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January 2015

Film Review: Jude Law Submarines a Passable But Unspectacular ‘Black Sea’

CHICAGO – I’m on board with Jude Law leading a film and neutral about submarine movies as a genre. My primary pre-screening interest in the quietly marketed thriller “Black Sea” was what Oscar-winning director Kevin Macdonald would do with this material following his hit with the hard-hitting drama “The Last King of Scotland”.

Jude Law Submarines a Passable But Unspectacular ‘Black Sea’

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

CHICAGO – I’m on board with Jude Law leading a film and neutral about submarine movies as a genre. My primary pre-screening interest in the quietly marketed thriller “Black Sea” was what Oscar-winning director Kevin Macdonald would do with this material following his hit with the hard-hitting drama “The Last King of Scotland”.

HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: 50 Pairs of Passes to ‘Jupiter Ascending’ With Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum

CHICAGO – In the latest HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: Film, we have 50 pairs of advance-screening movie passes up for grabs to the highly anticipated new fantasy film “Jupiter Ascending” starring Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum from Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski (“The Matrix“ films)!

Film Review: Son Can’t Rise Beyond His Fate in Emotional ‘Mommy’

Mommy

CHICAGO – One of the odd unexplainable quirks of human existence is the shaping, variations and thoughts of our inner being. The physicality in the structure of the grey matter of the brain, with the slightest imperfection, can make the difference in a lifetime of behavior and perspective. Sometimes it can work out, and sometimes different consequences are created or destroyed, like the story of Diane Després in “Mommy.”

Son Can’t Rise Beyond His Fate in Emotional ‘Mommy’

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

CHICAGO – One of the odd unexplainable quirks of human existence is the shaping, variations and thoughts of our inner being. The physicality in the structure of the grey matter of the brain, with the slightest imperfection, can make the difference in a lifetime of behavior and perspective. Sometimes it can work out, and sometimes different consequences are created or destroyed, like the story of Diane Després in “Mommy.”

Film Review: Efficient Submarine Adventure ‘Black Sea’ Offers Classic Thrills

CHICAGO – Having explored the farthest fields of space in films like “Gravity” and “Interstellar,” we may have forgotten the danger that awaits down below. “Black Sea” is a lean, often thrilling submarine tale that takes viewers on a journey of timeless terror and sacrificial pursuits.

Efficient Submarine Adventure ‘Black Sea’ Offers Classic Thrills

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

CHICAGO – Having explored the farthest fields of space in films like “Gravity” and “Interstellar,” we may have forgotten the danger that awaits down below. “Black Sea” is a lean, often thrilling submarine tale that takes viewers on a journey of timeless terror and sacrificial pursuits.

2015 Sundance Diary: ‘Don Verdean,’ ‘The Mask You Live In’ & ‘Me and Earl and the Dying Girl’

Me & Earl & Dying Girl, Sundance 2015

PARK CITY, Utah – HollywoodChicago.com’s coverage of the 2015 Sundance Film Festival is far from over. This is the latest batch of reviews of movies that I’ve seen there. One film was a triumph while the other two are titles that I wouldn’t want to be stuck talking to at a party.

HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: 15 Pairs of Guaranteed Anytime Passes to ‘The Loft’ With Karl Urban

CHICAGO – In the latest HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: Film, we have 15 pairs of guaranteed anytime movie tickets up for grabs to the new thrillerThe Loft” starring Karl Urban and James Marsden! Pick your own theatre and time throughout Chicagoland!

Film Review: Story Choices Aside, Heart Matters in ‘Black or White’

CHICAGO – As race issues continue in the news, in the wake of Ferguson and “I Can’t Breathe,” the movies exhibit an extraordinary piece of timing with the new film “Black or White.” Oscar winners Kevin Costner and Octavia Spencer participate in a story of family and healing.

Story Choices Aside, Heart Matters in ‘Black or White’

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

CHICAGO – As race issues continue in the news, in the wake of Ferguson and “I Can’t Breathe,” the movies exhibit an extraordinary piece of timing with the new film “Black or White.” Oscar winners Kevin Costner and Octavia Spencer participate in a story of family and healing.

Interview: Director Kevin Macdonald Gets Under His ‘Black Sea’

Kevin Macdonald of 'Black Sea'

CHICAGO – The old fashioned paranoid thriller lives, with the release of ‘Black Sea,’ a submarine movie that combines elements of the silent running of those underwater tin cans with the motivation of finding treasure – in this case Nazi gold – that has been buried where it sunk 70 years ago. The director of this film, Kevin Macdonald, creates a nail biting tension in the will-they-or-won’t-they survival mode of the British and Russian members of the submarine’s crew, led by Captain Robinson (Jude Law).

Theater Review: Brown Paper Box Co. Stages Pointed ‘Spike Heels’

Spike Heels Stage Play

CHICAGO – If you can remember the 1990s outside of childhood, you are in the glow of middle age, so congratulations. The Brown Paper Box Co. theater ensemble takes us back to those thrilling days of yesteryear with “Spike Heels,” a relationship comedy centering on the co-mingling antics of two couples, with a slight nod toward George Bernard Shaw and the play “Pygmalion” (or its musical counterpart, “My Fair Lady”).

Interview: Kevin Costner, Anthony Mackie & Director Mike Binder Ponder ‘Black or White’

CHICAGO – Kevin Costner has come to represent a particular brand of Americana, for his roles in films like “Field of Dreams,” “Dances with Wolves” “JFK” and recently as Pa Kent in “Man of Steel.” His latest film is “Black or White.”

HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: 75 Pairs of Passes to ‘Black Sea’ With Jude Law

CHICAGO – In the latest HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: Film, we have 75 pairs of advance-screening movie passes up for grabs to the new thrillerBlack Sea” starring Jude Law from Oscar-winning director Kevin Macdonald (“The Last King of Scotland”)!

2015 Sundance Diary: ‘A Walk in the Woods,’ ‘Eden,’ ‘Z for Zachariah’ & ‘Knock Knock’

PARK CITY, Utah – There are too many films and not enough time between shuttle shuffles and line waiting to cover the festival day by day. So, in pure improvised festival-going fashion, I’ll now be posting reviews for material that I see, but necessarily in viewing order. Enjoy!

HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: 30 Pairs of Passes to ‘Black or White’ With Kevin Costner

CHICAGO – In the latest HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: Film, we have 30 pairs of advance-screening movie passes up for grabs to the new film “Black or White” starring Kevin Costner, Octavia Spencer, Anthony Mackie and introducing Jillian Estell!

‘Cake’ Serves Emotionally Honest, Career-Growing Dramatic Role for Jennifer Aniston

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

CHICAGO – It’s been a while since I walked out of a screening so affected and feeling that I just experienced a truly honest, important film.

Sure, other ones have since, but back in 2007, “Once” especially made me feel that way long before the Oscars.

2015 Sundance Diary, Day 1: ‘What Happened, Miss Simone?,’ ‘The Bronze’ & ‘The Amina Profile’

PARK CITY, Utah – The 2015 Sundance Film Festival is well underway in Park City, Utah, a snow-adorned mega village where everything looks like ski lodges, even the movie theaters. The festival occurs in a place that transforms for the cause of movies.

Film Review: Supremely Silly ‘Mortdecai’ is a Pleasant Surprise

CHICAGO – I have to say while watching Johnny Depp in “Mortdecai,” I found myself amused. I rarely elicited anything more than a slight chuckle, but its indomitable spirit of silliness made it a not entirely unpleasant evening out.

Supremely Silly ‘Mortdecai’ is a Pleasant Surprise

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

CHICAGO – I have to say while watching Johnny Depp in “Mortdecai,” I found myself amused. I rarely elicited anything more than a slight chuckle, but its indomitable spirit of silliness made it a not entirely unpleasant evening out. This feather-weight trifle of a caper is only slightly more than the funny mustache movie its posters and trailer make it out to be.

Theater Review: ‘The Book of Merman’ Should Satisfy Both Sets of Fans

Book of Merman, The

CHICAGO – One potential theater-goer loves the “The Book of Mormon.” The other would rather stay home and watch old Ethel Merman YouTube videos. Pride Films & Theater offers the ultimate solution by combining both in a campy musical, “The Book of Merman.” Yep, two Elder characters from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints meets foghorn singer Ethel Merman.

Film Review: Story Won’t Go All the Way in ‘The Boy Next Door’

CHICAGO – There was a different kind of vibe coming from the thriller “The Boy Next Door,” different than what is expected when hearing “Jennifer Lopez as teacher caught in a scandal with a student.” But for every piece of original thinking, there was a fear of making it too different.

Story Won’t Go All the Way in ‘The Boy Next Door’

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

CHICAGO – There was a different kind of vibe coming from the thriller “The Boy Next Door,” different than what is expected when hearing “Jennifer Lopez as teacher caught in a scandal with a student.” But for every piece of original thinking, there was a fear of making it too different.

Interview: Actor Trai Byers of Film ‘Selma,’ TV’s ‘Empire’

CHICAGO – The excellent film “Selma” focuses on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. But just as important as King were the marchers from supporting civil rights societies, such as the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and their leaders like James Forman, portrayed in the film by Trai Byers.

Blu-ray Review: Stale Screen Culture Drama ‘Men, Women & Children’

Men, Women & Children with Kaitlyn Dever

CHICAGO – In “Men, Women & Children,” director Jason Reitman not-so-audaciously reflects onto viewers their world of silent screens and awkward impersonal interactions. As many stories (“Don Jon,” “Disconnect”) have taken on the torch of showing how we are, gasp! — connected to the world yet disconnected from those close to us — Reitman’s tale is just another one for the batch.

Interview: Director Michael Jolls Mocks ‘The Great Chicago Filmmaker’

great chicago filmmaker.jpg

CHICAGO - A mockumentary in the style of 2009’s political comedy “In the Loop,” “The Great Chicago Filmmaker” aims the camera back at burgeoning directors who mar their projects with delusion and self-admiration. Motivated by real-life horror stories from Chicago film sets, the movie follows a young director (played by Devin Sanclemente) on his journey to birth the next indie sensation, but stumbling over his own ego in the process.

Interview: Chicagoan Eric McCoy, Justus Meyer of McCoy|Meyer Productions

Justus Meyer, Eric McCoy

CHICAGO – When HollywoodChicago.com last talked to Eric McCoy, he was a fresh-out-of-film-school director with a notable short work – “Carpe Millennium” – ready to hit the festival circuit, and a different name, Eric Bednarowicz. About a year later, Eric moved to Los Angeles, took his middle name as his new moniker, and teamed up with Justus Meyer to form the new production company McCoy|Meyer. Ironically, Dictionary Films of Chicago just announced that McCoy|Meyer of Los Angeles will join their team of production experts here.

Film Feature: The Top 10 Celebrity Photos of 2014, By Joe Arce

CHICAGO – In a year where shoots with perpetual photo fashionistas like Cindy Crawford and Sarah Jessica Parker still failed to crack the Top Ten list of biggest celebrity photo-ops, you know 2014 was a very good year for HollywoodChicago.com and myself, Joe Arce, as Senior Staff Photographer.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Bobby Pin Girls

    CHICAGO – The “breeder years” are difficult on everyone, as the biological imperative becomes overwhelming and the couplings that result yield both discovery and misadventure. Nothing Without a Company’s new play “Bobby Pin Girls” highlight two such Millennial women, roommates who are having man trouble, although the argument can be made that it’s eternally “boy trouble.” The show has a Thursday-Sunday run at the Chicago Mosaic School through December 3rd, 2017. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

  • Transformers 5 front

    CHICAGO – Knock me over with a feather kids, but I enjoyed “Transformers: The Last Knight.” Maybe it was in comparison to the others or maybe director Michael Bay has beaten me into submission, but this one had the right story elements and casting to make it work, with exceptions of course. It’s goofiness is its charm, and it was released on Blu-Ray/DVD on September 26th, 2017 (Digital HD already available).

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