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April 2017

Interview: Sean Patrick Leonard, on World Premiere of ‘Rockabye’ at Twister Alley Film Festival

Sean Patrick Leonard

CHICAGO – The sudden drama of tragic death is beautifully rendered in a new short film called “Rockabye,” a Chicago-based production directed by David Bradburn and written/performed in by Sean Patrick Leonard. The World Premiere of the film will take place at the Twister Alley International Film Festival in Woodward, Oklahoma, on April 29th, 2017.

Film News: 2017 Tribeca Film Festival Honors ‘Keep the Change’ as Best U.S. Narrative Feature

2017 Tribeca Film Festival

CHICAGO – The 16th Edition of the Tribeca Film Festival continues through April 30th, 2017, but the main jury awards were announced yesterday at Awards Night ceremonies. “Keep the Change,” directed by Rachel Israel, was award Best U.S. Narrative Feature. All of the 2017 winners represented a wide range of topics, from inspirational to entertaining, and featured veteran as well as up-and-coming creators and talents from around the world. Worth noting, and a first for Tribeca, all five feature categories winners are from women-directed films.

Exclusive Portrait: Happy Birthday to Actress Jessica Alba

Jessica Alba, photo by Joe Arce

CHICAGO – April 28th marks the birthday of actress Jessica Alba, and what better way to celebrate than publishing, for the first time, an Exclusive Portrait by photographer Joe Arce of HollywoodChicago.com, taken in 2013 at Anderson’s Book Shop in Naperville, Ill. Alba was representing her book, “The Honest Life” when Arce snapped this photograph of the actress and entrepreneur.

Film Review: Chef Emerges in ‘Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent’

Jeremiah Tower

CHICAGO – The culture of food has never been more pervasive, from entire broadcast channels devoted to it, to new trends in eating being invented seemingly every day. Where did it all start? The new film ‘Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent’ documents the chef that opened the door.

Chef Emerges in ‘Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent’

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

CHICAGO – The culture of food has never been more pervasive, from entire broadcast channels devoted to it, to new trends in eating being invented seemingly every day. Where did it all start? The new film ‘Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent’ documents the chef that opened the door.

Film News: Oscar-Winning Director Jonathan Demme Dies at 73

NEW YORK CITY – He was the helmsman of “The Silence of the Lambs,” which won him Best Director and took home Best Picture at the 1992 Academy Awards, and made numerous other late 20th Century movie classics. Director Jonathan Demme died in New York City on April 26, 2017, at the age of 73.

Exclusive Portrait: Lesley Stahl of ’60 Minutes’ in Chicagoland

CHICAGO – You know her as a hard-charging reporter on CBS-TV, and their fabled magazine show ’60 Minutes.’ But Lesley Stahl also is a grandmother, and has just written a new book called ‘Becoming Grandma: The Joys and Science of the New Grandparenting.” She recently appeared on behalf of the book at Anderson’s Book Shop in Naperville, Ill.

Film Review: 'Free Fire' Knows That Happiness is a Warm Gun

Free Fire

CHICAGO – In a film that had a sassy, arbitrary perspective on its own flipped-out story, “Free Fire” sought to out-Quentin Tarantino in freaky funny characters and ammo-splurging gun battles. Director Ben Wheatley (“High-Rise”) took an ensemble cast to rarified heights of insult comedy, revenge dynamics and bullets that hit the bone.

'Free Fire' Knows That Happiness is a Warm Gun

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

CHICAGO – In a film that had a sassy, arbitrary perspective on its own flipped-out story, “Free Fire” sought to out-Quentin Tarantino in freaky funny characters and ammo-splurging gun battles. Director Ben Wheatley (“High-Rise”) took an ensemble cast to rarified heights of insult comedy, revenge dynamics and bullets that hit the bone.

Tribeca 2017 Slideshow: Tracy Morgan and Sting on the Red Carpet for 'The Clapper'

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Tracy Morgan on the Red Carpet at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival.

NEW YORK CITY – The Red Carpet is always a wild ride with the free-wheeling Tracy Morgan. He was at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival representing his role in the new film “The Clapper,” starring Ed Helms and featuring Brenda Vaccaro, who also walked the carpet. Joining them were surprise guests Mark Cuban and the musician known as Sting.

Film Review: Love Attempts to Infiltrate Horror in 'The Promise'

CHICAGO – So much of civilization’s story is lost in the mist of “winners write the history,” and even as recently as 100 years ago there are instances of world history that is not generally taught. “The Promise” is set during the World War I period, and has a love triangle in the midst of a little known genocide.

Love Attempts to Infiltrate Horror in 'The Promise'

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

CHICAGO – So much of civilization’s story is lost in the mist of “winners write the history,” and even as recently as 100 years ago there are instances of world history that is not generally taught. “The Promise” is set during the World War I period, and has a love triangle in the midst of a little known genocide.

Tribeca Film Festival Slideshow: Burt Reynolds & Robert De Niro on the Red Carpet for 'Dog Years'

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Robert De Niro, Burt Reynolds and Chevy Chase for DOG YEARS.

NEW YORK CITY – Taking a well-deserved one more turn around the block, the legendary Burt Reynolds was at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival representing his new film “Dog Years,” directed by Adam Rifkin, and co-starring Chevy Chase and Ariel Winter. The director and three stars were joined on the Red Carpet by festival co-founder Robert De Niro.

2017 Tribeca Film Festival: Anne Heche Walks the Red Carpet for 'My Friend Dahmer'

NEW YORK CITY – The versatile Anne Heche is in a different type of role… portraying the mother of Jeffrey Dahmer. “My Friend Dahmer,” based on the high school years of the infamous future serial killer, premiered at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival.

Slideshow: Opening Night of the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival

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Opening Night for the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival at Radio City Music Hall, New York City.

NEW YORK CITY – Wednesday, April 19th, 2017, was the Opening Night for New York City’s preeminent film happening, the Tribeca Film Festival. This is the 16th edition of the ever-expanding fest, and the legendary Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan was the setting for the opening night film, “Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives.” Mr. Davis is one of the legendary music men, having run Columbia Records, founded Arista Records, and continuing today as Chief Creative Officer for Sony Music Entertainment.

2017 Tribeca Film Festival: Ron Howard Walks the Red Carpet for ‘Genius’

NEW YORK CITY – Ron Howard is going back to TV. The TV actor-turned-film-director is exploring the life of Albert Einstein in “Genius,” produced as a mini-series for the National Geographic Channel. Howard was on the Red Carpet at the Tribeca Film Festival, and HollywoodChicago.com was there to get this Exclusive Photo.

Photo Gallery: Me First and the Gimme Gimmes at Concord Music Hall on April 13, 2017

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Me First and the Gimme Gimmes at Concord Music Hall on April 13, 2017

CHICAGO – With the temperature outside at a cool 60 degrees, it was a perfect night to throw on an old punk-rock shirt and take in the band Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. The neon sign of the Concord Music Hall flickered against the Chicago skyline. Once inside, the crowd of the all-ages show stood shoulder to shoulder as the venue temperature heated up – anticipating a band with more than 20 years of classic-rock history.

Film News: Patrick McDonald of HollywoodChicago.com at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival

NEW YORK CITY – HollywoodChicago.com is New York City bound, as Writer and Editorial Coordinator Patrick McDonald reports on the first week of the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival from April 20th through April 25th. For a Festival overview, click here.

Film News: ‘One Night of Love’ Opens 33rd Chicago Latino Film Festival on Apr. 20, 2017

2017 Chicago Latino Film Festival

CHICAGO – One of the oldest Latino Film Festivals is right here in the Windy City, as the 33rd edition of the Chicago Latino Film Festival kicks off with the Argentinian film “One Night of Love” on April 20th, 2017, at the AMC River East 21 in the Streeterville neighborhood. The star of “One Night of Love, Carla Peterson, will appear on behalf of the film. For complete details and to purchase tickets, click here.

Interview: Director Ben Wheatley Ignites His New Film ‘Free Fire’

CHICAGO – One of the more lovely examples of pure cinema – if that description can be given to a film with nearly constant gunplay – is in the upcoming release of “Free Fire.” Director Ben Wheatley (“High-Rise”) constructs a dark and funny scenario within one room, and fills it with symbolism and homage to other movies.

Interview: Larry Ziegelman on Chicago Web Series ‘Geek Lounge,’ Screening on Apr. 19, 2017

Larry Ziegelman, Director

CHICAGO – The idea was to combine the TV series nerd culture of “Silicon Valley” with the back-and-forth bar banter of “Cheers,” and creator/director Larry Ziegelman came up with a natural composite entitled “Geek Lounge.” The web series will have a sneak preview screening and party at the Holiday Club in Chicago, 7pm on April 19th, 2017 (details below).

Film News: Asian Pop-Up Cinema Presents Zombie Thriller ‘Train to Busan’ on Apr. 19, 2017

Train to Busan

CHICAGO – The fourth season of Chicago’s Asian Pop-Up Cinema series continues with a screening of the popular South Korean film “Train to Busan,” on Wednesday, April 19th, 2017, at the AMC River East Theatre in downtown Chicago. “Busan,” directed by Yeon Sang-Ho, broke box office records in major Asian cities when it was first released last year. For complete details and to purchase tickets, click here.

Slideshow: Maddie Ziegler’s New Book ‘The Maddie Diaries’ in Chicagoland

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Maddie Ziegler promotes ‘The Maddie Diaries’ for Anderson’s Book Shop.

CHICAGO – Maddie Ziegler is a shooting star right now, included in Time Magazine’s “30 Most Influential Teens” in both 2015 and 2016. The dancer, model and actress first gained attention as a child on “Dance Moms” in 2011, and has ascended since then to social media and online fame, including her featured roles in five music videos by the pop artist Sia. She was in Naperville (Ill.) – in an appearance sponsored by Anderson’s Book Shop – to promote her book “The Maddie Diaries: A Memoir,’ which has become a New York Times Bestseller. And if that wasn’t enough, she will make her film debut this summer opposite Naomi Watts in “The Book of Henry.”

Interview: Jack Lowden & Ophelia Lovibond of ‘Tommy’s Honour’

CHICAGO – Combining the history of golf with a heartbreaking romance seems like a contradiction, but the new film “Tommy’s Honour” does it fluidly, in part because of the two young actors portraying the romance. Jack Lowden and Ophelia Lovibond are the actors who anchor the film, and also are breaking out as performers.

Film Review: ‘Their Finest’ is British Filmmaking at Its Finest

Their Finest

CHICAGO – In a combined BBC Films, Welsh Government and Pinewood (London) Pictures production, the British-based “Their Finest” pairs England’s history with authentic and passionate romance, to create a sly and funny riff on propaganda films and the British movie industry during the early days of World War II.

‘Their Finest’ is British Filmmaking at Its Finest

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

CHICAGO – In a combined BBC Films, Welsh Government and Pinewood (London) Pictures production, the British-based “Their Finest” pairs England’s history with authentic and passionate romance, to create a sly and funny riff on propaganda films and the British movie industry during the early days of World War II.

Film Review: ‘The Fate of the Furious’ is a Vehicle Running on Fumes

CHICAGO – Bigger, Dumber, and Duller…that’s the name of the game this time in this ongoing franchise which is now so ludicrous it makes Bond films seem like the epitome of realism. While it’s true this is the first time Oscar winners and a “Fast and the Furious” film have ever been associated together, there’s a dearth of inspiration in this eighth go around.

‘The Fate of the Furious’ is a Vehicle Running on Fumes

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

CHICAGO – Bigger, Dumber, and Duller…that’s the name of the game this time in this ongoing franchise which is now so ludicrous it makes Bond films seem like the epitome of realism. While it’s true this is the first time Oscar winners and a “Fast and the Furious” film have ever been associated together, there’s a dearth of inspiration in this eighth go around, as this series is now operating almost completely on autopilot.

Film News: Asian Pop-Up Cinema Presents U.S. Premiere of ‘Norjmaa’ on Apr. 12, 2017

Norjmaa

CHICAGO – The fourth season of Chicago’s Asian Pop-Up Cinema series continues with the U.S. premiere of “Norjmaa” on Wednesday, April 12th, 2017, at the AMC River East Theatre in downtown Chicago. “Norjmaa” won the “Golden Rooster” – the Chinese Oscars – for Best “lower budget” Film. Tsogtbayer Namsrai of Mongol Films will appear on behalf of the film. For complete details and to purchase tickets, click here.

Film Review: ‘Smurfs: The Lost Village’ Should Have Remained Undiscovered

CHICAGO – There are only a few times that I have left a film mentally shouting, “Won’t someone think of the children?” Not through some self-righteous religious fit, of course, but through a general concern for the animated films created for our young. “Smurfs: The Lost Village” is either made for a specific crowd in mind or made for a crowd without a mind.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Wonder Woman

    CHICAGO – There are few films in 2017 that are as historically important as they are cinematically well-crafted. Of those, there is only one I saw three times in theaters. That honor comes in the form of the revolutionary “Wonder Woman,” which not only shows huge promise for the future of DC Comics films but for comic book-based films as a whole.

  • Monica Raymund on set for 'Tanya'

    CHICAGOTV fans know Monica Raymund as paramedic Gabby Dawson on the long-running “Chicago Fire.” But the talented actor is expanding her range, debuting her first film as director, “Tanya,” at the Midwest Independent Film Festival on Tuesday, August 1st, 2017. The short film – written by Sam Forman – will be part of “Female Filmmakers Night” at the Midwest Indie, and is part of Raymund’s involvement with Hidden Tears Project, an organization dedicated to raising consciousness by creating media on gender inequality, sexual abuse and human trafficking.

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