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October 2011

Film Review: Disappointing ‘Puncture’ With Chris Evans Doesn’t Stick

Puncture
HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 2.5/5.0
Rating: 2.5/5.0

CHICAGO – There’s something about “Puncture” that feels like it should work. It’s easy to see why someone thought this true tale of a troubled man who realizes he has been presented with immense responsibility would make an engaging film, but the fact is that having an interesting true story doesn’t always translate to riveting drama. Despite the interesting facts of the legal and personal drama at its core, “Puncture” is surprisingly flat (no pun intended) and, even with a very-good lead performance, isn’t memorable enough to recommend.

Disappointing ‘Puncture’ With Chris Evans Doesn’t Stick

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 2.5/5.0
Rating: 2.5/5.0

CHICAGO – There’s something about “Puncture” that feels like it should work. It’s easy to see why someone thought this true tale of a troubled man who realizes he has been presented with immense responsibility would make an engaging film, but the fact is that having an interesting true story doesn’t always translate to riveting drama.

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

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.

Film News: Shocking New Poster Released For ‘The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence)’

The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) shocking poster

CHICAGO – You’ve got to give some designer somewhere credit: he or she has managed to come up with a better, more shocking poster for a film than the film itself. You’ve just got to check out the new poster for “The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence),” which is being painfully panned by critics everywhere (including ours who calls the film “completely worthless”).

Film Review: Ryan Gosling, George Clooney in ‘The Ides of March’

CHICAGO – George Clooney’s “The Ides of March” is a star-studded political thriller of the variety that was made much more commonly in the ‘70s and would therefore seem like a perfect vehicle to restart for today’s controversial times.

Ryan Gosling, George Clooney in ‘The Ides of March’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.0/5.0
Rating: 3.0/5.0

CHICAGO – George Clooney’s “The Ides of March” is a star-studded political thriller of the variety that was made much more commonly in the ‘70s and would therefore seem like a perfect vehicle to restart for today’s controversial times. We could use more political thrillers with complex dialogue aimed at adults to offset the fact that a vast majority of motion pictures are aimed at children.

Film News: Johnny Depp Looking to Play Dr. Seuss in New Biopic

Johnny Depp

CHICAGO – He has played eccentric characters like The Mad Hatter, Willy Wonka, and Captain Jack Sparrow. He has played disturbed and troubled characters like Edward Scissorhands, Sweeney Todd, and Ichabod Crane. He has even played famous real life characters in Ed Wood, John Dillinger, and JM Barrie. Now, Johnny Depp is looking to add another classic character to that list.

Film Review: Michael Shannon Mesmerizes in Moody ‘Take Shelter’

Take Shelter Film Review

CHICAGO – It starts with a clap of thunder. Fierce winds cause the once serene landscape to shiver with unease. When the rain comes, it’s the color of motor oil. All it takes is a single glance at the looming gray clouds overhead to realize that the impending storm could be capable of anything. It’s enough to rock a level-headed man to his very foundation.

Michael Shannon Mesmerizes in Moody ‘Take Shelter’

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

CHICAGO – It starts with a clap of thunder. Fierce winds cause the once serene landscape to shiver with unease. When the rain comes, it’s the color of motor oil. All it takes is a single glance at the looming gray clouds overhead to realize that the impending storm could be capable of anything. It’s enough to rock a level-headed man to his very foundation.

Slideshow: Three Faces of Cee Lo Green of ‘The Voice’ at Glamorama

| Image 1 of 3 |
Cee Lo Green in Chicago at Macy’s Glamorama, August 12th, 2011

CHICAGO – R&B singer and songwriter Cee Lo Green is on a hot winning streak. Besides his Grammy winning songs “Crazy” and “Forget You,” he went into national prominence as one of the coaches on the hit NBC show, “The Voice.” Two months ago, he came to Chicago for Macy’s Glamorama Fall Fashion Show.

Film News: 2011 Chicago International Film Festival Opens With ‘The Last Rites of Joe May’

CIFF logo 2011

CHICAGO – The red carpet was put to good use on the opening night of the 2011 Chicago International Film Festival on October 6th. The 47th annual edition of the two week festival featured stars Dennis Farina, Gary Cole and Jamie Anne Allman walking the carpet before the showing of their film “The Last Rites of Joe May.”

Blu-Ray Review: 50th Anniversary Ultimate Collector’s Edition of Beloved ‘Ben-Hur’

Ben-Hur

CHICAGO – It may not even be Halloween yet, but Warner Brothers is in full holiday gift set mode, hoping that one of their lavish packages will make its way on to your wish list. Will it be the glorious seventh anniversary edition of “Citizen Kane”? Or perhaps the upcoming gift set of “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” with collectibles and a 144-page booklet? For many, the choice will be simple — a film with an iconic actor that set records at the 1959 Oscars as any in history — “Ben-Hur,” strikingly transferred in 1080p and available in a Limited Edition box set that will look fantastic on any hardcore movie fan’s shelf.

Video Game Review: Apocalyptic ‘Rage’ Goes For Straight Adrenalin

CHICAGO – I’d love to be in a meeting when video game companies are trying to come up with the titles for their latest shooters. What’s something that strikes a chord in the guts of men who want to spend their free time shooting mutants or upgrading their rocket-powered vehicles? “Adrenalin”? “Power”? “Aaaarrrgggghhhh!”?

TV News: NBC Cancels Failed Comedy ‘Free Agents’

Free Agents

CHICAGONBC continues to be a network in ratings freefall (pretty much since “The Jay Leno Show” debacle) as they can now lay claim to not only the first show canceled in the Fall 2011 season (after axing “The Playboy Club” earlier this week) but the second as well. It was reported this afternoon that after last night’s anemic numbers for the third episode of “Free Agents,” a fourth episode won’t see the air.

TV Review: ‘The League’ Returns For More Funny Fantasy

CHICAGOFX’s “The League” is one of the most consistently inventive and clever comedies on TV right now. It’s also remarkably dirty and only getting more so. With a season premiere in which Seth Rogen plays a porno director named Dirty Randy, “The League” seems to be pushing even more envelopes as other comedies on the network (“Louie,” “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”) take their own boundaries further and further.

Exclusive Portrait: Happy Days Again With Henry Winkler, Penny Marshall, Cindy Williams

Henry Winkler, photo by Joe Arce

CHICAGO – A significant reunion took play at the Hollywood Celebrities & Memorabilia Show last weekend as three of the main characters from two great sitcoms from the 1970s reunited for a class picture. Henry Winkler of “Happy Days,” plus Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams of “Laverne & Shirley” were there.

DVD Review: Arresting African Noir ‘Viva Riva!’ Delivers Plentiful Thrills

Viva Riva DVD

CHICAGO – At this year’s MTV Movie Awards, Djo Tunda Wa Munga’s “Viva Riva!” had the distinction of winning the first ever “Best African Movie” award, thus equating it with such cinematic masterworks as “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse.” Luckily, that’s not the only claim to fame for Munga’s slick neo-noir, which also garnered six African Academy Awards and single-handedly revitalized the film industry in Congo.

Blu-Ray Review: CBS’s ‘Hawaii Five-O’ Was Made For HD

Hawaii Five-0

CHICAGO – I wonder if a show so founded on its beautiful people in a beautiful setting as CBS’s “Hawaii Five-O” would have even made it to a second season in the days before HD. Sure, there have been shows like this that have been hits before (most of the nighttime soaps of the ’80s) but it’s undeniable that the look of this update of “Five-O” is one of its most addictive qualities. It’s nice to take a trip to the islands after a long Monday at work. Now you can do so every night of the week (or for about 18 hours straight) with the recently-released DVD and Blu-ray set of the first season.

Blu-Ray Review: Searing Drama of Intense, Dark ‘Incendies’

Incendies

CHICAGO – Damn, last year’s Oscar nominees for Best Foreign Language Film were a dark, dark bunch. I thought “Biutiful,” “Dogtooth” and “In a Better World” had their brutal edges but I hadn’t yet seen the incredibly intense “Incendies,” a historical drama wrapped in a very personal story. The film is a bit more flawed than some of the critical praise had led me to believe but it’s definitely worth a look, especially for renters looking for international drama.

Preview: 47th Chicago International Film Festival, Part One

CHICAGO – This year’s line-up for the 47th Annual Chicago International Film Festival is an eclectic mix of major Oscar contenders (“My Week With Marilyn,” “The Artist,” “The Descendants”) along with a number of interesting smaller films.

DVD Review: First Season of Great FOX Comedy ‘Raising Hope’

Raising Hope

CHICAGO – I fall a bit more in love with “Raising Hope” every week. I went as far as to suggest that the series deserved Emmy nominations for Best Comedy Series, Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series (Martha Plimpton), and Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (Garrett Dillahunt) — one out of three came true as Plimpton actually made a run at the trophy. This show just kept getting better as the first season progressed. Check it out now on DVD and see what the growing buzz is about.

Film Review: ‘The Road to Freedom’ Doesn’t Feel Authentic

Road to Freedom, The

CHICAGO – The story of Sean Flynn – son of the legendary Errol Flynn, perpetrator of B-movies in the early 1960s, game warden in Kenya and finally war correspondent during the Vietnam conflict – would rate enough material for a 10-hour mini-series. Only his disappearance is covered in “The Road to Freedom.”

‘The Road to Freedom’ Doesn’t Feel Authentic

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 2.5/5.0
Rating: 2.5/5.0

CHICAGO – The story of Sean Flynn – son of the legendary Errol Flynn, perpetrator of B-movies in the early 1960s, game warden in Kenya and finally war correspondent during the Vietnam conflict – would rate enough material for a 10-hour mini-series. Only his disappearance is covered in “The Road to Freedom.”

Blu-Ray Review: ‘The Ledge’ Falls Flat Despite All-Star Cast

The Ledge Blu-Ray

CHICAGO – If Fox Faith’s target audience was comprised of atheists, the studio might have churned out this deeply shallow thriller about religious fundamentalism. Though hate-spewing cult leaders like Fred Phelps deserve to be reviled, the vast majority of fictional films about extremism come off as profoundly simple-minded. Like Kevin Smith’s “Red State,” this picture sidesteps its provocative subject matter in favor of routine clichés.

Exclusive Portrait: Miley Cyrus is Taking on New Roles

Miley Cyrus, photo by Joe Arce

CHICAGO – Don’t call her Hannah Montana anymore, Miley Cyrus has broken out on her own and is forging a more personal music and performance career. Recently, she came to Chicago to promote the grand opening of The Topshop here.

TV Review: FX’s ‘American Horror Story’ Mixes Sex With Supernatural

CHICAGO – Ryan Murphy (“Nip/Tuck,” “Glee”) returns to the network that turned him into a star with this week’s premiere of the highly-anticipated “American Horror Story,” a new FX series that mixes sex with the supernatural to create something truly unique. The show’s very existence feels like it could be inspired by HBO’s “True Blood” (another show with horror and sex).

Film News: Disney, Pixar Classics Returning to Theaters in 3D

Beauty and the Beast

CHICAGO – Here is some news that shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone. With the success of the re-release of “The Lion King” to theaters, enhanced with 3D, Disney and Disney-Pixar have decided to bring back four more classics to the theaters. Of course, what would be a re-release in this day and age if it didn’t include a third dimension for your theater going experience?

TV News: NBC Orders Full Seasons of ‘Whitney,’ ‘Up All Night’; Cancels ‘The Playboy Club’

Whitney

CHICAGO- NBC has ordered full seasons for two of their new sitcoms: “Whitney” and “Up All Night.” “Whitney” has only aired two episodes and “Up All Night” has only aired three, but apparently the numbers and critical appeal was enough for NBC to give each show a shot at a full year.

Blu-Ray Review: Wild, Overlong ‘Transformers: Dark of the Moon’

CHICAGO – What is truly astounding about “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” is how overwhelming it is to take in – there is so much going on that sensory overload is a distinct possibility. Shia LaBeouf stars in the latest Transformers film, now on Blu-Ray and DVD.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • 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.

  • References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot

    CHICAGO – In “References to Salvador Dali Makes Me Hot,” now at the Den Theatre in Chicago through September 7th, the intersect of author José Rivera and the strong cast of actors make for a formidable partnership. Committed and passionate interpreters take both the soft and edgy parts of the narrative to task.

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