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September 2014

Exclusive Portrait: ‘Grumpy Cat’ Gains a Voice in Lifetime TV Movie

Grumpy Cat, photo by Joe Arce

CHICAGO – What began as an internet meme has become a celebrity sensation. “Grumpy Cat,” AKA Tardar Sauce the cat, has built a career for herself and her owners as a magazine cover girl and brand name. Aubrey Plaza (“Parks and Recreation”) has just been named as the voice of Grumpy Cat for an upcoming Lifetime TV Movie, “Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever.” The famous feline recently appeared at Barnes & Noble Old Orchard in Skokie, Illinois, to promote her new book “The Grumpy Guide to Life: Observations from Grumpy Cat.”

Film Review: Animated ‘The Boxtrolls’ Has British Comic Tone

CHICAGO – Monty Python, Peter Cook & Dudley Moore, Peter Sellers, Mr. Bean, Alan Partridge – all are examples of British comedy, that off-kilter “are you in on the joke?” point of view. That comic tone has arrived in an animated film, within the stop motion world of “The Boxtrolls.”

Animated ‘The Boxtrolls’ Has British Comic Tone

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

CHICAGO – Monty Python, Peter Cook & Dudley Moore, Peter Sellers, Mr. Bean, Alan Partridge – all are examples of British comedy, that off-kilter “are you in on the joke?” point of view. That comic tone has arrived in an animated film, within the stop motion world of “The Boxtrolls.’

Film Review: An Experimental Experience in Non-Biopic ‘Jimi: All is By My Side’

Jimi: All is By My Side

CHICAGO – “Jimi: All Is by My Side” shows the Jimi Hendrix experience without having the rights to the Jimi Hendrix Experience. It’s an unofficial rumination that doesn’t have any Hendrix songs, and it focuses on a more day-in-the-life perspective of the rock star, albeit in a career period that would be scooted over through montage in any other film. The endeavor is ambitious in its desires, and stands out most of all for its experimental nature than it does for trying to achieve a truth higher than fact.

An Experimental Experience in Non-Biopic ‘Jimi: All is By My Side’

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

CHICAGO – “Jimi: All Is by My Side” shows the Jimi Hendrix experience without having the rights to the Jimi Hendrix Experience. It’s an unofficial rumination that doesn’t have any Hendrix songs, and it focuses on a more day-in-the-life perspective of the rock star, albeit in a career period that would be scooted over through montage in any other film. The endeavor is ambitious in its desires, and stands out most of all for its experimental nature than it does for trying to achieve a truth higher than fact.

Film Review: Overall Story of ‘The Equalizer’ Doesn’t Add Up

CHICAGO – You could call “The Equalizer” a bit of an underachiever. It re-teams Oscar winner Denzel Washington with his “Training Day” director Antoine Fuqua for a movie remake of a 1980’s TV show with a cult following, but the film as a whole adds up to less than the sum of its parts.

Film Review: Luminous Story of Disconnection in Organic ‘Tracks’

Tracks, Mia Wasikowska

CHICAGO – “Do you ever wonder if the things that are meant to connect us … actually disconnect us?” This cheesy hypothesis as found in many millennial dramas has only caused the film world go to in circles about the quandary of handheld screens and social media. With its cool air, John Curran’s low-key adventure “Tracks” takes a line straight through that argument, providing a story of disconnection from distraction as set in a world when Apple products were only gadgets on re-runs of “Star Trek.”

Overall Story of ‘The Equalizer’ Doesn’t Add Up

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

CHICAGO – You could call “The Equalizer” a bit of an underachiever. It re-teams Oscar winner Denzel Washington with his “Training Day” director Antoine Fuqua for a movie remake of a 1980’s TV show with a cult following, but the film as a whole adds up to less than the sum of its parts.

Luminous Story of Disconnection in Organic ‘Tracks’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.5/5.0
Rating: 4.0/5.0

CHICAGO – “Do you ever wonder if the things that are meant to connect us … actually disconnect us?” This cheesy hypothesis as found in many millennial dramas has only caused the film world go to in circles about the quandary of handheld screens and social media. With its cool air, John Curran’s low-key adventure “Tracks” takes a line straight through that argument, providing a story of disconnection from distraction as set in a world when Apple products were only gadgets on re-runs of “Star Trek.”

Interview: Directors of ‘The Boxtrolls’ on Their Animated Life

CHICAGO – How do you interpret an odd British storybook called “Here Be Monsters!” into a mainstream animated film? By taking the main characters – called ‘The Boxtrolls’ – and putting them up front. Animation veterans and co-directors Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi got the assignment, and deliver the goods.

HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: 15 Pairs of Passes to ‘Gone Girl’ With Ben Affleck

CHICAGO – In the latest HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: Film, we have 15 pairs of advance-screening movie passes up for grabs to the highly anticipated mysteryGone Girl” starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike from director David Fincher!

Interviews: Red-Carpet Opening Night for Reeling32 Film Festival

CHICAGO – Reeling32, the Chicago International LGBT Film Festival, had a sensational Opening Night on Thursday, September 18th, 2014. The festival began with “Boy Meets Girl,” featuring Michelle Hendley in her debut performance, and directed by Eric Schaeffer. Both star and director attended the Opening Night.

Film News: Patrick McDonald of HollywoodChicago.com to Host ‘Breaking Away’

Breaking Away

CHICAGO – “Breaking Away,” the classic Oscar-winning film of 1979, will be shown on the big screen at Studio Movie Grill in Wheaton, Ill. – on Wednesday, September 24th, 2014, at 7:30pm (click on the link below to purchase tickets). It will be hosted by Film Critic Patrick McDonald of HollywoodChicago.com.

Film Review: Lives Interact in ‘The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them’

CHICAGO – There was something blank within “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them,” although it dealt with the issues of loss, family and reconciliation. The all star cast, including Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy and William Hurt, add their performing spins to the story.

Lives Interact in ‘The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them’

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

CHICAGO – There was something blank within “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them,” although it dealt with the issues of loss, family and reconciliation. The all star cast, including Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy and William Hurt, add their performing spins to the story.

Film Review: ‘A Walk Among the Tombstones’ Solidifies Desire for Liam Neeson to Be Your Dad

CHICAGO – I don’t know about your dad, but mine – love him as I do – isn’t Jason Bourne, James Bond or Bryan Mills. At the age of 62, Liam Neeson somehow still kicks ass as Bryan Mills in “Taken” and fans everywhere love riding every minute of his butt-kicking thrill rides.

‘A Walk Among the Tombstones’ Solidifies Desire for Liam Neeson to Be Your Dad

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

CHICAGO – I don’t know about your dad, but mine – love him as I do – isn’t Jason Bourne, James Bond or Bryan Mills. At the age of 62, Liam Neeson somehow still kicks ass as Bryan Mills in “Taken” and fans everywhere love riding every minute of his butt-kicking thrill rides.

Film Review: Don’t Say That You Love Me in Kevin Smith’s ‘Tusk’

Tusk

CHICAGO – The headline is a quote (“Don’t say that you love me!”) from Fleetwood Mac’s song “Tusk,” which Kevin Smith gratefully includes in his film of the same name. The movie is either the most outrageous audacity of the year or a blatant middle finger from Smith to the audience. You decide.

Don’t Say That You Love Me in Kevin Smith’s ‘Tusk’

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

CHICAGO – The headline is a quote (“Don’t say that you love me!”) from Fleetwood Mac’s song “Tusk,” which Kevin Smith gratefully includes in his film of the same name. The movie is either the most outrageous audacity of the year or a blatant middle finger from Smith to the audience. You decide.

Film Review: Unoriginal, Unfunny ‘This is Where I Leave You’ a Poor Man’s ‘August: Osage County’

CHICAGO – Jason Bateman and an all-star cast got me there. The unfunny copycat story left me regretting it. If you don’t start with a solid plot that’s at least somewhat new, it doesn’t matter how many “A”-listers you throw into an ensemble. They’re just individuals doing the best they can with weak material.

Unoriginal, Unfunny ‘This is Where I Leave You’ a Poor Man’s ‘August: Osage County’

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

CHICAGO – Jason Bateman and an all-star cast got me there. The unfunny copycat story left me regretting it. If you don’t start with a solid plot that’s at least somewhat new, it doesn’t matter how many “A”-listers you throw into an ensemble. They’re just individuals doing the best they can with weak material. But the film’s fatal flaw is it can’t figure out who it is – a comedy, drama or dramedy? – and it didn’t do just one thing well.

Film Review: Liam Neeson in Forgettable ‘A Walk Among the Tombstones’

CHICAGO – Liam Neeson still looks good being a badass., but “A Walk Among The Tombstones” is a vehicle unworthy of his particular set of skills. It’s not a tightly constructed thriller like “Non-Stop,” and it lacks the sheer over-the-top ludicrousness of “Taken 2.”

Liam Neeson in Forgettable ‘A Walk Among the Tombstones’

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

CHICAGO – Liam Neeson still looks good being a badass, but “A Walk Among The Tombstones” is a vehicle unworthy of his particular set of skills. It’s not a tightly constructed thriller like “Non-Stop,” and it lacks the sheer over-the-top ludicrousness of “Taken 2.” This is largely a by-the-numbers jalopy that can best be called forgettable.

Film Review: Vibrant Indie Pop Musical ‘God Help the Girl’

God Help the Girl

CHICAGO – Opening at Chicago’s Music Box Theater this weekend is a full-length musical conceived by Stuart Murdoch, the lead singer of indie pop darlings Belle & Sebastian, making his debut as a writer/director. Surpassing the notion of a concept album, Murdoch has engineered a vibrant experience that is missing all but the introduction of a new dance move.

Vibrant Indie Pop Musical ‘God Help the Girl’

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

CHICAGO – Opening at Chicago’s Music Box Theater this weekend is a full-length musical conceived by Stuart Murdoch, the lead singer of indie pop darlings Belle & Sebastian, making his debut as a writer/director. Surpassing the notion of a concept album, Murdoch has engineered a vibrant experience that is missing all but the introduction of a new dance move.

Film Review: ‘The Maze Runner’ a Cut Above Teenage Dystopia Genre

CHICAGO – Yes, the future world of teenage bleakness, so popular in “The Hunger Games” and “Divergent,” now has its own genre. “The Maze Runner” is an excellent entry, and gets over its stilted dialogue and scary monsters by adding in surprises and atmospheric mystery.

‘The Maze Runner’ a Cut Above Teenage Dystopia Genre

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

CHICAGO – Yes, the future world of teenage bleakness, so popular in “The Hunger Games” and “Divergent,” now has its own genre. “The Maze Runner” is an excellent entry, and gets over its stilted dialogue and scary monsters by adding in surprises and atmospheric mystery.

Film News: Opening Night for Chicago’s LGBT International Film Festival Reeling32 on Sept. 18, 2014

Reeling 32

CHICAGO – The second oldest LGBT Film Festival is right here is Chicago, as “Reeling32” moves up a couple of months from their previous year November start date. Opening Night is September 18th, 2014, and the fest begins at the Music Box Theatre in Chicago, with the provocative “Boy Meets Girl,” directed by Eric Schaeffer and featuring Michelle Henley, Michael Welch and Alexandra Turshen.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Speech & Debate (stage play)

    CHICAGO – “Speech & Debate,” the latest production from the mighty Brown Paper Box Company, continues their tradition of thinking outside that “box” in presenting storefront theater that makes a statement and a difference. “Speech” goes inside America by showcasing the outsiders… those who create art because they can’t get it right in real life. This non-equity Chicago stage play premiere is finely tuned and wonderfully acted, and runs through March 4th, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

  • We're Gonna Be Okay

    CHICAGO – The 1960s were a time of historical social transition. The movements – civil rights, feminist, gay rights – all had roots in that tumultuous decade. The Chicago premiere of Basil Kreimendahl’s “We’re Gonna Be Okay” echoes all of those movements in its characters, and collides them against the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. The show has a Thursday-Sunday run at the American Theater Company through March 4th, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

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