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Blu-ray Review: New Criterion Releases For May 2014

Like Someone in Love

The Criterion Collection continues to impress through the remarkable range of what it offers cineastes on a monthly basis. Look at the highlights of their May 2014 Blu-ray offerings, all currently available in stores and for online order. What on Earth do “Overlord,” “Like Someone in Love,” and “Red River” have in common?

Blu-ray Review: John Wayne’s ‘McLintock!’ is Dated But Fun

McLintock!

CHICAGO – There is not quite any entertainment like a great John Wayne picture, and “McLintock!” certainly fulfills that expectation. But in adapting Shakepeare’s “Taming of the Shrew,” they forgot that the womenfolk had progressed a bit since the spankings that were liberally doled out against the wives and daughters.

Theater Review: ‘Carrie: The Musical’ is Surprisingly Serious

CHICAGO – Some people spend the rest of their lives trying to compensate for slights felt in high school – that social jungle is staged in “Carrie: The Musical.” Based on Stephen King’s novel, the story of Carrie White is presented as an adversarial tale by Bailiwick Chicago at Victory Gardens Theater.

Blu-ray Review: Visceral Soldier Story ‘Lone Survivor’

Lone Survivor with Mark Wahlberg

CHICAGO – The story goes that when deciding on the project, director Peter Berg read a copy of Marcus Luttrell’s book “Lone Survivor” in one sitting. Whether this tale includes a bathroom break, or even a few days in-between but with usage of the same chair, for a director like Berg this story will always ring possible.

Blu-ray Review: Steven Spielberg’s Progressive Slave Drama ‘Amistad’

Amistad

CHICAGO – Before Hollywood grappled with the unforgiving intensity of “12 Years a Slave,” they championed Steven Spielberg’s powerful film “Amistad,” years earlier, now available for the first time on Blu-ray. Densely comparing the movies is a difficult task considering their different perspectives, but they do stand as interesting bookends with how Hollywood has dealt with the American atrocity of slavery in their films.

DVD Review: Celebrate Father’s Day with The Duke

The John Wayne Epic Collection

There is no studio that times their releases more perfectly than Warner Bros. Around the end-of-year holidays there will be gift sets for films like “Elf” and “Willy Wonka.” Near Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, you can expect gift-appropriate releases.

Theater Review: ‘Hair’ Still Shines at American Theater Company

CHICAGO – At intermission, I remarked to a fellow theater patron that the musical “Hair,” presented by the American Theater Company (ATC) of Chicago, still has a solid impact. His logical reply, “it’s hard to mess this one up.” The ATC does the classic hippie musical proud, with a raucous rendition.

Blu-ray Review: Dated ‘Riot in Cell Block 11’ is Beautifully Filmed

Riot in Cell Block 11

CHICAGO – The Criterion Collection has added “Riot in Cell Block 11” (1954) to their stellar Blu-ray family, and the transfer is absolutely gorgeous, especially if you’re an admirer of the stark cinematography of the late black & white film era. Although dated, it still packs a gritty wallop.

Theater Review: A Star Blazes in ‘Marilyn Monroe, Whoever You Are’

CHICAGO – The many sides of the mega film legend Marilyn Monroe was like a prism in an ever-changing kaleidoscope. Yet somehow actor and playwright Amber Hargroder was able to capture Monroe’s essence in a one woman show.

DVD Review: Criterion Release of 1960s Italian Road Trip Film ‘Il Sorpasso’

Il Sorpasso, Criterion Collection

CHICAGO – With the recent popularity of road trip movies in both mainstream films and the art house, it is a fitting pleasure that the Criterion Collection has released Dino Risi’s “Il Sorpasso,” a jazzy road trip movie that takes the story structure to its basics. Two opposing types meet unexpectedly, travel to random exotic locations, and interact with people who are rest stops in themselves.

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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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