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.
Film Review: Wham Bam Pass the Popcorn, Man For ‘Furious 7’
CHICAGO – The “Fast & Furious” franchise of films has probably one of the strangest evolutions in action history. What began as a rebellious street race movie, has morphed into a sort of superhero saga. “Furious 7” amps up that element of it, creating a mythic and magical “Kingdom of F&F Cars.”
The untimely death of franchise star Paul Walker does alter this chapter a bit, but not in ways that might be expected. He’s back as an equal member of the crew, and plays out his role to the end, even though the production had to rework the story after his demise. Whether the filmmakers – including director James Wan replacing Justin Lin – became inspired through the memory of Walker, or they just wanted to take it to another level, this latest F&F saga is a breathtaking popcorn movie, with action and thrills akin to a hyperbolic dream state. The muscles are more muscular, the cars more auto-motivating, the gals more killer (in all ways) and the emotional stakes more…well, just more. It maintains the credo that the car is the star, but the personalities do help by injecting a B-movie cartoon ethos in their heroic forms. Even the villain, portrayed by action star Jason Statham, is kind of a hero. “Furious 7” rocks!
Conceived as a sequel to “Fast & Furious 6,” it finds Dominic (Vin Diesel), Brian (Paul Walker) and the rest of their crew returning to the United States after defeating Owen Shaw and company. But a new threat rears up, Owen’s brother Deckard (Jason Statham) wants to exact revenge, and he begins by confronting Luke (Dwayne Johnson), and putting him in the hospital.
Dominic swings into action, and gathers the driving crew to go after Deckard. This means confronting Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) about their relationship, and teaming again with goofball Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and tech expert Tej (Ludacris). There is a rub to this plan, as Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) – one of the world’s leading hackers – has a surveillance software that mysterious agent Frank Petty (Kurt Russell) desires, and he promises that he will deliver Deckard if the team rescues Ramsey from an evil cabal headed by Jakande (Djimon Hounsou).
Brian (Paul Walker) and Dom (Vin Diesel) in ‘Furious 7’
Photo credit: Universal Pictures