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February 2017

Interview: Producer & CEO Julie Smolyansky, 2017 Women in Film Chicago Focus Awards Honoree

2017 WIFC Focus Awards

CHICAGO – One of the signature events for Women in Film Chicago (WIFC) is their annual Focus Awards, which will take place on Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017 (for more details and ticket purchasing information, click here). The WIFC will honor four notable women who influence Chicago-area film production, including actress Julia Sweeney, producer/activist Mary Morten, director of photography Tari Segal and CEO (of Lifeway Foods, Inc.) and film producer Julie Smolyansky.

Film News: Spertus Institute’s Sunday Cinema Series Concludes on Feb. 19, 2017

Spertus Cinema Series

CHICAGO – The Spertus Institute, Chicago’s leading center for Jewish learning and leadership, concludes a two-month film series at their downtown location, featuring a documentary entitled “Torah Treasures and Curious Trash,” preceded by the short film “Hannah Cohen’s First Communion.” The screenings begin at 2pm within the Institute’s Feinberg Theater, located at 610 S. Michigan Avenue in Chicago…click here for more details.

Film Review: Odd Times at the Cinema with ‘The Great Wall’

CHICAGO – Taking a concept higher than the Wall that inspired it, and mostly succeeding, “The Great Wall” gets a nod as one of the oddest stories in a long time. Pre-supposedly based on a “legend,” it brings Matt Damon into ancient China to help battle lizard monsters at the Great Wall. Book it.

Odd Times at the Cinema with ‘The Great Wall’

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

CHICAGO – Taking a concept higher than the Wall that inspired it, and mostly succeeding, “The Great Wall” gets a nod as one of the oddest stories in a long time. Pre-supposedly based on a “legend,” it brings Matt Damon into ancient China to help battle lizard monsters at the Great Wall. Book it.

Film Review: ‘A Cure For Wellness’ Provides a Much-Needed Temporary Fix

cureforwellnessnews

CHICAGO – Gore Verbinski is no stranger to the spooky. He always creates these tense, terror-filled scenes that effectively frighten us. His films, from “Ring” to “Rango”, each are compelling enough to keep our attention, not matter how absurd they transform into. Boy, does he ever deliver in the gorgeously grotesque “A Cure for Wellness.”

‘A Cure For Wellness’ Provides a Much-Needed Temporary Fix

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

CHICAGO – Gore Verbinski is no stranger to the spooky. He always creates these tense, terror-filled scenes that effectively frighten us. His films, from “Ring” to “Rango”, each are compelling enough to keep our attention, not matter how absurd they transform into. Boy, does he ever deliver in the gorgeously grotesque “A Cure for Wellness.”

Film Review: Report Card on ‘Fist Fight’ is a Failing Grade

CHICAGO – “Fist Fight” is such a thin premise it can’t even sustain its own two minute trailer, much less a feature length film. That premise, what there is of it, is simple – English teacher (Charlie Day) and History Teacher (Ice Cube) get involved in an altercation with a student on the last day of class, at a failing high school known for senior pranks.

Report Card on ‘Fist Fight’ is a Failing Grade

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

CHICAGO – “Fist Fight” is such a thin premise it can’t even sustain its own two minute trailer, much less a feature length film. That premise, what there is of it, is simple – English teacher (Charlie Day) and History Teacher (Ice Cube) get involved in an altercation with a student on the last day of class, at a failing high school known for senior pranks. Teacher Ice Cube gets fired, and blames Charlie Day. So they act like children and settle their differences with a fist fight outside.

Film Review: ‘John Wick: Chapter 2’ Adds Artistry to Mass Murder

CHICAGO – It takes a special kind of film that enthralls the audience so much that they stop caring about the body count and are more concerned with the main character running out of bullets. “John Wick: Chapter 2” offers the same cathartic effect as watching a Nazi get punched but in an infinitely more picturesque package.

‘John Wick: Chapter 2’ Adds Artistry to Mass Murder

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

CHICAGO – It takes a special kind of film that enthralls the audience so much that they stop caring about the body count and are more concerned with the main character running out of bullets. “John Wick: Chapter 2” offers the same cathartic effect as watching a Nazi get punched but in an infinitely more picturesque package.

Film Review: Rotating Perspectives Converge in ‘Train Station’

Train Station

CHICAGO – Taking on the variance of choice in a very unique and compelling way, “Train Station” was interpreted through 40 filmmakers in 25 countries, following a character – The Person in Brown – in a singular story that flexes and changes as the role is exposed. Chicago was one of those filming locations, and “Train Station” will screen here at the Music Box Theatre on Wednesday, February 15, 2017.

Film Review: Rotating Perspectives Converge in ‘Train Station’

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

CHICAGO – Taking on the variance of choice in a very unique and compelling way, “Train Station” was interpreted through 40 filmmakers in 25 countries, following a character – The Person in Brown – in a singular story that flexes and changes as the role is exposed. Chicago was one of those filming locations, and “Train Station” will screen here at the Music Box Theatre on Wednesday, February 15, 2017.

Film Review: Discover the 2017 Oscar Short Film Nominees

CHICAGO – One of the more overlooked set of nominees at Academy Awards time is two categories for Best Short Film – Live Action and Animated. The 2017 nominees are packaged as two presentations that are currently screening in Chicago at the Landmark Century Centre Cinema.

Discover the 2017 Oscar Short Film Nominees

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

CHICAGO – One of the more overlooked set of nominees at Academy Awards time is two categories for Best Short Film – Live Action and Animated. The 2017 nominees are packaged as two presentations that are currently screening in Chicago at the Landmark Century Centre Cinema.

Film Review: ‘The LEGO Batman Movie’ Delivers the Usual Laughs

LEGO Batman Movie, The

CHICAGO – “The LEGO Batman Movie” is more of a parody than the laugh-out-loud hijinks of the surprising “The LEGO Movie,” but the legend of The Bats is ripe for a good skewering, and the movie has a lot of fun doing it. Will Arnett reprises the voice as the title character, with Zach Galifianakis taking on the antics of The Joker.

‘The LEGO Batman Movie’ Delivers the Usual Laughs

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

CHICAGO – “The LEGO Batman Movie” is more of a parody than the laugh-out-loud hijinks of the surprising “The LEGO Movie,” but the legend of The Bats is ripe for a good skewering, and the movie has a lot of fun doing it. Will Arnett reprises the voice as the title character, with Zach Galifianakis taking on the antics of The Joker.

Film Review: ‘Fifty Shades Darker’ is More Silly Than Sexy

CHICAGO – While offering a veritable sex scene smorgasboard, “Fifty Shades Darker” fails to offer much in the way of anything that is actually sexy. As the mousy Anastasia Steele and the billionaire Mr. Grey, Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan are slightly more comfortable in their roles than they were the first time around.

‘Fifty Shades Darker’ is More Silly Than Sexy

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

CHICAGO – While offering a veritable sex scene smorgasboard, “Fifty Shades Darker” fails to offer much in the way of anything that is actually sexy. As the mousy Anastasia Steele and the billionaire Mr. Grey, Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan are slightly more comfortable in their roles than they were the first time around…but they continue to have all the sexual chemistry of a couple on a first date that isn’t going particularly well.

Interview: Michael Sanow of ‘The Asylum’ Showcase in Chicago Through Feb. 23, 2017

Asylum, The Logo

CHICAGO – Put in a dash of crazy, add a dash of funny and you are defining “The Asylum,” a catch-all name for a couple of show events in Chicago, playing at The Apollo Theater Studio through February 23rd, 2017. Behind the scenes of these showcases is producer Michael Sanow, a Chicago theater veteran. For “The Asylum” information regarding the “Atypical Musical Comedy Show” (Tuesdays) and “Access Comedy” (Thursdays), click here.

Film Review: 2017 Best Doc Oscar Nominee ‘I Am Not Your Negro’

I Am Not Your Negro

CHICAGO – The terms that have been used to describe African Americans over the years …black, afro-americans, negro and worse… has always been what others had named them, the others that wanted to marginalize, categorize and group individuals into images of words. The documentary “I Am Not Your Negro” seeks to upend these generalizations and in turn, those words.

2017 Best Doc Oscar Nominee ‘I Am Not Your Negro’

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

CHICAGO – The terms that have been used to describe African Americans over the years …black, afro-americans, negro and worse… has always been what others had named them, the others that wanted to marginalize, categorize and group individuals into images of words. The documentary “I Am Not Your Negro” seeks to upend these generalizations and in turn, those words.

Interview: Amy Pietz of ‘Halfway’ to Appear at Midwest Independent Film Festival on Feb. 7, 2017

CHICAGO – Amy Pietz is a Midwesterner made good in her primary role as a working actor. And what better performer to appear at the kick-off of the 2017 Midwest Independent Film Festival, as Pietz’s new film takes place in her native Wisconsin.

Interview: Scott Freiman on ‘Deconstructing the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper Album’

Deconstructing The Beatles

CHICAGO – Scott Freiman is an entrepreneur, producer, composer and musicologist, and turned his primary passion – painstakingly delving into the song production techniques of The Beatles – into a series of lectures called “Deconstructing The Beatles.” He has turned those lectures into films, and “Deconstructing The Beatles Sgt. Pepper Album” will screen in Chicago at area Landmark Cinemas on February 6th, 2017.

Film Review: It Hurts Trying to Laugh at ‘The Comedian’

Comedian, The

CHICAGO – Mention this possibility…Robert De Niro portrays an aging stand-up comic who once had a popular sitcom in the 1980s…and 99% of filmgoers are in. Add that he beds a woman 25 years his junior, does community service, roasts Cloris Leachman and becomes a reality show host, and suddenly 80% of that 99 are out. That’s just part of the over-extension and dread in “The Comedian.”

It Hurts Trying to Laugh at ‘The Comedian’

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

CHICAGO – Mention this possibility…Robert De Niro portrays an aging stand-up comic who once had a popular sitcom in the 1980s…and 99% of filmgoers are in. Add that he beds a woman 25 years his junior, does community service, roasts Cloris Leachman and becomes a reality show host, and suddenly 80% of that 99 are out. That’s just part of the over-extension and dread in “The Comedian.”

Film Review: ‘The Space Between Us’ Falls Into a Black Hole & Dies

CHICAGO – You know you’re in trouble when the opening scene of a film inspires forehead slapping levels of incredulity. And that’s just the beginning of what I felt while watching “The Space Between Us,” another entry in the long line of would-be weepies about young lovers torn apart, usually by class or disease.

‘The Space Between Us’ Falls Into a Black Hole & Dies

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

CHICAGO – You know you’re in trouble when the opening scene of a film inspires forehead slapping levels of incredulity. And that’s just the beginning of what I felt while watching “The Space Between Us,” another entry in the long line of would-be weepies about young lovers torn apart, usually by class or disease. The film desperately wants to be a millennial love story for a generation, and has plenty of faults but precious few stars in its tale of literal star-crossed lovers.

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  • Asylum, The Logo

    CHICAGO – Put in a dash of crazy, add a dash of funny and you are defining “The Asylum,” a catch-all name for a couple of show events in Chicago, playing at The Apollo Theater Studio through February 23rd, 2017. Behind the scenes of these showcases is producer Michael Sanow, a Chicago theater veteran. For “The Asylum” information regarding the “Atypical Musical Comedy Show” (Tuesdays) and “Access Comedy” (Thursdays), click here.

  • Baltimore Waltz, The

    CHICAGO – During the scourge of the AIDS epidemic, at its height in the late 1980s, a playwright lost her brother to the condition. Inspired by him, Paula Vogel wrote “The Baltimore Waltz,” a story about her and her brother’s travels through Europe – and filtered through the prism of fantasy and the movies. The Brown Paper Box Company presents a re-staging of the play in Chicago through February 19th, 2017.

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