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July 2014

Interview: The Confessions of Ted Neeley in ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’

CHICAGO – What can be said for a man who has portrayed Jesus close to 5,000 times, and starred in the definitive Broadway and film versions of the most famous rock opera about Christ? Ted Neeley is as virtuous as his famous title role in “Jesus Christ Superstar.”

Interview: Larry ‘The Soup Nazi’ Thomas for ‘Mind Over Mindy’

CHICAGO – “No soup for you!” is one of the most memorable TV catchphrases of the 1990s, uttered into immortality by actor Larry Thomas on “Seinfeld,” who portrayed “The Soup Nazi.” Thomas was in the Chicago area recently to act in “Mind Over Mindy,” a new comedy from writer/director Robert Alaniz.

Film Review: ‘Happy Christmas’ is Au Naturale for Good or for Bland

Happy Christmas

CHICAGO – One thing that struck me about writer/director Joe Swanberg’s previous “Drinking Buddies,” and made it one of my more celebrated from 2013 despite not really loving it as a film, was its importance to those good ol’ independent movies. Here were big flashy stars like Olivia Wilde and Anna Kendrick, not just acting in a movie of a lower budget, but creating a wider appeal out of a previously very niche aspect, without the film form itself changing much.

‘Happy Christmas’ is Au Naturale for Good or for Bland

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

CHICAGO – One thing that struck me about writer/director Joe Swanberg’s previous “Drinking Buddies,” and made it one of my more celebrated from 2013 despite not really loving it as a film, was its importance to those good ol’ independent movies. Here were big flashy stars like Olivia Wilde and Anna Kendrick, not just acting in a movie of a lower budget, but creating a wider appeal out of a previously very niche aspect, without the film form itself changing much.

Film Review: ‘A’ for Effort, ‘C’ for Execution in Dwayne Johnson’s Unmemorable ‘Hercules’

CHICAGO – I empathize with Dwayne Johnson and simultaneously don’t. Most people never get rich and famous once, let alone twice. Sure, it’s hard to re-brand people from the wrestling superstar you once were into the dramatic action star you’re trying to become, but your past is forever immortal.

‘A’ for Effort, ‘C’ for Execution in Dwayne Johnson’s Unmemorable ‘Hercules’

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

CHICAGO – I empathize with Dwayne Johnson and simultaneously don’t. Most people never get rich and famous once let alone twice. Sure, it’s hard to rebrand people from the wrestling superstar you once were into the dramatic action star you’re trying to become, but your past is forever immortal.

Film Review: ‘Magic in the Moonlight’ is Woody Allen By the Book

CHICAGO – After last year’s powerful “Blue Jasmine,” writer/director Woody Allen’s trajectory seemed destined toward another film masterpiece, but “Magic in the Moonlight” isn’t it. Colin Firth and Emma Stone are an unlikely pairing in this seen-it-before-Woody film trifle.

‘Magic in the Moonlight’ is Woody Allen By the Book

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

CHICAGO – After last year’s powerful “Blue Jasmine,” writer/director Woody Allen’s trajectory seemed destined toward another film masterpiece, but “Magic in the Moonlight” isn’t it. Colin Firth and Emma Stone are an unlikely pairing in this seen-it-before-Woody film trifle.

Film Review: Emotional Destiny Versus Science Debate in ‘I Origins’

I Origins

CHICAGO – In the current debate between metaphysical spirituality or intelligent design versus scientific and provable fact, there are demands regarding the religious or metaphysics that do not relate to those facts. What the new film “I Origins” hopes to provide for, is that there is room for both forms of mysticism in our lives, if only the eyes remain open.

Emotional Destiny Versus Science Debate in ‘I Origins’

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

CHICAGO – In the current debate between metaphysical spirituality or intelligent design versus scientific and provable fact, there are demands regarding the religious or metaphysics that do not relate to those facts. What the new film “I Origins” hopes to provide for, is that there is room for both forms of mysticism in our lives, if only the eyes remain open.

Film Review: Script Weakens Cast, Director in ‘And So it Goes’

And So it Goes

CHICAGO – “And So it Goes” can be summed up in its incredibly weak title, as just lazy hackery. In attempting to tell a story of redemption for a old white rich man, the film falls back on clichés, predictability, improbability, overdone physical comedy and stereotypes. The first-time pairing of Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton, and the direction of old pro Rob Reiner, couldn’t overcome the stench of the hackneyed screenplay.

Script Weakens Cast, Director in ‘And So it Goes’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 2.0/5.0
Rating: 2.0/5.0

CHICAGO – “And So it Goes” can be summed up in its incredibly weak title, as just lazy hackery. In attempting to tell a story of redemption for a old white rich man, the film falls back on clichés, predictability, improbability, overdone physical comedy and stereotypes. The first-time pairing of Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton, and the direction of old pro Rob Reiner, can’t overcome the stench of the hackneyed screenplay.

Film Review: Scarlett Johansson Packs a Blockbuster Punch in ‘Lucy’

CHICAGO – “Lucy” is a piece of high-minded cinematic junk food that manages to be outlandishly weird while still satisfying the lizard brain desires of its audience. It’s a film that knows what’ll get the behinds in the seats, and that appeal can effectively be summed up in one shot.

Scarlett Johansson Packs a Blockbuster Punch in ‘Lucy’

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

CHICAGO – “Lucy” is a piece of high-minded cinematic junk food that manages to be outlandishly weird while still satisfying the lizard brain desires of its audience. It’s a film that knows what’ll get the behinds in the seats, and that appeal can effectively be summed up in one shot. It shows Scarlett Johansson in a tight-fitting white t-shirt walking in slow motion with her bosoms bouncing in unison, carrying two guns and ready to kick some serious ass.

Interview: Comedian Gabriel Iglesias For ‘The Fluffy Movie’

CHICAGO – One the hottest, most creative and “fluffiest” stand-up comics working today is Gabriel Iglesias. The comedian riffs on the circumstances of his own life, as he deals with his adventures in the comedy world. He has put that all together in a new stand-up concert film, appropriately entitled “The Fluffy Movie.”

Interview: Director Mike Cahill, Actor Michael Pitt on ‘I Origins’

CHICAGO – The debate between science and intelligent design (God) will go on as long as man evolves and searches for answers. A new and provocative film, “I Origins,” takes on the challenge of the debate through storytelling, and features hot actor Michael Pitt (“Boardwalk Empire”), directed by Mike Cahill (“Another Earth”).

Interview: Director Rob Reiner on Latest Film ‘And So it Goes’

CHICAGO – Rob Reiner has lived two distinct show business lives. He played a major role in one of the most famous television shows in history, “All in the Family,” and broke out afterward as a classic American film director, with hits such as “This is Spinal Tap” and “The Princess Bride.” His latest film is “And So it Goes.”

Red-Carpet Video & Photo: Woody Allen in Chicago for ‘Magic in the Moonlight’

CHICAGO – A neurotic New Yorker, Woody Allen has been a fixture in Hollywood for more than 50 years. After racking up 73 writing credits and 50 in the director’s chair, Allen returned to Chicago on July 19, 2014 to walk the red carpet for his new romantic dramedy “Magic in the Moonlight”.

Movie News: Film, TV Icon James Garner Dies at 86

LOS ANGELES – He was the guy that could take care of things for you, with a wink of the eye and a slightly cynical air. Handsome star James Garner distinguished himself in both film and television, and passed away on July 19th, 2014, in Los Angeles after a long stretch of health problems. He was 86.

Slideshow: ‘Glee’ Star Chris Colfer Tours Chicagoland for New Book

| Image 1 of 3 |
Chris Colfer at Anderson’s Bookshop for ‘The Land of Stories: A Grimm Warning.’

CHICAGO – The irrepressible character of Kurt Hummel from the popular TV series “Glee” came to Naperville, Ill. in the guise of Chris Colfer: the actor who portrays him. Colfer is also an author and was at Anderson’s Bookshop to greet fans and promote his book “The Land of Stories: A Grimm Warning”.

HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: 30 Pairs of Passes to ‘Lucy’ With Scarlett Johansson

CHICAGO – In the highly anticipated sci-fiLucy,” Scarlett Johansson turns the tables on her captors and transforms into a merciless warrior evolved beyond human logic.

Film Review: Circumstances of Life, Truth Exist in ‘Boyhood’

CHICAGO – Life is made up of moments, as the philosophy of the new Richard Linklater film wants to convey. What formulates a person’s ideals and soul, born in a certain place and time? Over 12 years, the writer and director created a fictional family using the same actors in “Boyhood.”

Circumstances of Life, Truth Exist in ‘Boyhood’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4.5/5.0
Rating: 4.5/5.0

CHICAGO – Life is made up of moments, as the philosophy of the new Richard Linklater film wants to convey. What formulates a person’s ideals and soul, born in a certain place and time? Over 12 years, the writer and director created a fictional family using the same actors in “Boyhood.”

Film Review: ‘Wish I Was Here’ Will Make You Wish You Weren’t There

Wish I Was Here

CHICAGO – Writer, director and lead actor Zach Braff has put it on the line for his latest feature, “Wish I Was Here.” He infamously used a crowd funding Kickstarter campaign to maintain creative control of the film, but he needn’t have bothered. The movie result is a sappy, high concept emotional manipulator with no basis in authenticity, and that might be the best thing that can be said about it.

‘Wish I Was Here’ Will Make You Wish You Weren’t There

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 2.0/5.0
Rating: 2.0/5.0

CHICAGO – Writer, director and lead actor Zach Braff has put it on the line for his latest feature, “Wish I Was Here.” He infamously used a crowdfunding Kickstarter campaign to maintain creative control of the film, but he needn’t have bothered. The movie result is a sappy, high concept emotional manipulator with no basis in authenticity, and that might be the best thing that can be said about it.

Film Review: ‘Sex Tape’ a Comedy Sorely Lacking in Laughs

CHICAGO – Jason Segel is usually fun to watch in just about anything, but he sure isn’t fun in “Sex Tape,” a big studio summer comedy with a fatal flaw - it doesn’t seem to know what’s funny. So like a stand-up comedian on a bad night, it feverishly and desperately throws anything it can think of at the screen in the vague hope that it might be funny even incidentally.

‘Sex Tape’ a Comedy Sorely Lacking in Laughs

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 1.5/5.0
Rating: 1.5/5.0

CHICAGO – Jason Segel is usually fun to watch in just about anything, but he sure isn’t fun in “Sex Tape,” a big studio summer comedy with a fatal flaw - it doesn’t seem to know what’s funny. So like a stand-up comedian on a bad night, it feverishly and desperately throws anything it can think of at the screen in the vague hope that it might be funny even incidentally.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Orange is the New Black

    CHICAGO – Orange Day is Friday (July 27, 2018)… as in “Orange is the New Black.” That’s when Season Six will be available for download from Netflix, as the online series continues to showcase the women inmates at Litchfield Penitentiary, three of whom are played by Taylor Schilling (Piper), Kate Mulgrew (Red) and Dascha Polanco (Daya).

  • Everybody, Brown Paper Box Co

    CHICAGO – When is the last time a stage play, based in an intimate setting, made you think about your life, death, and the destiny inherent in both? “Everybody,” staged by Brown Paper Box Co. (BPBCo), is such a play, and the energetic aura and sense of surprise that the show contains is soul soothing wonder. The show has various evening/matinee performances at the Pride Arts Center in Chicago run through August 12, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

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