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Exclusive Photo: Happy Birthday to Movie & TV Icon Joan Collins

Joan Collins, portrait by Joe Arce

CHICAGO – The ageless Joan Collins is probably best known for the prime time soap opera “Dynasty,” which ran from 1981 to 1989, but she is also a throwback to the last of the old studio system in Hollywood, when she was signed to a contract with 20th Century Fox in 1955. For her latest act, she will appear in the upcoming eighth season of FX Channel’s “American Horror Story.” Her birthday, May 23rd, is today.

Film Review: Strange Story of ‘Disobedience’ is Constant Distraction

CHICAGO – The director Sebastían Lelio is no stranger to oddball human stories. His 2017 film, “A Fantastic Woman” – the Oscar winner for Best Foreign Language Film – was a one-of-a-kind but amazingly poignant story of identity. His latest, “Disobedience,” mines the same human territory with lesser results.

Podtalk: Megan Marie Connolly on ‘Straight 8 Says Hello Chicago!’ on Jan. 26, 2018

Straight 8 Says Hello to Chicago!

CHICAGO – A very unique film event will take place on Friday, January 26th, 2018. The “Straight 8 Says Hello Chicago!” presentation is designed to introduce Chicago filmmakers and other interested participants to the Straight 8 film competition. The program will be an exhibition of films from that global contest, including one (“Bedhead”) from Chicagoan Megan Marie Connolly, who went to London as a finalist. Connolly is producing “Straight 8 Says Hello Chicago!” with Eliaz Rodriguez, in association with Straight 8 and IFP Chicago.

Film Review: ‘Phantom Thread’ is Both Beautiful and Muddled

CHICAGO – There is a certain beauty in human creation, and the fashion industry allows that we can be individual in the sense of our clothing choices. The perfection that those creators attend to is nicely defined in “Phantom Thread,” but as an exploration of their personal life, it is frustrating.

Film Review: Un-Buddy-Like Violence in ‘The Hitman’s Bodyguard’

CHICAGO – One day I would like to meet a professional assassin. Are they as quippy and biblical as Samuel L. Jackson? This tired movie occupation is trotted out again, this time pairing Jackson with Ryan Reynolds, in an overwrought and ultra-violent buddy comedy, “The Hitman’s Bodyguard.”

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.

Exclusive Portrait: Birthday Photo of Olympic Gold Medalist Gabby Douglas

Gabby Douglas, photo by Joe Arce.

CHICAGO – Happy 18th Birthday to Gabrielle “Gabby” Douglas, who made history at the 2012 London Olympic Games by becoming the first U.S. Olympian to win gold in both the individual and team competitions at the same Olympics, and the first African American U.S. gymnast to become individual all-around champion.

Film Review: ‘Closed Circuit’ is a Tense Reminder of Our Times

CHICAGO – The threat of terrorist acts defies security. That is a fundamental truth. With 7 billion people on the planet – and an infinite number of motivations within them – all the security cameras, techniques and agencies cannot stop a determined group or individual, as depicted in “Closed Circuit.”

Film Review: Romantic Coupling of ‘One Day’ Rises Above Average

CHICAGO – In the sure hands of director Lone Scherfig, the underrated film “An Education” brought Carey Mulligan to full light. Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess generate similar radiance in Scherfig’s new film, “One Day.”

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