Theater, TV, DVD & Blu-Ray

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.

Blu-ray Review: James Brown Biopic ‘Get on Up’ Has No Soul

Get On Up

CHICAGO – When people yawn about the dullness of movies based on life stories, they are certainly referring to films like “Get On Up,” an absurdly uninteresting portrait of a key figure of music, or so this movie claims. From the “The Help’s” vanilla visionary Tate Taylor, this 140-minute ode to James Brown is a half-assed argument about his nonpareil greatness, and full evidence that the biopic may be the weakest genre in film.

Blu-ray Review: Richard Linklater’s 2014 Classic ‘Boyhood’

Boyhood

CHICAGO – I remember when Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood” was just a rare credit on IMDb, a project listed as “in production” for many years, while the director’s other completed work passed through. The curiosity of Linklater’s unparalleled experiment was certainly fulfilled by its release, which comes full circle today as it hits home video, an award season epilogue in sight.

Blu-ray Review: Cult-Ready Thriller ‘The Guest’ Comes Home

The Guest with Dan Stevens

CHICAGO – As the classification of “cult hit” becomes a progressively mainstream notion considering the multitude of “The Room” screenings across our great nation every weekend or the universal quotability of “Troll 2,” “The Guest” arrives. It is a movie made with the degree of madness often found only at midnight, usually at film festivals, or during special events at indie movie houses like Chicago’s Music Box Theater.

Blu-ray Review: Slices of Solid Action in Surprising ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with Megan Fox

CHICAGO - Look past the cheesy carbs and b-boy poses, this shiny mo-cap reboot of cartoon juggernaut “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” offers slick entertainment that makes for a welcome surprise for middle school fare. Proving that executive producer Michael Bay has both grown up but it still frightfully in tune with what jazzes teens, this surprise box office hit is indeed a nice slice of a blockbuster spectacle, whether or not a viewer cares about the turtles or not.

Theater Review: Step Up Productions Gives the Gift of ‘HoliDaze’

CHICAGO – Need a break from the noise of the holidays? Step Up Productions, – in residence at Chicago Dramatists Theater – present “HoliDaze,” a collection of six one-act plays, all dealing with the nature and nurture of the season. The showcase runs through December 21st, 2014.

DVD Review: Comedy Central’s ‘Broad City: Season 1,’ ‘Kroll Show: Seasons 1 & 2’

Broad City: Season 1

CHICAGO – December has seen the release of two different Comedy Central shows finally arriving to DVD, “Broad City” and “Kroll Show.” Expressing their comedy in different formats, these shows from rising comedians Abbi Jacobson & Ilana Glazer (“Broad City”) and Nick Kroll (“Kroll Show”) introduce a cable channel’s audience to new talent, while nonetheless presenting a distinct contrast in creativity.

DVD Review: Historical Figures Cheersed in Brilliant ‘Drunk History: Seasons 1 & 2’

Drunk History Seasons 1 & 2, 2014

CHICAGO – The awesomeness of history loses any of its stuffiness with the incredibly fun, indeed educational show “Drunk History” from Comedy Central, its two seasons now released on DVD. Hosted by its creator Derek Waters, the show is a celebration of various historic figures and their under-appreciated true tales, as expressed by funny people narrating in the universal language of inebriation; their recounts are then reenacted by famous actors working with their given dialogue, dressed with the comic cheapness of a bloated biopic.

DVD Review: Lo-Fi Anna Kendrick Dramedy ‘Happy Christmas’ Comes to DVD

Happy Christmas

CHICAGO – “Drinking Buddies” director Joe Swanberg’s latest release of the same star wattage is “Happy Christmas,” an even lower-fi story than the Olivia Wilde beer comedy, steered even more by the casting that it was able to assemble. However, with this movie Swanberg doesn’t so much worry about having a story that could be confused with a more mainstream romantic comedy if it were to have a bigger budget.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • It's NOT ALL About You John Michael

    CHICAGO – John Michael epitomizes the art of the monologue. The Chicago transplant, by way of Dallas, is moving on (he says temporarily) from the city that inspired his last show, “Meatball Seance,” after notorious and successful runs of his other one-man shows, “John Michael and the Order of the Penix” and “Dementia Me.” His farewell performance is his latest, another laugh riot, “It’s NOT ALL About You John Michael,” and will take place at Mary’s Attic in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood on March 1st, 2019. Click here for details, including ticket information.

  • Soccer Player in the Closet, The 2

    CHICAGO – Connecting to the theater collective Nothing Without a Company means a couple of things. One, you may visit parts of Chicago you’ve never seen before – in this case a plant store in an industrial area south of Humboldt Park – and two, you will see some daring and outside-the-box stagings. “The Soccer Player in the Closet” is their latest production – a World Premiere – and it provides what the title implies and beyond. The play runs through March 17th, 2019. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

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