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Film Review: ‘City of Ghosts’ Puts Citizen Faces on Syrian Crisis

CHICAGO – Syria has become a distant place, disconnected from the wider world through civil war and extreme sociopolitical instability, including the takeover of some regions by ISIS (the Islamic State). “City of Ghosts” looks at Raqqa, a Syrian city with the iron boot of ISIS on their necks, and the citizens who risk their lives to tell that story to the world.

Film Review: Strong Performance Makes ‘Lady Macbeth’ a Cogent Character Study


CHICAGO - Separating a performance from the rest of the film is usually an easy task. One may be stronger than the other, or vice versa, but either way, they can be judged individually and as a whole. “Lady Macbeth” proves to be that rare character study where a single performance (from breakout actress Florence Pugh) not only makes the film but essentially is the film.

Film Review: Heroics of ‘Dunkirk’ Portrayed Ardently & Humanely

CHICAGO – War is hell, even in “The Good War.” The early days of World War II were a desperate time for the British, and the events of “Dunkirk” were largely about loss, yet mostly about inspiration. Director Christopher Nolan gives his film a grand cinematic treatment, evoking an era that has mostly faded away.

Film Review: Despite One Premise, Laughs Are Plenty in ‘The Little Hours’

Little Hours, The

CHICAGO – It occurred to me in assessing “The Little Hours” that the basic premise is somewhat like “The Beguiled” – a man is taken in, rooster-like, into a henhouse where there are women with “needs.” Except this time, instead of a girl’s boarding school, it is a 14th Century nunnery. Get thee to it, if thou wants to laugheth.

Film Review: ‘War for the Planet of the Apes’ Delivers Old Hollywood Glory

CHICAGO – Since the Golden Age of cinema, theaters have tried countlessly to deliver up big budget films. Summer is here and the public is showing that they are cooling off these blockbusters, no longer fooled by the thought that cost equates to quality. “War for the Planet of the Apes” shows us that blockbusters may still be redeemed by channeling some Old Hollywood magic.

Film Review: Sofia Coppola Creates a Masterwork with ‘The Beguiled’

CHICAGO – The human-ness of being human never changes, fundamentally. The mating season arrives, and the effect makes for both great connections and bad decisions. Director Sofia Coppola emphasizes this in a reverent film production of the story called “The Beguiled.”

Film Review: ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ Spins a Web of Fun

CHICAGO – Summer movies should be fun, and the superhero craze has Marvel Studios combining their adventures with a little joy. “Spider-Man: Homecoming” mostly contains that big high spirit, with Tom Holland portraying the title character with youthful zeal and energy.

Film Review: ‘Despicable Me 3’ Reemerges as Despicably Dull

CHICAGO – This is it. The point where Gru and his Minions went from mildly irritating to excruciating. The series will undoubtedly entertain the children it’s intended for, my twins probably would have liked it if they had been able to come. But pity the poor parents who have to sit through another film full of Minion fart noises… which seems to last for roughly three whole days.

Film Review: ‘Baby Driver’ Runs on the Fast Track of Movieland

CHICAGO – While it may seem that we’ve seen this type of tough-guy robbery gang film before, “Baby Driver” lives in its own universe, that of the movieland of movies. It is rich in squealing tires, bang-bang guns synched to the soundtrack, and a mystery cool boy creating his own star-crossed romance.

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.”

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  • Speech & Debate (stage play)

    CHICAGO – “Speech & Debate,” the latest production from the mighty Brown Paper Box Company, continues their tradition of thinking outside that “box” in presenting storefront theater that makes a statement and a difference. “Speech” goes inside America by showcasing the outsiders… those who create art because they can’t get it right in real life. This non-equity Chicago stage play premiere is finely tuned and wonderfully acted, and runs through March 4th, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

  • We're Gonna Be Okay

    CHICAGO – The 1960s were a time of historical social transition. The movements – civil rights, feminist, gay rights – all had roots in that tumultuous decade. The Chicago premiere of Basil Kreimendahl’s “We’re Gonna Be Okay” echoes all of those movements in its characters, and collides them against the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. The show has a Thursday-Sunday run at the American Theater Company through March 4th, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.


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