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October 2011

HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: 100 Pairs of Chicago Passes to ‘Paranormal Activity 3’ Plus DVDs

Oct. 18, 2011 update at 1:11 p.m.: Increased from 40 to 100 admit-twos!
Oct. 18, 2011 update at 1:11 p.m.: Screening date changed from Oct. 20 to Oct. 19, 2011
CHICAGO – In our latest highly anticipated horror/mystery edition of the HollywoodChicago.com Hookup, we have 100 admit-two movie passes up for grabs to the advance Chicago screening of “Paranormal Activity 3” plus a free “Paranormal Activity” and “Paranormal Activity 2” DVD for one grand-prize winner!

TV News: ‘Boardwalk Empire’ Renewed For Third Season

Boardwalk Empire on HBO with Steve Buscemi

CHICAGO – Only two episodes into the second season of the HBO series “Boardwalk Empire” and the network has seen enough to order up a third season of the show. After critical appeal from the first season and even more praise from the second season debut, HBO is ready to get behind the 1920s series for what could be a long ride.

Film News: ‘Harry Potter’ Actor Charged With Possession of Homemade Bomb

Jamie Waylett

CHICAGO – “Harry Potter” actor Jamie Waylett, who played Draco Malfoy’s good friend Vincent Crabbe for six of the Potter films, is facing a number of charges for his involvement in this past summer’s London riots; charges that include possession of a homemade bomb.

Video Game Review: ‘Driver: San Francisco’ Offers New Twist on Racing Games

Driver: San Francisco

CHICAGO – How do you make an open-world racing game? “Burnout Paradise” made a reasonable effort by presenting a city in which stop lights led to races, but the developers of “Driver: San Francisco” take it a step further with one of the most unique driving game dynamics in the history of the subgenre. The result is an original twist on an old favorite that gives it a little bit of juice even if it can’t quite win the race.

Blu-Ray Review: Blockbuster ‘Fast Five’ is Addictive Escapist Ride

CHICAGO – “Fast Five,” recently released on Blu-ray and DVD, is one of the most interesting pop culture phenomena of 2011. All of us who complain that sequels are never good and that films usually get worse as a franchise gets older had to admit that this was the exception to the rule. Not only the most critically-acclaimed film in the “Fast and the Furious” franchise, it also became the highest-grossing in the series, making an AMAZING $620 million worldwide and currently ranking fifth on the year in domestic gross.

TV News: Tim Allen’s ‘Last Man Standing’ Opens With Strong Ratings

Last Man Standing Pilot

CHICAGO – Critics may have been cruel but audiences were curious enough to see what Tim Allen’s “Home Improvement” schtick looks like in 2011, sampling the series premiere of ABC’s “Last Man Standing” to the tune of a solid 3.5 rating in the key 18-49 demo. Last year, “No Ordinary Family” opened in the time slot with a 3.2 rating and it’s worth nothing that the baseball game on FOX ate into every other network, especially with younger viewers, so there’s reason to believe that the numbers would have otherwise been higher.

TV Review: Hit USA Show ‘Psych’ Has Average Season Start

Psych

CHICAGO – Television reviews of shows with as loyal an audience as USA’s “Psych” can be a tricky business. The show already has a devoted following and it’s unlikely that you haven’t sampled it by this point and decided for yourself if this sometimes-clever mystery series is worth your coveted Season Pass space. So the question for a season premiere like tonight’s episode is simple — does it mark a significant difference from last season? Is it any better or worse?

DVD Review: ‘Happy Endings: The Complete First Season’ Assembles Fine Cast

Happy Endings The Complete First Season DVD Thumb

CHICAGO – With so many laughless sitcoms premiering this season on ABC, it’s tempting to overpraise a show that actually manages to be funny. “Happy Endings” has already received a good deal of praise from Hollywood Chicago for its top-notch ensemble and vibrantly witty banter, though it’s not quite in the same league as the shows it wishes to emulate, particularly “Friends” and “Arrested Development.”

HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: 5 Blu-Ray, DVD Combo Packs of ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides’

CHICAGO – In our latest blockbuster edition of the HollywoodChicago.com Hookup, we have 5 Blu-ray and DVD combo packs up for grabs to the highly anticipated home release of “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides”!

Blu-Ray Review: Odd Canadian Thriller ‘Good Neighbors’ Falls Apart

Good Neighbors

CHICAGO – Part satire, part black comedy, and part Hitchcockian thriller, the Canadian flick “Good Neighbors” just barely misses it mark by failing to deliver on its set-up. The problem with reviewing it is that I can’t really go into details on my issues with it without some serious spoilers, so I’ll just leave it as a simple criticism — I didn’t find the ending satisfying. There’s nearly enough that works about the first two acts of the film to warrant a rental for thriller fans, but don’t be surprised if the final act lets you down.

Blu-Ray Review: Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Pulp Fiction,’ ‘Jackie Brown’

Pulp Fiction

CHICAGO – I’m old enough dear readers to vividly remember Quentin Tarantino’s premiere with “Reservoir Dogs” and then how much he took the world by storm with “Pulp Fiction,” a common choice for the best film of the ’90s. At the time, “Jackie Brown” seemed like a disappointment by comparison (how could it not?), but it is now widely respected and even beloved. These aren’t just good movies — they’re classics of their time. What more do you want from a pair of Blu-rays?

Blu-Ray Review: ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,’ ‘Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure’

Pee-Wee's Big Adventure

CHICAGO – Two beloved Tim Burton films recently made their Blu-ray debuts and the once-great director has one of the most interesting visual sensibilities in the last thirty years, making his work a perfect fit for HD. Even the deeply-flawed “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” looks great in HD and, well, there’s a soft spot in this critic’s heart for Pee-Wee Herman’s film debut, a comedy that has held up remarkably well in the 26 years (!!!) since its release. Both of these Blu-ray editions are pure imports with no new special features but you might want to add at least one to your collection.

Exclusive Portraits: Kelly Osbourne, Kyle Richards at Macy’s ‘Fashion’s Night Out’

Kelly Osbourne, photo by Joe Arce

CHICAGO – Last month, the famous retailer Macy’s participated in “Fashion’s Night Out” in Chicago, at both their Michigan Avenue and State Street Stores. Among the special events was an appearance by Kelly Osbourne (”The Osbournes,” “Dancing with the Stars”) and Kyle Richards (”The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills”).

TV Feature: Fall 2011 New Network Series Bubble Watch

CHICAGO – It feels like only yesterday that we were naming the most promising shows of 2011 (and would like to point out that our #1 was the first program given a full-season order for just one second).

Film News: Trailer Released For Marvel’s ‘The Avengers’

The Avengers -- Black Widow

CHICAGO – The highly-anticipated trailer for the upcoming Marvel blockbuster “The Avengers” was just released and we had to share. The film is set for a May 4th, 2012 release and stars Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow), Chris Evans (Captain America), Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye), Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man), Mark Ruffalo (Hulk), Cobie Smulders, Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Stellan Skarsgard, Paul Bettany, and Clark Gregg. It was written by Zak Penn and directed by Joss Whedon.

Blu-Ray Review: Incredible Cast Elevates BBC’s ‘The Hour’

The Hour

CHICAGO – “The Hour” recently finished its run on BBC America and was very quickly released on Blu-ray from BBC and Warner Bros. The quick turnaround is a brilliant move on the part of the company, striking while the iron is hot if you will. If they released “The Hour” in 6 to 9 months it wouldn’t have the same impact. Now, people talk about having watched the show to their friends and they can go out and see what the buzz is about for themselves. I’m surprised more studios don’t follow the same pattern.

TV Review: Tim Allen Sinks to Idiocy & Beyond in ‘Last Man Standing’

CHICAGO – There’s something inherently unmanly about the need to prove one’s own manliness. What passes for virility in the mind of Mike Baxter (Tim Allen) is clearly masking a deep well of insecurity. He never passes up an opportunity to prove that he is, in fact, a man.

Blu-Ray Review: Incredible Criterion Edition For Olivier Assayas’ ‘Carlos’

Carlos

CHICAGO – Not all movies are similar in what they demand of the viewer. Obviously, a light mainstream romantic comedy requires a different level of commitment than a French period piece, but even art movies have varying degrees of viewer requirements. Even within the Criterion Collections, there are shorter, easier films and then there are releases like “Carlos,” a stellar epic that runs close to six hours and is accompanied by extensive, elaborate special features.

Video Game Review: ‘God of War: Origins Collection’ Transfers Timeless PSP Hits

God of War: Origins Collection

CHICAGO – If you ask ten people to name the best game ever produced for the Sony PSP, nine of them will name one of the two highly-acclaimed and beloved “God of War” games, the award-winning “God of War: Ghost of Sparta” and “God of War: Chains of Olympus.”

Preview: 47th Chicago International Film Festival, Part Two

CHICAGO – Some of the most wonderful diversity within the 47th Annual Chicago International Film Festival can be found in the mid-section of this year’s line-up as virtually-guaranteed Oscar nominees screen next to much-smaller films from around the world. Hopefully, you made it out to see one of our recommendations from the opening act of the fest and are eager for more.

TV Review: Jason Schwartzman Still Can’t Save ‘Bored to Death’

Bored to Death

CHICAGO – “Hung” returned for a third season this week and every year that program comes back, I think “Boy, I like Thomas Jane, maybe this is the year that this disappointing show turns around.” And, just like that program, every year that “Bored to Death” lands on my desk, I think “Boy, I like Jason Schwartzman, maybe this is the year that this disappointing show turns around.” And, just like “Hung,” I’m disappointed yet again.

TV Review: Laura Dern Joins Cable Club to Get ‘Enlightened’

CHICAGO – Why has television become the home for so many talented actresses? The sad fact is that Hollywood screenwriters aren’t writing many quality roles for actresses over forty and so you have incredibly gifted performers like Toni Collette, Laura Linney, and Jessica Lange turning to the writing on cable to find roles that challenge them. Will Dern find the same success in HBO’s “Enlightened”?

Interview: Kimberly Peirce Discusses ‘The Godfather,’ Her New Crime Thriller

Kimberly Peirce Interview

CHICAGO – If Robert K. Elder’s book, “The Film That Changed My Life,” is indeed providing a blueprint for the screening series continuing this month at the Music Box, then cinephiles have every right to rejoice. Elder’s book interviewed a wide variety of filmmakers about the films that left a permanent impact on them, and the series reunites Elder and the filmmakers for screenings of their favorite films.

Film News: ‘Real Steel’ Wins Weekend Box Office Bout

Real Steel Box Office

CHICAGO – The new futuristic boxing film “Real Steel” rocked and socked its way to the box office crown this weekend, dethroning last week’s winner, “Dolphin Tale.” The new film, starring Hugh Jackman, brought in an estimated $27.3 million.

‘Real Steel’ Overcomes Harebrained Premise With Heart, Quenching Hollywood Wizardry

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.5/5.0
Rating: 3.5/5.0

CHICAGO – Try selling a friend on paying to see a movie with you about machine-operated boxing where humans control robots for money.

Just call your friend on his Motorola DynaTAC retro brickphone and say: “Hey, Billy! Remember all those swell nights we had as kids when I smoked you every time in Rock’em Sock’em Robots with our two dueling robot boxers mechanically manipulated by us?

Film News: First Three ‘Twilight’ Films Returning to Theaters Before ‘The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part 1’

Twilight

CHICAGO – Fans of the Twilight Saga have an opportunity to see all of their favorite films on the big screen once again. NCM Fathom and Summit Entertainment have issued re-releases of the first three Twilight Saga films that will take place on the three Tuesdays that lead up to the release of the newest film “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1”.

Film Review: Anna Paquin Makes Each Moment Count in ‘Margaret’

CHICAGO – The passion of adolescence, so driven by the emerging intellect merged with fierce hormonal obligations, is a subject tailor made for the movies. The drama and distinction in “Margaret” is the nearly perfect portrayal of the main character played by Anna Paquin, against the backdrop of New York City.

Anna Paquin Makes Each Moment Count in ‘Margaret’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4.0/5.0
Rating: 4.0/5.0

CHICAGO – The passion of adolescence, so driven by the emerging intellect merged with fierce hormonal obligations, is a subject tailor made for the movies. The drama and distinction in “Margaret” is the nearly perfect portrayal of the main character played by Anna Paquin, against the backdrop of New York City.

Film Review: ‘Tucker & Dale vs. Evil’ Perfectly Blends Comedy With Gore

Tucker & Dale vs. Evil
HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4.0/5.0
Rating: 4.0/5.0

CHICAGO – Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine may be unknown performers to a majority of readers – they’re far from household names – but to the right audience, the people who might be interested in something called “Tucker & Dale vs. Evil,” they RULE.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Kingpin Blu-ray

    CHICAGO – Before 1998’s “The Big Lebowski” there was 1996’s “Kingpin”, the Farrelly brothers bowling comedy that didn’t have the narrative intricacies of the Coen brothers’ classic, but had plenty of jokes about middle-aged men playing the sport. Today finds the release of “Kingpin” to Blu-ray for the first time, coming with only one new special feature.

  • Star Trek Into Darkness

    CHICAGO – With J.J. Abrams not involved with the creation of a third “Star Trek” movie, a compendium of his work within the franchise only seems fitting. Loaded with special features but only a few new ones, this disc set is a strong choice for those who don’t already have both entertaining blockbusters in their collection.

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