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DVD Review: ‘Best of Warner Bros. 20 Film Collection: Musicals’

Best of Warner Bros. Musicals

CHICAGO – Warner Brothers is using their 100th anniversary to release a series of special Blu-ray and DVD box sets that would make great gifts for the movie lover in your life. To be fair, a number of films in the latest box, “Best of Warner Bros. 20 Film Collection: Musicals” are available in stellar Blu-ray editions and that should be the way to go if you can but for the standard-only movie fan in your life or someone who doesn’t own any of these 20 (mostly) classics, it’s a stellar starter set for musical history.

TV Review: TNT’s Riveting ‘Southland’ Reflects Dark Times

CHICAGO – I know I’ve said this before but the season premiere of TNT’s “Southland,” airing tonight at 9pm CST, feels even darker than last year or the year before. It could be just a show trying to top itself in terms of edgy subject matter but it feels genuine here, like the show is increasingly reflecting our darker times.

DVD Review: ‘Best of Warner Bros. 20 Film Collection: Best Pictures’

CHICAGO – From “The Broadway Melody” to “The Departed,” Warner Bros. has collected twenty of their most beloved films in one DVD box set called “Best of Warner Bros. 20 Film Collection: Best Pictures.” Yes, all 20 films in this set on 23 discs won the Oscar for Best Picture. What better way to lead up to the upcoming 2013 Academy Awards than to burn through 20 of the past winners?

DVD Review: Léa Seydoux Mesmerizes in Entrancing ‘Farewell, My Queen’

Farewell My Queen DVD

CHICAGO – Benoît Jacquot is a director clearly enraptured by the beauty of young women. This was eminently clear in his early ’90s-era vehicles for Virginie Ledoyen (“A Single Girl,” “Marianne”), an actress who turned up in his latest picture, “Farewell, My Queen,” still looking startlingly youthful. Yet she is no longer the center of Jacquot’s universe.

DVD Review: Criterion Edition of Original ‘The Man Who Knew Too Much’

The Man Who Knew Too Much 1934

CHICAGO – Did everyone know that the great Guillermo Del Toro (“Pan’s Labyrinth”) is an expert on Alfred Hitchcock? So much so that he wrote a book on the legendary director and was asked by The Criterion Collection to do a wonderful interview on Hitch’s 1934 version of “The Man Who Knew Too Much”? Del Toro wonderfully expounds on the film, offering his insight as to how the work that would be remade into a more popular Jimmy Stewart film in later years actually represents the perfect transitional piece from Hitch’s British period to his American one. It’s just one of several great special features on another stellar Criterion release.

DVD Review: Smart, Funny Comedy of Showtime’s ‘Episodes’

Episodes S2

CHICAGO – Outside of a surprising Golden Globe win by its hysterically funny star, Matt LeBlanc, Showtime’s “Episodes” doesn’t seem to be getting too much attention from critics or viewers. It’s not one of the modern cable shows that everyone seems to be talking about like “Breaking Bad,” “Homeland,” “The Walking Dead,” “Justified,” etc. I’m not saying it’s in the caliber of those programs but it would be a shame if this program was ignored entirely. It’s damn funny.

DVD Review: Delightful Score Bolsters ‘Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best’

Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best DVD

CHICAGO – Amiable charm compensates for scattershot laughs in Ryan O’Nan’s directorial debut, “Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best.” There’s an undercurrent of tangible warmth that reverberates beneath O’Nan’s awkward assemblage of quirky gags and self-consciously clever dialogue. Though I spent much of the film on the fence, it eventually won me over.

DVD Review: Masterful ‘The Wise Kids’ Avoids Stereotypes, Opts for Honesty

The Wise Kids DVD

CHICAGO – There was no film in 2012 that moved me more deeply or left me feeling more exhilarated than Stephen Cone’s achingly personal masterpiece, “The Wise Kids.” It’s the sort of film that I’ve been hoping to see get made for quite some time. Whereas so many films about people of faith rely on condescending stereotypes to push a contrived agenda, Cone’s picture is humanistic in every sense of the word.

DVD Review: Hysterical ‘Archer: The Complete Season Three’

Archer S3

CHICAGO – You should buy the third season of “Archer,” just released on Blu-ray and DVD, if just for the season premiere, “The Man from Jupiter,” featuring an absolutely amazing guest performance from Burt Reynolds. Actually, that is the fourth episode of this season as the three-part “Heart of Archness” aired three months earlier and kicks off this DVD. Whatever you call it, it’s hysterical. In a crowded field that includes former titans like “Family Guy,” “South Park,” and “The Simpsons,” “Archer” is the funniest animated show on TV.

DVD Review: ‘The Qatsi Trilogy’ Still Has Power to Mesmerize

The Qatsi Trilogy

CHICAGO – Godfrey Reggio’s “Koyaanisqatsi,” “Powaqqatsi,” and “Naqoyqatsi” comprise one of the most fascinating trio of documentaries in the history of the form and whoever works at Criterion that decided to collect these landmark works into one Blu-ray and DVD box set deserves a raise. Not only is eash film lovingly restored for the release and accompanied by hours of special features but being able to fully appreciate “The Qatsi Trilogy” as one body of work is something all film fans should experience.

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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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