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Film News: ‘Animals’ is Top Film at ‘Best of the Midwest’ Awards Night

Best of the Midwest 2014

CHICAGO – On Tuesday, December 2nd, the Midwest Independent Film Festival gave out their 2014 “Best of the Midwest” awards with a ceremony at The Underground Nightclub in Chicago. Sweeping Best Actor, Director and Feature Film was the Collin Schiffli-directed “Animals,” starring and written by David Dastmalchian.

Film News: Midwest Independent Film Festival to Honor 2014 Films on Dec. 2

Best of the Midwest 2014

CHICAGO – On Tuesday, December 2nd, the Midwest Independent Film Festival will award their 2014 “Best of the Midwest” honors with a ceremony at The Underground Nightclub in Chicago. The evening will be hosted by Festival Director Mike McNamara, and nominees include “Animals” – directed by Collin Schiffli, “The Starfish Throwers” – directed by Jesse Roesler and “Happy Christmas” – directed by Joe Swanberg.

DVD Review: Lo-Fi Anna Kendrick Dramedy ‘Happy Christmas’ Comes to DVD

Happy Christmas

CHICAGO – “Drinking Buddies” director Joe Swanberg’s latest release of the same star wattage is “Happy Christmas,” an even lower-fi story than the Olivia Wilde beer comedy, steered even more by the casting that it was able to assemble. However, with this movie Swanberg doesn’t so much worry about having a story that could be confused with a more mainstream romantic comedy if it were to have a bigger budget.

Film Review: ‘Happy Christmas’ is Au Naturale for Good or for Bland

Happy Christmas

CHICAGO – One thing that struck me about writer/director Joe Swanberg’s previous “Drinking Buddies,” and made it one of my more celebrated from 2013 despite not really loving it as a film, was its importance to those good ol’ independent movies. Here were big flashy stars like Olivia Wilde and Anna Kendrick, not just acting in a movie of a lower budget, but creating a wider appeal out of a previously very niche aspect, without the film form itself changing much.

Film News: Ry Russo-Young, Frank V. Ross Chat with Indie Outlook

Tiger Tail in Blue at Siskel

CHICAGO – New York filmmaker Ry Russo-Young gave an exclusive interview to Indie Outlook, the independent film blog and podcast created by HollywoodChicago.com writer Matt Fagerholm. The conversation, published this week, details Russo-Young’s fascinating work, from her experimental shorts to her star-studded feature, “Nobody Walks,” which she co-wrote with “Girls” creator Lena Dunham.

TV Review: Lena Dunham’s Brilliant ‘Girls’ Takes Second Season Risks

CHICAGO – We live in a world that’s so dependent on the new that it’s difficult for as headline-grabbing a program as HBO’s “Girls” to follow up a first season that landed it multiple nominations and year-end citations. What does Lena Dunham do next?

Blu-ray Review: Great Set For HBO’s ‘Girls,’ Best New Show of 2012

Girls

CHICAGOHBO’s “Girls” was the best new show of 2012 and one of the best shows, period, new or old. Knowing they have a growing cultural phenomenon on their hands (more people seem to be talking about January’s upcoming season two premiere than any sophomore season that I can ever remember), HBO has given fans of the show a gift, a season set with multiple ways to watch the program along with stellar special features. It’s a great way to use the gift card money you may have acquired from Santa this week.

Film Review: Judd Apatow’s ‘This is 40’ Clutters Truth with Cliché

CHICAGO – Judd Apatow’s “This is 40” is a true disappointment, a comedy that purports to say something honest and insightful about approaching middle age in the ‘10s but blurs truth by smothering it in contrivance and cliché.

Film Review: Beguiling Ensemble Nearly Salvages Frustrating ‘Nobody Walks’

Nobody Walks Film Review

CHICAGO – From the very beginning of her screen career, Olivia Thirlby has specialized in playing youthful seductresses intent on jump-starting their male partners’ sexual coming-of-age. She exuded megawatt allure in everything from David Gordon Green’s “George Washington” to Brett Ratner’s memorable segment in “New York, I Love You.”

TV Review: Lena Dunham’s ‘Girls’ is Next Great HBO Comedy

CHICAGO – Lena Dunham’s brilliant new HBO series is called “Girls” and not “Women” for a very distinct reason. She’s capturing a rarely-chronicled aspect of the iGeneration, that period where we are definitely not children but also not yet quite adults. And there’s something about the current wave of recession era twentysomethings that’s particularly unique.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Positively Present: An Uplifting Cabaret

    CHICAGO – When faced with adversity, the best way around it is to somehow break into song. That is the feeling behind the Brown Paper Box Co.’s “Positively Present: An Uplifting Cabaret,” running April 7th and 8th at Mary’s Attic in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood. The event features company member Kristi Szczepanek as host, and presents song stylings by other company members, including Anna Schutz, plus some special guests. For details and ticket information, click here.

  • Kid Thing, The

    CHICAGO – Like the awesome Engine Who Could, the mighty Nothing Without a Company stage crafters have constructed another triumph at their new home in Berger Mansion on Chicago’s north side. “The Kid Thing” – written by Sarah Gubbins – is a terse, convincing and emotional play about fear, identity and breeding, and it is performed by its cast of five with utter authenticity. The show has a Thursday-Sunday run at the Berger North Mansion through April 15th, 2017. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

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