CHICAGO
2002, Park Circus/Miramax, 113 min, USA/Germany/Canada, Dir: Rob Marshall

At a time when crimes of passion result in celebrity headlines, nightclub sensation Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and spotlight-seeking Roxie Hart (Renée Zellweger) both find themselves sharing space on Chicago's famed Murderess Row. They also share Billy Flynn (Richard Gere), the town's slickest lawyer with a talent for turning notorious defendants into local legends. But in Chicago, there's only room for one legend! Based on the Bob Fosse stage musical, the film won six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, with supporting performances by John C. Reilly (as Hart’s gullible husband) and Queen Latifah (as a corrupt jail matron) garnering additional Oscar nominations.


DRAGGED ACROSS CONCRETE
2018, Summit Entertainment, 158 min, USA/Canada, Dir: S. Craig Zahler

Hot on the heels of the spectacular pugilism of BRAWL IN CELL BLOCK 99, S. Craig Zahler closes out a triptych of blunt-force trauma that hasn’t been witnessed since the sweaty grit of Peckinpah and Schrader at their muscular peaks. Here suspended cops Ridgeman (Mel Gibson) and Lurasetti (Vince Vaughn) attempt to subvert a bank heist for private gain - but best-made plans don’t transpire as they should, resulting in murder, mutilation and a script that divides, conquers and challenges from the opening shot. Zahler expertly immerses us in a toxic environment where right and wrong are indistinguishable, and Gibson and Vaughn give him all the ammunition he needs with flawless performances as iconic antiheroes out of place and out of time - bad men doing bad things whom we willfully embrace as the lesser of the evils presented.


AN EVENING WITH BEVERLY LUFF LINN
2018, 108 min, UK/USA, Dir: Jim Hosking

Jim Hosking’s follow-up to THE GREASY STRANGLER is every bit as crazy as you would expect. Lulu Danger’s (Aubrey Plaza) unsatisfying marriage takes a strange turn when a man from her past comes to town to perform a mysterious event called “An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn; For One Magical Night Only.” Lulu’s world is populated with grotesque characters who say and do stupid things, and while each of their stories could be its own film, all the disparate elements come together for an absolutely insane finale. Director Hosking has a knack for off-kilter comedy, expertly balancing Lynchian small-town desolation with Jared Hess-style absurdity, and Plaza’s terrific central performance ensures that for every gross joke there’s an unexpectedly tender moment that lends depth and compassion to this bizarre world.


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