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Michael Smiley

Film Review: 'Free Fire' Knows That Happiness is a Warm Gun

Free Fire

CHICAGO – In a film that had a sassy, arbitrary perspective on its own flipped-out story, “Free Fire” sought to out-Quentin Tarantino in freaky funny characters and ammo-splurging gun battles. Director Ben Wheatley (“High-Rise”) took an ensemble cast to rarified heights of insult comedy, revenge dynamics and bullets that hit the bone.

Interview: Director Ben Wheatley Ignites His New Film ‘Free Fire’

CHICAGO – One of the more lovely examples of pure cinema – if that description can be given to a film with nearly constant gunplay – is in the upcoming release of “Free Fire.” Director Ben Wheatley (“High-Rise”) constructs a dark and funny scenario within one room, and fills it with symbolism and homage to other movies.

Film Review: Jude Law Submarines a Passable But Unspectacular ‘Black Sea’

CHICAGO – I’m on board with Jude Law leading a film and neutral about submarine movies as a genre. My primary pre-screening interest in the quietly marketed thriller “Black Sea” was what Oscar-winning director Kevin Macdonald would do with this material following his hit with the hard-hitting drama “The Last King of Scotland”.

HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: 75 Pairs of Passes to ‘Black Sea’ With Jude Law

CHICAGO – In the latest HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: Film, we have 75 pairs of advance-screening movie passes up for grabs to the new thrillerBlack Sea” starring Jude Law from Oscar-winning director Kevin Macdonald (“The Last King of Scotland”)!

HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: 30 Pairs of Passes to ‘The World’s End’ with Simon Pegg, Nick Frost

CHICAGO – In the latest HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: Film with our unique social giveaway technology, we have 30 pairs of advance-screening movie passes up for grabs to the new comedy “The World’s End starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost from the creators of “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz”!

Blu-ray Review: Grisly ‘Kill List’ Follows Hit Man Into the Heart of Darkness

Kill List Blu-ray

CHICAGO – Graphic violence is a double-edged sword. It can shock viewers into acknowledging the tragic nature of carnage so often belittled in mainstream cinema, yet it can also repel viewers straight out of the theater before the end credits roll. Ben Wheatley’s “Kill List” is far from the most violent film in recent memory, but its few instances of onscreen bloodshed are unbearably savage.

Film Review: Stylish, Bizarre ‘Kill List’ Challenges Genre Preconceptions

Kill List
HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.5/5.0
Rating: 3.5/5.0

CHICAGO – Ben Wheatley’s “Kill List” comes to U.S. shores on a tidal wave of hype and controversy. Is it the work of a genre-defying genius or an inconsistent jerk? Are the film’s jarring tonal shifts effective or idiotic? Honestly, and I know critics aren’t supposed to say this, I can see both sides of the argument. On one hand, Wheatley take some serious risks here and some of them are to be admired. On the other, “Kill List” often feels disjointed and weird just for the sake of weird. It just barely works for me by virtue of its audacity but I wouldn’t be surprised if it doesn’t do the same for you.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Adam West, LIFE Magazine

    CHICAGO – As they say about Adam West’s interpretation of Batman, “he hit so hard, that words describing the impact appeared out of thin air.” But there was more to him than just the superhero tights, as Patrick McDonald, Spike Walters and Jon Espino of HollywoodChicago.com remember the three main characters in the career of Adam West, who passed away last week.

  • Jeff Awards, 2017

    CHICAGO – The 44th edition of the Non-Equity Jeff Awards were given out on June 5th, 2017, at what insiders call “the theater prom.” The event honors the non-union smaller or “storefront” theater companies, and their efforts to produce quality stage work. Hosted in grand style by Alexis Roston and Lillian Castillo, the recipients of the top play was “At the Table” by the Broken Nose Theatre and top musical was “High Fidelity” by the Refuge Theatre Project.

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