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November 2016

Interview: Director Jack C. Newell on Digital Release of ‘Open Tables’

CHICAGO – Local filmmaking has always gotten a boost through director Jack C. Newell. His 2015 film “Open Tables,” shot in Chicago and Paris, will get it’s digital release on Tuesday, December 6th, 2016, on iTunes and Video-On-Demand. This coincides with his art project “The Wabash Lights,” and his continued production work.

Film News: Chicago’s Asian Pop-Up Cinema to Screen ‘The Assassin' & ‘Round Trip Heart’

Asian Pop Up Cinema Dec. 2016

CHICAGO – The Asian Pop-Up Cinema Series, spotlighting a variety of diverse Asian films, concludes its 2016 Fall Season with two films in the next week, ”The Assassin” (Taiwan), on Wednesday, Nov 30th; and ”Round Trip Heart” (Japan), on Sunday, Dec. 4th (Director Yuki Tanada will attend). Click each individual title for more details.

Interview: Director Julie Dash of ‘Daughters of the Dust’

CHICAGO – Iconic and historical are the two apt terms for a film directed by an African American woman, the first to be distributed theatrically, Was it the 1920s? 1940s? It had to be the 1970s. No, it was 1992 when that barrier was broken, with the film “Daughters in the Dust,” directed by Julie Dash.

Interview: Christine Dudley, Director of The Illinois Film Office

Christine Dudley, Director of the IFO

CHICAGO – When filmmakers are searching for the “rules of the road,” when seeking to produce in Chicago or elsewhere in Illinois, one of the stops they need to make is with The Illinois Film Office. The Film Office is part of the state’s Department of Commerce, and not only takes care of production coordination, but the economic incentives for film, television and advertising in the area. Since 2015, the Director of The Illinois Film Office has been Christine Dudley.

Film Review: Casey Affleck Anchors ‘Manchester by the Sea’

CHICAGO – Tis the season for earnest character studies, and Casey Affleck in “Manchester by the Sea” has a doozy. Portraying a Boston guy with a mountain of sadness within, Affleck harbors the range of emotions like a coiled snake ready to strike, but manages to keep it all undercover.

Casey Affleck Anchors ‘Manchester by the Sea’

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

CHICAGO – Tis the season for earnest character studies, and Casey Affleck in “Manchester by the Sea” has a doozy. Portraying a Boston guy with a mountain of sadness within, Affleck harbors the range of emotions like a coiled snake ready to strike, but manages to keep it all undercover.

Interview: Chef Robert Irvine Wishes You a Happy Thanksgiving

Robert Irvine of Food Network

CHICAGO – What better holiday than Thanksgiving to highlight a celebrity chef? Chef Robert Irvine is familiar to fans of the Food Network, through his shows “Dinner: Impossible” and “Restaurant: Impossible.” His brand of tough love has expanded to a new self help series, appropriately titled “The Robert Irvine Show.” Irvine was recently in Chicago appearing on behalf of Comcast at the Studio Xfinity store.

Two Stories Clash in Uneven ‘Rules Don’t Apply’

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

CHICAGO – Movie icon Warren Beatty had wanted to make a film about 20th Century billionaire Howard Hughes for close to 40 years. On the heels of Martin Scorsese’s “The Aviator,” Beatty has written, directed and portrays Hughes in “Rules Don’t Apply,” and has created a strange farce about the mogul and a romance tale around him.

Film Review: Two Stories Clash in Uneven ‘Rules Don’t Apply’

Rules Don't Apply Front

CHICAGO – Movie icon Warren Beatty had wanted to make a film about 20th Century billionaire Howard Hughes for close to 40 years. On the heels of Martin Scorsese’s “The Aviator,” Beatty has written, directed and portrays Hughes in “Rules Don’t Apply,” and has created a strange farce about the mogul and a romance tale around him.

Film Review: ‘Moana’ is Walt Disney Pictures at its Breezy Best

CHICAGO – “Moana” is a solid example of the time honored Disney musical. It is exactly the sort of sun drenched warm weather beacon we residents of cold weather climes can enjoy as the holiday season approaches, and it a refreshing change from another spin of Mele Kalikimaka.

‘Moana’ is Walt Disney Pictures at its Breezy Best

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

CHICAGO – “Moana” is a solid example of the time honored Disney musical. It is exactly the sort of sun drenched warm weather beacon we residents of cold weather climes can enjoy as the holiday season approaches, and it a refreshing change from another spin of Mele Kalikimaka.

Interview: Lily Collins & Alden Ehrenreich of ‘Rules Don’t Apply’

CHICAGO – If there is one star-crossed couple in this fall’s movie line-up, it’s Marla and Frank of “Rules Don’t Apply,” as portrayed by Lily Collins and Alden Ehrenreich. The two popular young actors are trying to connect by the standards of late 1950s Hollywood in the film, a looser atmosphere but still difficult for two religious outsiders.

Interview: Film Icon Warren Beatty Knows ‘Rules Don’t Apply’

CHICAGO – When encountering film producer, director, writer and “movie star” Warren Beatty, I entered into an interview that would be truly one of a kind. The spontaneous Mr. Beatty works a talk in a give-and-take Socratic method, searching for the truth underneath the rhetoric, as he did with his new film “Rules Don’t Apply.”

Theater Review: Morality of Gender Identity on Display in ‘[Trans]formation’

[Trans]formation

CHICAGO – The issue of gender identity, especially for those who are born with a vagueness as to what to call themselves between/beyond boy and girl, has come front and center in the U.S., both with the legalization of gay marriage and the callous repudiation of identity by trying to pass laws dismissing it (the North Carolina “bathroom” laws). The performance companies of The Living Canvas and Nothing Without a Company is currently staging “[Trans]formation,” which presents gender identity art by six performers, who perform most of the play in the nude.

Film Review: ‘Nocturnal Animals’ Takes Two Stories to New Levels

CHICAGO – Reality and fantasy have separate rules, and in fantasy there are no rules. This is the philosophy of “Nocturnal Animals,” a wild character study that exists on the reality/fantasy planes. And it has the bonus of the Amy Adams/Isla Fisher mix-up and Jake Gyllenhaal at his Gyllenhaal-iest.

‘Nocturnal Animals’ Takes Two Stories to New Levels

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

CHICAGO – Reality and fantasy have separate rules, and in fantasy there are no rules. This is the philosophy of “Nocturnal Animals,” a wild character study that exists on the reality/fantasy planes. And it has the bonus of the Amy Adams/Isla Fisher mix-up and Jake Gyllenhaal at his Gyllenhaal-iest.

Film Review: Superb Allegorical Story Told in Essential ‘Christine’

Christine

CHICAGO – In one of the great American films of the year, character actor Rebecca Hall interprets a based-on-truth incident from the 1970s, as she portrays the title character of “Christine.” The film encapsulates the nature of mental health, gender issues and the pursuit of random numbers.

Superb Allegorical Story Told in Essential ‘Christine’

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

CHICAGO – In one of the great American films of the year, character actor Rebecca Hall interprets a based-on-truth incident from the 1970s, as she portrays the title character of “Christine.” The film encapsulates the nature of mental health, gender issues and the pursuit of random numbers.

Film Review: ‘Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk’ Won Some of the Battles But Lost the War

CHICAGO – War is an ugly part of our civilization, but it can be told beautifully. The complexities of battle are often dark and overwhelming, but inside of that there is also a light that reflects hope and love. “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” wants to show us both sides of the war, but despite the bright visuals it is still shrouded in problems.

‘Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk’ Won Some of the Battles But Lost the War

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

CHICAGO – War is an ugly part of our civilization, but it can be told beautifully. The complexities of battle are often dark and overwhelming, but inside of that there is also a light that reflects hope and love. “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” wants to show us both sides of the war, but despite the bright visuals it is still shrouded in problems.

Slideshow: ‘Days of the Dead’ Convention in Chicagoland, Nov. 18-20, 2016

| Image 1 of 19 |
Tara Reid of ‘American Pie’ series and ‘Sharknado’ series.

CHICAGO – The “Days of the Dead” convention is an annual event in Chicagoland and elsewhere, that brings together admirers of the horror film genre, cult movies enthusiasts, vendors and panel discussions related to it all. Several celebrities also attend the event, including Alice Cooper, Ric Flair, Judge Reinhold and Shannon Elizabeth. The 2016 convention is being held this weekend – Nov. 18-20 – at the Chicago Schaumburg Marriott in Schaumburg, Ill. (see details below).

Film Review: ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ Relies on Second-Hand Wonder

CHICAGO – It’s been five years since the last Harry Potter film, and for fans eager to scratch that itch for a dreamworld of magic again “Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them” will probably suffice. It’s this story’s tangential connection to the Harry Potter universe that is its biggest asset – but the film unfortunately can’t muster up much wonder on its own.

‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ Relies on Second-Hand Wonder

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

CHICAGO – It’s been five years since the last Harry Potter film, and for fans eager to scratch that itch for a dreamworld of magic again “Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them” will probably suffice. It’s this story’s tangential connection to the Harry Potter universe that is its biggest asset – but the film unfortunately can’t muster up much wonder on its own.

Film Review: Edge Ebbs & Flows in ‘The Edge of Seventeen’

CHICAGO – “The Edge of Seventeen” does attempt to do some different things with the growing-up-too-soon teenager soap opera – it throws in a authentic parent, contemporary sex issues and truthful awkwardness. But it can’t help being too heroic, and too “everything’s all right.”

Edge Ebbs & Flows in ‘The Edge of Seventeen’

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

CHICAGO – “The Edge of Seventeen” does attempt to do some different things with the growing-up-too-soon teenager soap opera – it throws in a authentic parent, contemporary sex issues and truthful awkwardness. But it can’t help being too heroic, and too “everything’s all right.”

HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: 50 Pairs of Passes to ‘Allied’ With Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard

CHICAGO – In the latest HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: Film, we have 50 pairs of advance-screening movie passes up for grabs to the highly anticipated film “Allied” starring Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard from “Forrest Gump,” “Cast Away” and “Flight” director Robert Zemeckis!

Film Review: ‘Loving’ Reminds Us That Love Conquers All

CHICAGO – This is a difficult review to write. Not for any sort of technical standpoint, but one of moral outrage. Seeing “Loving”, the relevance in today’s society was clear, but that was before the election of our new president. The hatred of the past still echoes to this day, but now more than ever the message of hope and perseverance is needed.

‘Loving’ Reminds Us That Love Conquers All

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

CHICAGO – This is a difficult review to write. Not for any sort of technical standpoint, but one of moral outrage. Seeing “Loving”, the relevance in today’s society was clear, but that was before the election of our new president. The hatred of the past still echoes to this day, but now more than ever the message of hope and perseverance is needed.

Interviews: Advertising Community Shorts at Midwest Independent Film Festival on Nov. 15, 2016

Midwest Indie Ad Shorts

CHICAGO – The world of advertising, which is rapidly evolving in the post technology age, contains the remnants of many creative souls. Occasionally, these creators express themselves outside the business in formats like music video and short film. Directors Bradley Bischoff and Eric McCoy are two such participants in the Midwest Independent Film Festival’s Advertising Community Shorts night, Tuesday, November 15th, 2016.

Interview: Actor André Holland is Rising in ‘Moonlight’

CHICAGO – While the name André Holland may not be familiar, the actor’s consummate approach to his craft is unforgettable. Specializing in character parts, Holland has raised his profile in such movie hits as “Selma” and “42,’ and on television recently with “The Knick” and “American Horror Story.” His latest film is “Moonlight.”

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  • Downward Dog

    CHICAGO – From “Mr. Ed” to “Dog with a Blog,” talking animals have had their place on TV. The latest has origins as a web series, with the clever title “Downward Dog.” The show premieres on Wednesday, May 17th, 2017 (9:30pEST/8:30pCST), on ABC TV, and features Ned the Dog as Martin, and human companions portrayed by Allison Tolman and Lucas Neff.

  • Positively Present: An Uplifting Cabaret

    CHICAGO – When faced with adversity, the best way around it is to somehow break into song. That is the feeling behind the Brown Paper Box Co.’s “Positively Present: An Uplifting Cabaret,” running April 7th and 8th at Mary’s Attic in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood. The event features company member Kristi Szczepanek as host, and presents song stylings by other company members, including Anna Schutz, plus some special guests. For details and ticket information, click here.

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