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Theater, TV, DVD & Blu-Ray

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.

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.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Jesus Christ Superstar, Lyric Opera

    CHICAGO – As a wee lad, I would often go into my parent’s record collection. One day, out of the blue, that brown double album with the gold embossed angels appeared, like a gift from the divine. “Jesus Christ Superstar” began as a record album “rock opera” in 1970, evolved to a Broadway show and film, and then was interpreted through a myriad of stage revivals over the years. The latest is an exciting piece of stagecraft at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. The show has a various evening/matinee run through May 20th, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

  • Cornerstone, Nothing Without a Company

    CHICAGO – We all need some help. The stage play group Nothing Without a Company realizes that, and has collaborated with the organization “Cornerstone” to provide that assistance. Cornerstone is a seminar and a happening in downtown Chicago, facilitated by “experts” to generate your potential. The presentation has a Thursday-Sunday run at Michigan Avenue’s Artspace 8 through May 6th, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

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