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October 2014

Film Review: Disturbingly Refreshing, Jake Gyllenhaal in ‘Nightcrawler’ is an Anti-Hero You Can’t Stop Watching

CHICAGO – “No one talks like that,” I kept thinking to myself about this noir thriller. But that said, “Nightcrawler” is driven by just about the most entertaining dialogue from one person I’ve seen all year.

Disturbingly Refreshing, Jake Gyllenhaal in ‘Nightcrawler’ is an Anti-Hero You Can’t Stop Watching

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

CHICAGO – “No one talks like that,” I kept thinking to myself about this noir thriller. But that said, “Nightcrawler” is driven by just about the most entertaining dialogue from one person I’ve seen all year.

Exclusive Portraits: Melissa Gilbert Still Wows Them on the Prairie

Melissa Gilbert, photo by Joe Arce

CHICAGO – Melissa Gilbert has grown up a bit since portraying Laura Ingalls on the 1970s TV classic “Little House on the Prairie,” but her roots aren’t far behind. She’s just released “My Prairie Cookbook: Memories and Frontier Food from My Little House to Yours,” and appeared last month at North Central College in Naperville, Ill. – at an event sponsored by Anderson’s Bookshop – to greet admirers and sign her new menu planner.

Film Review: Ego an Arduous Carousel in Documentary ‘Harmontown’

Harmontown, Dan Harmon, 2014

CHICAGO - Dan Harmon does not look very good in his documentary “Harmontown,” which is probably why he agreed to the project. The creator of NBC’s cult comedy “Community” is presented wantonly in this documentation of his tour across America to interact with his fans through live recordings of his podcast “Harmontown.”

Ego an Arduous Carousel in Documentary ‘Harmontown’

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

CHICAGO – Dan Harmon does not look very good in his documentary “Harmontown,” which is probably why he agreed to the project. The creator of NBC’s cult comedy “Community” is presented wantonly in this documentation of his tour across America to interact with his fans through live recordings of his podcast “Harmontown.”

Film Review: ‘Before I Go to Sleep’ Not Worth Remembering

CHICAGO – “Before I Go To Sleep” is a lobotomized amnesiac thriller that sure hopes its audience can’t remember “Memento.” It presents its promising concept as a slow, poorly paced potboiler that is packed with unpleasantness.

‘Before I Go to Sleep’ Not Worth Remembering

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 1.0/5.0
Rating: 1.0/5.0

CHICAGO – “Before I Go To Sleep” is a lobotomized amnesiac thriller that sure hopes its audience can’t remember “Memento.” It presents its promising concept as a slow, poorly paced potboiler that is packed with unpleasantness.

Film Review: Jake Gyllenhaal is Eerily Seductive as the ‘Nightcrawler’

CHICAGO – This film can be defined as “Network” meets Norman Bates, but it also exposes virtually all our modern sins, in a chilling story about a loser who spouts business self help while taping bloody crimes that sell on the morning news. Jake Gyllenhaal is the “Nightcrawler.”

Jake Gyllenhaal is Eerily Seductive as the ‘Nightcrawler’

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

CHICAGO – This film can be defined as “Network” meets Norman Bates, but it also exposes virtually all our modern sins, in a chilling story about a loser who spouts business self help while taping bloody crimes that sell on the morning news. Jake Gyllenhaal is the “Nightcrawler.”

Interview: Director Justin Simien Reflects on ‘Dear White People’

CHICAGO – Some say, to use a FOX News term, that America is “post-racial.” The election of Barack Obama is supposed to have ended the debate on race, and any marginalization because of race. Of course, that is not possible in society and culture, and it’s articulated in writer/director Justin Simien’s new film, “Dear White People.”

Interview: Jason Schwartzman Hears All in ‘Listen Up Philip’

CHICAGO – Jason Schwartzman likes to portray writers – he was one in his HBO series “Bored to Death” – and he portrays one in his latest film, “Listen Up Philip.” He also has played many characters in director Wes Anderson’s universe, and did a fantastic turn as composer Richard M. Sherman in last year’s “Saving Mr. Banks.”

Film Review: The Worst Horror Film of 2014, ‘Ouija’ is ‘Mama’ From 11 Narcoleptic Producers

CHICAGO – Out of respect for the filmmakers and actors, I don’t walk out on films. I hold true to that even when I know in the first 10 minutes the film’s not for me. Perhaps the second act could surprise me. Maybe the whole film is a flop but it redeems itself with shock and awe in the last 5 minutes.

The Worst Horror Film of 2014, ‘Ouija’ is ‘Mama’ From 11 Narcoleptic Producers

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 1.0/5.0
Rating: 1.0/5.0

CHICAGO – Out of respect for the filmmakers and actors, I don’t walk out on films. I hold true to that even when I know in the first 10 minutes the film’s not for me. Perhaps the second act could surprise me. Maybe the whole film is a flop but it redeems itself with shock and awe in the last 5 minutes.

Film Review: Racial Satire ‘Dear White People’ is Heated, Hilarious

CHICAGO – A new voice has everyone’s attention with the shaking-head comedy “Dear White People,” a necessary “Wake UP!” to a melting pot nation that still needs to get itself together, even if a black president is in the White House.

Racial Satire ‘Dear White People’ is Heated, Hilarious

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

CHICAGO – A new voice has everyone’s attention with the shaking-head comedy “Dear White People,” a necessary “Wake UP!” to a melting pot nation that still needs to get itself together, even if a black president is in the White House.

Film Review: Keanu Reeves in Ludicrous Premise as ‘John Wick’

CHICAGO – Keanu Reeves has been in a lot of dogs over the years, but rarely has he left such a high body count while avenging one of them. “John Wick” is a brutal revenge thriller where Reeves is a ex-mob enforcer who goes on a murderous rampage leaving blood on every doorstep to avenge the death of his dog.

Keanu Reeves in Ludicrous Premise as ‘John Wick’

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

CHICAGO – Keanu Reeves has been in a lot of dogs over the years, but rarely has he left such a high body count while avenging one of them. “John Wick” is a brutal revenge thriller where Reeves is a ex-mob enforcer who goes on a murderous rampage leaving blood on every doorstep to avenge the death of his dog. Despite that chuckle-inducing premise, “John Wick” isn’t the dog I expected, but then again that’s not saying much.

Film Review: Michael Keaton Soars in Mesmerizing ‘Birdman’

CHICAGO – There are parts of “Birdman” that are absolutely breathtaking, in dialogue, performance and visual acumen. Even its subtitle, “The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance” has a wonderful payoff. Michael Keaton provides an Oscar worthy performance as the title character.

Michael Keaton Soars in Mesmerizing ‘Birdman’

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

CHICAGO – There are parts of “Birdman” that are absolutely breathtaking, in dialogue, performance and visual acumen. Even its subtitle, “The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance” has a wonderful payoff. Michael Keaton provides an Oscar worthy performance as the title character.

Slideshow: Exclusive Red-Carpet Portraits at the 50th Chicago International Film Festival

| Image 1 of 12 |
Filmmaker and activist Michael Moore introduced ‘Roger and Me.’

CHICAGO – As the 2014 edition of the 50th Chicago International Film Festival ends on October 23rd, HollywoodChicago.com spotlights the Red Carpet events with a collection of Exclusive Portraits from photographer Joe Arce. Directors are highlighted, as filmmakers ranging from Oliver Stone to Michael Moore are featured.

Interview: Kathleen Turner on the Red Carpet at the 50th Chicago International Film Festival

CHICAGO – She was the Queen of 1980’s femme fatales, who later became a memorable stage and character actress. Kathleen Turner wowed audiences back in the day with hits including “Body Heat,” “Romancing the Stone,” “Prizzi’s Honor,” “Peggy Sue Got Married” and “War of the Roses.”

Film Review: Humdrum Documentation of Bigfoot in Found-Footage Horror ‘Exists’

Exists, 2014

CHICAGO – Director Eduardo Sánchez has found one bizarre way to commemorate the rogue nature of his horror film “The Blair Witch Project” for its 15-year-anniversary - by crafting an analogously lesser movie with the very rulebook he defied in 1999. In turn, his new Bigfoot found footage film “Exists” becomes a minimal horror project for the GoPro camera era that doesn’t have much of a life of its own outside of its “Blair Witch Project” context.

Humdrum Documentation of Bigfoot in Found-Footage Horror ‘Exists’

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

CHICAGO – Director Eduardo Sánchez has found one bizarre way to commemorate the rogue nature of his horror film “The Blair Witch Project” for its 15-year-anniversary - by crafting an analogously lesser movie with the very rulebook he defied in 1999. In turn, his new Bigfoot found footage film “Exists” becomes a minimal horror project for the GoPro camera era that doesn’t have much of a life of its own outside of its “Blair Witch Project” context.

Interview: Oliver Stone on the Red Carpet at the 50th Chicago International Film Festival

CHICAGO – Love him or not, Oliver Stone is one of the most important directors of the last generation. The creator of “Born on the Fourth of July,” “JFK,” “Platoon,” “Nixon” and “Any Given Sunday” was at the 50th Chicago International Film Festival to introduce his director’s cut for “Alexander” and “Natural Born Killers.”

Interviews: Short Film Directors at the 50th Chicago International Film Festival

CHICAGO – The opportunity to sample new filmmakers is one of the true pleasures of the 50th Chicago International Film Festival, and this year’s crop of City & State short films, made in either Chicago or Illinois, was no exception. Directors Lonnie Edwards, Joel Benjamin, Meghann Artes and Robert Carnilius represented the area.

Blu-ray Review: Bowling Comedy ‘Kingpin’ Rolls Onto Blu-ray

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.

Film Review: Direction Proves a Problem For Open Mic Drama ‘Rudderless’

Rudderless, Billy Crudup Anton Yelchin

CHICAGO – Actor William H. Macy’s directorial debut “Rudderless” is a film of open mic songwriting that tackles a recovery from grief with neat lyrics and easy metaphors. Instead of standing out, Macy has provided another sap’s ballad that has the cuteness of “Kumbaya”, one that aims to please the crowd without challenging emotions, only presenting them.

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  • Not One Batu

    CHICAGO – The State of Hawaii may be one of the most misunderstood in America. Because of its reputation as a tourist mecca, the fact that native peoples live and work there like any other place is hard to imagine. Also unimaginable is the drug use of island residents, but playwright and Hawaiian native Hannah li-Epstein wrote about it in her stage play “Not One Batu,” now in its Premiere Chicago run at the Berger Park Coach House through July 28th, 2018. For more information, including tickets, click here.

  • Cher Show, The

    CHICAGO – Has anybody in show business had more “comebacks” than Cher… or if you added her many last names Cher Sarkisian La Piere Bono Allman? All of the triumphs and downturns are shoehorned into “The Cher Show,” now in Chicago in a pre-Broadway run through July 15, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

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