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April 2017

‘Smurfs: The Lost Village’ Should Have Remained Undiscovered

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

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.

Red-Carpet Video Interview: ‘Swimfan’ Star Erika Christensen of ‘The Case for Christ’

Erika Christensen of The Case for Christ

CHICAGO – HollywoodChicago.com publisher Adam Fendelman interviews Erika Christensen at the star-studded red-carpet premiere of the new film “The Case for Christ” at Chicago’s AMC River East on April 6, 2017. To begin the interview, Adam reminisces back to Erika’s stalker stardom in “Swimfan” and gets pleasantly videobombed by “The Wire” star Frankie Faison.

Podcast Interview: Anna & Hannah Ii-Epstein of Nothing Without a Company’s ‘The Kid Thing’

Anna & Hannah Ii-Epstein

CHICAGO – Proving that creating vibrant theater is a methodical step-by-step process, Anna and Hannah Ii-Epstein – of Nothing Without a Company theater troupe – have taken a ten-plus year journey to their latest production, “The Kid Thing.” The show has a Thursday-Sunday run at the Berger Mansion in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood through April 15, 2017. Details are below. In the following podcast, they talk about the origins of the company, and how they balance couplehood with creativity, among other topics.

Red-Carpet Video Interview: Chicago’s Lee & Leslie Strobel of ‘The Case for Christ’

CHICAGO – HollywoodChicago.com publisher Adam Fendelman interviews Lee and Leslie Strobel at the star-studded red-carpet premiere of the new film “The Case for Christ” at Chicago’s AMC River East on April 6, 2017.

Interviews: Honorees of Awards Night at the Chicago International Television Festival

2017 CIFF TV Awards

CHICAGO – It was an evening to honor the past, current and future brands in TV media at the 53rd Chicago International Television Awards Night on Thursday, March 23rd, 2017. TV advertising creator Joe Sedelmaier, WGN-TV Entertainment Reporter Dean Richards and Amazon Studios – represented by Development Executive Jill Arthur – were the individual honorees at the ceremony.

Entertainment News: ‘Mr. Warmth’ Don Rickles Dies at 90

Don Rickles

LOS ANGELES – With the flourish of trumpets in “The Bullfighter’s Song,” a pugnacious man would strut on stage and launch a volley of hilarious insults on some unsuspecting targets. That act was Don Rickles, whose show business nicknames included “The King of Zing,” “The Merchant of Venom” and the magnificently ironic “Mr. Warmth.” Rickles died in Los Angeles on April 6th, 2017. He was 90.

Film Review: Misguided Remake of ‘Going in Style’ is Just a Product

CHICAGO – In 1979, there was a beautifully understated film called “Going in Style,” taking on the issues of aging, loneliness and the forgotten senior citizens in society. Those issues have not altered in our modern society, but you wouldn’t be able to tell that with the 2017 remake of “Going in Style.”

Misguided Remake of ‘Going in Style’ is Just a Product

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

CHICAGO – In 1979, there was a beautifully understated film called “Going in Style,” taking on the issues of aging, loneliness and the forgotten senior citizens in society. Those issues have not altered in our modern society, but you wouldn’t be able to tell that with the 2017 remake of “Going in Style.”

Film Review: ‘T2 Trainspotting’ is a Nostalgic Trip That Stays on the Rails

t2story

CHICAGO – Sequels are the bane of film’s existence. They tend to end with unresolved plotlines in an attempt to promote the need for another film. Disappointing film franchises have been built this way, but Danny Boyle is the last person I would have expected this from. “T2 Trainspotting” is the sequel to “Trainspotting” that we never wanted but are surprisingly happy to have.

‘T2 Trainspotting’ is a Nostalgic Trip That Stays on the Rails

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

CHICAGO – Sequels are the bane of film’s existence. They tend to end with unresolved plotlines in an attempt to promote the need for another film. Disappointing film franchises have been built this way, but Danny Boyle is the last person I would have expected this from. “T2 Trainspotting” is the sequel to “Trainspotting” that we never wanted but are surprisingly happy to have.

Slideshow: Ebert Foundation Announces Grant Recipients

| Image 1 of 11 |
Chicago Theatre marquee announces the Roger Ebert event.

CHICAGO – April 4th will always be a bittersweet day for the film world, as it is the day in 2013 when film critic and Chicago icon Roger Ebert passed away. But his legacy lives on through his wife Chaz Ebert and their Ebert Foundation. To uplift the anniversary, the Foundation announced 21 new recipients of $1000 grants, for their organizational contributions to arts and improving the lives of Chicagoans. Included in that recipient group was the Chicago Film Critics Association, in which Roger Ebert was a member.

Interview: Brown Paper Box Co.’s ‘Positively Present’ Cabaret on Apr. 7-8, 2017

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.

Film Review: Jessica Chastain is Steadfast as ‘The Zookeeper’s Wife’

CHICAGO – Jessica Chastain is a memorable and glamorous actress, who continues to challenge herself with in-depth and complex roles. “The Zookeeper’s Wife” is her latest, and her performance outweighs the formulaic based-on-truth story, set during the Holocaust.

Jessica Chastain is Steadfast as ‘The Zookeeper’s Wife’

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

CHICAGO – Jessica Chastain is a memorable and glamorous actress, who continues to challenge herself with in-depth and complex roles. “The Zookeeper’s Wife” is her latest, and her performance outweighs the formulaic based-on-truth story, set during the Holocaust.

Film News: Asian Pop-Up Cinema Presents Chicago Premiere of ‘The Projects’ on Apr. 5, 2017

Projects, The

CHICAGO – The fourth season of Chicago’s Asian Pop-Up Cinema series continues with the Chicago premiere of “The Projects” on Wednesday, April 5th, 2017, at the AMC River East Theatre in downtown Chicago. “The Projects” has been described as one of the “zanier elements of Japanese cinema.” For complete details and to purchase tickets, click here.

Interview: Co-Director Erica Weiss on ‘The View From Tall’ at Midwest Independent Film Festival

CHICAGO – The actualities that define adolescence are always prime for new territory in drama, and that is what the Chicago-based film “The View from Tall” accomplishes. Co-directed by Erica Weiss and Caitlin Parrish, it will be screened at the Midwest Independent Film Festival on Tuesday, April 4th, 2017 (details below).

Exclusive Portrait: Pete Holmes ‘Crashing’ the Chicago International Television Festival

CHICAGO – One of the hottest new shows on HBO is “Crashing,” a quasi-autobiography of the star of the show, comedian Pete Holmes. Last week, at the Chicago International Television Festival, Holmes stopped by and presented the latest episode.

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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 10th, 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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