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HollywoodChicago.com Blu-Ray Reviews

What to Watch: Feb. 11-17, 2014

The Returned

We’re a little light on quantity at What to Watch this week but not on quality. And our newest contributor, Dave Canfield, has already handled today’s release of “All is Lost,” a film you really should add to whatever queue allows you to see quality films. When you’re done with that, pick one of these five. OK, four. Ignore “Diana.” Please.

Blu-ray Review: Feeling of Timelessness in ‘La Vie de Bohéme’

La Vie de Boheme DVD

CHICAGO – What is amazing about the texture of this 1992 film version of the 1848 Henri Murger novel, “La Vie de Bohéme,” is that it looks like it could have been filmed during the French New Wave period of the late 1950s/early ‘60s. The Criterion Collection offers a stunning new Blu-ray transfer of a now classic adaptation.

Blu-ray Review: ‘All is Lost’ Finds Heart & Soul of One Man’s Journey

All is Lost

CHICAGO – All is lost. It’s is a phrase uttered by countless adventurers across human history. It speaks of resignation and despair. We hear it in voiceover during PBS documentaries when the narrator reads someone’s diary or letter to explain the last little bit of a fellow human’s final stand against nature or the ardors of travel.

What to Watch: Feb. 4-10, 2014

Dallas Buyers Club

While there is a likely Oscar-winner, a massive box set from HBO, and some true crowd-pleasers in this week’s What to Watch, it’s a bit of a downer compared to some more recent jam-packed weeks of Blu-ray and streaming greatness. We also couldn’t find an On Demand title this week worth mentioning, although Denis Villeneuve’s “Enemy,” starring Jake Gyllenhaal, hits DirecTV On Demand this Thursday and you can bet we’ll be there to check it out before a March theatrical release. Until then, rent or buy something below.

What to Watch: Jan. 28-Feb. 3, 2014

Rush

We’re back! After a week off in Park City, What to Watch is back with 8 movies for you to check out at your local Blu-ray shop or download on your favorite streaming service. Some great variety this week, including a fantastic On Demand debut starring Elijah Wood & John Cusack, a few classics, and a couple of current Oscar nominees.

Blu-ray Review: Teen Movies Don’t Get Better Than ‘The Spectacular Now’

The Spectacular Now

We are surrounded by fiction about teenagers that treats both its subjects and its target audience like idiots. So few filmmakers understand the problems and emotions of young people that when a film as great as “The Spectacular Now” comes along (my #13 of 2013), it’s a small miracle. Reminiscent of the best of Cameron Crowe, James Ponsoldt’s adaptation of Tim Tharp’s novel (from a script robbed of an Oscar nod by Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber) is a fantastic drama about a kid realizing that he may be peaking in high school. The Blu-ray is well-accompanied by a fantastic commentary from Ponsoldt, 20 minutes of deleted scenes, and featurettes.

Blu-ray Review: Don’t Miss Remarkable Honesty of ‘Short Term 12’

Short Term 12

Short Term 12” is a special film. If through some true miracle, Brie Larson’s name is announced on Oscar nominations morning, that sound you hear is me screaming in childish glee. She certainly deserves it for this daring, honest piece of work, one that dares to suggest that there are numerous ways to stop the emotional bleeding. It could be rap, it could be art, it could be taking a bat to a car, or it could be love. Destin Cretton won the Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Most Promising Filmmaker and it was one of this year’s winners of which I was most proud we were recognizing. This is a special movie.

What to Watch: Jan. 14-27, 2014

Enough Said

We’re breaking form this week and going alphabetical instead of preference order because of the INCREDIBLE diversity of product available for you to rent, buy, or stream over the next ten days. How does someone really compare “Sunrise” to “You’re Next”? Why bother?

Blu-ray Review: Neon Brilliance of Michael Mann’s Influential ‘Thief’

Thief

Michael Mann’s “Thief” is a crime movie that’s more about the criminal than his illegal acts. It’s about a man who has been torn down to nothing who slowly puts pieces back into his life, like a love affair and a family, only to learn that he has to give all of them up for his own safety. It’s a fascinating film, stunning in its technical acumen and with stellar performances from James Caan, Tuesday Weld, and Robert Prosky (making his film debut). It’s also a great inclusion in The Criterion Collection, perfectly remastered and with some interesting interview insights.

What to Watch: Jan. 7-13, 2014

We Are What We Are

What a great start to the year. We’ve got hot stars, big hit TV shows, an indie horror flick that you really must see, an Oscar winner, and two from a legend. Pick your favorites to start 2014. Here’s how I’d rank ‘em…

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Downward Dog

    CHICAGO – From “Mr. Ed” to “Dog with a Blog,” talking animals have had their place on TV. The latest has origins as a web series, with the clever title “Downward Dog.” The show premieres on Wednesday, May 17th, 2017 (9:30pEST/8:30pCST), on ABC TV, and features Ned the Dog as Martin, and human companions portrayed by Allison Tolman and Lucas Neff.

  • 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.

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