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June 2017

Podcast Talk: Director James Choi on the Chicago Premiere of ‘Empty Space’ on July 1, 2017

Empty Spaces

CHICAGO – The combination of two different souls with two different problems – isolated in rural Illinois – was the story that director James Choi knew he wanted to produce as his next film project. So armed with a micro budget, a four man production crew and a cast of passionate actors, Choi created “Empty Space.” The film is making its Chicago premiere at the Windy City Film Festival on Saturday, July 1st, 2017.

Film Review: ‘Despicable Me 3’ Reemerges as Despicably Dull

CHICAGO – This is it. The point where Gru and his Minions went from mildly irritating to excruciating. The series will undoubtedly entertain the children it’s intended for, my twins probably would have liked it if they had been able to come. But pity the poor parents who have to sit through another film full of Minion fart noises… which seems to last for roughly three whole days.

‘Despicable Me 3’ Reemerges as Despicably Dull

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

CHICAGO – This is it. The point where Gru and his Minions went from mildly irritating to excruciating. The series will undoubtedly entertain the children it’s intended for, my twins probably would have liked it if they had been able to come. But pity the poor parents who have to sit through another film full of Minion fart noises… which seems to last for roughly three whole days.

Interview, Audio: Matthew Strauss, Video Services EVP at Comcast

Matt Strauss, Exec VP at Comcast

CHICAGO – It’s difficult to keep up with the choices for television these days, and what if it was your job? Matthew “Matt” Strauss of Comcast is Executive Vice President and General Manager of their Video Services, and oversees a division where innovation and technology has reinvented TV watching, and how it is delivered.

Film Review: ‘Baby Driver’ Runs on the Fast Track of Movieland

CHICAGO – While it may seem that we’ve seen this type of tough-guy robbery gang film before, “Baby Driver” lives in its own universe, that of the movieland of movies. It is rich in squealing tires, bang-bang guns synched to the soundtrack, and a mystery cool boy creating his own star-crossed romance.

‘Baby Driver’ Runs on the Fast Track of Movieland

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

CHICAGO – While it may seem that we’ve seen this type of tough-guy robbery gang film before, “Baby Driver” lives in its own universe, that of the movieland of movies. It is rich in squealing tires, bang-bang guns synched to the soundtrack, and a mystery cool boy creating his own star-crossed romance.

Slideshow: Chicago Premiere for the Fourth Season of Starz Network’s ‘Power’

| Image 1 of 4 |
J.R. Ramirez is Julio in ‘Power.’

CHICAGO – On Sunday (June 25th, 2017), the fourth season began for the popular Starz Network crime drama “Power,” which was created by Courtney A. Kemp and produced by Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson. The Sunday night broadcast was right on the heels of a special appearance of the cast at the Chicago premiere showcase on June 13th, which was co-presented by Starz and Xfinity. Cast members J.R. Ramirez, Rotimi Akinosho and Chicago’s own Joseph Siroka were at the event.

Slideshow: Chicago Red-Carpet Premiere of ‘Transformers: The Last Knight’

| Image 1 of 10 |
Mark Wahlberg is Cade in ‘Transformers: The Last Knight.’

CHICAGO – The Windy City became the “transforming” city on June 20th, 2017, as the major cast members and director Michael Bay walked the Red Carpet for the premiere of their new film “Transformers: The Last Knight.” The special Red Carpet event was on a barge on the Chicago River, behind the legendary Civic Opera House. Mark Wahlberg, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Josh Duhamel and Laura Haddock were among the cast members that were there.

Film Review: Glaring Lack of Originality Handicaps ‘The Bad Batch’

Bad Batch, The

CHICAGO – Dystopia has been dissed out. Mining the negative vibe future world can’t seem to touch the rich creative vein any more and the reserves seem dry. Writer/director Ana Lily Amirpour may have an element within her interpretation that is hard core, but it’s not enough to understand the overall vision of her tomorrow world, except that we’re all part of “The Bad Batch.”

Glaring Lack of Originality Handicaps ‘The Bad Batch’

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

CHICAGO – Dystopia has been dissed out. Mining the negative vibe future world can’t seem to touch the rich creative vein any more and the reserves seem dry. Writer/director Ana Lily Amirpour may have an element within her interpretation that is hard core, but it’s not enough to understand the overall vision of her tomorrow world, except that we’re all part of “The Bad Batch.”

2017 Chicago Open Air Festival to Run From July 14-16, 2017

Chicago Open Air Festival

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – One of the biggest rock festivals in the country will soon take place in the Chicagoland area. The second-annual Chicago Open Air Festival will feature a full arsenal of rock artists and will take place at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill. from July 14 to 16, 2017.

Red-Carpet Video Interview: ‘Transformers: The Last Knight’ Star Josh Duhamel

Josh Duhamel in Transformers: The Last Knight

CHICAGOJosh Duhamel walked the Chicago red carpet for the premiere of “Transformers: The Last Knight” on June 20, 2017. He talked to Adam Fendelman of HollywoodChicago.com about working with director Michael Bay and this film appealing to a younger demographic (including Josh’s son).

Red-Carpet Video Interview: ‘Transformers: The Last Knight’ Star Laura Haddock

Laura Haddock in Transformers: The Last Knight

CHICAGOLaura Haddock, the new leading lady in “Transformers: The Last Knight,” walked the Chicago red carpet for the premiere of the film on June 20, 2017. She talked to Adam Fendelman of HollywoodChicago.com about working with director Michael Bay and how her real-life OCD tendencies played into her controlling Vivian Wembley character.

Film Feature: HollywoodChicago.com Remembers the Films of Director John G. Avildsen

John G. Avildsen

CHICAGO – His films were more popular than his name, but director John G. Avildsen did put his mark on the last 30 years of 20th Century movies. Avildsen died last week at the age of 81. He is known best for the Oscar Best Picture-winning “Rocky” (1976), but also did the controversial “Joe” (1970), “Save the Tiger” (1973, Best Actor Oscar for Jack Lemmon), John Belushi’s last film “Neighbors” (1981), “The Karate Kid” (1984), “Lean on Me” (1989) and “8 Seconds” (1994). Patrick McDonald, Spike Walters and Jon Espino of HollywoodChicago.com offer three essays on their Avildsen favorites.

Red-Carpet Video Interview: ‘Transformers: The Last Knight’ Star Anthony Hopkins

CHICAGO – Adam Fendelman of HollywoodChicago.com interviews Hollywood legend Sir Anthony Hopkins at the red-carpet premiere of “Transformers: The Last Knight” in Chicago on June 20, 2017. Recently nicknamed T-Hop, we discuss his obsessive-compulsive disorder, feeding his brain, geeking out on history and astronomy and more!

Red-Carpet Video Clip: Optimus Prime Voice Artist Peter Cullen for ‘Transformers: The Last Knight’

Optimus Prime voice artist Peter Cullen for Transformers: The Last Knight

CHICAGO – “Transformers: The Last Knight” held its star-studded premiere in Chicago on June 20, 2017. On the red carpet, Adam Fendelman of HollywoodChicago.com asked Optimus Prime voice artist Peter Cullen to jump into character and say the line in the trailer: “For my world to live, yours must die.”

Red-Carpet Video Interview: ‘Transformers: The Last Knight’ Writers Ken Nolan, Matt Holloway, Art Marcum

Transformers: The Last Knight writers Ken Nolan, Matt Holloway, Art Marcum

CHICAGO – “Transformers: The Last Knight” held its star-studded premiere in Chicago on June 20, 2017. On the red carpet, Adam Fendelman of HollywoodChicago.com interviewed writers Ken Nolan, Matt Holloway and Art Marcum about their writers’ room process.

Red-Carpet Video Clip: Megatron Voice Artist Frank Welker for ‘Transformers: The Last Knight’

7U9B9287.jpg

CHICAGO – “Transformers: The Last Knight” held its star-studded premiere in Chicago on June 20, 2017. On the red carpet, Adam Fendelman of HollywoodChicago.com asked voice artist Frank Welker to jump into character to voice Decepticons including Megatron and Soundwave.

Film News: Merle Hayden, Subject of ‘Manlife: The Last of the Lawsonians,’ Dies at 96

Merle Hayden

RACINE, WIS – The last of the Lawsonians has now passed on. Merle Hayden, six days after he made an appearance on Closing Night at the Chicago Underground Film Festival (CUFF), died on June 10th, 2017, of natural causes in Racine, Wisconsin. He was 96 years old. His life was the subject of a World Premiere documentary shown at CUFF, “Manlife: The Last of the Lawsonians” on June 4th. Mr. Hayden made an appearance at that screening, lucidly participated in a Q&A and got to celebrate the achievement of his life’s work brought to a cinematic form.

Film Review: ‘Transformers: The Last Knight’ is Bizarrely Enjoyable

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.

‘Transformers: The Last Knight’ is Bizarrely Enjoyable

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

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.

Interview, Audio: Director Ana Lily Amirpour Stirs up ‘The Bad Batch’

CHICAGO – The dystopia – or negative future world – is a genre staple, from “Soylent Green” to “Max Max.” The latest film to ponder the possibilities is “The Bad Batch,” from writer/director Ana Lily Amirpour. This is her sophomore feature, after “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night,” and features Suki Waterhouse in the lead role.

Film Review: Emotionally Perfect Cowboy Elegy in ‘The Hero’

CHICAGO – The great character actor Sam Elliott – known mostly for his cowboy roles in film/TV and his unique bass sounding voiceovers – gets an opportunity to deliver a nuanced and emotional performance as a hyper-realized version of himself. There is virtue and truth in this character journey.

Emotionally Perfect Cowboy Elegy in ‘The Hero’

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

CHICAGO – The great character actor Sam Elliott – known mostly for his cowboy roles in film/TV and his unique bass sounding voiceovers – gets an opportunity to deliver a nuanced and emotional performance as a hyper-realized version of himself. There is virtue and truth in this character journey.

Music Review: Iron Maiden Conjures the Soul of Heavy Metal in Chicagoland Concert

Iron Maiden, photo by Jeff Doles

CHICAGO – On a hot and humid night – with dark ominous clouds enveloping the Hollywood Casino Amphitheater in Tinley Park, Ill. on June 15th, 2017 – the crowd gathered to see Iron Maiden, and spilled into their seats like a cold beer from the tap. The heavy metal-loving masses, with their torn jeans and ever-present mullets, got ready for the latest show in the band’s “The Book of Souls” World Tour by responding in Pavlovian fashion to UFO’s “Doctor Doctor” (Maiden’s intro song), as it boomed from the venue’s speakers.

Film Review: ‘The Book of Henry’ Generates a Different Story Vibe

Book of Henry, The

CHICAGO – There are some total exasperations in “The Book of Henry”… numerous ones that are almost deal breakers. But somehow, some way, the strange twists and ideas take over, and the film becomes fable-like, examining a different line of story elements that switch from one character to another. Director Colin Trevorrow (“Jurassic Park” reboot) reveals a love in what he is doing in this film, and that also counts for something.

‘The Book of Henry’ Generates a Different Story Vibe

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

CHICAGO – There are some total exasperations in “The Book of Henry”… numerous ones that are almost deal breakers. But somehow, some way, the strange twists and ideas take over, and the film becomes fable-like, examining a different line of story elements that switched from one character to another. Director Colin Trevorrow (“Jurassic Park” reboot) reveals a love in what he is doing in this film, and that also counts for something.

Film Review: ‘Rough Night’ is More Than Just a Diamond in the Rough

CHICAGO - The idiotic notion in Hollywood (and in the basements of fanboy mothers everywhere) that women can’t be funny is a joke in itself. Women have been forced to prove themselves on the male-dominated comedic circuit and have come out as successful as their male counterparts. “Rough Night”, despite all of its flaws, is just the most recent example of that.

‘Rough Night’ is More Than Just a Diamond in the Rough

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

CHICAGO – The idiotic notion in Hollywood (and in the basements of fanboy mothers everywhere) that women can’t be funny is a joke in itself. Women have been forced to prove themselves on the male-dominated comedic circuit and have come out as successful as their male counterparts. “Rough Night”, despite all of its flaws, is just the most recent example of that.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • 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.

  • They're Playing Our Song

    CHICAGO – During the late disco era of the 1970s, an unusual musical opened on Broadway. Essentially a two person stage play, “They’re Playing Our Song” involved a songwriter and a lyricist who develop a stronger connection than just writing partners. The always passionate Brown Paper Box Co. of Chicago has unearthed this chestnut with a bright and fun revival at the Rivendell Theatre through August 20th, 2017.

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