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Film Feature: HollywoodChicago.com Remembers Sam Shepard

CHICAGO – He was a true renaissance man, but his unassuming persona would conceal that lofty designation. Sam Shepard was a playwright, actor, author, screenwriter and director of countless important stage and screen works. Shepard died on July 27th, 2017, of complications due to Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS). He was 73.

Blu-ray Review: Criterion Treats Cult Hit ‘Repo Man’ Like Classic Film

Repo Man

CHICAGO – One of the many things I love about The Criterion Collection is the even battlefield that it creates within its own archives. A film by Alfred Hitchcock or Akira Kurosawa or Charles Chaplin can sit next to a cult hit like “Repo Man.” I grew up in the era of “Repo Man“‘s growing cult status and it’s amazing to me to see this midnight movie given the same level of respect as films widely recognized as classics. “Repo Man” is a classic in its own way and the people at Criterion recognize that. Fans of the movie, and there are MANY, will be more than satisfied.

Film Review: Arnold Schwarzenegger is Back in ‘The Last Stand’

Last Stand, The

CHICAGO – With enough hair plugs, bronzer and hormone injections to float a rejuvenation clinic, Arnold Schwarzenegger is back from his political meanderings and is an action star once again in the shoot-’em-up “The Last Stand.” Johnny Knoxville lends some comic relief.

Film Review: Strange, Beguiling Sean Penn in ‘This Must Be the Place’

CHICAGO – Sean Penn picks his roles carefully, and famously said he didn’t know what the story meant in “Tree of Life.” His attachment to “This Must Be the Place” continues the vague journey through movieland, as he plays a bizarre and aging rock star whose life is about to get interesting.

Film Review: Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell in Fun ‘Seven Psychopaths’

Seven Psychopaths
HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.5/5.0
Rating: 3.5/5.0

CHICAGO – Is there room for vengeance if you believe in Heaven and Hell? How do we suppress our need for moral and even physical justice if we believe that violence leads to damnation? Is there a chance to…oh, never mind. Let’s just blow someone’s brains out. That’s essentially how “Seven Psychopaths,” the clever new action comedy from Martin McDonagh (“In Bruges”) works in that it has a number of interesting ideas that aren’t fully developed even if the movie is fun enough to be considered a sin.

Blu-ray Review: Criterion HD Upgrade For Martin Scorsese’s ‘The Last Temptation of Christ’

The Last Temptation of Christ

CHICAGO – As audiences still catch up with the five-time Oscar-winning “Hugo” from master Martin Scorsese (released on Blu-ray last month), it might provoke a few young people to explore the filmmaker’s history. They will likely start with the widely-recognized classics like “Raging Bull,” “Taxi Driver,” and “GoodFellas,” but they will eventually get to “The Last Temptation of Christ,” recently released in an upgraded Criterion edition and re-released on DVD. The MASSIVE controversy that greeted this film on its release has somewhat clouded its prominence in movie history. This is a great film, a better one than you remember and one of Scorsese’s best.

DVD Review: Dramatic Depth of ‘Big Love: The Complete Collection’

Big Love S5

CHICAGOHBO’s “Big Love” never quite got the attention it deserved. It’s the bridge from the “Sopranos” era of HBO to the “Boardwalk Empire” and “Game of Thrones” one that we live in now and the rollercoaster of quality in terms of seasons never allowed the program to really find a groove. I’m happy it existed. And I’m even happier to own “Big Love: The Complete Series,” a volume of quality drama to which history will be very kind.

Blu-Ray Review: Johnny Depp Gets Animated in Confident ‘Rango’

Rango

CHICAGO – There’s a rare level of artistic confidence in “Rango” that we usually don’t see outside of Pixar. What I mean by that is that SO many animated flicks that I have to suffer through in a calendar year are trying to appease a marketing plan, a producer, a focus group, etc. “Rango,” while being a bit overrated by some, is undeniably unique in its vision and trying only to appease that creativity. It’s an occasionally inspired film that looks stunning in HD and is accompanied by some stellar special features.

Film Review: Johnny Depp Spins Animation Gold in Hilarious ‘Rango’

CHICAGO – When we first see the chameleon named Lars (Johnny Depp), soon to be ‘Rango,’ he is doing acting voice exercises. He is basically warming up a film that is a real hoot, and has wonderful heart.

Blu-Ray Review: John Carpenter’s Incredible ‘Escape From New York’

Escape From New York

CHICAGO – Our younger readers may find it hard to believe that John Carpenter was once one of the most inspiring filmmakers in the world. He’s still one of the truly influential voices of the ’70s and ’80s despite the tragedy that has been his career for the last couple decades. Save for the occasional flare-up (“Masters of Horror: Cigarette Burns,” “In the Mouth of Madness”), Carpenter’s work has barely resembled his prime. For proof, check out the still-amazing and timeless “Escape From New York,” now available on Blu-ray for the first time.

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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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