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Film Review: ‘xXx: Return of Xander Cage’ is Action as Phantasm

CHICAGO – The true miracle of “xXx: Return of Xander Cage” – besides constantly breaking the law of physics – was making the sonorous line readings of Vin Diesel almost palatable. This over-the-top action fantastic turns up every implausibility dial to the red zone, but satisfactorily entertains.

Film Review: ‘The Accountant’ is a Strange Indulgence for Ben Affleck

Accountant, The

CHICAGO – Remember the hilarious video of Ben Affleck during the “Batman v Superman” promotions, his blank stare synched up to the song “The Sound of Silence”? Well, he’s decided to take that expression to a mainstream role, as he blankly applies that manner to “The Accountant.”

Film Review: Oliver Stone’s ‘Snowden’ a Lesson for Our Times

CHICAGO – The experience of director Oliver Stone, to look underneath the slimy rocks of government secrecy and bureaucracy, produces an excellent history lesson in “Snowden,” an overview of Edward Snowden, a whistleblower against the government who is still in exile.

Film Review: Matt Damon is Fighting Mad in Tense ‘Jason Bourne’

CHICAGO – To come back to a character that everyone thought he had left behind, Matt Damon needed the right creative team. He got it again in co-writer (with Christopher Rouse) and director Paul Greengrass, and together they fashioned a paranoid spy tale in the rat-a-tat “Jason Bourne.”

Film Review: Meet the Press in Illuminating ‘Kill the Messenger’

Kill the Messenger

CHICAGO – When journalists were heroes and exposed those in power for their sins, movies were made like “All the President’s Men.” Gary Webb of the San Jose Mercury News was one of those journalist heroes during the 1990s, but he wasn’t celebrated in his time. The indictments, induced paranoia and outright lies against him are distinctly chronicled in the luminary “Kill the Messenger.”

Interview: Director Michael Cuesta on Issues in ‘Kill the Messenger’

CHICAGO – What happens when too much truth is exposed, and those who will feel the backlash from that exposure are too powerful? The new film “Kill the Messenger,” directed by Michael Cuesta, seeks an answer to that question through the true story of journalist Gary Webb, a victim of his own investigative reporting.

Film Review: High-Level Reboot for ‘Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit’

CHICAGO – Actor Chris Pine should use the term “Rebooter” as his middle name. After taking on the Captain Kirk role in the “Star Trek” series, he now is the latest to portray CIA super spy as “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit,” a literate and pulse racing adventure directed by Kenneth Branagh.

TV Review: ‘Covert Affairs’ Puts the Team Back in the CIA

CHICAGO – In an era where America’s budget concerns are front and center, a TV series celebrating the awesomeness of the CIA seems a bit ill-timed. Piper Perabo portrays an undercover operative in the second season premiere of USA Network’s “Covert Affairs.”

Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz Meet Cute in High-Octane ‘Knight and Day’

CHICAGO – Whenever there is a audacious and entertaining action thriller like “Knight and Day,” how do the characters stay so calm? Cameron Diaz and Tom Cruise are shot at, nearly blown up, asked to drive and leap around like lunatics, yet remain perfectly white-toothed calm. A normal human reaction would be ‘Oh my gaaaaaaaaaawd!”

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Kid Thing, The

    CHICAGO – Like the awesome Engine Who Could, the mighty Nothing Without a Company stage crafters have constructed another triumph at their new home in Berger Mansion on Chicago’s north side. “The Kid Thing” – written by Sarah Gubbins – is a terse, convincing and emotional play about fear, identity and breeding, and it is performed by its cast of five with utter authenticity. The show has a Thursday-Sunday run at the Berger North Mansion through April 15th, 2017. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

  • Wiz, The

    CHICAGO – When stage theater can cause outbreaks of elation, celebration and joy, then it must be due to Kokandy Productions’ revival of “The Wiz.” The urban reinterpretation of “The Wizard of Oz” story – told through tuneful euphoria and jubilant dance – is ecstatically produced, in every morsel of its stagecraft.

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