into before you rent?  Brayton’s your guy.

More than just reviews, these pieces provide honest criticism, “The best review or analysis is not necessarily the one that you agree with on the most points; it is the one that presents a work of art in a new light, provoking new ways of thinking about what it is and why it does or doesn’t work. It is about taking an object you thought you understood, and saying, ‘Yes, but what if we twist it just a little bit this way…’”

As for what Brayton likes to see, in his statement of principles he writes, “if I had [a] choice between a film with a rigorous, crackerjack plot or a film that constantly investigates its own structure, at the expense of any real narrative urgency, I’ll always favor the latter,” he continues, “ I will also always find more love for a movie that could only ever exist as cinema, even if it is bogged-down with flaws, than a movie that is elegant and essentially perfect, that could just as easily be a novel or stageplay.  Best of all, of course, are those rare works that are constantly aware of themselves as cinema, with a rich and compelling thematic layer expressed in terms that cannot be replicated outside of the medium, combining the best of all possibilities in one place.”

You are sure to find new and exciting films to look at on this blog; perhaps your film can be placed among the list.   To see if this is the review site that’s right for you- a full index of Brayton’s reviews can be found here.

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