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Film Review: Glaring Lack of Originality Handicaps ‘The Bad Batch’

Bad Batch, The

CHICAGO – Dystopia has been dissed out. Mining the negative vibe future world can’t seem to touch the rich creative vein any more and the reserves seem dry. Writer/director Ana Lily Amirpour may have an element within her interpretation that is hard core, but it’s not enough to understand the overall vision of her tomorrow world, except that we’re all part of “The Bad Batch.”

Film Review: ‘Transformers: The Last Knight’ is Bizarrely Enjoyable

CHICAGO – Knock me over with a feather kids, but I enjoyed “Transformers: The Last Knight.” Maybe it was in comparison to the others or maybe director Michael Bay has beaten me into submission, but this one had the right story elements and casting to make it work, with exceptions of course.

Film Review: Emotionally Perfect Cowboy Elegy in ‘The Hero’

CHICAGO – The great character actor Sam Elliott – known mostly for his cowboy roles in film/TV and his unique bass sounding voiceovers – gets an opportunity to deliver a nuanced and emotional performance as a hyper-realized version of himself. There is virtue and truth in this character journey.

Film Review: ‘The Book of Henry’ Generates a Different Story Vibe

Book of Henry, The

CHICAGO – There are some total exasperations in “The Book of Henry”… numerous ones that are almost deal breakers. But somehow, some way, the strange twists and ideas take over, and the film becomes fable-like, examining a different line of story elements that switch from one character to another. Director Colin Trevorrow (“Jurassic Park” reboot) reveals a love in what he is doing in this film, and that also counts for something.

Film Review: ‘Rough Night’ is More Than Just a Diamond in the Rough

CHICAGO - The idiotic notion in Hollywood (and in the basements of fanboy mothers everywhere) that women can’t be funny is a joke in itself. Women have been forced to prove themselves on the male-dominated comedic circuit and have come out as successful as their male counterparts. “Rough Night”, despite all of its flaws, is just the most recent example of that.

Film Review: ‘Cars 3’ Puts Series Franchise Back on Right Track

CHICAGO – The Cars movies continue to be the kiddieland of Pixar Animation franchises. Kids adore them, parents tolerate them. Unlike the best of Pixar’s output, the Cars films are lovingly crafted cartoons aimed squarely at kids with far more attention detail than the average fare you’d find scrolling through Netflix. The best that can be said is that “Cars 3” represents a considerable step up from “Cars 2”.

Film Review: ‘It Comes at Night’ is a Terror-Filled, Nightmarish Delight

CHICAGO – Good horror films are difficult to find. Last year, we got the extremely satisfying horror film, “The Witch,” with breakout star Charlie the goat, AKA Black Phillip. Horror films that aren’t franchised cliches are hard to come by, but “It Comes at Night” delivers. The entire atmosphere is mysterious and foreboding. We go into this film blind as if we were stumbling through a forest at night. That is where we find the terrors, and ourselves.

Film Review: Discerning the Heroes is Tough in ‘Megan Leavey’

Megan Leavey

CHICAGO – The poster is what gives away “Megan Leavey” the most. The titular soldier, and her bomb-sniffing dog, below a billowing American flag. So which war is it? Why, it’s the Iraq invasion, where the U.S. military and the politicians at home “freed” the Iraqi citizens from a peaceful life. Making a dog story out of that boondoggle doesn’t make it any more palatable, except to “support the troops.”

Film Review: ‘The Mummy’ is a Marvel of a Muddled Mess

CHICAGO – Universal Studio’s “Dark Universe,” which is centered around its stable of classic movie monsters, isn’t a bad idea. But in the darkly inauspicious debut feature called “The Mummy,” everything unravels. This is a mixed, muddled, marvel of a mess that contains an assembly of special effects, but precious little life.

Film Review: The Human Being Behind the Greatness in ‘Churchill’

Churchill

CHICAGO – Winston Churchill, except to hardcore history buffs, is fast fading from the cultural radar. Often called the Greatest Briton Ever, the lion who led his people for so many years became a bit toothless during the greatest World War II battle ever conceived, D-Day the Sixth of June. That moment in his life, and the lives of those around him, is the subject of the magnificent new film, “Churchill.”

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Remember Me, Rita Moreno

    CHICAGO – Academy Award winner (in 1962!) Rita Moreno is in the midst of a big media comeback. The 86 year-old actress, who famously portrayed Anita in that Oscar-winning role in “West Side Story,” is in her second season of the “One Day at a Time” reboot on Netflix, and is featured in the indie film “Remember Me,” available now for download and Video On Demand.

  • Bobby Pin Girls

    CHICAGO – The “breeder years” are difficult on everyone, as the biological imperative becomes overwhelming and the couplings that result yield both discovery and misadventure. Nothing Without a Company’s new play “Bobby Pin Girls” highlight two such Millennial women, roommates who are having man trouble, although the argument can be made that it’s eternally “boy trouble.” The show has a Thursday-Sunday run at the Chicago Mosaic School through December 10th, 2017. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

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