Dwight Casimere

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CHICAGO FILM FESTIVAL CLOSING NIGHT: THE FRONT RUNNER

Director Jason Reitman (Tully, Young Adult, Up In The Air) brings forth a cinematically sweeping indictment of the American political process in The Front Runner, starring Oscar nominee Hugh Jackman as the ill-fated, but charismatic candidate. In a screenplay co-writtem by the director, the film unreels with the pacing of a Hitchcock thriller, the dramatic rise and fall of the Colorado Senator who, for one brief moment, captured the imagination of young, idealistic potential voters. There are some terrific performances throughout, not to mention the atmospheric cinematography of Eric Steelberg.

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TRANSIT FROM GERMAN ART FILM MASTER CHRISTIAN PETZOID IN U.S. PREMIERE

German art film genius Christian Petzold who brought us the Holocaust survivor drama Phoenix in 2014 takes a time-shifting look at Nazi occupattion in TRANSIT, based on the 1942 book Transit Visa by Anna Segher. Georg (Franz Rogowski) is a burned out refugee who escaped from two concentration camps and finds himself in Nazi occupied France on the trail of a mysterious dissident writer. A friend on the run gives him some letters to deliver to the writer, who is living in exile in a fleabag hotel somewhere in northern France. Instead of making the connection, he finds that the writer has committed suicide n the most horrific way. He assumes the dead man's identity and learns that he is suddenly in possession of the much needed papers for transport out of the hellish occupied territories. Armed with newly doctored transit papers, oodles of cash and guaranteed safe passage on a ship bound for Mexico and a new life. Hence the name of the film. An off-camera narrator, who turns out to be the bartender Barmann (Matthias Brandt) at the local bistro where the protagonists often meet, intones how Georg quietly celebrates by eating a solitary Margarita pizza and sipping Rose wine.

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NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL CENTERPIECE ROMA DIRECTED BY ALFONSO CAURON

Filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron brings the quiet, but emotionally powerful film ROMA to the big screen as a Centerpiece of the Main Slate presentations at the 56th New York Film Festival. The joint Mexico/USA Netflix production is also screening as a Gala Presentation at the Chicago International Film Festival. Cuaron is a highly accomplished director. Born and raised in Mexico City, he started filming everything that moved beginning at age 12. As a multi-talented film director who has done everything from writing, editing, photographing and producing films. He has won multiple awards on several continents, including two Academy Awards in 2013 for the space disaster drama Gravity for Best Achievement in Directing, and Best Achievement in Film Editing, which he shared with fellow Gravity Editor Mark Sanger.

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MARIA BY CALLAS DOCUMENTARY TAKES A MULTI-FACETED LOOK AT A COMPLEX PERFORMANCE GENIUS

Maria by Callas, directed by Tom Volf, takes a probing look art the legendary opera diva, mostly in her own words. Composited from on camera film and tv interviews and audio interviews, archival footage of her opera performances, tabloid newspaper and magazine coverage and old newsreel footage, the film examines the complex life and personality of a true star who has been mythologized perhaps more than any other star, living or dead. A televised interview with 'TV host David Frost, is a recurring thread throughout the film, as his probative questioning is most effective in peeling back the veneer of theatrical "maquilage" to reveal the person beneath the image.

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New York Philharmonic Explores Modern Music from Andriessen, Stravinsky and Debussy

The New York Philharmonic's regular subscription concerts of Oct 4-6 were a careful study of modern serious music, traversing several generations. The music spoke to the distinctive styles and references of each composer but conveyed a singular property of depth and imagination. Music Director and Conductor Jaap van Zweden is showing his vast understanding of contemporary music and its relationship to the works of past composers. The opening work by Dutch composer Louis Andriessen, who was present at the concerts, grew out of his idea to create, in his words, a "war-like piece, full of fast music and nervous terror." The music is constructed like a tone poem, with sections telling the story of Agamemnon, whom Andriessen likens to a pragmatic hero, rather than the villain he is normally portrayed as. Instead, he musically portrays him as "an inspiring leader who's originally reluctant to go to war." Andriessen's music utilizes some lovely stretches of music for the Philharmonic's superb brass section, interspersed with energetic, stylized percussive music echoeing strains of jazz, rock and funk, interrupted by some truly lovely stretches of woodwinds and long, elegant lines for strings. The work brought the audience to its feet and van Zweden invited the composer onstage for a well-deserved bow.

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MET OPERA LA BOHEME A PRE-HOLIDAY TREAT

ANGEL BLUE STARS AS MUSETTA AFTER MAKING HER ROLE DEBUT AT THE MET IN THE 2017-18 SEASON IN T HE LEAD ROLE OF MIMI

Reviewed at the Season Premiere Sept. 4 La Boheme is a timeless story of young love among struggling artists that rings just as true today as it did when it debuted at the Teatro Regio in Turin, Italy in 1896. Puccini's classic has even been transposed to modern times, with the Broadway musical Rent which made history in 1996 as the first musical to win both a Tony and a Pulitzer Prize for drama. Its not surprising that the house was sold out for every performance of the opera that I attended at the Met this season. Its my absolute favorite opera, so I saw it at every opportunity. Much credit for the success of this year's season's Revival Production can be laid at the feet of Nicole Car as Mimi and Vittorio Grigolo as Rodolfo. The radiant duet, sung in the First Act, is the scene that anchors the opera. In it, they declare their love for each other. Standing in the cold artist's garret where Rodolfo lives with his ragtag group of struggling artists, the poignance of their plaintive expressions is palpable. Even after hearing the same duet in countless pairings over the years, their performance still tugs at the heart.

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MET OPERA LIVE HD-LA FANCIULLA DEL WEST (GIRL OF THE GOLDEN WEST) SAT. OCT. 27 1PM ET

Reviewed at the Season Premiere Oct. 4

Solid singing performances propel an otherwise rather staid production of Puccini's single opera set in America's Old West, La Fanciulla del West (Girl of the Golden West). Giancarlo del Monaco's 1991 sets, depicting a Gold Rush-era town in the Sierra Foothills in 1849-50 and the cluttered staging of the supporting cast and chorus is beginning to look a bit long in the tooth.

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56TH NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL SPECIAL EVENT-ORSON WELLE'S THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND

SILENT MASTERPIECE IS DEBUTED AFTER NEARLY 50 YEARS

The air was full of great expectation at the 56th Annual New York Film Festival, and every time Orson Welles’ name was mentioned or his credit rolled across the screen he received a thunderous applause as if Jesus himself had come down off the cross. Unfortunately “The Other Side of the Wind,” was none of that. Ten minutes into the film that was cut so fast, with the camera darting in and out of scenes so that one could not keep up, one knew it was substantially less than the hype. And, for about two more hours it kept on disappointing.

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56TH NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL IN HISTORIC MAIN SLATE EVENT: JAMES' BALDWIN'S IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK FOR THE FIRST TIME IN ITS HISTORY NYFF HOLDS A FILM DEBUT IN HARLEM, JAMES BALDWIN'S HOME

Barry Jenkins, who created the expressively beautiful “Moonlight,” that was awarded the 2016 Oscar for Best Picture, has done it again! “If Beale Street Could Talk,” set in early 1970s Harlem, is telling a bigger story conceived by an iconic writer, James Baldwin, whose novel of the same name this film is adapted. Jenkins cinematically captures Baldwin’s lilting prose and biting commentary about race and the American criminal justice system. The racial despair of this story still resonates today and were the actors not coiffed in Afros and the men wearing side burns and vintage Italian knit shirts, it would have been easy to believe the film depicts the “Black Lives Matter” reality of today.

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Wine of the Week: Cotes du Rhone Wines – The Art of Wine

The confluence of wine and art was affirmed in the presentation of wines from the Rhone Valley in France at Art Space 8 on Chicago's Magnificent Mile. Master Sommelier Laura Maniec, wine educator and owner of the CorkBuzz wine studios in Union Square and Chelsea Market in New York was the presenter. Subtly rich, diverse with pronounced fruit flavors kissed by the sun, the wines are a perfect expression of Mediterranean warmth and beauty. Rhone Valley wine is shaped by its terroir. In summer, the Rhone Valley is hot and dry.

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