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Interview: Norman Lear of ‘Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You’

CHICAGO – Norman Lear is one of the greatest TV creators of the 20th Century, and beyond. The producer was a titan of 1970s television, with shows like “All in the Family,” “Good Times,” “Maude” and “Sanford and Son.” He is the topic of a new film documentary, “Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You.”

Film Review: Approach of ‘Money Monster’ is Pure Fraud

CHICAGO – In our society there is one eternal truth…the rich will ALWAYS win, that’s one of the reasons that they are rich. So when “Money Monster” attempts to take them down a peg with a ridiculous fantasy story, it’s as fraudulent as what they think they’re bringing down. An oligarch watches this, and laughs at us.

Film Review: ‘The First Monday in May’ Confirms That Life is Beautiful

CHICAGO – The moral of the story of “The First Monday in May” definitely is “there is heaven on earth if the right angels come together.” The film is stunningly beautiful, as it chronicles the development of the annual costume exhibit and gala at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Film Review: ‘Hail, Caesar!’ is Coen Bros. Excellence for Movie Lovers

CHICAGO – Writer/directors Joel and Ethan Coen love the movies, and that love is magnificently played out in “Hail, Caesar!” As they riff on religion, geopolitics and 1950s morality, while wonderfully celebrating and spoofing an era in movies that will never be again, the Coens abide and deliver.

Film Review: Awe Factor is Sorely Lacking in ‘Tomorrowland’

CHICAGO – For a movie all about the awesome power of inspiration, innovation and wonder, “Tomorrowland” has precious little of its own. “Tomorrowland” the title promises a kind of retro futuristic world where anything is possible, but “Tomorrowland” the movie rarely delivers anything approximating joy.

Entertainment News: Best-Picture ‘Boyhood,’ TV’s ‘Transparent’ Are Golden Globe Winners

Golden Globes, 2015

CHICAGO – The best of 2014 in film and TV was celebrated at the 72nd Golden Globe Awards on January 11th, 2015. Co-hosted by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, the first big and splashy awards ceremony of the season honored the films “Boyhood” (Drama) and “The Grand Budapest Hotel (Comedy), plus continued to recognize the current influence of online TV series by awarding honors to “Transparent” (Amazon Prime) and its lead actor, Jeffrey Tambor.

TV Review: Premiere of ‘From Dusk Till Dawn’ Lacks Originality

From Dusk Till Dawn

CHICAGO – It’s been a year of updatings that has seen venerable characters like Norman Bates and Hannibal Lecter solidly re-envisioned by the small screen. So how fare the Gecko Brothers? Not all that great sadly. This overly slick redux of the fantastic film “From Dusk Till Dawn” (1997) not only suffers from pretty people syndrome but borrows so heavily from the original film that it feels less like homage and reboot than redress and reshoot.

Blu-ray Review: ‘Gravity’ is Elegant, Nail Biting at the Same Time

gravityblucov.jpg

CHICAGO – Some films fundamentally change what you expect from cinema. “Star Wars” (1977), “Jurassic Park” (1996), “Avatar” (2007) all pushed those boundaries. In my first of a whopping eight theatrical viewings of “Jurassic Park” for instance I never once felt the illusion of watching real dinosaurs was interrupted by suddenly realizing how ‘they did it’ I was simply watching real dinosaurs.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Kid Thing, The

    CHICAGO – Like the awesome Engine Who Could, the mighty Nothing Without a Company stage crafters have constructed another triumph at their new home in Berger Mansion on Chicago’s north side. “The Kid Thing” – written by Sarah Gubbins – is a terse, convincing and emotional play about fear, identity and breeding, and it is performed by its cast of five with utter authenticity. The show has a Thursday-Sunday run at the Berger North Mansion through April 15th, 2017. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

  • Wiz, The

    CHICAGO – When stage theater can cause outbreaks of elation, celebration and joy, then it must be due to Kokandy Productions’ revival of “The Wiz.” The urban reinterpretation of “The Wizard of Oz” story – told through tuneful euphoria and jubilant dance – is ecstatically produced, in every morsel of its stagecraft.

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