Movie Review

Film Review: Tribal Side of Drug Trafficking in ‘Birds of Passage’

Birds of Passage

CHICAGO – One of the overriding characteristics in the movies, when it comes to drug traffickers, is the stereotypical image of a fat and corrupt cartel leader who usually have machine gun wielding henchmen and bikini clad groupies. “Birds of Passage” goes back to the business of the drug trade, but it is about the families that controlled the territorial borders during that key era, and the basis of that control in ancient tribalism.

Film Review: ‘Transit’ is an Absorbing Thriller with a Perplexing Conclusion

Transit

CHICAGO – What if a new fascism were to sweep the land, and affects Paris, as it did in World War 2? “Transit” postulates on that very theory and creates a paranoid atmosphere that is stunningly real, but brings that emotion to a conclusion that I believe is redundant, and pretends to be deeper than it is.

Film Review: Imagination is the Key to Charming ‘Wonder Park’

CHICAGO – Most animated films depicting the “family” often includes a parallel lesson about togetherness or some such domestic symbolism. In “Wonder Park,” the lesson is how the spark of imagination can keep a childhood alive. When that spark is temporarily dosed, the destination of the title also suffers.

Film Review: 1970s Caper Film in Enjoyable ‘Finding Steve McQueen’

Finding Steve McQueen

CHICAGO – The “caper” film, AKA the heist film, is one of the old reliable genres in the movies, and usually involves a gang of mismatched thieves. “Finding Steve McQueen” goes all the way back to the 1970s to spotlight a based-on-truth burglary that involves Tricky Dick himself, President Richard M. Nixon.

Film Review: Julianne Moore is a Ringing Sensation in ‘Gloria Bell’

CHICAGO – The sheer ordinariness of life is not fodder for most dramatic films … the popcorn munchers generally turn out for something more high concept. But in Exhibit A, there is “Gloria Bell,” in which Julianne Moore portrays the title character in a series of ordinary extraordinary events.

Film Review: Brie Larson as ‘Captain Marvel’ is Not as Marvel-ous

CHICAGO – Since the Marvel cinematic universe began over a decade ago with “Iron Man,” it’s shown an amazing talent for consistency. While only a few installments have surpassed their comic book origins to become great examples of the genre – and great stories in general – Marvel hasn’t had many out and out clunkers either (possible exception, the second Thor movie).

Film Review: Familiar Scares of ‘Greta’ Has Too Many Plot Holes

CHICAGO – Admittedly, horror films are not my thing. I find them redundant, pandering and more reliant on gore rather than story. “Greta” is somewhat of a thriller horror film, about an older lady stalker preying on a younger New York City woman, but it had both a seen-it-before and unreliable plot.

Film Review: Satisfying Emotion in ‘How to Train Your Dragon: Hidden World’

How to Train Your Dragon 3

CHICAGO –All fiery things must come to an extinguishing point, and the “How to Train Your Dragon” animated film series concludes with its third entry, subtitled “Hidden World.” To finish things up the creators turn on the Dragon power, there are literally thousands of them flamed up and ready to go.

Flashback Podtalk, Photo: Jussie Smollett on The Red Carpet in 2017

CHICAGO – Before everything else happened, Jussie Smollett was an actor from the TV series “Empire” and portrayed Langston Hughes in the film “Marshall” … featuring Chadwick Boseman of “Black Panther” as young Thurgood Marshall. Smollett walked the Red Carpet for the film in 2017, at the 53rd Chicago International Film Festival.

Film Review: Relatable Togetherness Highlight 2019 Oscar Nominated Animated Short Films

2019 Oscar Animated Shorts

CHICAGO – The relationships in our lives affect who we are, whether they are momentary or long term. Interestingly, like the Oscar nominated Live Action shorts, the Animated Short Film nominees have that similar connective themes in four of the five stories. Family relationships, son-to-mother, mother-to-daughter, daughter-to-father and parents-to-child, are explored in poignant and expressive ways. The Landmark Century Centre Cinema in Chicago are currently showing all the shorts in one program. Click here for more information.

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  • It's NOT ALL About You John Michael

    CHICAGO – John Michael epitomizes the art of the monologue. The Chicago transplant, by way of Dallas, is moving on (he says temporarily) from the city that inspired his last show, “Meatball Seance,” after notorious and successful runs of his other one-man shows, “John Michael and the Order of the Penix” and “Dementia Me.” His farewell performance is his latest, another laugh riot, “It’s NOT ALL About You John Michael,” and will take place at Mary’s Attic in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood on March 1st, 2019. Click here for details, including ticket information.

  • Soccer Player in the Closet, The 2

    CHICAGO – Connecting to the theater collective Nothing Without a Company means a couple of things. One, you may visit parts of Chicago you’ve never seen before – in this case a plant store in an industrial area south of Humboldt Park – and two, you will see some daring and outside-the-box stagings. “The Soccer Player in the Closet” is their latest production – a World Premiere – and it provides what the title implies and beyond. The play runs through March 17th, 2019. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

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