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Film Review: History by Rote in Formulaic ‘Victoria and Abdul’

CHICAGO – There have been 155 TV/Movie depictions of Queen Victoria, who ruled England from 1837 to 1901. The “Victorian Era” continues to fascinate filmmakers, and who is perfect to portray Queen V. towards the end of her life? Get me Dame Judi Dench on the Skype!

Film Review: ‘Lion’ Can’t Quite Tame Audience’s Hearts

CHICAGO – “Lion” is the kind of inspirational-triumph-over-insurmountable-odds and adversity stories that’s bound to appeal to grandmothers and Academy voters, and it does offer plenty of material to tug at the heartstrings. But it’s a movie that only gets the job half done, and unfortunately loses its way once Nicole Kidman comes into the picture.

Interview: Director Raza Siddiqui on ‘We Could Happen,’ Premiering on May 17, 2016

We Could Happen - Raza Siddiqui

CHICAGO – Raza Siddiqui is a “can do” director, who not only continues his own proficiency in filmmaking, but supports all Chicago films by presenting and participating in local film showcases. He has completed his first feature film – “We Could Happen” – and it will have its premiere on May 17th, 2016, at the Landmark Century Centre Cinema in Chicago. For details, click here.

Film News: Chicago Filmmaker Prashant Bhargava of ‘Patang’ Dies at 42

Prashant Bhargava

NEW YORK – He was a Chicago-born director who explored his culture with a delicacy and poignancy that set his debut feature film “Patang” apart from any other experience, and within that art he sought to understand the world beyond his American birthplace. Prashant Bhargava passed away suddenly in New York City on May 16th, 2015, of undisclosed causes. He was 42 years old.

Film Review: ‘Million Dollar Arm’ Misses the Strike Zone

CHICAGO – “Million Dollar Arm” harkens back to a period of shameless family friendly schmaltz that used to play to families in theaters and then run in perpetuity on “The Wonderful World Of Disney” on television. But this treacly baseball drama throws nothing but balls.

Interview: Actress Fawzia Mirza Reflects on the Stage Play ‘Brahman/i’

Fawzia Mirza

CHICAGO – The world is full of living components that express the similarities in our differences, and actress Fawzia Mirza is the embodiment of us all coming together. The self described South-Asian-Muslim-American woman has been a force on the Chicago acting scene for years, and recently broke out with a role in the high profile stage play “Brahman/i,” by Aditi Brennan Kapil, which premiered in Chicago on March 27th. The play was recently extended to May 4th.

Film Review: Frieda Pinto Takes a Sad, Tragic Journey in ‘Trishna’

Trishna

CHICAGO – Transitions are one of the juiciest themes to have in a film, as a character or circumstance takes a path from one way-of-life to another. Director Michael Winterbottom has created “Trishna,” a story based on a 19th Century British novel, but woven into the present day India. Frieda Pinto (“Slumdog Millionaire”) stars as the title character.

Interview: Director Prashant Bhargava of ‘Patang’ at Chicago International Film Festival

CIFF logo 2011

CHICAGO – Going back to his roots is what director Prashant Bhargava accomplished with his new film “Patang.” The starkly beautiful, highly symbolic film centers on one of India’s largest kite festivals in the old city of Ahmedabad. The film centers on family and the clash of new and old traditions.

‘Good Hair’ Has Chris Rock Getting to the Roots of Follicle Follies

Chris Rock of "Good Hair"

CHICAGO – Positioning himself as a informational bridge-builder, comedian Chris Rock explores the often complex social economics of African American hair, specifically the intense styling that is a borderline obsession for women of color.

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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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