Category: Reviews – New Releases/Festivals

Image courtesy of Samuel Goldwyn Films.

*** (out of 4)

In recent months, people have taken to calling Francis Lee’s God’s Own Country a “British Brokeback Mountain.” And in all honesty, it’s not hard to see why. Like Ennis del Mar, God’s protagonist, a 20-something-year-old named Johnny (Josh O’Connor), is a gay, emotionally repressed farmworker who has a deep-rooted aversion to conversation. Just as Ennis met and fell for Jack, moreover, Johnny eventually strikes up a relationship with Gheorghe (Alec Secareanu), a Romanian migrant worker who comes to work on the livestock farm run by Johnny and his parents (Ian Hart, Gemma Jones). And most significantly, both Brokeback and God’s take place in an environment where civilization is all but nonexistent: the former set Ennis and Jack’s story in the middle of Wyoming, while Johnny and Gheorghe’s romance unfolds against the hilly landscape of rural Yorkshire.

These surface similarities, however, belie the vast differences in form and approach that ultimately make God’s a more satisfying experience than Brokeback.

Reviews - New Releases/Festivals

Reviews - New Releases/Festivals

Image courtesy of Gunpowder & Sky.

(Note: This review was originally published here.)

** (out of 4)

Jake Bickelhaupt, the Chicago-based chef who’s the subject of the new documentary 42 Grams, has a life story that ought to be inspiring. He first discovered his passion for cooking while growing up with his divorced mother in a Wisconsin trailer home. Afterwards, he spent several years working for some of Chicago’s best chefs (including Charlie Trotter, Michael Carlson, and Grant Achatz), but he eventually quit so he could start an “underground” restaurant in his own apartment. In 2014, he and his then-wife (Alexa Welsh) decided to open an actual restaurant, 42 Grams, in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood – and in a feat few restaurants have ever matched, it earned two Michelin stars a mere 10 months after its inauguration.

Unfortunately, in the hands of director Jack C. Newell, the remarkable story of Bickelhaupt’s rise proves distinctly underwhelming.

Reviews - New Releases/Festivals