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.
CHICAGO – What is there to say about a movie whose chief attraction lies in action set pieces involving CGI tornadoes? You either like this sort of thing or you don’t. I took my ten year old, who seemed to have a good time, and I know I felt pretty captivated by some of those visuals – but I’m a sucker for a thrill ride. Sound indecisive?
CHICAGO – “Deliver Us from Evil” is director Scott Derrickson’s second foray into possession horror. His first, the excellent “The Exorcism of Emily Rose,” was taut, thoughtful and offered some truly unsettling demon scares.
CHICAGO – Flooding the market with the shaky cam, the growing use of found footage has had more impact on horror than any other genre. Sometimes it’s used to great effect. But more often than not, such films lack the craft needed to propel viewers into the nightmares. “Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones” and “Devil’s Due” are cases in point.
CHICAGO – I did not like Godzilla. That sentence alone might make my review interesting enough to attract some initial attention. But despite that, and despite the fact that I’m a sucker for pretty much giant anything if it stomps a city, I’m holding fast to this judgment.
CHICAGO – Ben Stiller plays Walter Mitty: a man whose constant daydreams about life are interrupted by a series of real-life adventures that may or may not help him find love and save his job. This is a sweet-tempered and often visually spectacular film. It has the guts to be really weird at times as well. The end result? The film is entertaining, but it’s just too scattered to really imprint on the average viewer. That’s too bad because Ben Stiller distinguishes himself here in way that real cineastes will appreciate.
CHICAGO – This forgettable time waster is mildly amusing as long as you don’t let yourself go into mourning over Robert Deniro’s career. But then again that almost goes without saying these days. Likewise Stallone who has had far more interesting career choices in the last decade than this. The pair play retired boxers who comes out of retirement for one last fight. One for the paycheck. The other to settle an old score.
CHICAGO – It seems mean to pick on a movie for being merely entertaining. But when that film is part of the Lord of the Rings canon such criticism is fair. Peter Jackson manages to thrill here via some stunning action, and a truly memorable CGI Smaug. But Bilbo’s point of view seems lost in all the action, other characters and subplots. Clearly Jackson and Fran Walsh want The Hobbit to feel connected to their breathtaking Lord of the Rings trilogy but The Hobbit just doesn’t feel intimate enough. The second film in the trilogy is more entertaining but only marginally more moving.
CHICAGO – The affect of horror works in five basic ways. There’s the sense of Dislocation where the lead character suddenly loses bearing, becomes unsure of what where or even who they are. Next is Dread, which is the sense that something awful is coming.
CHICAGO – I can’t recommend this more. “A Field in England” is a flashback and a flash forward all at once. It’s impossible to watch without thinking of great counter culture cinema. In fact when I saw it at Fantastic Fest 2013 it played as part of a double bill with Ken Russell’s “The Devils” (1971). They made perfect cinematic companion pieces. Russell’s film concerned a wayward priest desperate to protect his 17th century city from corruption in the Church only to fall victim to group hysteria when he is, ironically, accused of witchcraft by a jealous nun.
CHICAGO – We’ve all seen the girl at the party. You know the one who catches your eye as she walks by. She’s beautiful but alone, looks a little lost, and, sadly, almost always winds up with some other guy. Eric England introduces us to such a girl at the beginning of his film “Contracted” and then spends the rest of the movie’s runtime punishing the hell out of her as a mysterious and fast moving STD eats away at all the things that had us looking in the first place.