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Film Review: Tom Cruise in ‘American Made’ Never Gets Off the Ground

CHICAGO – Tom Cruise was once a Top Gun, but his newest film “American Made” never really takes off. It wants to be a truth-is-stranger-than-fiction kind of satire where commercial airline pilot Barry Seal (Tom Cruise) winds up getting involved in the Iran Contra Affair and the Medellín drug cartel, but it never creates an enthralling place or story.

Film Review: Matthew McConaughey is All That Glitters in ‘Gold’

CHICAGO – The relish that Matthew McConaughey displays in creating his latest character in “Gold,” a Willy Loman-type mining exec who is looking for his biggest score, is most of the reason to experience the film. However, there isn’t exactly a motherlode when it comes to the story.

Interview: Director Steve Chan Hits a Home Run with ‘Weeds on Fire’

CHICAGO – The most American game of baseball gets a new spin in the film “Weeds on Fire,” directed by Steve Chan. The story explores a youth team in the 1980s whose exploits coincided with a renaissance in Hong Kong. The film is screening on Sep. 21st, 2016, at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, part of the Asian Pop-Up Cinema series (details below).

Film Review: ‘Everybody Wants Some!!’ Gets Lost in Misty Nostalgia

CHICAGO – When the first strains of “My Sharona” by The Knack come out of the car speakers of a dude going to college in 1980, as “Everybody Wants Some!!” began, my do-you-remember-when sense tingled. The film’s story, unfortunately, could not match that feeling of nostalgia.

Interview: Comedian Barry Crimmins of ‘Call Me Lucky’ at 2015 Chicago Critics Film Festival

CHICAGO – One of the more emotionally stunning screenings at the Chicago Critics Film Festival (CCFF) was a film about a comedian. Barry Crimmins is a beloved comic, with a stable of famous friends. But he also had a secret in his past, and it’s all explored in “Call Me Lucky,” directed by fellow comic traveler Bobcat Goldthwait.

Interview: BADASSS Winner Julien Temple at 2015 Chicago CIMMfest

CHICAGO – In receiving the official BADASSS Award at the 2015 Chicago International Movies & Music Fest (CIMMFest), legendary rock documentary maker Julien Temple simply said, “Badass is not a phrase we use in England. I’ve never been called a badass, I prefer ‘enfant terriblé,’ with a hope toward ‘monstre sacré.’”

Interview: Teen Queen Debbie Gibson is All Grown Up

CHICAGO – Debbie Gibson was the youngest recording artist – at 17 years old – to write, produce and perform a number one hit (“Foolish Beat” in 1988), and her songs were the soundtrack to that era’s teen generation. HollywoodChicago.com caught up with the candid Ms. Gibson at the “Hollywood Show” Chicago.

Film Review: Philip Seymour Hoffman Lives Again in ‘God’s Pocket’

God's Pocket

CHICAGO – Watching Philip Seymour Hoffman perform, now that he has passed on, is a bittersweet reminder of his ability and power to embody his deeply felt characters. He does it again in one of his last roles, adding his special brand of acting to the messy story within the gritty noir drama, “God’s Pocket.”

Film Review: ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ is Highly Romanticized Yet Effective

CHICAGO – Matthew McConaughey’s performance as a 1980s-era HIV positive man in the drama “Dallas Buyers Club” is a gangbusters piece of acting. However, some highly exaggerated characters and soft soaping of reality creates a more gauzy romance of the situation than true grit.

Interview: Co-Directors Sarah Burns, David McMahon of ‘The Central Park Five’

Centrai Park Five photo by Patrick McDonald

CHICAGO – It was Sarah Burns, the daughter of legendary documentarian Ken Burns, that brought the passion for her first project with her famous father, along with husband and co-director David McMahon. “The Central Park Five” also features Raymond Santana, one of “five” who were wrongly accused in the famous New York City trial. They were all here in October at the Chicago International Film Festival.

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  • Transformers 5 front

    CHICAGO – Knock me over with a feather kids, but I enjoyed “Transformers: The Last Knight.” Maybe it was in comparison to the others or maybe director Michael Bay has beaten me into submission, but this one had the right story elements and casting to make it work, with exceptions of course. It’s goofiness is its charm, and it was released on Blu-Ray/DVD on September 26th, 2017 (Digital HD already available).

  • Wonder Woman

    CHICAGO – There are few films in 2017 that are as historically important as they are cinematically well-crafted. Of those, there is only one I saw three times in theaters. That honor comes in the form of the revolutionary “Wonder Woman,” which not only shows huge promise for the future of DC Comics films but for comic book-based films as a whole.

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