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Idris Elba

Film Review: Aaron Sorkin’s Directorial Debut in ‘Molly’s Game’

CHICAGO – High stakes poker are for folks who prefer to get their rush of adrenalin from the turn of a card rather than other life risks. The positives, the negatives and everything in between are in “Molly’s Game,” the feature directorial debut of Aaron Sorkin (“The West Wing” creator). Let’s walk and talk.

Film Review: ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ Shatters the Hammer, But Maintains the Mold

CHICAGO – Any blacksmith will tell you that their job is much more than the brute action of slamming a hammer onto steel. There is some finessing and an attention to detail that needs to take place in order to make something truly notable. With Taika Waititi manning the hammer, he takes the “Thor” franchise out from the Dark Ages and into the technicolor light.

Film Review: Good vs. Evil Brightly Entertaining in ‘The Dark Tower’

CHICAGO – Nobody does good vs. evil archetypes like author Stephen King, and this framework is purposeful in the film adaptation of King’s “The Dark Tower.” The popular book series gets a visual kick through the rendering of director Nikolaj Arcel and Ron Howard’s Imagine Entertainment.

Film Review: ‘Star Trek Beyond’ is a Blast of Starship Adventure

CHICAGO – In the equation of the Star Trek universe, what works best is the emotional connection to the iconic crew. Co-screenwriter Simon Pegg – also portraying Scotty – knew this, and saved the rebooted series from its bloated second film. A magnificent adventure awaits with ‘Star Trek Beyond.’

Film Review: ‘Finding Dory’ Essentially Finds Its Sweet Spot

CHICAGO – Pixar’s sequel to its underwater animated tearjerker “Finding Nemo” isn’t quite in the same league, but “Finding Dory” is satisfying all the same. This time the story focuses on Marlin and Nemo’s forgetful friend Dory, as she searches for the family she can’t quite remember.

Film Review: ‘The Jungle Book’ is a Technical Marvel Missing Some Magic

CHICAGO – While Disney Studios’ new live action version of “The Jungle Book” is an improvement over the 1967 animated version, it’s more of a technical marvel than magical fable. And it’s unable to completely transcend the earlier version’s limitations.

Film Review: ‘Zootopia’ is an Odd But Endearing Disney Animated Film

CHICAGO – Walt Disney Studio’s latest animated extravaganza is best viewed as a child’s introduction to the buddy cop movie, since you can’t exactly start a toddler on “Midnight Run” or “Lethal Weapon 2.” But in this case it’s a bunny cop movie.

Film Review: Lack of Cohesiveness, Intrigue Stymies ‘The Gunman’

CHICAGO – If you’re going to see a Sean Penn action movie, I guess “The Gunman” would be appropriate. As he and the filmmakers inject some reality in the usual motivations, the puzzle pieces don’t connect well and in the end are not that interesting. That is not to say that the film is bad.

Interview: Director Pierre Morel on Sean Penn, Liam Neeson & His Latest ‘The Gunman’

Pierre Morel of 'The Gunman,' photo by Patrick McDonald

CHICAGO – There were basically two careers for Pierre Morel, before he directed the mega-hit “Taken,” starring Liam Neeson, and afterward. The French-born cinematographer, camera operator and now director is releasing “The Gunman,” an action film that stars Sean Penn. Like “Taken,” the motivations for the action are based in the real world, and “The Gunman” travels to Africa, London and Barcelona on his way to redeeming his soul.

Film Review: Legacy Matters in ‘Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom’

CHICAGO – The memory of South Africa freedom fighter Nelson Mandela, who passed away on December 5th, is filled with deserved accolades and iconography. Director Justin Chadwick and actor Idris Elba brings the man to human life in the essential “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.”

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  • Stephanie Buxbaum

    CHICAGO – In the history of “Reality TV” there has been periods of up-and-down popularity, shows that have been around seemingly forever (“Big Brother,” “Amazing Race”) and spinoffs to new styles like “documentary series” as networks like the National Geographic Channel emerged. In all those permutations, producer Stephanie Buxbaum has experienced it all, and has the career and stories to prove it.

  • Deadbeat2

    CHICAGO – Not many web series start out as music videos, but the new online (YouTube) drama “Deadbeat 2” was just that. Created, written and directed by Danny Froze, the made-in-Chicago story recently premiered episodes five and six in the series, which features actor Kiwaun Stoutmire in the lead role of Ronnie.

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