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The Farewell Party

High drama and lowbrow, morbid humor get stitched together in this successful tragicomedy about terminal patients and assisted suicide. Works better than expected.

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Sunshine Superman

I found Jean Boenish’s philosophical musings less than persuasive. And I don’t think my fear of heights was the reason for my bias.

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Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

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I believe the Mushroom Man can save the world

"Mushroom Man," by Leslie Iwerks, tells us: "This is the story of how mushrooms can save the world! Renowned mycologist and mushroom pioneer Paul Stamets harnesses the power of infamous fungi to fight the planet's leading problems, from developing cures for cancer to destroying toxic radioactive waste."

There's a back story here. Bill Stamets, Paul's brother, has been a Chicago friend of mine for years. We always sit in the back row of the Lake Street Screening Room. He is a film critic for many outlets, often helping with Sun-Times festival coverage. He's a filmmaker, photographer, and very busy as a film teacher. He's always telling me about his brother Paul, the Mushroom Man. I've always imagined some post-hippie organic guru with plastic on the windows of his garage, selling mushrooms from a pickup at farmer's markets. Bill would say that wasn't quite the story with Paul. Chaz always sits closer to Bill, and listens better. She touted this film to me. Now that I've seen it, I realize: I've been sitting with the brother of a hope for the planet. RE

Mushroom Man | Leslie Iwerks from Focus Forward Films on Vimeo.

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