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Dave Canfield

Film Review: ‘Into the Storm’ Maybe Needs Some Sharks

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?

Film Review: ‘Deliver Us From Evil’ Goes Straight for the Jugular

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.

Blu-ray Review: Found Footage Fails to Save 'Devil’s Due,' 'Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones'

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones

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.

Film Review: ‘Godzilla’ Just Goes Where He Has Gone Before

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.

Blu-ray Review: ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’

Walter-Mitty-Hiking.jpg

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.

Blu-ray Review: ‘Grudge Match’ is Strictly Lightweight

Grudge Match

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.

Blu-ray Review: ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

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.

Film Review: Richly Complex ‘Oculus’ is Also Scary as Hell

Oculus front

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.

Blu-Ray Review: Worth Getting Lost in ‘A Field in England’

A Field in England (teaser)

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.

DVD Review: ‘Contracted’ is Sick, But That’s a Good Thing

Contracted DVD (teaser)

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.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Bobby Pin Girls

    CHICAGO – The “breeder years” are difficult on everyone, as the biological imperative becomes overwhelming and the couplings that result yield both discovery and misadventure. Nothing Without a Company’s new play “Bobby Pin Girls” highlight two such Millennial women, roommates who are having man trouble, although the argument can be made that it’s eternally “boy trouble.” The show has a Thursday-Sunday run at the Chicago Mosaic School through December 10th, 2017. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

  • 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).

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