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June 2017

Podcast Talk: Dan Pal on the ‘Queer Bits Film Festival’ in Chicago on June 17, 2017

Queer Bits Film Festival

CHICAGO – June is Pride Month, a celebration of LGBTQ liberation, and all other forms of orientation and gender liberation. What began as a gay and trans rights flashpoint on a June night in 1969, during the push back riots at the Stonewall Inn in New York City, has become a month-long commemoration of the evolution in identity rights and freedoms. An event in Chicago associated with Pride Month is the annual “Queer Bits Film Festival” – a short film program at the Pride Arts Center on North Broadway on June 17th, 2017 at 7:30pm – that showcases the best of Queer cinema from around the world. The festival producers are Shaun Baer and Dan Pal.

Film Review: ‘Cars 3’ Puts Series Franchise Back on Right Track

CHICAGO – The Cars movies continue to be the kiddieland of Pixar Animation franchises. Kids adore them, parents tolerate them. Unlike the best of Pixar’s output, the Cars films are lovingly crafted cartoons aimed squarely at kids with far more attention detail than the average fare you’d find scrolling through Netflix. The best that can be said is that “Cars 3” represents a considerable step up from “Cars 2”.

‘Cars 3’ Puts Series Franchise Back on Right Track

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

CHICAGO – The Cars movies continue to be the kiddieland of Pixar Animation franchises. Kids adore them, parents tolerate them. Unlike the best of Pixar’s output, the Cars films are lovingly crafted cartoons aimed squarely at kids with far more attention detail than the average fare you’d find scrolling through Netflix. The best that can be said is that “Cars 3” represents a considerable step up from “Cars 2”.

Interview, Audio: Documentary Director Steve James on ‘Abacus: Small Enough to Jail’

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail

CHICAGO – The documentary maker Steve James, one of the best in the history of cinema, has a resume of quality reporting through feature film that is stunning in its context. The director of “Hoop Dreams,” “Stevie,” “The Interrupters,” “Head Games” and the Roger Ebert biography “Life Itself” has a new doc, focusing on one repercussion of the financial crisis of 2008, subtly entitled “Abacus: Small Enough to Jail.

Exclusive Portraits: Joey McIntyre of New Kids on the Block, Performing in Chicago June 16, 2017

Joey McIntyre, photo by Joe Arce.

CHICAGO – It’s time for a certain generation to get their screams of adulation ready, as New Kids on the Block – also known as NKOTB – are back on the road and appearing in Chicagoland at Allstate Arena in nearby Rosemont, Ill., on June 15 & 16, 2017. Joey McIntyre is one of the band members, and he also had a new mock reality premiere in April of 2017 called “Return of the Mac” (Pop TV Channel). HollywoodChicago.com was there to capture some Exclusive Portraits of “The Mac,” when he appeared at Studio Xfinity in Chicago in March to promote the show.

TV Feature: HollywoodChicago.com on Three Parts of Adam West

CHICAGO – As they say about Adam West’s interpretation of Batman, “he hit so hard, that words describing the impact appeared out of thin air.” But there was more to him than just the superhero tights, as Patrick McDonald, Spike Walters and Jon Espino of HollywoodChicago.com remember the three main characters in the career of Adam West, who passed away last week.

Interview, Audio: Director Brett Haley Discovers ‘The Hero’

CHICAGO – The familiar character actor and voiceover artist, Sam Elliott, has been breaking out in that latter part of his career. Known for his cowboy roles, smooth bass-tone voice and epic mustache, the icon has been seen lately in diverse roles in “Grandma,” “Digging for Fire,” “Grace and Frankie” and his latest – and perhaps greatest – “The Hero.”

Photo Gallery: Brad Paisley’s Surprise Performance at Barrington High School’s Class of 2017 Graduation

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Brad Paisley at Barrington High School

CHICAGOBarrington High School’s class of 2017 graduation drew a surprise performance from country music star Brad Paisley. HollywoodChicago.com photographer Jeff Doles brings you the photos!

Film Review: ‘It Comes at Night’ is a Terror-Filled, Nightmarish Delight

CHICAGO – Good horror films are difficult to find. Last year, we got the extremely satisfying horror film, “The Witch,” with breakout star Charlie the goat, AKA Black Phillip. Horror films that aren’t franchised cliches are hard to come by, but “It Comes at Night” delivers. The entire atmosphere is mysterious and foreboding. We go into this film blind as if we were stumbling through a forest at night. That is where we find the terrors, and ourselves.

‘It Comes at Night’ is a Terror-Filled, Nightmarish Delight

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

CHICAGO – Good horror films are difficult to find. Last year, we got the extremely satisfying horror film, “The Witch,” with breakout star Charlie the goat, AKA Black Phillip. Horror films that aren’t franchised cliches are hard to come by, but “It Comes at Night” delivers. The entire atmosphere is mysterious and foreboding. We go into this film blind as if we were stumbling through a forest at night. That is where we find the terrors, and ourselves.

Film News: Adam West, the 1960s TV Batman, Dies at 88

LOS ANGELES – When Adam West had a voice role on “The Simpsons,” portraying the Batman – as he had in the iconic TV series from 1966 through 1968 – he remarked, in reference to the rubber muscle costume that the movie actors wore, that his Batman was “All Pure West.” West died on June 9th, 2017, at the age of 88.

Film News: ‘Manlife: The Last of Lawsonians’ Wins Audience Award at 2017 Chicago Underground Film Festival

Manlife

CHICAGO – The 24th Chicago Underground Film Festival (CUFF) wrapped on June 4th, 2017, and announced their award winners on June 7th. Taking the Audience Award, the top prize at CUFF, was the closing night film “Manchild: The Last of the Lawsonians.” As a bonus, the 96 year-old star of the film, Merle Lawson, got the opportunity to bask in the limelight, as he appeared on behalf of the film.

Film Review: Discerning the Heroes is Tough in ‘Megan Leavey’

Megan Leavey

CHICAGO – The poster is what gives away “Megan Leavey” the most. The titular soldier, and her bomb-sniffing dog, below a billowing American flag. So which war is it? Why, it’s the Iraq invasion, where the U.S. military and the politicians at home “freed” the Iraqi citizens from a peaceful life. Making a dog story out of that boondoggle doesn’t make it any more palatable, except to “support the troops.”

Discerning the Heroes is Tough in ‘Megan Leavey’

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

CHICAGO – The poster is what gives away “Megan Leavey” the most. The titular soldier, and her bomb-sniffing dog, below a billowing American flag. So which war is it? Why, it’s the Iraq invasion, where the U.S. military and the politicians at home “freed” the Iraqi citizens from a peaceful life. Making a dog story out of that boondoggle doesn’t make it any more palatable, except to “support the troops.”

Film Review: ‘The Mummy’ is a Marvel of a Muddled Mess

CHICAGO – Universal Studio’s “Dark Universe,” which is centered around its stable of classic movie monsters, isn’t a bad idea. But in the darkly inauspicious debut feature called “The Mummy,” everything unravels. This is a mixed, muddled, marvel of a mess that contains an assembly of special effects, but precious little life.

‘The Mummy’ is a Marvel of a Muddled Mess

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

CHICAGO – Universal Studio’s “Dark Universe,” which is centered around its stable of classic movie monsters, isn’t a bad idea. But in the darkly inauspicious debut feature called “The Mummy,” everything unravels. This is a mixed, muddled, marvel of a mess that contains an assembly of special effects, but precious little life.

Theater News: 2017 Non-Equity Jeff Awards Celebrate Best of Chicago Theater

Jeff Awards, 2017

CHICAGO – The 44th edition of the Non-Equity Jeff Awards were given out on June 5th, 2017, at what insiders call “the theater prom.” The event honors the non-union smaller or “storefront” theater companies, and their efforts to produce quality stage work. Hosted in grand style by Alexis Roston and Lillian Castillo, the recipients of the top play was “At the Table” by the Broken Nose Theatre and top musical was “High Fidelity” by the Refuge Theatre Project.

Interview, Audio: Trey Edward Shults Directs ‘It Comes at Night’

CHICAGO – In 2016, a new filmmaker voice made its way into the scene, and it was significant. Trey Edward Shults released his debut film “Krisha,” a shattering story of addiction and its effect on family. The film got him a deal with the distributor/producer A24, and his sophomore effort – the horror/thriller “It Comes at Night” – will be released on June 9th, 2017.

Photo Gallery: Chicagoland Anime & Manga Convention Anime Central From May 19-21, 2017

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Anime Central from May 19-21, 2017 in Chicagoland

CHICAGOAnime Central, the Midwest’s largest anime and manga convention, was held from May 19 to 21, 2017 in Rosemont, Ill. HollywoodChicago.com photographer and photo editor Jeff Doles brings you these stunning photos!

Podcast Talk: John Charles Meyer on ‘Dave Made a Maze,’ Screening in Chicago on June 6, 2017

Dave Made a Maze

CHICAGO – Truly unique and creative micro-budget films are as rare as a sighting of Bigfoot these days, as so many people are picking up a camera to give it try. The production of “Dave Made a Maze” is a happy exception, a film that delivers the thrills and at the same time makes fun of them. Throw in hipsters-in-peril and homages to 1980s adventure films, and it’s easy to find the way through this fun movie.

Film News: CUFF Closing Night Film is ‘Manlife: The Last of the Lawsonians’ on June 4, 2017

Manlife

CHICAGO – It’s been five days of off-the-wall cinema, filmmaker appearances, afterparty happenings and showing off the emerging Logan Square neighborhood. The 2017 Chicago Underground Film Festival (CUFF) is wrapping up on Sunday, June 4th, with a day of film presentations, culminating with the special U.S. and World Premiere of “Manlife: The Last of the Lawsonians.”

Podcast Talk: Michael Galinsky’s ‘All the Rage’ at Chicago Underground Film Fest on June 3, 2017

All the Rage

CHICAGO – Dealing with pain has become almost an obsession with Americans. Between over the counter sales of pain relievers, doctor visits and the prescription abuse of painkillers, a crisis has come about. Why are we hurting? Director Michael Galinsky, with co-directors Suki Hawley and David Beilinson, explore an alternative means of pain treatment in “All the Rage.”

Film Review: The Human Being Behind the Greatness in ‘Churchill’

Churchill

CHICAGO – Winston Churchill, except to hardcore history buffs, is fast fading from the cultural radar. Often called the Greatest Briton Ever, the lion who led his people for so many years became a bit toothless during the greatest World War II battle ever conceived, D-Day the Sixth of June. That moment in his life, and the lives of those around him, is the subject of the magnificent new film, “Churchill.”

The Human Being Behind the Greatness in ‘Churchill’

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

CHICAGO – Winston Churchill, except to hardcore history buffs, is fast fading from the cultural radar. Often called the Greatest Briton Ever, the lion who led his people for so many years became a bit toothless during the greatest World War II battle ever conceived, D-Day the Sixth of June. That moment in his life, and the lives of those around him, is the subject of the magnificent new film, “Churchill.”

Film Review: ‘Captain Underpants’ Saves Us From the Summer Snooze

CHICAGO - I’m sure from the title you can glean the level of seriousness to expect, but how funny “Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie” turns out to be is no laughing matter. The film’s surprising irreverence and respect for the comic book genre makes this the animated hero we’ve needed, and the second best superhero film out this weekend (SEE: Wonder Woman).

‘Captain Underpants’ Saves Us From the Summer Snooze

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

CHICAGO – I’m sure from the title you can glean the level of seriousness to expect, but how funny “Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie” turns out to be is no laughing matter. The film’s surprising irreverence and respect for the comic book genre makes this the animated hero we’ve needed, and the second best superhero film out this weekend (SEE: Wonder Woman).

Interview, Audio: Comedian Demetri Martin on His Film ‘Dean’

CHICAGO – The dry, hangdog demeanor of comedian Demetri Martin is familiar to fans who have watched his Comedy Central show, “Important Things,” experienced his notable stand up routines and read his best-selling books. It seemed a natural to leap into film, so Martin has written, directed and portrays the title character in the new release, “Dean.”

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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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