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Thumbnails 4/5/22

Thumbnails is a roundup of brief excerpts to introduce you to articles from other websites that we found interesting and exciting. We provide links to the original sources for you to read in their entirety.—Chaz Ebert


"Mystery is Better Than Truth: Lucian Georgescu and Barry Gifford on 'The Phantom Father'": I had the pleasure of speaking with the filmmaker and author about the unforgettable road trip that spawned their remarkable 2011 film, now streaming via FilmBox, for White City Cinema, the site of "Roy's World: Barry Gifford's Chicago" producer Michael Smith.

“'The award-winning films I had seen coming out of Romania around that time were very tough and depicted the awful living conditions of the characters,' said Gifford. 'What Lucian had in mind was very different, and so his film became almost Felliniesque. It was fantastical, and that’s what I love about his vision of the film. It was completely different from the movies that were being made by his peers.' Alas, this is the precise reason why Georgescu felt that his film was released at the wrong moment, when the moviegoing public was primarily focused on the New Romanian Cinema. After premiering in March 2012 at the Transylvania International Film Festival, Georgescu was dismayed—being a former critic himself—by the savage reviews of local writers. Since then, it has been reevaluated and praised by numerous viewers internationally, though the director’s first glimmer of hope arrived in the form of a particular audience member. 'After one of the screenings, I was approached by a lady who was an important actor outside of the film world,' remembered Georgescu. 'She said, ‘I want to thank you for the happiness that you brought me today, and for this beautiful, strange, weird, romantic film you have made.’ I thought to myself, ‘She loves this movie. That means if there is one, there could be more.’'”


"'The Girl From Plainville' is a Frustrating Look at the Reality of 'Texting Suicide' Cases": An insightful essay by Candice Frederick published at The Huffington Post.

“It’s the latest series that goes out of its way to convince its audience that there’s more to the Incriminated White Female than the headlines suggest. And to be fair, in this case that is somewhat true. As depicted in 'The Girl From Plainville,' Michelle (Elle Fanning), like Conrad (Coltan Ryan), has had her own history of mental illness, including depression, which was conveniently underplayed in news coverage as well as throughout her trial. She is socially awkward and doesn’t really have friends (the two she refers to are the ones who gave up information about her damaging texts with Conrad to law enforcement). There’s even a point in the Hulu series, from showrunners Liz Hannah and Patrick Macmanus, when Michelle’s parents (played by Cara Bruono and Kai Lennox) are concerned that she might be slipping back into old habits. They approach her about it long before Conrad’s death, and she denies it. So when Michelle gets involved with Conrad, she initially seems comforting and understanding when he tells her about his suicidal ideations and how he’s abandoned therapy. Still, the series shows how this turns into a two-year codependence between minors with varying levels of emotional and mental stability.


"My Night in the World of Bridgerton": Our Contributing Editor Nell Minow reports on 'The Queen's Ball: The Bridgerton Experience' in Washington, D.C., for Medium.

As we spend more of our time looking at screens, it is not surprising that we long for analog interactions with the very worlds we entered through those screens. Also in Washington now is an immersive 'Friends' installation, where you can have your picture taken in the iconic locations and see replicas of Rachel’s hairstyles. But 'Friends' takes us back to New York in the 90s. 'Bridgerton' is more like a fairy tale with jewels and carriages and balls and people with titles and oodles of money. The immersive experience begins with some time to wander around and get some Instagram-able photos in a variety of settings. My favorite was the one that resulted in an instant portrait of you in a digital version of a classical oil painting. But I also enjoyed the one where I got to sit on the queen’s red velvet sofa, with an attendant in a powered wig and livery who used my camera to take the photo. A couple of the gorgeous dresses from the show were on display, and we each received a copy of Lady Whistledown’s newspaper to read up on the latest scandals.”


"'The Automat' Warms the Soul Like a Great Cup of Joe": Lisa Hurwitz and Michael Levine's documentary is praised by the great critic and artist Jeff York at The Establishing Shot.

“At first blush, the topic of a once-great food franchise from a bygone era may seem like an odd choice for a theatrically-released documentary, but 'The Automat' is wholly worthy of such attention. Automats were commissary-style restaurants popularized in the early part of the 20th century where a nickel could get you a cup of Joe or a ham sandwich or a slice of apple pie, all provided through self-serve kiosks. At one time, the Horn and Hardart company owned 40 of them in New York City alone, and such a cultural touchstone is why filmmakers Lisa Hurwitz and Michael Levine were drawn to the topic. Their film is nostalgic, for sure, but it is also a gentle nudging of society to embrace the feeling of connection such ‘restaurants’ once provided, an inviting place inhabited by the rich and poor alike. Wisely, director Hurwitz and writer Levine have done their homework and their documentary is chock full of photographs, film, and testimonials about the automats that entrepreneurs Joseph Horn and Frank Hardart founded in 1902.


"Bill Hader Created a Killer Character to Deal With Life, and You Can Too": According to No Film School's Jason Hellerman. 

Bill Hader's character "Barry" is one of the most nuanced and brutal modern protagonists. It's no wonder that the idea for an anxious hitman-turned-actor came from somewhere inside Hader. It came from maturity in seeing the world where people turn out more like the characters in Goodfellas than in other movies, and also in dealing with his own anxiety as a person. Hader used to pepper the famous movie directors who frequented the SNL set with lots of questions. He wanted to know the how and the why of their work. Now, Hader is figuring out these big questions for his own work. And for his own psyche. 'Barry' was born out of Hader's anxiety. As he says in his Hollywood Reporter write-up, 'Anxiety is always fighting those voices in your head saying, 'Here’s all the bad things that are going to happen.' Weirdly, I have a harder time with day-to-day stuff, as opposed to running a TV show.'”

Image of the Day

At World of Reel, Jordan Ruimy presents the full results of his latest critics poll ranking "The 100 Greatest Films of the 1970s," topped by Francis Ford Coppola's "The Godfather."

Video of the Day

In this special episodeof "Ebert & Roeper," the critics take a look at the innovative "bells and whistles" known as DVD extras.

Matt Fagerholm

Matt Fagerholm is the Literary Editor at and is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association. 

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