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Film Review: Awkward & Difficult is Played Out in ‘Eighth Grade’

Eighth Grade

CHICAGO – We’ve all been there. Depending on what school structure you lived through, everyone had issues in “Eighth Grade.” Writer/director Bo Burnham puts those universal issues in a modern context (social media, online video), and portrays them through a girl struggling to belong while navigating the choppy waters of adolescence. It’s difficult, awkward and representative.

Film Review: The Tumbling Delicacy of Life in ‘Blindspotting’

Blindspotting

CHICAGO – How can we understand the day-to-day factors of men and women who continued to be judged by their skin color, economic circumstances, difficult jobs or gender fluidity, if we are not any of those categories? Our art can help us, as given a great example in the new film “Blindspotting.”

Film Review: ‘Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again’ is a Bubbly Musical

CHICAGO – I give in. “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again,” the sequel to the much derided “Mamma Mia,” is a bubbly, frothy here-come-the-good-times musical that fits summer like a glove. The flashback format will also answer all the burning questions that were left unanswered from the first film, and the cast includes Cher!

Film Review: Excess & Dwayne Johnson is How ‘Skyscraper’ Works

CHICAGO – The Dwayne Johnson formula is what it is, as it seems for about three to five films a year. A disaster strikes, but the Johnson character has loved ones among the victims, and in his background (military, police, mercenary) there is enough expertise to rescue them. “Skyscraper” is the latest.

Film Review: Pungent & Trippy Satire in ‘Sorry to Bother You’

CHICAGO – If the film “Get Out” was a shot across the bow in satirizing black and white skin relationships, then “Sorry to Bother You” is a freaking Tomahawk missile. It’s about the time, the space and the state of the human race, which comes to a crescendo of wild and untamed proportions.

Film Review: ‘Leave No Trace’ is Emblematic of Our Times

CHICAGO – The temptation to “drop out” must weigh heavily on the minds of many Americans on a daily basis. “Leave No Trace” views this phenomenon through a prism of many factors, including materialism and mental illness. Ben Foster and Thomasin McKenzie are a father/daughter duo who drop out, then tune in.

Film Review: Truth Upstages Fiction Again in ‘Three Identical Strangers’

Three Identical Strangers

CHICAGO – The eternal debate of what affects human development more, our nature or our nurturing, opens up again in the wild story of “Three Identical Strangers,” a new documentary about triplets who were separated at birth, only to discover each other by chance and uncover some difficult truths about that separation.

Film Review: ‘Ant-Man and The Wasp’ is Abuzz with Laughs & Shrinkage

CHICAGO – Gag writers, it’s time to head to Marvel Studios. Apparently the direction their superhero franchises are going for is laughs. “Ant-Man and the Wasp” is a prime example… the second film in the “Ant-Man” series amps up the humor, priming a hero that can go super small or massive. Go ask Alice, I think she’ll know.

Film Review: ‘The First Purge’ is Nothing But Tedious Trash

CHICAGO – I saw the original “The Purge” five years ago, but missed the other two installments. Let me say that nothing in the new prequel “The First Purge” makes me want to make up for lost time and catch up. The setup is the same… one night of legalized violence each year where the citizens are allowed to do whatever they want without the fear of prosecution.

Film Review: 'Sicario: Day of the Soldado' Ripped From Headlines

CHICAGO – We don’t really know what is going on at the Mexican border, nor if we’re lucky understand the desperation in crossing over. “Sicario: Day of the Soldado” is a cynical and sad film, but gives a bit of perspective on the this ongoing situation, especially as it deflates the current presidential administration.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Orange is the New Black

    CHICAGO – Orange Day is Friday (July 27, 2018)… as in “Orange is the New Black.” That’s when Season Six will be available for download from Netflix, as the online series continues to showcase the women inmates at Litchfield Penitentiary, three of whom are played by Taylor Schilling (Piper), Kate Mulgrew (Red) and Dascha Polanco (Daya).

  • Everybody, Brown Paper Box Co

    CHICAGO – When is the last time a stage play, based in an intimate setting, made you think about your life, death, and the destiny inherent in both? “Everybody,” staged by Brown Paper Box Co. (BPBCo), is such a play, and the energetic aura and sense of surprise that the show contains is soul soothing wonder. The show has various evening/matinee performances at the Pride Arts Center in Chicago run through August 12, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

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