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Interview

Red-Carpet Interview: Gene Siskel Film Center Honors Ethan Hawke

CHICAGO – Ethan Hawke has made 2018 his year, and on June 7th the Gene Siskel Film Center of Chicago recognized his recent artistic achievements and his career by honoring him with their annual Renaissance Award. The event included a Red Carpet walk, and an on-stage talk with his friend, actor Vincent D’Onofrio.

Podtalk: Producer Kristi Dunn Kucera on Her Brother & His ‘Trial of Lies’

Shawn & Kristi Dunn

CHICAGO – In 1925, the Franz Kafka novel “The Trial” was published, launching the term “Kafka-esque” to describe people who get trapped by the judicial system. One such victim is Shawn Dunn, a financial planner who discovered a way (in 1994) to take “corporate inversion” – a tax abatement system initially developed by multinational corporations to substantially reduce their tax bill – and apply that same system to his small business and retirement fund clients for their use. Despite the continued legality (for corporations) of the accounting technique, the FBI raided Dunn’s offices, and arrested him for providing the same legal means for his clients to minimize their tax bills. He lost his trial in 2008, and despite many appeals, is currently serving an 18 year sentence.

Podtalk: Director Jeff Tomsic Plays the Game of ‘Tag’

CHICAGO – When a real life group of friends keep a thirty year tradition alive, playing a game of “Tag,” there is bound to be a film that shares the same name. Jeff Tomsic makes his director debut with a killer cast… Ed Helms, Jon Hamm, Jake Johnson, Hannibal Buress and Jeremy Renner, all still playing that childhood game.

Podtalk: Director Brett Haley on Rhythms in ‘Hearts Beat Loud’

CHICAGO – There is no better Father’s Day present at the movies than director Brett Haley’s new film, “Hearts Beat Loud.” It’s the story of a single Dad, portrayed by Nick Offerman, dealing with his about-to-go-to-college daughter. The riff in the film is that they are also songwriters together, and that becomes a major conflict.

Video Interview: John Travolta on His New Role as ‘Gotti’

CHICAGO – John Travolta has fulfilled his career legacy of icon status, and he continues to work on projects that highlight his performance abilities. Fresh off his role as real-life Robert Shapiro in “The People Vs. O.J. Simpson,” Travolta takes on another historical figure in his portrayal of mobster John Gotti in the new film “Gotti.”

Podtalk: ‘Working in protest’ on Final Day of Chicago Underground Film Festival, June 10, 2018

Working in protest

CHICAGO – In the age of Donald Trump, the number of citizen protests have increased in size and scope. But what are the results of these gatherings and what does it really mean? A new documentary film by co-directors Michael Galinsky and Suki Hawley entitled “Working in protest” uncovers a bit of unvarnished truth in these demonstrations, as it covers the protest years of 1987 through 2017. This is part of the final day of the 25th Chicago Underground Film Festival (CUFF), which includes the Closing Night film “FUTURE LANGUAGE: The Dimensions of VON LMO,” directed by Lori Felker.

Podtalk: Actor Blake Jenner Nurtures ‘American Animals’

Blake Jenner of AMERICAN ANIMALS

CHICAGO – One of the coolest-cat young actors is Blake Jenner. The versatile performer began his career on TV’s “Glee,” portraying Ryder Lynn. Since that time, three short years ago, he has broken out in a big way, landing in the ensemble cast of “Everybody Wants Some!!” and “The Edge of Seventeen.” His latest is a combination documentary/narrative film, the unusual and absorbing “American Animals.”

Podtalk: Bryan Wendorf of the 25th Chicago Underground Film Festival, June 6-10, 2018

CHICAGO – Even though the definition of “underground” changes at lightning speed in the digital age, the perennial Chicago Underground Film Festival (CUFF) is presenting it’s 25th edition, and it grows in influence every year.

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.”

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.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • 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.

  • Cher Show, The

    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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