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Elijah Wood

Film Review: ‘The Last Witch Hunter’ at Least is Hilariously Awful

CHICAGO – You will see many many better movies this year, but you’re unlikely to see one quite this batshit crazy. I’ll give Vin Diesel this much credit, at least he’s created a memorably awful blockbuster instead of one that simply fades off into the moonlight.

Video Game Review: ‘Broken Age’ is Tricky, Whimsical & Outstanding

Broken Age

CHICAGO – Double Fine Productions delves into the deepest, most repressed parts of the imagination and brings the wonders it finds into our reality. I took a long while to play and review “Broken Age,” the company’s Kickstarter darling, not because it was long or overly difficult, but because I was left thinking about the game constantly once I finished.

2014 Sundance Diary, Day 3: Comedies with an Edge

I’ve only seen three movies since my last dispatch — Sundance is about finding the time to write whenever you have it and it just comes earlier today than it did yesterday — but one was a true gem. So I’ll be brief.

Blu-ray Review: Lavish Extended Edition of ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’

The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey

CHICAGO – I had notable problems with “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” when it premiered in theaters but they were softened a bit when I saw it on Blu-ray and not in 3D nor 48 frames per second, two effects that I believe actually hurt the world designed by Peter Jackson in these films in that they make it look less artistic and faker than the standard HD image. Now I’m here to flop back again to the disappointed side with the extended edition of the film, one that runs WAY too long for a flick that was already too short.

What to Watch: Oct. 20-26, 2013

Vikings

CHICAGO – It’s a weird week at the video store (do they still have those?) or in the New Releases section of your favorite Video On Demand service. There’s some real junk that we’ll get to (“The Internship”) along with some flicks that are just too good not to break out into their own special Blu-ray reviews (“Before Midnight,” “The Conjuring” — both must-sees). And then there’s a unique array of catalog releases and TV seasons. Those could easily fall through the cracks if not for the informative What to Watch. All of these are new to Blu-ray, some for the first time and some in anniversary/special editions. At least one will grab your attention.

Blu-ray Review: Criterion Upgrades Ang Lee’s Masterful ‘The Ice Storm’

The Ice Storm

CHICAGO – Ang Lee won his second Oscar this year for his work on “Life of Pi” but he wasn’t even nominated for one of the best films of his career, the masterful “The Ice Storm,” recently upgraded to Blu-ray by Criterion and re-released on DVD. Few films from 1997 have held up more completely as Lee’s adaptation of the Rick Moody novel feels even more symbolically dense and accomplished. It’s a stellar drama, one of the best of the ’90s, and Criterion has loaded it down with special features.

TV Review: Third Season of FX’s ‘Wilfred’ Starts with Promising Shift

Wilfred

CHICAGO – Changing showrunners often proves the kiss of death for comedies. If you watched the Dan Harmon-less fourth season of “Community,” NBC owes you an apology. And so hearing that “Wilfred” was going to tweak its behind-the-scenes staff by moving David Zuckerman from showrunner to exec producer and sliding writer/producers Reed Agnew & Eli Jorne into lead roles, there was reason for concern. Don’t worry.

Blu-ray Review: ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ Works Better in HD Than in Theaters

CHICAGO – Can we end this 48fps nonsense now? Having seen “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” in 3D/48fps, I found the film artificial and boring. At home, in traditional, flat HD, the movie works so much better.

Film Review: Rashida Jones, Andy Samberg in ‘Celeste and Jesse Forever’

Celeste and Jesse Forever
HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.0/5.0
Rating: 3.0/5.0

CHICAGO – Rashida Jones has been a reliable co-star for years in films like “I Love You, Man” and TV shows like “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation” but she gets her most notable role to date in a film she co-wrote, the romantic dramedy “Celeste and Jesse Forever,” opening this weekend in Chicago. Jones’ complex performance is the best thing about a film that ultimately feels a bit too unfocused, almost as if Jones and her co-writer Will McCormack took the opportunity to use every idea they had about the art of the break-up without streamlining their concepts into something more coherent and entertaining.

Interview: Rashida Jones, Will McCormack Find ‘Celeste and Jesse Forever’

CHICAGO – Actors Rashida Jones (“Parks and Recreation”) and Will McCormack (“Dirt”) dated a long time ago and have turned their break-up into an acclaimed new romantic dramedy, “Celeste and Jesse Forever.” Don’t be fooled by its title. Jones and McCormack’s film opens with Celeste (Jones) and Jesse (Andy Samberg) at the end of their marriage.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Monica Raymund on set for 'Tanya'

    CHICAGOTV fans know Monica Raymund as paramedic Gabby Dawson on the long-running “Chicago Fire.” But the talented actor is expanding her range, debuting her first film as director, “Tanya,” at the Midwest Independent Film Festival on Tuesday, August 1st, 2017. The short film – written by Sam Forman – will be part of “Female Filmmakers Night” at the Midwest Indie, and is part of Raymund’s involvement with Hidden Tears Project, an organization dedicated to raising consciousness by creating media on gender inequality, sexual abuse and human trafficking.

  • They're Playing Our Song

    CHICAGO – During the late disco era of the 1970s, an unusual musical opened on Broadway. Essentially a two person stage play, “They’re Playing Our Song” involved a songwriter and a lyricist who develop a stronger connection than just writing partners. The always passionate Brown Paper Box Co. of Chicago has unearthed this chestnut with a bright and fun revival at the Rivendell Theatre through August 20th, 2017.

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