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Film Feature: HollywoodChicago.com Tackles Pro Football Films

CHICAGO – It’s the opening Sunday of the NFL, and what better time to celebrate the films that celebrate the sport that celebrate the ballers. Film history has a steroid-free stack of pro football films in all categories. Patrick McDonald, Jon Lennon Espino and Spike Walters of HollywoodChicago.com take on three prime examples.

Film Review: ‘The Gambler’ is a Sure Bet for the Holiday Weekend

CHICAGO – Gritty, funky and quote-worthy, this re-imagining of “The Gambler” – from a 1970s source film – is one of Mark Wahlberg’s best performances. His addicted-to-gaming soul has roots in other frustrations, and the actor is willing to communicate the whole range of emotions.

Blu-ray Review: Neon Brilliance of Michael Mann’s Influential ‘Thief’

Thief

Michael Mann’s “Thief” is a crime movie that’s more about the criminal than his illegal acts. It’s about a man who has been torn down to nothing who slowly puts pieces back into his life, like a love affair and a family, only to learn that he has to give all of them up for his own safety. It’s a fascinating film, stunning in its technical acumen and with stellar performances from James Caan, Tuesday Weld, and Robert Prosky (making his film debut). It’s also a great inclusion in The Criterion Collection, perfectly remastered and with some interesting interview insights.

Film Review: ‘Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2’ Wins with Foodimals, Overemphasizes Humans

CHICAGO – I was paying attention to the movie. Correction: I was mostly paying attention to the movie. It was challenging to ignore my angry, empty stomach and fully enjoy the food coma that is “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2”.

TV Review: James Caan Comes Home in ‘Back in the Game’

CHICAGO – From Archie Bunker to Frank Barone, TV has a long history of crotchety, irascible, borderline offensive fathers who really love their kids. To the long list, we can now add Terry Gannon (James Caan), the scene-stealer from ABC’s “Back in the Game,” premiering tonight, September 25, 2013 in a coveted time slot between the returns of “The Middle” and “Modern Family.”

Film Review: Adam Sandler Pulls Our Chains in ‘That’s My Boy’

CHICAGO – Adam Sandler is just freaking with us now. His goal is obviously to create the raunchiest, sociopathic and off-putting comedies of all time, and “That’s My Boy” belongs in his Hall of Fame. The A-list cast helps out, including Andy Sandberg, James Caan, Susan Sarandon and Leighton Meester.

Interview: Andy Samberg Talks Up the Funny in ‘That’s My Boy’

CHICAGO – As the chorus of “Goodbye Ruby Tuesday” signaled the recent season finale of “Saturday Night Live,” it was Kristen Wiig that said farewell to the show, but not before a lingering twirl from Andy Samberg, who just announced his own departure. The next phase for Samberg begins with a co-starring role beside Adam Sandler, in the film “That’s My Boy.”

Theater Review: Evocative ‘For the Boys’ Must Blend Disconnected Song With Rich Story

CHICAGO – Musical theater takes on the burden or blessing of twice the challenge as songless theater. To earn widespread acclaim and timeless durability, a show will seamlessly balance song and story in perfect harmony. The two living, breathing creatures must symbiotically advance each other. If one’s stronger, one suffocates the other and both die.

Film Review: Keanu Reeves Sleepwalks Through ‘Henry’s Crime’

Henry's Crime 2.jpg

CHICAGO – Keanu Reeves is the sort of actor who succeeds in spite of himself. His best work remains in the late ’80s and early ’90s, when he specialized in playing hazy-brained man-children, the best of which may have been Tod Higgins, the goofy race car driver in Ron Howard’s timeless 1989 comedy, “Parenthood.” Reeves transcended the silliness of his character with a performance of disarming warmth.

Blu-Ray Review: ‘Middle Men’ Offers Slick, Hollow Entertainment

Middle Men Blu-Ray

CHICAGO – “Middle Men” marks somewhat of a comeback for director George Gallo, since his recent career has been marred by a series of poorly received comedies. As a writer, Gallo’s films can be as great as “Midnight Run,” and as awful as “The Whole Ten Yards.” “Men” appropriately falls somewhere in the middle, though it’s easily Gallo’s most entertaining film in years.

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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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