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Film Review: Tom Cruise in ‘American Made’ Never Gets Off the Ground

CHICAGO – Tom Cruise was once a Top Gun, but his newest film “American Made” never really takes off. It wants to be a truth-is-stranger-than-fiction kind of satire where commercial airline pilot Barry Seal (Tom Cruise) winds up getting involved in the Iran Contra Affair and the Medellín drug cartel, but it never creates an enthralling place or story.

Interview, Audio: Director Mei-Juin Chen of ‘The Gangster’s Daughter’

Mei-Juin Chen

CHICAGO – Opening Night of the fifth season of the Asian Pop-Up Cinema is Wednesday, September 20th, 2017, and the first film is a doozy. “The Gangster’s Daughter” is a different take on the popular Taiwanese mobster movie, a relationship film as much as the pure crime. At the helm is director Mei-Juin Chen, with her first narrative film.

Film Review: 'Free Fire' Knows That Happiness is a Warm Gun

Free Fire

CHICAGO – In a film that had a sassy, arbitrary perspective on its own flipped-out story, “Free Fire” sought to out-Quentin Tarantino in freaky funny characters and ammo-splurging gun battles. Director Ben Wheatley (“High-Rise”) took an ensemble cast to rarified heights of insult comedy, revenge dynamics and bullets that hit the bone.

Interview: Director Ben Wheatley Ignites His New Film ‘Free Fire’

CHICAGO – One of the more lovely examples of pure cinema – if that description can be given to a film with nearly constant gunplay – is in the upcoming release of “Free Fire.” Director Ben Wheatley (“High-Rise”) constructs a dark and funny scenario within one room, and fills it with symbolism and homage to other movies.

Film Review: ‘xXx: Return of Xander Cage’ is Action as Phantasm

CHICAGO – The true miracle of “xXx: Return of Xander Cage” – besides constantly breaking the law of physics – was making the sonorous line readings of Vin Diesel almost palatable. This over-the-top action fantastic turns up every implausibility dial to the red zone, but satisfactorily entertains.

Film Review: ‘The Purge: Anarchy’ Can’t Decide What it Wants to Be

CHICAGO – “The Purge: Anarchy” is a cake-and-eat-it film. On one hand there is a monotonous display of firepower, courtesy of a suspension of laws for one night a year, but it also wants to temper this lawlessness with indictments of government, the rich and the law itself.

Interview: Zach Gilford on the World in ‘The Purge: Anarchy’

CHICAGO – Zach Gilford is a familiar face to fans of the TV series “Friday Night Lights,” where he portrayed Matt Saracen. The actor grew up around Chicago in Evanston, Ill., and has risen through the ranks of acting in his new home of Los Angeles. He currently is featured in the sequel film, “The Purge: Anarchy.”

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • 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).

  • Wonder Woman

    CHICAGO – There are few films in 2017 that are as historically important as they are cinematically well-crafted. Of those, there is only one I saw three times in theaters. That honor comes in the form of the revolutionary “Wonder Woman,” which not only shows huge promise for the future of DC Comics films but for comic book-based films as a whole.

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