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Theater, TV, DVD & Blu-Ray

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.

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.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Speech & Debate (stage play)

    CHICAGO – “Speech & Debate,” the latest production from the mighty Brown Paper Box Company, continues their tradition of thinking outside that “box” in presenting storefront theater that makes a statement and a difference. “Speech” goes inside America by showcasing the outsiders… those who create art because they can’t get it right in real life. This non-equity Chicago stage play premiere is finely tuned and wonderfully acted, and runs through March 4th, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

  • We're Gonna Be Okay

    CHICAGO – The 1960s were a time of historical social transition. The movements – civil rights, feminist, gay rights – all had roots in that tumultuous decade. The Chicago premiere of Basil Kreimendahl’s “We’re Gonna Be Okay” echoes all of those movements in its characters, and collides them against the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. The show has a Thursday-Sunday run at the American Theater Company through March 4th, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

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