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Focus Features

Film Review: Jessica Chastain is Steadfast as ‘The Zookeeper’s Wife’

CHICAGO – Jessica Chastain is a memorable and glamorous actress, who continues to challenge herself with in-depth and complex roles. “The Zookeeper’s Wife” is her latest, and her performance outweighs the formulaic based-on-truth story, set during the Holocaust.

Film Review: Fantasy & Feelings Comingle in ‘A Monster Calls’

Monster Calls, A

CHICAGO – The nature of dying, especially in process with a close loved one, is a testing ground for unwieldy and alien emotions. When, why and how we’re challenged does not have a timetable, nor a convenience. All of this is played out as fantasy in the vital “A Monster Calls.”

Film Review: ‘Nocturnal Animals’ Takes Two Stories to New Levels

CHICAGO – Reality and fantasy have separate rules, and in fantasy there are no rules. This is the philosophy of “Nocturnal Animals,” a wild character study that exists on the reality/fantasy planes. And it has the bonus of the Amy Adams/Isla Fisher mix-up and Jake Gyllenhaal at his Gyllenhaal-iest.

Film Review: Fulfilling Emotion & Sumptuous Animation Awaits in ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’

CHICAGO – In our short lives, what do we most need? It’s a hard question to answer sometimes, but the new animated film “Kubo and the Two Strings” does a memorable job of answering the query. The journey of Kubo, like Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz,” leads to a place where he needs to go.

Interview: Director Travis Knight Strums ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’

CHICAGO – One of the great benefits of the new Golden Age of Animation has been the emergence of other studios…like Laika Entertainment, which has released “Coraline,” “ParaNorman” and “The Boxtrolls,” all nominated for Oscars. Travis Knight directs their latest stop-motion style animated film, “Kubo and the Two Strings.”

Interview: Stephan James Portrays Olympian Jesse Owens in ‘Race’

Stephan James as Jesse Owens in Race

CHICAGO – In the history of America, there are moments when champions rose above their societal status and circumstance. And so it came to pass that African American Jesse Owens – during one of most difficult times in America for blacks – won medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, representing America and striking a blow against Adolf Hitler, four years before WWII. Owen’s story is told in the new film, “Race,” and he is portrayed by actor Stephan James.

Interview: Director Sarah Gavron Revives the History in ‘Suffragette’

Suffragette

CHICAGO – One decade before the United States gave women the right to vote, it was Britain leading the way before World War One. Their techniques for convincing the staid patriarchy was a series of anarchistic actions, as depicted in the new film “Suffragette,” featuring Carey Mulligan and Meryl Streep, and directed by Sarah Gavron.

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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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