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Film Review: ‘Doctor Strange’ is Odd Enough to be Enchanting

CHICAGO – We’ve reached a point where comic book films are no longer a scarcity, but an eventuality. With several coming out every year, each one competes for our attention even though the originality behind their approach has the opposite effect. A great cinematic fatigue is almost upon us, but “Doctor Strange” shows a promising deviation that could possibly alter the franchise’s fate.

What to Watch: Mar. 11-24, 2014

American Hustle

An Oscar winner, a major Oscar nominee, two more pieces of Oscar bait, and a few movies that never got anywhere near Oscar. Welcome to What to Watch. We don’t play favorites. Oh, wait, yes we do. You should definitely rent or buy the titles on this first page. The second page is more optional.

What to Watch: Feb. 11-17, 2014

The Returned

We’re a little light on quantity at What to Watch this week but not on quality. And our newest contributor, Dave Canfield, has already handled today’s release of “All is Lost,” a film you really should add to whatever queue allows you to see quality films. When you’re done with that, pick one of these five. OK, four. Ignore “Diana.” Please.

Blu-ray Review: Great Release of ‘Mary Poppins’ Tied to ‘Saving Mr. Banks’

Mary Poppins

Disney knows how to cross-promote better than anyone in the business. With “Saving Mr. Banks” hitting theaters and earning Oscar buzz for Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson, it makes total sense to re-release “Mary Poppins” on Blu-ray. If you’re not familiar, “Banks” is the story of the making of “Poppins” and fans of the new film will love the opportunity to check out what resulted from this mostly true story.

Film Review: Disney’s ‘Frozen’ Enchants Viewers This Holiday Season

Disney’s marvelous “Frozen” fits snugly in the lineage of princess stories that the studio has been crafting for decades while also looks forward to empower girls in ways that its predecessors never considered. It is a remarkably fun movie, especially in 3D, alive in ways that so many of its peers in this lackluster year for animation simply are not.

What to Watch: Nov. 17-23, 2013

We're the Millers

CHICAGO – What to Watch is back! Miss us? Every week, we roll out 5-10 of the latest films and TV shows to be released on DVD, Blu-ray, and various streaming services. This week’s highlights include a few classics, a cult hit, a couple of recent comedies, and a family flick. In the order we’d advise buying or renting them…

Blu-ray Review: Holiday Classics Come Home Featuring Mickey Mouse, Winnie the Pooh

A Very Merry Pooh Year

CHICAGO – It’s that time of year. Studios pull Christmas classics from the vault, given them the HD polish, and hope to re-sell them to families who probably already own them on scratched DVD or even beat-up VHS. Two such releases feature better HD remasters than your average title in that they’ve been given the Disney Blu-ray treatment, resulting in picture quality that tops any version you’ve probably seen them in before. The latest holiday pair hoping for Santa’s wish list includes a 30th anniversary edition of “Mickey’s Christmas Carol” and “Winnie the Pooh: A Very Merry Pooh Year.” Disney fans will have a Merry Christmas.

Blu-ray Review: Timeless Wonder of Disney’s ‘The Little Mermaid’

The Little Mermaid

CHICAGO – I’m going to date myself a bit here but I remember when Disney was in great need of the comeback that was provided them by 1989’s “The Little Mermaid.” It had been quite some time since the company really mattered and, as I was growing up, Disney was kind of an old-fashioned company. They were great “then,” not “now.” That changed with “Mermaid,” which led into “Beauty & the Beast,” “Aladdin,” and “The Lion King.” There have been peaks and valleys since then but Disney is as powerful as ever and a lot of their current success started with a mermaid who wished she was human. Now on Blu-ray for the first time, “The Little Mermaid” is a jewel in the Disney crown, a film that feels timeless now, almost a quarter-century after its release, as it seemed essential to the company when it was released.

Blu-ray Review: Trio of Disney Films Make HD Debut

Robin Hood

CHICAGO – Ready to feel old? It’s the 25th anniversary of “Oliver & Company,” 40th anniversary of “Robin Hood,” and 50th anniversary of “The Sword in the Stone.” Maybe I’m showing my age even further by admitting that I would rank the films in order of oldest to newest. “Sword” remains remarkably fun but “Robin Hood” is close behind. Only “Oliver” remains pretty much a waste of time.

Blu-ray Review: Disney Pulls ‘Atlantis,’ ‘Lilo & Stitch’ From Vaults

Atlantis

CHICAGO – Things were a little rocky in the world of Disney animation in the ’00s as the comeback of the late ’80s and ’90s gave way to more success for Pixar than Disney proper. Films like “Dinosaur,” “Treasure Planet,” and “Brother Bear” won’t be getting theme park ride revivals any day soon. However, there were a few decent flicks in this era, and two of them, 2001’s “Atlantis: The Lost Empire” and 2002’s “Lilo & Stitch,” were just released in Blu-ray combo packs.

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  • Monica Raymund on set for 'Tanya'

    CHICAGOTV fans know Monica Raymund as paramedic Gabby Dawson on the long-running “Chicago Fire.” But the talented actor is expanding her range, debuting her first film as director, “Tanya,” at the Midwest Independent Film Festival on Tuesday, August 1st, 2017. The short film – written by Sam Forman – will be part of “Female Filmmakers Night” at the Midwest Indie, and is part of Raymund’s involvement with Hidden Tears Project, an organization dedicated to raising consciousness by creating media on gender inequality, sexual abuse and human trafficking.

  • They're Playing Our Song

    CHICAGO – During the late disco era of the 1970s, an unusual musical opened on Broadway. Essentially a two person stage play, “They’re Playing Our Song” involved a songwriter and a lyricist who develop a stronger connection than just writing partners. The always passionate Brown Paper Box Co. of Chicago has unearthed this chestnut with a bright and fun revival at the Rivendell Theatre through August 20th, 2017.

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