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Theater, TV, DVD & Blu-Ray

Blu-ray Review: Criterion Release of Peter Weir’s Mesmerizing ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’

Picnic at Hanging Rock

Peter Weir’s “Picnic at Hanging Rock” is a mesmerizing film. Most who go into it know that it tells a tragic (possibly true) story with no resolution. And so it becomes a slow burn, in which the atmosphere and dread of unseen danger hangs thick in every frame.

TV News: 2014 Emmy Award Nominations Announced

Emmy Award

CHICAGO – Some old TV favorites and some new online upstarts highlight the nominations for the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards, which takes place on Monday, August 25th, 2014. The Netflix series “Orange is the New Black” competes with stalwart sitcoms “The Big Bang Theory” and “Modern Family” at this year’s ceremony.

Blu-ray Review: ‘RoboCop’ Remake Struggles with Identity

RoboCop with Joel Kinnaman

CHICAGO – After years of being envisioned with numerous directors (“Noah’s” Darren Aronofsky was once attached), a new version of “RoboCop” has arrived. While the original 80s classic stood out for its foresight into current cultural turmoil, this remake is more a product of movies of the past, and to be more specific, our recent beloved superhero movies.

Blu-ray Review: ‘Spike Lee Joint Collection’ Releases Are Solid Starting Point

25th Hour

Who of our modern filmmakers will justify lavish, career-spanning box sets in the next generation (presuming there is such a thing and we’re not 100% digital)? We’ve seen Oliver Stone, Martin Scorsese, and Alfred Hitchcock sets in recent years but who will get the same treatment in ten or twenty years?

Blu-ray Review: Criterion Edition of Douglas Sirk’s Essential ‘All That Heaven Allows’

All That Heaven Allows

CHICAGO—The word “melodrama” has become a lazy one for too many critics who use it as a way to dismiss films that deal with extreme emotions. For a film to be melodramatic, it must be flawed. Any fan of Douglas Sirk will tell you that this is a fallacy. Melodrama can be a heartbreaking, genuine form of artistic expression, arguably never more so than in Sirk’s most beloved film, “All That Heaven Allows,” recently released on Criterion Blu-ray.

Blu-ray Review: Recent TV Releases Include ‘True Detective,’ ‘Masters of Sex’

True Blood S6

CHICAGO – “Game of Thrones” is over and you’ve already binged “Orange is the New Black,” what are you supposed to do now? There are a few interesting new programs this season – FX’s “Tyrant” & “The Strain,” HBO’s “The Leftovers,” CBS’s “Extant,” and a few more – but it’s also a great time to catch up what you may have missed with new Blu-ray and DVD releases. There are five TV-to-Blu-ray releases this month that might warrant a look.

Blu-ray Review: Tepid Volcano Movie ‘Pompeii’ Starring Kit Harrington’s Abs

Pompeii

CHICAGO – With regards to its production, Paul W.S. Anderson’s “Pompeii” is a period film based on current trends, honoring both the apocalypse fascination spurred by the Mayans’ recent miscalculation, and the ascent of Harrington’s star power via the popular TV series “Game of Thrones.” With neither guaranteeing a strong future for themselves through Pompeii, there is at least some bankability in Harrington’s abs.

Blu-ray Review: Remarkable Breadth of Modern Animation in New Releases

The LEGO Movie with Will Ferrell

Remember when we were growing up? We were LUCKY if we got a decent animated film once a year in the ’80s and we spent most of our Saturday mornings watching total junk that now passes as nostalgia. We can say that music, film, or even literature was better when we younger. Animation? No way. Just take a look at four recent releases of the animated form that perfectly show the breadth and remarkable quality of the medium (and, yes, animation is a “form,” not a “genre.”)

Blu-ray Review: ‘Non-Stop’ Has Formulaic Script But Fresh Thrills

Non-Stop

CHICAGO – “Non-Stop” gave audiences more than just “‘Taken’ on a plane” when it opened last February, and showed that the inflight experience is efficiently vulnerable action thriller territory. With audiences having taken a break from commercial airline chaos after 9/11, “Non-Stop” brought viewers back into the peril of an unsafe flight, but with a leading hero by Liam Neeson at the helm. Nevertheless, even when knowing how the flight ends, “Non-Stop” is a refined thriller that still has a grip on one’s attention in a second viewing as well.

Blu-ray Review: Kevin Costner Actioner ‘3 Days to Kill’ is Slick, Forgettable

3 Days to Kill

CHICAGO – “3 Days to Kill” is a bit like “Taken,” in that it was co-created by French action maestro Luc Besson, but directed by somebody else. However, it is indeed not like “Taken” in that this movie never roars out of the gate, which is also about a multi-tasking American dad abroad looking for answers as a clock ticks.

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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 3rd, 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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