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Michael Pena

Film Review: There is Little Beauty to Be Found in ‘Collateral Beauty’

CHICAGO – Charles Dickens once said, “Reflect upon your present blessings — of which every man has many — not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” Seeing the trailer for “Collateral Beauty,” it’s obvious this is the theme of the film, but it is also the theme of this review. My “blessing” to you is the foresight not to waste your time with this film.

Slideshow: Exclusive Portraits from 2016 Chicago Critics Film Festival

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Michael Peña of ‘War on Everyone’ and ‘Ant-Man.’

CHICAGO – That’s a wrap! After seven days of fantastic films and packed houses, the 4th Annual Chicago Critics Film Festival (CCFF) had their closing night on May 26th, 2016, with the film “Operator” – featuring Martin Starr (“Silicon Valley”), and directed by Logan Kibens. HollywoodChicago.com was at the event for all the celebrity appearances, and photographer Joe Arce got these Exclusive Portraits.

Interviews: Michael Peña, Craig Robinson & Ira Sachs at 2016 Chicago Critics Film Festival

CHICAGO – The Chicago Critics Film Festival (CCFF) keeps rolling, and it’s a blockbuster so far. Actors Michael Peña and Craig Robinson, along with director Ira Sachs, made appearances on behalf of their films “War on Everything,” “Morris from America” and “Little Men.” The festival runs through May 26th, 2016.

Film Review: Entertaining ‘The Martian’ is a Hollywood Space Opera

CHICAGO – It’s all based on science, they told us! “The Martian” is an old fashion feel-good movie about the hard working astronauts and scientists of the good old American space program, trying to rescue a stranded spaceman from Mars, aided by a brave cast of astro-colleagues.

Film Review: Tartan Prancer – Yes, a Fictional Albanian Car – Steals the Otherwise Borrowed Show in ‘Vacation’

CHICAGO – Retreads from classics are often as weary as having to write that they are almost never as good as the original. And here we go again with the Ed Helms-led “Vacation,” which fails to capitalize on the beloved Chevy Chase film “National Lampoon’s Vacation” from 1983.

Film Review: A Perfect Paul Rudd, Michael Peña Bring Often-Overlooked Humor to ‘Ant-Man’

CHICAGO – In 1989, Rick Moranis played a scientist father in “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” who accidentally shrinks kids to the size of insects. But dating back to a first appearance in 1962, Marvel Comics first published the Ant-Man character. His persona was the superhero alias of the scientist Hank Pym after inventing a substance that allowed him to shrink himself.

Film Review: World War II Drama ‘Fury’ Fires on All Cylinders

Fury

CHICAGO – “Fury” just might be Brad Pitt’s “Saving Private Ryan.” At its heart it’s a crowd pleaser, but it never shies away from the sheer brutality of war. While it doesn’t have anything quite so devastating as “Saving Private Ryan’s” D-day sequence, it depicts the everyday horrors of killing the enemy and the men who must force themselves to make their peace with the casualties that pile up in the muck. “Fury” is equally successful in its battle sequences and in its smaller moments among its crew inside the tank. Most surprisingly of all it coaxes a decent, dare I say good, performance out of none other than Shia LaBeouf – wonders never cease.

Film Review: ‘Cesar Chavez’ is Stiff History of a Heroic Man

CHICAGO – How can one man bring down a ruthless industry? By building a union that never backs down, because he never backed down. ‘Cesar Chavez’ depicts the United Farm Workers union organizer in the 1960s who sought justice against virtual slave conditions for immigrant labor, assuring his place in history.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Downward Dog

    CHICAGO – From “Mr. Ed” to “Dog with a Blog,” talking animals have had their place on TV. The latest has origins as a web series, with the clever title “Downward Dog.” The show premieres on Wednesday, May 17th, 2017 (9:30pEST/8:30pCST), on ABC TV, and features Ned the Dog as Martin, and human companions portrayed by Allison Tolman and Lucas Neff.

  • 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.

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