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Slideshow: Jon Favreau, Robert Downey Jr. Featured at 2019 Gene Siskel Film Center Gala

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Jon Favreau, recipent of the Siskel Center Renaissance Award.

CHICAGO – The annual Gene Siskel Film Center Gala – benefitting the cinema jewel of Chicago’s State Street – took place on June 15th, 2019, and packed some serious super heroism. Each year, the Center honors a special guest with their Renaissance Award, and the 2019 honor went to Jon Favreau. To interview the actor/director at the event was Robert Downey Jr., who just anchored Marvel Studios “Avengers: Endgame,” portraying Tony Stark/Iron Man.

Podtalk: Director Miranda Bailey Feature Film Debut is ‘Being Frank’

Miranda Bailey of 'Being Frank'

CHICAGO – Miranda Bailey has a proven track record as a film producer of big title independent films, and has worked as a writer and actor. She has now conquered the creative side, as she makes her debut as a feature film director with “Being Frank.” The film features comedian Jim Gaffigan in the title role, and also features Anna Gunn, Samantha Mathis and Alex Karpovsky.

Film Review: Less Black Magic, More Black Mirror Succeeds in 'Child's Play'

CHICAGO – There are some fears in this world that seem irrational to us. Like a fear of clowns or the fear of using an elevator. Horror films are at the core of some of these fears, with the truly great ones creating new things to fear. The “Child’s Play” franchise may have had its roots in psychopathic soul transfers, but the update focuses on the ghost in the machine.

Podtalk: Comedian Jim Gaffigan on His New Film ‘Being Frank’

CHICAGO – Comedian Jim Gaffigan is one of the funniest persons on earth, basically by being himself (Score!). In the last five years, he has been immersing himself into the waters of character acting in the movies, doing some serious supporting roles in films like “Chuck” and “Chappaquiddick.”

Film News: Jakob Dylan to Appear in Chicago for ‘Echo in the Canyon’ on June 21, 2019

Echo in the Canyon 2

CHICAGO – Rock royalty is coming to town, both in the presence of Jakob Dylan (The Wallflowers) and in a new documentary where Dylan explores the roots of the California rock sound of the 1960s, entitled “Echo in the Canyon” (many of the rockers back then lived in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Laurel Canyon). Director Andrew Slater will join Dylan for the film perspective, and Dylan will perform after the screening, taking place on June 21st, 2019, at the historic Music Box Theatre. For more information and tickets, click here.

Podtalk: Director Gigi Saul Guerrero Previews ‘Culture Shock’ at Cinepocalypse Film Fest

Culture Shock

CHICAGO – She calls her style of grindhouse and gore films “Tex Mex,” and you won’t find a better femme fatale producing a better debut film in that genre. Director Gigi Saul Guerrero gave Chicago audiences a sneak preview – at the Cinepocalypse Film Festival at the Music Box Theatre – of her debut “Culture Shock,” which will premiere for Hulu on July 4th, 2019, part of their “Into the Dark” series of horror films through Blumhouse Television.

Film News: Closing Night of 2019 Cinepocalypse in Chicago is ‘Airheads’ on June 20, 2019

Airheads

CHICAGO – Has it been a week already? Has it been 25 years already? The 2019 Cinepocalypse Film Festival is drawing to a close with the film “Airheads” (1994), celebrating its 25th Anniversary. The All-Star cast, in their younger days, includes Brendan Frasier, Steve Buscemi, Adam Sandler, Chris Farley, Joe Mantegna and Judd Nelson. Director Michael Lehmann (“Heathers”) will appear on behalf of the film at the historic Music Box Theatre in Chicago, with a Closing Night after party to follow. For more information and tickets, click here.

Film Review: Another Winner from the Creative Team of ‘Toy Story 4’

CHICAGO – When you’ve brought to life one of the greatest animation series ever produced, there is not much to prove. The “Toy Story” series has relied on the strong and emotional stories since 1995, and after a nine year break comes back for one more intriguing spin for their characters, finding a new path in “Toy Story 4.”

Film Review: 'The Dead Don't Die' Offers Full-On Horror Homage But Little Else

dead don't die

CHICAGO – Before Jordan Peele, before Mike Flanagan, before James Wan, and especially before all of Blumhouse, there were other masters of horror who paved the way for the filmmakers we know today. The Carpenters, the Cravens, and the Argentos of the world helped turn horror into the thriving genre it is today. Jim Jarmusch’s “The Dead Don’t Die” openly acknowledges this with their love letter approach to the genre itself.

Podtalk: Singer NORAA is Ready to Break Through in the USA

CHICAGO – One the most exciting moments in the culture of music is the anticipated new talent sensation. Warner Music Group’s Elektra France recently discovered a German-born singer known as NORAA – who was supplementing her music career by working as a school teacher – and took her out of the classroom and into the recording studio. She has already made in-roads in her native European scene, and now is poised to conquer the USA. Her first single, “Lie to Me,” was released in April, and is already made its way to radio station and streaming playlists in Europe and America.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Grace, Or the Art of Climbing

    CHICAGO – What is life but a constant climb? The Brown Paper Box Co., one of the most vital storefront theater groups in Chicago, asks that question and more in the significant “Grace, Or the Art of Climbing.” Using a woman’s journey through some difficult situations, the parallels of “the climb” become a artfully performed story that is all inspiration and uplift. The play runs through July 7th, 2019, at Stage 773 in the Belmont Avenue Theater District in Chicago. For more information and tickets, click here.

  • Elizabeth Laidlaw

    CHICAGO – The recent limited series “The Red Line” on CBS-TV was notable for a couple elements – it was set in Chicago and it featured Chicago actors in major roles. Creators Caitlin Parrish and Erica Weiss (from here), cast their Chi-town colleague Elizabeth Laidlaw, who portrayed police officer “Vic” Renna.

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