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Gael Garcia Bernal

Film Review: Visual Excellence Aside, ‘Coco’ is Just So-So

CHICAGO – “Coco” bears all the visual hallmarks of the Pixar Studio at its best, however its story bears the more recent symptoms of creative exhaustion. In this story, a young boy named Miguel (voice of Anthony Gonzalez) aims to follow his heart and pursue music, but toe tapping tunes have been strictly forbidden in his home.

Film Review: ‘Neruda’ Turns the Biography Film Into Fine Art

CHICAGO – “In me nothing is extinguished or forgotten…” is a single line from a poem by Pablo Neruda (“If You Forget Me”), and succinctly describes the film tribute to him, written by Neruda’s fellow Chilean countryman Guillermo Calderón, and directed with grace by another Chilean, Pablo Larrain.

Interview: The Story of Maziar Bahari in Jon Stewart’s ‘Rosewater’

CHICAGO – Journalists are under fire, both in the hot zones of the world’s conflicts, and within the economics of the shrinking news business. One journalist – Maziar Bahari – became part of the drama in the 2009 Iranian presidential elections, and that story is told in writer/director Jon Stewart’s new film, “Rosewater.”

Blu-ray Review: Oscar-Nominated ‘No’ Demands Your Attention

No Film Review

CHICAGO – Rarely have two letters wielded more power than in Pablo Larrain’s excellent “No,” a 2013 nominee for Best Foreign Language Film and recently released on Blu-ray. Starring Gael Garcia Bernal, “No” tells the true story of how arrogance and advertising collided in Chile in 1988 to help depose a ruthless dictator. It’s a very strong drama with yet another great performance from Bernal.

DVD Review: Tedium Overtakes Journey of ‘The Loneliest Planet’

The Loneliest Planet

CHICAGO – “The Loneliest Planet,” recently released on DVD, will try even the most patient and adoring of art movie lovers as its deliberate, plodding pace pushes out all possibilities of character involvement. To be blunt, by the time I felt like I was asked to care, it was too late. There’s some stunning cinematography and Gael Garcia Bernal is simply one of the most interesting actors of his generation but this effort is dull to the nth degree.

Film Review: Taut, Witty ‘No’ Celebrates Unorthodox Marketing of Freedom

No Film Review

CHICAGO – The controversy swirling around Pablo Larraín’s Oscar-nominee “No” is typical of the outrage garnered by many a historical drama. Since the film focuses solely on one crucial segment of the activism that ousted Chilean dictator Pinochet during the 1988 plebiscite, some viewers will complain that not every hero in the tale is represented. Of course, that’s what encyclopedias are for.

Blu-ray Review: Extended One-Joke of ‘Casa de mi Padre’ Gets Old Fast

Casa de mi Padre

CHICAGO – You have to admire the commitment to a goofy concept that allowed “Casa de mi Padre” to exist in the first place. The idea that Will Ferrell would star in a Spanish-language film about drug dealers and land control in Mexico and that the result would not only be subtitled but often remarkably straight-faced in its melodrama is conceptually hilarious. The actual product? Not quite as funny.

Film Review: Kate Hudson Reveals Hell in ‘A Little Bit of Heaven’

CHICAGO – Kate Hudson portrays a dying woman in “A Little Bit of Heaven,” and the film is so annoying that her extinguishment can’t come fast enough. The film insults both living and dying, and virtually everything in between, and brings along Lucy Punch, Kathy Bates, Gael Garciá Bernal, Peter Dinklage and Whoopi Goldberg for the funeral.

Film Review: Will Ferrell Experiments with Surreal ‘Casa de mi Padre’

CHICAGO – Will Ferrell can never be accused of sitting on his comic laurels, nor repeating himself. “Casa de mi Padre” is a complete set-in-Mexico Spanish language film, including Ferrell’s dialogue. Although uneven, it delivers such a peculiar vibe that it can’t help but be admired, at least for the effort.

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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 10th, 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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