February 2, known by weather forecasters and some movie fans as “Groundhog Day,” returns every year.
Suppose, just suppose, as in the famed 1993 film, you magically get to repeat Feb. 2 after spending the whole day doing whatever you actually did on Feb. 2. Would you change anything? Think about it.
Many libraries have the movie and it can be found with a streaming service. A romcom directed and cowritten by Harold Ramis with Danny Rubin, it is worth watching.
Another good choice is to travel to Woodstock, a charming town northwest of Chicago, where it was filmed. Their groundhog, Woodstock Willie, predicts when Spring may come similarly to Punxsutawne Phil in Punxsutawne, PA. that “Groundhog Day” is supposed to be based on in the movie.
Both Groundhogs whisper their predictions to their handlers. But in Woodstock, IL You can tour the actual film sites and view the film in the local movie house.
Events surrounding the film start Feb. 1 but are celebrated with a redo of the weather predicting creatures on Feb 2.
Groundhog Day is based on European folklore as to when to plant. For folklore and other info visit Farmer’s Almanac.
Ed Note: Unlike Groundhog Day, Feb. 29, popularly known by calendar keepers as “Leap Year Day,” doesn’t return every year. It only comes every four years. However, Leap Year Day is back this year, 2024.
Based on all the awards ceremonies that have already taken place this year “Everything Everywhere All At Once” is expected to walk off with the most awards. But tune in any way when the 956th Academy Awards are announced March 12, 2023 for movies released in 2022 to see the gowns and tuxes, hear the best songs performed and guess the other awards.
As an example, In the 1929 Oscars Frank Borzage won Best Directing for Dramatic Picture with “7th Heaven” and “Wings” took the first Oscar ever for Best Picture.
The site also lists this year’s Dikrecting nominees as Martin Mcdonagh for “The Banshees of Inisherin,” Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (Known as the two Daniels) for “Everything Everywhere All At Once,” Steven Spielberg for “The Fabelmans,” Todd Field for “Tar” and Ruben Östlund for “Triangle of Sadness.”
No matter who wins what film makers are hoping for is full recovery at theaters so audiences are back after the Pandemic.
If tuning in to Good Morning America at 7:30 a.m.Jan.24 or watching GMAlivestream, you heard the 95th Academy Awards nominations for movies released in 2022.
There are 23 categories ranging from Best Picture and Best Actress to Best Costume Design and Best Original Score. Oscar winners will be announced March 12 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.
But if you watched the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s Global Awards Winners & Nominees 2023 | Golden Globes earlier in January which often reflected what the Oscars would look like, you might not be surprised that “Everything Everywhere All at Once” led Academy Awards announcement with 11 nominations and “The Banishees of Inisherin” followed with 9 as did “All Quiet on the Western Front.”
To sort of understand “Everything Everywhere,” think of the world, our universe, as a unified entity, then think of what it might be if it were a multiverse made up of parallel universes. Conceived and directed as a drama-com by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert and produced by them with Anthony and Joe Russo, the center figure is an elderly Chinese American immigrant (Michelle Yeoh) who has to connect to her multiverse selves.
Here are some of the category nominees that propelled “Everything Everywhere” and “The Banishees.”
All Quiet on the Western Front Avatar: The Way of Water The Banshees of Inisherin Elvis Everything Everywhere All at Once The Fabelmans Tár Top Gun: Maverick Triangle of Sadness Women Talking
Best Supporting Actress
Angela Bassett, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Hong Chau, The Whale
Kerry Condon, The Banshees of Inisherin
Jamie Lee Curtis, Everything Everywhere All at Once
Stephanie Hsu, Everything Everywhere All at Once
Best Original Score
Volker Bertelmann, All Quiet on the Western Front
Carter Burwell, The Banshees of Inisherin
Justin Hurwitz, Babylon
Son Lux, Everything Everywhere All at Once
John Williams, The Fabelmans
Best Costume Design
Jenny Beavan, Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris
Ruth Carter, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Catherine Martin, Elvis
Mary Zophres, Babylon
Shirley Kurata, Everything Everywhere All at Once
What if your team doesn’t make Super Bowl LVII on Feb. 12. Or you crave a fun event to brighten winter. Around Chicago found four events. At least one should appeal.
Celebrate Chinese New Year
Also called the Spring Festival and a celebration of the Lunar New Year, 2023 is the Year of the Rabbit and goes from Jan. 22 through Feb. 5.
Chicago’s Chinatown and Uptown (Argyle) neighborhoods hold lion and dragon dances, parades and other Lunar New Year events.
Uptown celebrates Jan. 28 from noon to 4 p.m. with the parade stepping off at 1 p.m. from Argyle Street and Winthrop Avenue. For details visit Argyle Lunar New Year. Chinatown’s parade is Jan. 29, 1 p.m. at 24th Street and Wentworth Avenue. See details at Chinatown Community Lunar New Year.
Or celebrate with dinner at a Chinese restaurant. Most decorate in red and some hand out red envelopes.
February starts with a fun, fanciful forecast in Woodstock, IL, northwest of Chicago. “Groundhog Day,” a movie that celebrates a rodent’s telling when Spring will come, was mostly made in Woodstock, IL. The town subbed, sorta, for Punxsutawney, PA. The month continues with the country’s largest auto show, followed by the Chicago Botanic Garden’s famed Orchid Show.
Go to Woodstock for Groundhog Day
The tiny town of Woodstock celebrates its “Groundhog” film locations and continually show the movie beginning Feb. 1, 2023. But the main event is early morning Feb. 2, when their groundhog, Woodstock Willie, forecasts the coming of Spring.
Released in 1993, the movie reappears every year similar to its theme of caught in a time warp. Directed by Harold Ramis with screenplay by Ramis and Danny Rubin it stars Bill Murray as cynical weatherman Phil Conners and Andie MacDowell as local TV producer Rita Hanson who wants “world peace.”
Take a look at today’s and tomorrow’s vehicles from SUV’s to concept cars. Use the simulators. Eat and just have fun. Held at McCormick Place, Chicago’s huge convention center, 2301. S. King Dr, Chicago, the show runs Feb. 11- 20, 2023. For the schedule, pricing and list of things to do visit About the Show | Chicago Auto Show and its links.
Discover beautiful, even bold, colors at the Chicago Botanic Garden Orchid Show
Stroll through CBG’s Greenhouses, Feb 11 through March 25, 2023 to see different sizes and colors of orchids. Garden notes predict 2023 will have even more color than 2022. In addition, orchid specialists and vendors will be on hand to answer questions and sales. The Illinois Orchid Society will also be there March 11-12.
After missing 2021 due to COVID, Hint of Rhino: Rhinoceros Theater Festival 2022 , will be April 1 through May 7, 2022. Presented by The Curious Theatre Branch in association with the Pride Arts Center and Jimmy Beans Cabaret, Prop Thtr and Labyrinth Arts, shows will run Thursday through Sunday at Jimmy Beans Coffee (2553 W. Fullerton Ave, second floor) in Logan Square and at the Broadway Theater at Pride Arts Center (4139 N Broadway Ave) in Uptown.
Tickets to all events are $20 or pay-what-you-can. Proof of vaccination will be required at the door, and audience members and crew will remain masked inside venues. For ticket, show and other information visit rhinofest.com.
Maxwell Street Market
Known for its crafts, clothes, music, street food and family fun, the historic Maxwell Street Market reopens April 3. Hours are Sundays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For directions and more information visit City of Chicago :: Maxwell Street Market.
Among the world’s leading art exhibition and programing, Expo Chicago will be at Navy Pier April 7 through April 10, 2022.
In step with boycotts of anything Russian, the prevailing film festival sentiment including the Cannes and Venice Film Festivals is to not accept Russian filmmakers or films with ties to the Putin regime.
Festival de Cannes released a statement saying it would ban Russian delegations at its 75th edition in May. The statement read: As the world has been hit by a heavy crisis in which a part of Europe finds itself in a state of war, the Festival de Cannes wishes to extend all its support to the people of Ukraine and all those who are in its territory.” The statement continued with “However modest as it is, we join our voices with those who oppose this unacceptable situation and denounce the attitude of Russia and its leaders.”
To clarify, the statement added, “During this winter of 2022 the Festival de Cannes has entered its preparation phase. Unless the war of assault ends in conditions that will satisfy the Ukrainian people, it has been decided that we will not welcome official Russian delegations nor accept the presence of anyone linked to the Russian government.”
The Venice Biennale which oversees the Venice Film Festival also issued a statement that said it would ban Russian delegations and people connected to the government but added that it would not ban Russian artists who are independent and speak against the Vladmir Putin regime. Their statement said the festival would “therefore not accept the presence at any of its events any official delegations, institutions or persons tied in any capacity to the Russian government.”
Jewish Film Festival in March
The JCC Film Festival will stream and hold in-person showings of 18 films from March 10 through March 27, 2022. The in-person showings will be at three successive Sundays, March 13, 20 and 27, but at four different theaters.
Movie goers had second, third and fourth thoughts about sitting in theaters for even such highly hyped and highly rated films as the remake of “West Side Story.” But even with a poor box-office showing, the newly done tragic musical and other well-done films, plus their directors, actors and the behind-the scenes components will be recognized at the 94th Academy Awards March 27 at Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre.
Nominations in 23 categories for films released between March 1 and Dec. 31, 2021 , were announced at 5:18 PST Feb 8, 2022 by actor/comedian Leslie Jordan and actor, CEO and producer Tracee Ellis Ross plus special guests from California to New York City via a global live stream on the Academy’s digital platforms. Nominations are made by Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences members in their own categories – actors choosing actors. For the full list see the nominations at Oscar.com and Oscars.org.
Best Actor: Javier Bardem in “Being the Riccardos,” Benedict Cumberbatch in “The Power of the Dog,” Andrew Garfield in “Tic, Tick…Boom,” Will Smith in “King Richard” and Denzel Washington in “The Tragedy of Macbeth.
Best Actress: Jessica Chastain, ” The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” Olivia Colman in “The Lost Daughter,” Penélope Cruz in “Parallel Mothers, Nicole Kidman in “Being the Ricardos” and Kristen Stewart in “Spencer.”
The surprise was that Lady Gaga was not nominated as best actress for “House of Gucci.”
Nominations are made by Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences members in their own categories – actors choosing actors. For the full list see the nominations at Oscar.com and Oscars.org.
Active members of the Academy are eligible to vote for the winners in all 23 categories beginning Thursday, March 17, through Tuesday, March 22.
Snow just blanketed the Northeast and a blizzard is predicted for midweek in the Midwest. But maybe, just maybe, spring is on the way.
Two famed groundhogs (furry woodchucks), Punxsutawney Phil in in Punxsutawney, PA and Woodstock Willie in Woodstock, IL, will be predicting six more weeks of winter if they see their shadow and go back to sleep on Feb. 2. Or, if it’s cloudy in their area their behavior may say spring is coming soon.
The date, Feb. 2, is known in the U.S. as Groundhog Day because, European agriculture folklore has it that the critters’ behavior can be a weather indicator for planting.
Viewed from the creative minds of writer/director Harold Ramis and writer Danny Rubin the idea that a rodent can predict the weather, is a concept fit for a romcom movie with a disagreeable, cynical weatherman as its protagonist.
But instead of filming only in Punxsutawney, PA, Ramis wanted an appropriate (cute and quaint) site near his North Shore home.
Thus Woodstock, with its scenic, old-fashioned square, is where most of the filming took place. Released in 1993, Woodstock, IL is now the town “Groundhog Day” movie fans visit for a few days of free tours of the film’s sites, free movie showings, and, if the weather cooperates, a visit on Feb. 2 when Woodstock Willie does his early morning prediction about spring.
Fans relive the movie by following in TV Weatherman Phil Conners’s (Bill Murray) footsteps including where Murray steps into a puddle and where he and TV producer Rita (Andie MacDowell), the love interest, have their snowball fight in the town square.
In “Robust,” Gerard Depardieu portrays a lonely, bored, aging actor, Georges, unwilling or uninterested in going through the same old motions.
When his regular driver/security guard is temporarily called out of town, Georges creates a new alliance with his replacement, Aissa, brilliantly played by Déborah Lukumuena. She turns out to be the equal of both the character, Georges, and Depardieu, himself. Every scene between the two is a mesmerizing lesson in restraint and underlying tension.
The film is not a thriller with over the top special effects or chase sequences. There is no great plot or cinematic triumph. “Robust” is basically a quiet character study directed by Constance Meyer and written by Meyer with Marcia Romano providing very believable situations.
The tension is created between the male/female and employer/employee relationship specifically since Georges has personal boundary issues.
But this is not a “me too” theme. Instead, though there is an underlying subtle desire, this is more of a paternal relationship between two people trying to deal with their loneliness in spite of their busy professional lives.
In the end, as with any intense relationship between people in close proximity over a period of time, they learn something about each other and about themselves.
“Robust” is produced by Isabelle Madelaine. She apparently has produced a number of short subjects which explains her attraction to this piece that is a kind of expanded short subject.
Kudos to casting director Judith Chalier for putting together such an interesting and talented team. Even the performances of the secondary characters, regardless of the size of their roles, were delivered with sincere perfection.
Cinematographer Simon Beaufils treated us to a number of beautiful close-up portraits that amplified the inner tensions and intimacy. Likewise production designer Julia Lemaire provided an array of interesting, mostly interior, settings that provided subtle insight into the characters and their situations.
“Robust” is much like a warm bath. Just sit back and soak it in. Then when it is over feel refreshed and satisfied.
I highly recommend this film because you will be happy to see Depardieu work his magic. But more importantly, you will be very glad that you got to see an interesting performance by rising star Lukumuena.
This is a North American premiere as part of the Chicago International Film Festival with two live screenings at the AMC River East 10/18 and 10/22 and limited online streaming Oct 14, 2021 to Oct 24, 2021 in the following states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, and Wisconsin. For detailed information visit ChicagoFilmFestival.com
Language: French with English subtitles. Running time: 95 minutes.
“Hit the Road”
“Hit the Road” by director Panah Panahi is a story of an Iranian family road trip with overtones of “Little Miss Sunshine” or “National Lampoon’s Vacation.” Lest you think Iranian families are very different than yours, this family will dispel that myth.
It is an odd sort of setup that begins with the father, (Hassan Madjouni) sitting in the back seat with a cast on his leg that is being decorated by his younger 6 year-old son (Rayan Sarlak).
Mom (Pantea Panahiha), a rather attractive forty something wearing a hijab that fashionably reveals her stylish gray hair, is in the front seat, while the elder, twenty-something son (Amin Simiar), is the driver.
You can’t help but to ask, “Who are these people, where are they going and why does he have a broken leg?” For most of the trip the purpose of the journey is unclear.
In the first half of the film, we get to know the quirky characters as they quibble and banter back and forth. Most of the action is directed by the younger son referred to as “the kid” who is full of non-stop energy, curiosity and downright obnoxious silliness. The Spiderman and Batman obsessed “kid” restlessly tumbles and falls relentlessly next to, and on the lap of, the father who willingly partakes in all of the activity, even encouraging him. Mom does little to intercede and indeed encourages him while the older son silently keeps his eyes on the road.
Through the course of their day-long travel they make a few rest stops and we begin to get a better, but still fairly unclear, idea of their destination. This is best described as a dramedy with the characters using the antics of “the kid” to interject some humor and provide distraction for their more serious task at hand.
If you’ve been cooped up due to COVID, “Hit the Road” will give you a chance to take a little family adventure while enjoying the beautiful rugged Iranian landscape. Much like one of those 500 piece picture puzzles you might have been working on this past year, the film’s director doles out small colorful pieces that fit together and begin to make sense amid the chaos of “the kid’s” antics.
Incidentally, this is a debut film by Panah Panahi whose father’s directorial feature film debut was the Iranian classic “White Balloon” (Jafar Panahi 1995). It is the humanistic style of both of these films with their subtle criticisms that somehow manages to exist within the country’s authoritarian regime that I find very interesting.
“Hit the Road,” presented as part of the 57th Chicago International Film Festival, is available to stream Oct 14 to Oct 24, 2021 in the following states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, and Wisconsin.
LANGUAGE : Farsi with English subtitles. Running time: 94 minutes
A group of random migrants from West Africa destined for Europe stop at “The Last Shelter” on the edge of the Sahel Desert (that transitions into the Sahara) before continuing their journey toward a better life.
Here at “La Maison du Migrants” in Mali they are confronted by a kindly social worker who urges them to return home, explaining that it is admirable that they had gotten this far but many die in the harsh desert conditions beyond. His agency promises them a bus ride back home.
While counseling two sixteen year-old girls from Burkina Faso he pleads with them to reconsider by explaining that even if they do get to Algeria they will likely find no employment and will be forced into prostitution. In a meeting with the others he tells them of his own experience of being cheated of his wages and treated with contempt.
One of the girls reveals how Facebook (and certainly other social media) fuel discontent and spur the hopes of young migrants who see friends and acquaintances who have successfully made the journey. For fifteen or twenty year-olds who hate their life, hardship and even death are abstract ideas that do little to dissuade them.
This is an all too common tale taking place around the world as young people seek a better life, freedom and more opportunity. This story could be told not only in Africa but in nearly any country throughout the Middle-East and South or Central America as well as Mexico. For many, Europe is a fine destination, but their hope is the ultimate lottery win of reaching the United States.
“The Last Shelter” focuses primarily on the two young girls. Ester says she had hopes of acting, singing or boxing. She chose the latter because she admits having a lot of anger and feels boxing would be a way to release her frustrations. Her friend expresses hopes of being a teacher or doctor because she wants to help people. During their respite in the shelter she is the one who encourages Ester to study English as they work on simple phrases.
The film is sensitively photographed by director/cinematographer Ousmane Samassekou and Amath Niane. It shines with intimate close-ups and beautiful b-roll of the desert sunrise and evocative cutaways of the shelter’s inspiring blue painted interior. The shots are reminiscent of a beach cabana that belies otherwise minimal accommodations and the hot, dry reality outside its doors.
The story is expertly constructed by Samassekou with editor Céline Ducreux to tell a compelling, important and compassionate human story that sheds light on the motivations and desires of migrating individuals.
The Last Shelter is a U.S. Premier presented as part of the 57th Chicago International Film Festival. Online viewing is available. Visit ChicagoFilmFestival.com for more information.
LANGUAGE : Bambara, French, Fula, Hausa, Mooré, Susu, Waama with English subtitles