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Film Review: ‘Peppermint’ Offers Nothing New in Revenge Genre

CHICAGO – When a revenge film gets a bit stale, as they tend to do, the best way to pass the time is to start counting how many people are indiscriminately killed. “Peppermint,” which has the former “Alias” star Jennifer Garner going back to an action mode, had 36 (give or take) quality kills, with the last one taking the longest between executions.

Film Review: ‘Kin’ Overcomes Early Portrayal Issues to Score Big

CHICAGO – The concept of “family” has been romanticized to death in the movies in the last generation, coinciding with the increasing decline of actual togetherness. The new film “Kin” is essentially about family, but it also is about otherworldly weaponry, gritty crime lords and the old on-the-road story.

Film Review: A Bit of Pop/Rock Magic Spins in ‘Juliet, Naked’

CHICAGO – The story of a drop-out rock and roll star… usually disappearing at the height of their fame… has fascinated the movies in both fiction (“Eddie and the Cruisers”) and documentary (“Waiting for Sugarman”). “Juliet, Naked” takes the premise and creates a charming, romantic story about fandom and redemptive decisions.

Film Review: ‘Papillon” Still Packs a Classic & Compelling Story

Papillon 2018

CHICAGO – The remarkable true-ish story of “Papillon” is difficult to mess up. Henrí Charriére published the “autobiographical novel” in 1969, and the first film version dropped in 1973, with Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman as the two leads no less. The latest film has Charlie Hunnam and Rami Malek in those leads, as two French prisoners constantly trying to escape.

Film Review: ‘The Happytime Murders’ Shoots Its Wad Too Early

CHICAGO – The most noteworthy feature of the puppet-noir comedy “The Happytime Murders” is its use of felt and fluff for nefarious ends, and while that’s not exactly new, there’s no reason it shouldn’t work. But the movie shoots its wad early, and doesn’t have much imagination after that beyond turning silly string into a bodily fluid.

Film Review: ‘The Wife’ is Classic Drama & Relevant Social History

CHICAGO – One of the more fascinating questions about civilization is ‘how much talent went unrealized because of time and place of birth?’ The patriarchy – which denied people of color and women for so long – often reduced fellow travelers into subservient roles. For example, there were women who were just known as “The Wife.”

Film Review: Rising Above Cancer in the Teen Dream ‘Hope Springs Eternal’

Hope Springs Eternal

CHICAGO – The topic of cancer is rarely heroic, and as we know mostly concludes tragically. But the new teen comedy “Hope Springs Eternal” turns the Big C on its ear, and features up-and-coming young actor Mia Rose Frampton to take it on. The film is light and breezy, with nods to John Hughes, absurdist teen indoctrinations and the celebration of music in life.

Film Review: Stylish ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ is a Bit Too Soap Opera

CHICAGO – “Crazy Rich Asians” is not meant to be anything but glitzy fun, but in the midst of the glamour, excessive wealth and beautiful people, there is a plot that ventures into Soap Opera land, and eventually becomes a distraction for the reason an audience goes to this show… to fantasize about living large.

Film Review: Revealing ‘Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood’

CHICAGO – Any “secret history” inevitably reveals some totally human trait that somehow counters a delicately constructed facade. Show business is no stranger to those histories, and the new documentary “Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood” is a doozy. Ex-Pimp to the Stars Scotty Bowers reveals all.

Film Review: ‘The Meg’ is a Proud $150 Million Dollar ‘B’ Movie

CHICAGO – From their golden age from the 1950s to the 1970s, the infamous “B” movies – usually the third feature at the drive-in, or playing in the crumbling old theaters – were targeted to teens. In the modern era, these films are now given $150 million dollar budgets and wide releases. Case in point, the shark movie called “The Meg.”

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