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July 2018

Theater Review: Art’s Healing Power from Brown Paper Box Company’s ‘Everybody’

Everybody, Brown Paper Box Co

CHICAGO – When is the last time a stage play, based in an intimate setting, made you think about your life, death, and the destiny inherent in both? “Everybody,” staged by Brown Paper Box Co. (BPBCo), is such a play, and the energetic aura and sense of surprise that the show contains is soul soothing wonder. The show has various evening/matinee performances at the Pride Arts Center in Chicago run through August 12, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

Red-Carpet Voices: Patricia Clarkson for HBO’s ‘Sharp Objects’

CHICAGO – The HBO miniseries “Sharp Objects,” based on the novel by Gillian Flynn (“Gone Girl”), will broadcast its third episode on Sunday, July 22nd, 2018. It features Amy Adams in the lead role as Camille Preaker, and also features the incomparable and shining movie star Patricia Clarkson, as Camille’s disparaging mother Adora.

Film Review, Podtalk: Director Eugene Jarecki Crowns Elvis Presley ‘The King’

The King

CHICAGO – Elvis Presley, besides being one of the most famous entertainers of the 20th Century, does symbolize to an extent what can happen to icons when they turn towards certain directions in a career. Director Eugene Jarecki has created an amazing documentary about Elvis called “The King,” that uses his rise and decline as a symbol for the American Dream.

Director Eugene Jarecki Crowns Elvis Presley ‘The King’

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

CHICAGO – Elvis Presley, besides being one of the most famous entertainers of the 20th Century, does symbolize to an extent what can happen to icons when they turn towards certain directions in a career. Director Eugene Jarecki has created an amazing documentary about Elvis called “The King,” that uses his rise and decline as a symbol for the American Dream.

Film Review: The Tumbling Delicacy of Life in ‘Blindspotting’

Blindspotting

CHICAGO – How can we understand the day-to-day factors of men and women who continued to be judged by their skin color, economic circumstances, difficult jobs or gender fluidity, if we are not any of those categories? Our art can help us, as given a great example in the new film “Blindspotting.”

The Tumbling Delicacy of Life in ‘Blindspotting’

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

CHICAGO – How can we understand the day-to-day factors of men and women who continued to be judged by their skin color, economic circumstances, difficult jobs or gender fluidity, if we are not any of those categories? Our art can help us, as given a great example in the new film “Blindspotting.”

Film Review: ‘Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again’ is a Bubbly Musical

CHICAGO – I give in. “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again,” the sequel to the much derided “Mamma Mia,” is a bubbly, frothy here-come-the-good-times musical that fits summer like a glove. The flashback format will also answer all the burning questions that were left unanswered from the first film, and the cast includes Cher!

‘Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again’ is a Bubbly Musical

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

CHICAGO – I give in. “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again,” the sequel to the much derided “Mamma Mia,” is a bubbly, frothy here-come-the-good-times musical that fits summer like a glove. The flashback format will also answer all the burning questions that were left unanswered from the first film, and the cast includes Cher!

Podtalk: Lonnie Edwards on ‘Now That We Have Your Attention,’ in Chicago on July 21, 2018

An Atramentous Mind

CHICAGO – Filmmaker and Artist Lonnie Edwards keeps evolving upward with his career, but also keeps honoring his Chicago roots and his fellow artists. Edwards, and director Layne Marie Williams of “Women of the Now,” have co-curated a special night of short films under the title umbrella “Now That We Have Your Attention.” The program will take place on July 21st, 2018 (7:30pm), at the new Chicago Filmmakers center. For details, the line-up of films and tickets, click here.

Podtalk: Co-Director Tommy Haines of ‘Saving Brinton,’ Opening in Chicago on July 20, 2018

Saving Brinton

CHICAGO – In the early years of film and filmmaking, from approximately 1890 through 1930, an astounding 75% of films produced are considered “lost,” with no surviving reels, never to be seen again. Recently, an Iowa man named Michael Zahs finally convinced the University of Iowa to research and archive the Frank Brinton Collection, a cache of early films that barnstormer Brinton would show all over Iowa in the 1890s, on through the early decades of the 20th Century. What was found in that Collection is the subject of “Saving Brinton,” co-directed by Tommy Haines and Andrew Sherburne.

Podtalk: Co-Stars Daveed Diggs & Rafael Casal of ‘Blindspotting’

CHICAGO – If there are themes emerging in the 2018 film year, a couple of them are incorporated in Oakland, California, and African American identity. Like the recent “Black Panther” and “Sorry to Bother You,” the new film “Blindspotting” – written by and featuring Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal – involve those themes.

Film Review: Excess & Dwayne Johnson is How ‘Skyscraper’ Works

CHICAGO – The Dwayne Johnson formula is what it is, as it seems for about three to five films a year. A disaster strikes, but the Johnson character has loved ones among the victims, and in his background (military, police, mercenary) there is enough expertise to rescue them. “Skyscraper” is the latest.

Excess & Dwayne Johnson is How ‘Skyscraper’ Works

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

CHICAGO – The Dwayne Johnson formula is what it is, as it seems for about three to five films a year. A disaster strikes, but the Johnson character has loved ones among the victims, and in his background (military, police, mercenary) there is enough expertise to rescue them. “Skyscraper” is the latest.

Podtalk: Josh Hope, Co-Director of the Windy City International Film Fest, July 12-15, 2018

2018 WCFF

CHICAGO – This is Year Two for the Windy City International Film Festival (WCFF) – from Thursday, July 12th to Sunday, July 15th, 2018 – and the festival that celebrates indie filmmaking both locally and internationally will have its screenings at Chicago’s historic Biograph Theater (2433 North Lincoln Avenue). Also for the second year, the festival is co-directed by Mindy Kay Parks and Josh Hope. For a complete weekend schedule, click here.

Film Feature: Best & Worst of 2018 So Far by HollywoodChicago.com

CHICAGO – The holiday hangover is fading with the heat and humility, so what better time to remind ourselves of the Best and Worst films of 2018 SO FAR! HollywoodChicago.com contributors – Patrick McDonald, Jon Espino and Spike Walters – offer the following reactions to those so-far cinema treats and threats.

Film Review: Pungent & Trippy Satire in ‘Sorry to Bother You’

CHICAGO – If the film “Get Out” was a shot across the bow in satirizing black and white skin relationships, then “Sorry to Bother You” is a freaking Tomahawk missile. It’s about the time, the space and the state of the human race, which comes to a crescendo of wild and untamed proportions.

Pungent & Trippy Satire in ‘Sorry to Bother You’

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

CHICAGO – If the film “Get Out” was a shot across the bow in satirizing black and white skin relationships, then “Sorry to Bother You” is a freaking Tomahawk missile. It’s about the time, the space and the state of the human race, which comes to a crescendo of wild and untamed proportions.

Podtalk: Playwright Hannah Ii-Epstein of Nothing Without a Company’s 'Not One Batu'

Not One Batu

CHICAGO – The State of Hawaii may be one of the most misunderstood in America. Because of its reputation as a tourist mecca, the fact that native peoples live and work there like any other place is hard to imagine. Also unimaginable is the drug use of island residents, but playwright and Hawaiian native Hannah li-Epstein wrote about it in her stage play “Not One Batu,” now in its Premiere Chicago run at the Berger Park Coach House through July 28th, 2018. For more information, including tickets, click here.

Film Review: ‘Leave No Trace’ is Emblematic of Our Times

CHICAGO – The temptation to “drop out” must weigh heavily on the minds of many Americans on a daily basis. “Leave No Trace” views this phenomenon through a prism of many factors, including materialism and mental illness. Ben Foster and Thomasin McKenzie are a father/daughter duo who drop out, then tune in.

‘Leave No Trace’ is Emblematic of Our Times

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

CHICAGO – The temptation to “drop out” must weigh heavily on the minds of many Americans on a daily basis. “Leave No Trace” views this phenomenon through a prism of many factors, including materialism and mental illness. Ben Foster and Thomasin McKenzie are a father/daughter duo who drop out, then tune in.

Film Review: Truth Upstages Fiction Again in ‘Three Identical Strangers’

Three Identical Strangers

CHICAGO – The eternal debate of what affects human development more, our nature or our nurturing, opens up again in the wild story of “Three Identical Strangers,” a new documentary about triplets who were separated at birth, only to discover each other by chance and uncover some difficult truths about that separation.

Truth Upstages Fiction Again in ‘Three Identical Strangers’

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

CHICAGO – The eternal debate of what affects human development more, our nature or our nurturing, opens up again in the wild story of “Three Identical Strangers,” a new documentary about triplets who were separated at birth, only to discover each other by chance and uncover some difficult truths about that separation.

Film Review: ‘Ant-Man and The Wasp’ is Abuzz with Laughs & Shrinkage

CHICAGO – Gag writers, it’s time to head to Marvel Studios. Apparently the direction their superhero franchises are going for is laughs. “Ant-Man and the Wasp” is a prime example… the second film in the “Ant-Man” series amps up the humor, priming a hero that can go super small or massive. Go ask Alice, I think she’ll know.

‘Ant-Man and The Wasp’ is Abuzz with Laughs & Shrinkage

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

CHICAGO – Gag writers, it’s time to head to Marvel Studios. Apparently the direction their superhero franchises are going for is laughs. “Ant-Man and the Wasp” is a prime example… the second film in the “Ant-Man” series amps up the humor, priming a hero that can go super small or massive. Go ask Alice, I think she’ll know.

Film Review: ‘The First Purge’ is Nothing But Tedious Trash

CHICAGO – I saw the original “The Purge” five years ago, but missed the other two installments. Let me say that nothing in the new prequel “The First Purge” makes me want to make up for lost time and catch up. The setup is the same… one night of legalized violence each year where the citizens are allowed to do whatever they want without the fear of prosecution.

‘The First Purge’ is Nothing But Tedious Trash

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

CHICAGO – I saw the original “The Purge” five years ago, but missed the other two installments. Let me say that nothing in the new prequel “The First Purge” makes me want to make up for lost time and catch up. The setup is the same… one night of legalized violence each year where the citizens are allowed to do whatever they want without the fear of prosecution.

Podtalk: Anuradha Rana of DePaul University on Their Student Film Festival & Chicago Cinema

Anuratha Rana, DePaul

CHICAGO – One of the growth areas in the Chicago film scene has been in academia, as traditional liberal arts universities in the area have been expanding their teaching programs and becoming more influential, in concert with the overall growth of the film industry in the Windy City. One such academic leader is DePaul University, an institution that has become one of the Top 25 film schools in the nation, through their Cinematic Arts program and innovations like their new Big Shoulders International Student Film Festival. Assistant Professor Anuradha Rana is part of that success.

Theater Review: Overstuffed But Entertaining ‘The Cher Show’

CHICAGO – Has anybody in show business had more “comebacks” than Cher… or if you added her many last names Cher Sarkisian La Piere Bono Allman? All of the triumphs and downturns are shoehorned into “The Cher Show,” now in Chicago in a pre-Broadway run through July 15, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Everybody, Brown Paper Box Co

    CHICAGO – When is the last time a stage play, based in an intimate setting, made you think about your life, death, and the destiny inherent in both? “Everybody,” staged by Brown Paper Box Co. (BPBCo), is such a play, and the energetic aura and sense of surprise that the show contains is soul soothing wonder. The show has various evening/matinee performances at the Pride Arts Center in Chicago run through August 12, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

  • Not One Batu

    CHICAGO – The State of Hawaii may be one of the most misunderstood in America. Because of its reputation as a tourist mecca, the fact that native peoples live and work there like any other place is hard to imagine. Also unimaginable is the drug use of island residents, but playwright and Hawaiian native Hannah li-Epstein wrote about it in her stage play “Not One Batu,” now in its Premiere Chicago run at the Berger Park Coach House through July 28th, 2018. For more information, including tickets, click here.

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