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May 2018

Slideshow: Al Roker of ‘The Today Show’ Promotes ‘Ruthless Tide’ in Chicagoland

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Al Roker of ‘The Today Show’ for his new book, ‘Ruthless Tide.’

CHICAGO – He has been presenting the weather segments on NBC-TV’s “The Today Show” since 1996, and now serves as co-host on the program. The inimitable Al Roker is also an author of seven books, and American History is the subject in his latest “Ruthless Tide: Heroes and Villains of the Johnstown Flood.” Roker was recently in Downers Grove (Ill.) at Anderson’s Bookshop, to greet fans and sign his new book.

Interview: Ginger Zee on Her New Book ‘Chasing Helicity’

CHICAGO – Ginger Zee is more than a popular meteorologist who comes into homes during the A.M. on “Good Morning America.” She is also an advocate in her pursuit of weather reporting and a newly minted writer of fiction. She combined both for middle school readers, in her new book “Chasing Helicity.”

Film Review: Awkward Human Nature Explored in ‘On Chesil Beach’

CHICAGO – If you hook up with people for that inevitable physical connection, you’ve experienced the odd emotional wrestling match of the “first time” – whether it’s the first “first time” or any other new partner first time. “On Chesil Beach” focuses on a young British couple in 1962, as they first time their virginal wedding night.

Awkward Human Nature Explored in ‘On Chesil Beach’

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

CHICAGO – If you hook up with people for that inevitable physical connection, you’ve experienced the odd emotional wrestling match of the “first time” – whether it’s the first “first time” or any other new partner first time. “On Chesil Beach” focuses on a young British couple in 1962, as they first time their virginal wedding night.

Theater Review: Nothing Without a Company’s ‘ThroatPunch’ Reacts Through its Performers

ThroatPunch

CHICAGO – The provocative title of Sharon Krome’s new stage play, “ThroatPunch,” does not contain that particular fight technique. But it does have standout performances by the three person cast, as they make their way in Chicago, circa 1983, amid their emerging twentysomething punk rock attitude. The World Premiere of the show has a Thursday-Sunday run at the Chicago Mosaic School through June 3rd, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

Exclusive Photo: Happy Birthday to Movie & TV Icon Joan Collins

Joan Collins, portrait by Joe Arce

CHICAGO – The ageless Joan Collins is probably best known for the prime time soap opera “Dynasty,” which ran from 1981 to 1989, but she is also a throwback to the last of the old studio system in Hollywood, when she was signed to a contract with 20th Century Fox in 1955. For her latest act, she will appear in the upcoming eighth season of FX Channel’s “American Horror Story.” Her birthday, May 23rd, is today.

Film Review: Story is Just a So-So for ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’

CHICAGO – “Solo: A Star Wars Story” is one intergalactic space adventure that sadly never makes the jump to light speed. The end result Is not awful, it’s not great, it’s just kinda okay… it slavishly attends to the beats hinted at in the original trilogy without offering much in the way of surprises, or freshness.

Story is Just a So-So for ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’

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

CHICAGO – “Solo: A Star Wars Story” is one intergalactic space adventure that sadly never makes the jump to light speed. The end result Is not awful, it’s not great, it’s just kinda okay… it slavishly attends to the beats hinted at in the original trilogy without offering much in the way of surprises, or freshness.

Slideshow: Meteorologist Ginger Zee Promotes Her Book ‘Chasing Helicity’ in Chicagoland

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Meteorologist Ginger Zee up close for her book ‘Chasing Helicity.’

CHICAGO – Meteorologist Ginger Zee is an admired personality on ABC-TV, handling the weather reporting from “Good Morning America” to “World News Tonight.” Those in Chicago fondly remember Ms. Zee, when she did weather on NBC5 here. She made a triumphant return to promote her new book, “Chasing Helicity,” at a signing event sponsored by Anderson’s Bookshop at North Central College in Naperville, Ill.

Podtalk: Writer/Director Paul Schrader Blesses ‘First Reformed’

CHICAGO – Paul Schrader can absolutely claim the title of Cinema Icon with his 40 plus years of influence and involvement as writer or director in memorable films such as “Taxi Driver,” “American Gigolo,” “Raging Bull” and “Auto Focus.” His latest written-and-directed-by film is “First Reformed,” featuring Ethan Hawke.

Exclusive Photo: In Memoriam for Margot Kidder of 1978 'Superman,’ Dead at Age 69

Margot Kidder, photo by Joe Arce

LIVINGSTON, Mont.– Actress Margot Kidder had a roller coaster ride of a life, which ended in Montana on May 13, 2018, at the age of 69. From her modest beginnings as a Canadian performer in TV and B-movies, to her work with Brian De Palma, and her peak as Lois Lane in the first set of “Superman” movies, Kidder forged her own path. That path included a bipolar disorder that plagued her later years.

Film Review: Full Glory of Cinema Art Resides in 70mm ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’

2001: A Space Odyssey

CHICAGO – It is the 50th Anniversary of director Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey,” and the film has lost none of its power, freshness and thought process, in a journey of truth that ponders existence. The film has been recently restored in 70mm (overseen by director Christopher Nolan) and now is on a roadshow tour, including Chicago’s historic Music Box Theatre.

Full Glory of Cinema Art Resides in 70mm ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’

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

CHICAGO – It is the 50th Anniversary of director Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey,” and the film has lost none of its power, freshness and thought process, in a journey of truth that ponders existence. The film has been recently restored in 70mm (overseen by director Christopher Nolan) and now is on a roadshow tour, including Chicago’s historic Music Box Theatre.

Podtalk: Filmmakers Bill Holderman & Erin Simms Join ‘Book Club’

CHICAGO – If your impression of a book club is one of staid pseudo-intellectuals creating pithy symbolism out of nothingness, then your impression is about to change. Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton, Candice Bergen and Mary Steenburgen star in the new comedy “Book Club,” co-written by Erin Simms and director Bill Holderman.

Film Review: Formula Works Well in Hilarious ‘Deadpool 2’

CHICAGO – We could all use some laughs, and “Deadpool 2” blessedly delivers. The meta superhero Deadpool – who exists both as a anti-hero and actor playing him – provides the wisecracks in the midst of the mayhem he experiences, and entertains in a way that other comic book movies wish they could be.

Formula Works Well in Hilarious ‘Deadpool 2’

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

CHICAGO – We could all use some laughs, and “Deadpool 2” blessedly delivers. The meta superhero Deadpool – who exists both as a anti-hero and actor playing him – provides the wisecracks in the midst of the mayhem he experiences, and entertains in a way that other comic book movies wish they could be.

Film News: CLOSING NIGHT of Chicago’s Asian Pop-Up Cinema is May 16, 2018

2018 APUC Closing Night

CHICAGO – Season Six of Chicago’s Asian Pop-Up Cinema has been superior, and definitely ranks as one of their best. After showing the finest contemporary films of Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, China and India, Hong Kong is saved for the Closing Night Film on May 16th, 2018. “Tomorrow is Another Day” is the English title, and it was directed by Chan Tai-Lee and features Ling Man-Lung. Chan and Ling will appear on behalf of the film at the AMC River East 21 Theatre in downtown Chicago. For more information and tickets, click here.

Festival Feature: Immersive Virtual Reality at 2018 Tribeca Film Festival

NEW YORK CITY – Every year, the evolution of story experience is on display at the Tribeca Film Festival, and its popularity continues to escalate. The “Virtual Arcade,” which was at the festival hub in the Tribeca neighborhood, featured Virtual Reality (VR), interactive storytelling and immersive experiences.

Festival Feature: The Films of the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival

2018 Tribeca Film Festival 2

NEW YORK CITY – The 17th Tribeca Film Festival wrapped a couple weeks ago (April 29th, 2018) and the award winning films of the festival have been named. Patrick McDonald of HollywoodChicago.com was there for the first week of Tribeca, and files his personal best of the films that he experienced.

Photo Gallery: Lexi Parr Rocks the RocHaus on May 12, 2018

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Lexi Parr at the RocHaus, 1 of 4

WEST DUNDEE, Ill. – “A Voice for the Generations” – as singer Lexi Parr has often been called – the Galena (Illinois)-based artist is the quintessential old soul. She wails like Janis and commands the tonal spectrum like Etta James. Lexi has been lighting up stages since an early age, destined to be the “voice” that everyone remembers. The city of Nashville, Harley Davidson Motorcycles, MTV, “The Voice” TV show and the largest stages across the Midwest have all embraced Lexi, with her immense talent and the electrified stage show she brings with her band, RubyBlonde.

Podtalk: Programs Manager Ana Wright on Opening of New ‘Chicago Filmmakers’ Home

Chicago Filmmakers

CHICAGO – One of the gems of the local cinema scene is the organization known as Chicago Filmmakers. Their 43 year old mission? To make the world of filmmaking available to anyone who wants to learn, thereby allowing new and diverse voices to emerge. Chicago Filmmakers recently moved into their ultimate home, a converted fire station in the Edgewater neighborhood, which is ideally located and suited for any local resident to learn the nuts and bolts of moviemaking, or to take in their screen offerings. Ana Wright is the Programs Manager for the nonprofit center.

Film Review: Melissa McCarthy is the Charming ‘Life of the Party’

CHICAGO – Melissa McCarthy is a comedic force to be reckoned with, able to wring laughs improbably out of the stingiest of material. She always manages to find the funny, which helps elevate everyone around her, and so she slips easily in the durable friendly constructs of the campus comedy in “Life Of The Party.”

Melissa McCarthy is the Charming ‘Life of the Party’

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

CHICAGO – Melissa McCarthy is a comedic force to be reckoned with, able to wring laughs improbably out of the stingiest of material. She always manages to find the funny, which helps elevate everyone around her, and so she slips easily in the durable friendly constructs of the campus comedy in “Life Of The Party.”

Film News: Chicago Critics Film Festival Closing Day/Night Line-up for May 10, 2018

2018 Chicago Film Critics Festival

CHICAGO – The 2018 Chicago Critics Film Festival (CCFF), the only fest curated by film critics in the country, is finishing up with a rousing line-up of cinema leading to the Closing Night Spotlight. “Eighth Grade” will close the 6th annual fest – and although the film is sold out – rush tickets could be available at the fest’s location, Chicago’s historic Music Box Theatre. Get all the information by clicking here.

Film Review: Strange Story of ‘Disobedience’ is Constant Distraction

CHICAGO – The director Sebastían Lelio is no stranger to oddball human stories. His 2017 film, “A Fantastic Woman” – the Oscar winner for Best Foreign Language Film – was a one-of-a-kind but amazingly poignant story of identity. His latest, “Disobedience,” mines the same human territory with lesser results.

Strange Story of ‘Disobedience’ is Constant Distraction

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

CHICAGO – The director Sebastían Lelio is no stranger to oddball human stories. His 2017 film, “A Fantastic Woman” – the Oscar winner for Best Foreign Language Film – was a one-of-a-kind but amazingly poignant story of identity. His latest, “Disobedience,” mines the same human territory with lesser results.

Podtalk: Jerry Vasilatos on May 8, 2018, Opening Registration for Chicago 48 Hour Film Project

2018 48 Hour Film Project

CHICAGO – If you ever had a hankering to get a film onto the big screen, the 48 Hour Film Project (48HFP) is your opportunity. The short-movie-creating competition is coming back to Chicago for the 14th straight year, and Jerry Vasilatos is the producer for the 4th year. The registration period has opened on May 8th, 2018, and will continue through July 3rd. For complete details, click here.

Podtalk: Filmmaker Clare Cooney on ‘Runner’ at Chicago Critics Film Festival, May 6, 2018

Runner/Clare Cooney

CHICAGO – When a notable filmmaker debut takes place, the cinema universe takes notice. Clare Cooney debuted her short film “Runner” on the festival circuit in 2017, and won Best USA Short Film at the Fairhope (Alabama) Film Festival. She brings the made-in-Chicago short back to its city of origin, as “Runner” screens as part of the 6th Chicago Critics Film Festival on Sunday, May 6th, 2018, part of “CCFF Shorts Program #1.” For details and ticket purchase info, click here.

Exclusive Photos: Natalie Morales of ‘The Today Show’ on Cookbook ‘At Home with Natalie’

Natalie Morales, photo by Joe Arce

CHICAGO – Natalie Morales is the West Coast news anchor of NBC-TV’s “The Today Show,” the host of “Access Hollywood” and a contributing correspondent to “Dateline NBC” and the “NBC Nightly News.” Somehow, she also has time to be a superior home cook, and shared her recipes recently during a stop at Anderson’s Bookshop La Grange (Illinois), promoting her cookbook “At Home with Natalie.”

Film Review: Charlize Theron in ‘Tully’ Turns Mom Into Martyr

CHICAGO – “Tully” is a deeply weird motherhood fantasy snuck inside the friendly-but-distancing screenwriting constructs of another pseudo ironic story by Diablo Cody. Charlize Theron plays Margo, a mother of two kids with a third due any day, struggling with the sacrifices she’s made for motherhood.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Stephanie Buxbaum

    CHICAGO – In the history of “Reality TV” there has been periods of up-and-down popularity, shows that have been around seemingly forever (“Big Brother,” “Amazing Race”) and spinoffs to new styles like “documentary series” as networks like the National Geographic Channel emerged. In all those permutations, producer Stephanie Buxbaum has experienced it all, and has the career and stories to prove it.

  • Deadbeat2

    CHICAGO – Not many web series start out as music videos, but the new online (YouTube) drama “Deadbeat 2” was just that. Created, written and directed by Danny Froze, the made-in-Chicago story recently premiered episodes five and six in the series, which features actor Kiwaun Stoutmire in the lead role of Ronnie.

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