Jon Espino

Feature: HollywoodChicago.com’s Overrated & Worst Films of 2018

CHICAGO – It’s easy to bohemian rhapsodize about the best films in any particular year… it’s why we go to the movies. But what about those times when 1) everybody loves something, and you think, “huh?” or 2) the film is just plain “the worst”? Jon Lennon Espino, Spike Walters and Patrick McDonald of HollywoodChicago.com can relate.

Film Feature: HollywoodChicago.com Remembers Penny Marshall

Penny Marshall, photo by Joe Arce

CHICAGO – Penny Marshall was somewhat of an enigma, and admittedly not comfortable in the spotlight. The 1970s sitcom legend who evolved into a top American film director never seemed quite sure of her legacy, but she left behind a superior body of work that defined her as a filmmaker. Ms. Marshall died from complications due to diabetes on December 17th, 2018, at the age of 75.

Film Review: A Hilarious Combination of Crass and Class in ‘The Favourite’

CHICAGO – Looking through auteur Yorgos Lanthimos’ filmography, you’ll recognize a style that combines both visual beauty and narrative absurdism. The Lanthimos effect, or Lanthimo-nium as I like to call it, elevates any piece of work to such a high degree that often times the meanings go over our heads. In his most mainstream effort to date, “The Favourite” will likely become your favorite of his works.

Film Review: 'Ralph Breaks the Internet' is a Bittersweet Heart-breaker

CHICAGO – The internet we know today is a fairly young invention full of some of the greatest conveniences known to man, but also some of the greatest distractions and nuisances currently in our lives. “Ralph Breaks the Internet” embodies just that, and while it doesn’t quite reach the high score of its predecessor, the maturity and wisdom displayed in it more than makes up for it.

Podtalk: Writer/Director Sean Anders Fosters Genuine Emotions and Comedy in 'Instant Family'

CHICAGO - We have all seen and heard second-hand stories about adoption and the foster care system, but its hard to know exactly what to believe. In writer/director Sean Anders latest film, “Instant Family”, he takes a look but through a more personal lens as his basis the film off of his experiences.

Film Review: ‘Boy Erased’ Thrives On Empathy, Lacks Overall Conviction

CHICAGO – America is facing a confusing time of crisis, again. There are giant groups of people who are ready to hate other people for biological traits that can’t—and don’t need to—be changed, like skin color, sexual orientation, and race. “Boy Erased” adds to the national dialogue by showing the devastating effects this type of mentality can have inside our own families, and how to prevent it.

Film Review: ‘The Nutcracker and the Four Realms’ is Beautiful, But Broken

CHICAGO – Film has always felt like a much more accessible way to get cultured than, say, going to watch a play or opera. Watching a foreign film can educate you about the world and history as well as any play. “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” promised that kind of experience, but your time is better served catching the actual ballet at a local theater instead.

Film Feature: HollywoodChicago.com Remembers Burt Reynolds

CHICAGO – The Bandit. Gator. The Man Who Loved Women. Jack Horner. Burt Reynolds played all these roles, in a roller coaster career that encompassed three eras of film and television. Reynolds died last month at age 82, taking with him a different breed of movie star, one that stole a scene with a self assured wink, mischievous smile and high pitched laugh.

Film Review: Spreading Comic Book Fatigue to Everyone, ‘Venom’ Poisons the Well

CHICAGO – I was one of the last sentinels; a conscientious objector in the war against comic book films. The handful of these that come out yearly had yet to weigh heavy on my film soul, especially when so many of the newer ones creating unique experiences, like “Deadpool” and “Thor: Ragnarok”.

Film Feature: HollywoodChicago.com Remembers Neil Simon

CHICAGO – Writer Neil Simon was an American treasure, and created humor that anchored his often neurotic characters into our consciousness. From his early days in 1950s TV (“Your Show of Shows”) to winning a 1990s Pulitzer Prize for “Lost in Yonkers,” he refined and produced “the laugh.” Simon died on August 26th, 2018, at age 91, in New York City.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Little Women: The Musical

    CHICAGO – The story of “Little Women,” by Louisa May Alcott, has been an American institution since its publication in 1869. The story of four girls-to-little-women during the American Civil War, with their indomitable mother holding down the household while their father is away in the war, was a perfect candidate to become a Broadway musical. The Brown Paper Box Co. (BPBCo) is currently presenting a brilliant adaptation of that musical for the storefront stage, and its emotion, music craft and energy is nothing sort of a triumph… this small theater company that could does it again. The show has various evening/matinee performances at the The Strawdog Theatre in Chicago through February 9th, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

  • 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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