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Blu-ray Review: ‘The Gambler’ Still Wins on Blu-ray

Gambler, The 2

CHICAGO – Browsing Dostoyevsky titles with consideration for proper roles for Mark Wahlberg, one might expect the Beantown hero to take on an adaptation of “The Idiot” before anything like “The Gambler.” After all, while Wahlberg has proven to be a diverse screen force - one who has well-grown past his Funky Bunch days - he often leans towards goofy men, or at least goofy men in goofy movies.

Blu-ray Review: Christopher Nolan’s Wondrous Space Odyssey ‘Interstellar’

Interstellar

CHICAGO – Far more marvelous than imperfect, “Interstellar” is the answer for moviegoers who have lost the zeal for massive films, citing a lack of ideas, heart, or general passion for filmmaking. Director Christopher Nolan’s 2014 space odyssey is an event of beauty, with the rare experience of showing viewers something they haven’t seen before.

Theater Review: ‘Down the Moonlit Path’ a Sensational, Interpersonal Stage Experience

CHICAGO – The power of creativity, and the risk of live theater, is all on display through Nothing Without a Company’s latest amazing journey, “Down the Moonlit Path.” The interactive stage experience refreshes the soul and realizes the joy of life.

Blu-ray Review: Chris Rock’s ‘Top Five’ is Pretty Interesting

Top Five

CHICAGO – Chris Rock isn’t a huge writer/director, but when he does make a film, it’s an event to consider. For example, he made black president tale “Head of State” long before then-senator Barack Obama was even considered for the real-life role, and whether behind the stand-up mic or in an interview, he’s a voice to be reckoned with.

Theatre Review: Hans Christian Andersen’s ‘The Princess and the Pea’ Gets Modern Makeover at The Marriott

CHICAGO – Merging old-fashioned chivalry with modern-day TV screens, The Marriott Theatre for Young Audiences is currently staging a smile-inducing, family friendly reimagining of Hans Christian Andersen’s beloved fairy tale “The Princess and the Pea”.

Theater Interview: Actor Jerod Haynes Shines in ‘The Royale’

CHICAGO – One of the most well-received 2015 theater performances in Chicago has been from actor Jerod Haynes as boxer Jay Jackson, in American Theater Co’s production of “The Royale.” Inspired by real life boxer Jack Johnson, the play is about setting up an early 1900s heavyweight championship, for the first time in U.S. history, between a black and white boxer.

Theater Review: Brown Paper Box Co. Stages Pointed ‘Spike Heels’

Spike Heels Stage Play

CHICAGO – If you can remember the 1990s outside of childhood, you are in the glow of middle age, so congratulations. The Brown Paper Box Co. theater ensemble takes us back to those thrilling days of yesteryear with “Spike Heels,” a relationship comedy centering on the co-mingling antics of two couples, with a slight nod toward George Bernard Shaw and the play “Pygmalion” (or its musical counterpart, “My Fair Lady”).

Theater Review: ‘The Book of Merman’ Should Satisfy Both Sets of Fans

Book of Merman, The

CHICAGO – One potential theater-goer loves the “The Book of Mormon.” The other would rather stay home and watch old Ethel Merman YouTube videos. Pride Films & Theater offers the ultimate solution by combining both in a campy musical, “The Book of Merman.” Yep, two Elder characters from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints meets foghorn singer Ethel Merman.

Blu-ray Review: Stale Screen Culture Drama ‘Men, Women & Children’

Men, Women & Children with Kaitlyn Dever

CHICAGO – In “Men, Women & Children,” director Jason Reitman not-so-audaciously reflects onto viewers their world of silent screens and awkward impersonal interactions. As many stories (“Don Jon,” “Disconnect”) have taken on the torch of showing how we are, gasp! — connected to the world yet disconnected from those close to us — Reitman’s tale is just another one for the batch.

DVD Review: William H. Macy’s Sappy Directorial Debut ‘Rudderless’

Rudderless, Billy Crudup Anton Yelchin

CHICAGO – Actor William H. Macy’s directorial debut “Rudderless” is a film of open mic songwriting that tackles a recovery from grief with neat lyrics and easy metaphors. Instead of standing out, Macy has provided another sap’s ballad that has the cuteness of “Kumbaya”, one that aims to please the crowd without challenging emotions, only showing them.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Wonder Woman

    CHICAGO – There are few films in 2017 that are as historically important as they are cinematically well-crafted. Of those, there is only one I saw three times in theaters. That honor comes in the form of the revolutionary “Wonder Woman,” which not only shows huge promise for the future of DC Comics films but for comic book-based films as a whole.

  • 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.

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