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Interview: Benjamin May on ‘The Legend of Swee’ Pea’ at the Midwest Independent Film Festival

Legend of Swee' Pea, The

CHICAGO – The road to athletic success is littered with the clichés of “might have been” and “never was,” but rarely does it contain a success story that is despite the person who achieved that success. In the early 1990s, a journeyman broke into the National Basketball Association, the first time in its history that a player that never graduated from high school made it to the big show. That man is Lloyd Daniels, and his story is in the documentary “The Legend of Swee’ Pea,” by filmmaker Benjamin May. The director will appear – with his cinematographer Daniel Levin – on behalf of his film at its Chicago premiere, presented by the Midwest Independent Film Festival on Tuesday, March 7th, 2017 (details below).

Film Review: It Hurts Trying to Laugh at ‘The Comedian’

Comedian, The

CHICAGO – Mention this possibility…Robert De Niro portrays an aging stand-up comic who once had a popular sitcom in the 1980s…and 99% of filmgoers are in. Add that he beds a woman 25 years his junior, does community service, roasts Cloris Leachman and becomes a reality show host, and suddenly 80% of that 99 are out. That’s just part of the over-extension and dread in “The Comedian.”

Film Review: Ain’t That America in New Documentary ‘Weiner’

CHICAGO – It’s almost impossible to invent any punishment that former Congressman Anthony Weiner hasn’t inflicted upon himself. According to modern media, his indiscretions are the ultimate sin, but the media hacks are also the rock throwers in the glass houses. It’s all in the new doc, “Weiner.”

Interview: Director Rebecca Miller Executes ‘Maggie’s Plan’

CHICAGO – Quirky Greta Gerwig is at it again (being quirky), and this time she’s looking for solutions in “Maggie’s Plan.” The made-in-New-York-City film has overtures of Woody Allen, combined with “Crossing Delancey.” Director Rebecca Miller (“Personal Velocity”) produces a valentine to all her influences and settings.

Film Review: ‘Mistress America’ Ultimately Wears Out Her Welcome

CHICAGO – “Mistress America” is a movie that works best in small doses. The film is chock-full of special moments, lines, and fragments of scenes, but it never really comes together as a cohesive film. I could see it easily taking on a second life once it hits streaming and YouTube.

Interview: Greta Gerwig, Lola Kirke Discover ‘Mistress America’

CHICAGO – Greta Gerwig’s persona as a character actress has blossomed in the last three years, as she has taken on three women in their twenties at the crossroads of life, in that life decade of consequence. In addition to her title roles in “Lola Versus” and “Francis Ha,” her latest is “Mistress America,” which she also co-wrote.

Film Review: Amy Schumer Way Too Conventional in ‘Trainwreck’

Trainwreck front

CHICAGO – In one of the most anticipated comedies of the summer, Amy Schumer breaks out of her edgy role as a stand-up and sketch artist to put her spin on the film universe in “Trainwreck.” She plays the lead role, is directed by the comic-reputable Judd Apatow, and she wrote the script. Why is it so “meh”?

Film Review: SNL Rightly Touts Its Influence in ‘Live From New York!’

Livefront.jpg

CHICAGO – Love, hate or maintain indifference to it, the TV dinosaur “Saturday Night Live” has and will continue to influence American culture as long as it may reign. To celebrate its 40th Anniversary, filmmaker Bao Nguyen takes a fresh look at the iconic television show in “Live From New York!”

Film News: Chicago Filmmaker Prashant Bhargava of ‘Patang’ Dies at 42

Prashant Bhargava

NEW YORK – He was a Chicago-born director who explored his culture with a delicacy and poignancy that set his debut feature film “Patang” apart from any other experience, and within that art he sought to understand the world beyond his American birthplace. Prashant Bhargava passed away suddenly in New York City on May 16th, 2015, of undisclosed causes. He was 42 years old.

Film Review: Jessica Chastain, Oscar Isaac Endure ‘A Most Violent Year’

A Most Violent Year

CHICAGO – The effect of violence, centering on the roughest statistical year for it (1981) in New York City history, becomes a flashpoint for the way business has always been done. If someone isn’t intimidating their competitor with lawyers or shady marketing practices, a few hired goons can do the trick. Oscar Isaac takes the beating, both real and metaphorical, in writer/director J.C. Chandor’s “A Most Violent Year.”

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Kid Thing, The

    CHICAGO – Like the awesome Engine Who Could, the mighty Nothing Without a Company stage crafters have constructed another triumph at their new home in Berger Mansion on Chicago’s north side. “The Kid Thing” – written by Sarah Gubbins – is a terse, convincing and emotional play about fear, identity and breeding, and it is performed by its cast of five with utter authenticity. The show has a Thursday-Sunday run at the Berger North Mansion through April 15th, 2017. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

  • Wiz, The

    CHICAGO – When stage theater can cause outbreaks of elation, celebration and joy, then it must be due to Kokandy Productions’ revival of “The Wiz.” The urban reinterpretation of “The Wizard of Oz” story – told through tuneful euphoria and jubilant dance – is ecstatically produced, in every morsel of its stagecraft.

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