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August 2014

Film Review: ‘As Above/So Below’ Scrapes Bottom of Barrel

CHICAGO – “As Above/So Below” is strictly the pits. It’s a found footage horror film set in the Paris catacombs that defies logic, and relentlessly keeps digging itself into a hole until it’s dragged everyone in the audience down with it.

‘As Above/So Below’ Scrapes Bottom of Barrel

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 0.0/5.0
Rating: 0.0/5.0

CHICAGO – “As Above/So Below” is strictly the pits. It’s a found footage horror film set in the Paris catacombs that defies logic, and relentlessly keeps digging itself into a hole until it’s dragged everyone in the audience down with it. It’s a movie that starts at stupid and then somehow proceeds to get progressively dumber and dumber, until it’s completely nonsensical and insane – and not in a good way. It’s quite simply the longest 90 minutes I’ve spent in a theater all year.

Interview: Shortcut 100 Film Festival Producer Rujanee Mahakanjana

Short 100 Film Festival

CHICAGO – The short film gets its due this upcoming weekend, as the 2014 “Shortcut 100 Film Festival,” produced by Nebula Creatives, unreels on August 31st at the Chicago Filmmakers Loft, on Clark Street in the Andersonville neighborhood. Rujanee Mahakanjana is one of the producers of the festival, and the founder of Nebula Creatives.

Film Review: Celebrating the Ordinary Couple in ‘Love is Strange’

CHICAGO – It is a time, and the time is now. Leave it to filmmaker Ira Sachs to break a barrier simply by having the right timing. Exploring a long time gay couple, right at the cusp of their now-legal marriage, opens the door to an odd series of ordinary circumstances in “Love is Strange.”

Celebrating the Ordinary Couple in ‘Love is Strange’

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

CHICAGO – It is a time, and the time is now. Leave it to filmmaker Ira Sachs to break a barrier simply by having the right timing. Exploring a longtime gay couple, right at the cusp of their now-legal marriage, opens the door to an odd series of ordinary circumstances in “Love is Strange.”

Interview: ‘Joel Murray & Friends’ at the New iO Chicago Venue

CHICAGO – iO Chicago continues the Grand Opening at its new venue with one of its most famous alumni – the illustrious Joel Murray. Besides opening the seventh season of “Mad Men” with a brilliant monologue as Freddy Rumsen, Murray brings his “Joel Murray & Friends” show to the new iO Chicago on August 30th.

Film Review: ‘The November Man’ a Stealthy Late-Summer Spy Thriller

CHICAGO – “The November Man” is better than its bland title and late August release date would suggest. It’s no gem, but it gets as far as it does almost solely on the strength of Pierce Brosnan’s breezy performance as an ex-CIA agent called back into duty for one last job.

‘The November Man’ a Stealthy Late-Summer Spy Thriller

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

CHICAGO – “The November Man” is better than its bland title and late August release date would suggest. It’s no gem, but it gets as far as it does almost solely on the strength of Pierce Brosnan’s breezy performance as an ex-CIA agent called back into duty for one last job.

Interview: Director Ira Sachs Reminds Us ‘Love is Strange’

CHICAGO – One of the notable films to kick off the autumn film season is writer/director Ira Sach’s “Love is Strange.” The story of two men in a longtime gay relationship, who finally can marry – but whose lives go off track unexpectedly – features brilliant performances from veterans John LIthgow and Alfred Molina.

TV News: ‘Breaking Bad,’ ‘Modern Family’ Top 2014 Emmy Awards

LOS ANGELES – It was one more lap around the victory track for the AMC-TV show ‘Breakling Bad,’ as the gritty drama about a teacher turned meth dealer took home six Primetime Emmy Awards at the 66th ceremony on August 25th. ‘Modern Family’ took home the statue for Outstanding Comedy Series for a a fifth straight year.

Exclusive Portraits: Michael Rooker of ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’

CHICAGO – “Guardians of the Galaxy” returned to the top of the box office this weekend, and Michael Rooker – as Yondu Undonta – was a vital part of the film. Rooker also was in Chicago recently, to promote the Illinois Department of Transportation video campaign, “The Driving Dead,” which refers to TV’s “The Walking Dead.”

Film Review: ‘Are You Here’ Feels Like Mashup of Two Different Films

Are You Here

CHICAGO – You would think that a film written and directed by Matthew Weiner – the creator of “Mad Men” – would be worthwhile company, especially when the cast includes Zach Galifianakis, Owen Wilson and Amy Poehler. It is disappointing to note that not only was this cliché-ridden mess unpalatable, but it also switched gears two-thirds of the way through to evoke a different mood, and that schizophrenia didn’t help the overall product.

‘Are You Here’ Feels Like Mashup of Two Different Films

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

CHICAGO – You would think that a film written and directed by Matthew Weiner – the creator of “Mad Men” – would be worthwhile company, especially when the cast includes Zach Galifianakis, Owen Wilson and Amy Poehler. It is disappointing to note that not only was this cliché-ridden mess unpalatable, but it also switched gears two-thirds of the way through to evoke a different mood, and that schizophrenia didn’t help the overall product.

More Risqué ‘Sin City: A Dame to Kill For’ Doesn’t Dare to Trailblaze Again

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

CHICAGO – Sex sells, sure, but the film-noir sequel “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” makes you feel dirty if you’re left thinking that’s enough.

Nine years since the visually groundbreaking, avant-garde hit “Sin City,” Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez’s biggest mistake with their next incarnation is replacing the first film’s bloodthirsty impact with too much nudity.

Film Review: ‘When the Game Stands Tall’ a Sermonizing Snooze

CHICAGO – “When The Game Stands Tall” has more sermons than a month of Sundays. Its heart is in the right place, but it’s more likely to put its audience to sleep than bring it to its feet. By now the tropes of the inspirational sports drama have become as familiar as the West Coast Offense, but this film can’t effectively figure out how to execute them.

‘When the Game Stands Tall’ a Sermonizing Snooze

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

CHICAGO – “When The Game Stands Tall” has more sermons than a month of Sundays. Its heart is in the right place, but it’s more likely to put its audience to sleep than bring it to its feet. By now the tropes of the inspirational sports drama have become as familiar as the West Coast Offense, but this film can’t effectively figure out how to execute them.

Film Review: Psychological, Religious Edge to ‘The Possession of Michael King’

Possession of Michael King, The

CHICAGO – The problem with most horror films is that they don’t understand what really scares us, and substitute bloody messes or the jack-in-the-box “boo!” instead of what really gets under our skins. “The Possession of Michael King” is a rare and special exception, taking demonic possession to broad depths of psychological and religious symbolism.

Psychological, Religious Edge to ‘The Possession of Michael King’

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

CHICAGO – The problem with most horror films is that they don’t understand what really scares us, and substitute bloody messes or the jack-in-the-box “boo!” in place of what really gets under our skin. “The Possession of Michael King” is a rare and special exception, taking demonic possession to broad depths of psychological and religious symbolism.

Film Review: ‘Land Ho!’ a Funny Film Driven by Memorable Characters

Land Ho!

CHICAGO – The pure, character-driven film is as rare as a comic book movie with a bad opening weekend. “Land Ho!” is one of those celluloid treats, the simple story of “Odd Couple” senior citizens – portrayed unforgettably by Earl Lynn Wilson and Paul Eenhoorn – who take a trip to the country of Iceland, and learn how to, and how not to, get along.

‘Land Ho!’ a Funny Film Driven by Memorable Characters

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

CHICAGO – The pure, character-driven film is as rare as a comic book movie with a bad opening weekend. “Land Ho!” is one of those celluloid treats, the simple story of “Odd Couple” senior citizens – portrayed unforgettably by Earl Lynn Wilson and Paul Eenhoorn – who take a trip to the country of Iceland, and learn how to, and how not to, get along.

Film Review: ‘If I Stay’ Can’t Rinse its Too-Sudsy Soap Opera

CHICAGO – We hate it when they grow up. Chloë Grace Moretz, a former child actor, takes on a first-teen-love role, and the results are decidedly mixed. The extreme emotions, the circumstances and Ms. Moretz’s performance undermine the soapy “If I Stay.”

‘If I Stay’ Can’t Rinse its Too-Sudsy Soap Opera

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

CHICAGO – We hate it when they grow up. Chloë Grace Moretz, a former child actor, takes on a first-teen-love role, and the results are decidedly mixed. The extreme emotions, the circumstances and Ms. Moretz’s performance undermine the soapy “If I Stay.”

Film Review: ‘Sin City: A Dame to Kill For’ Breaks No New Ground

CHICAGO – When the first “Sin City” (2005) was released – based on the graphic novels by Frank Miller – the conversion of a film to a noir-like comic book atmosphere was pioneering. The sequel “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” has heightened that look, but this time has much less to say.

‘Sin City: A Dame to Kill For’ Breaks No New Ground

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

CHICAGO – When the first “Sin City” (2005) was released – based on the graphic novels by Frank Miller – the conversion of a film to a noir-like comic book atmosphere was pioneering. The sequel “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” has heightened that look, but this time has much less to say.

Exclusive Portraits: Chloë Grace Moretz For New Film ‘If I Stay’

CHICAGO – Chloë Grace Moretz has grown up onscreen, and the former child actor is now a teenager in the new film “If I Stay.” Recently, she was in the area promoting the film, handing out free cupcakes to fans and admirers at the Sprinkle Cupcakes store in downtown Chicago.

Film Review: American Story of T-Rex Named Sue in ‘Dinosaur 13’

Dinosaur 13 front

CHICAGO – Only in America can an animal die millions of years ago, have its fossilized bones discovered in the 20th Century, and end up in a court of law, determining who she belongs to as if in a child custody case. The story of the most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex ever found is chronicled in the new documentary “Dinosaur 13.”

American Story of T-Rex Named Sue in ‘Dinosaur 13’

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

CHICAGO – Only in America can an animal die millions of years ago, have its fossilized bones discovered in the 20th Century, and end up in a court of law, determining who she belongs to as if in a child custody case. The story of the most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex ever found is chronicled in the new documentary “Dinosaur 13.”

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