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Noah Taylor

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: 'Free Fire' Knows That Happiness is a Warm Gun

Free Fire

CHICAGO – In a film that had a sassy, arbitrary perspective on its own flipped-out story, “Free Fire” sought to out-Quentin Tarantino in freaky funny characters and ammo-splurging gun battles. Director Ben Wheatley (“High-Rise”) took an ensemble cast to rarified heights of insult comedy, revenge dynamics and bullets that hit the bone.

Interview: Director Ben Wheatley Ignites His New Film ‘Free Fire’

CHICAGO – One of the more lovely examples of pure cinema – if that description can be given to a film with nearly constant gunplay – is in the upcoming release of “Free Fire.” Director Ben Wheatley (“High-Rise”) constructs a dark and funny scenario within one room, and fills it with symbolism and homage to other movies.

Film Review: Limiting Twists in Time Travel Drama ‘Predestination’

Predestination, 2015

CHICAGO – “Predestination” is a time travel game of limited pieces, in which two beings are not who they seem. Twists abound in a story that gets credit for jarring narrative directions, but this adaptation of Robert A. Heinlein’s “All You Zombies” remains limited in its potential, especially as it fails to evolve past its spiritual predecessors “Source Code” and “Looper.”

Film Review: ‘Edge of Tomorrow’ is a Fleet-Footed Popcorn Movie

CHICAGO – “Edge Of Tomorrow” is a high concept, fast of foot popcorn movie that knows how to deliver the goods. While this futuristic sci-fi take on “Groundhog Day” doesn’t break any new ground, it does see that intriguing concept through to a fulfilling and crowd pleasing conclusion.

Blu-Ray Review: ‘Submarine’ Plunges Beneath Surface of Adolescent Angst

Submarine Blu-Ray

CHICAGO – Too many critics have casually dismissed Richard Ayoade’s directorial debut, “Submarine,” as a mere Wes Anderson imitation. Yes, the picture is chockfull of arty hipster posturing: chapter breaks, deadpan cutaway gags and hapless adults viewed by a sullen 15-year-old protagonist forever cloaked in a large black toggle coat. He’s like Bud Cort fused with the hyper-articulate eccentricity of Max Fischer.

Film Review: Quirky ‘Submarine’ Balances Wit With Emotion in Clever Way

Submarine
HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.5/5.0
Rating: 3.5/5.0

CHICAGO – Richard Ayoade’s debut comedy “Submarine” has such an incredibly strong first half that it almost makes the relative disappointment of the second half even more disappointing by comparison. A super-smart ending saves the piece from going out on the wrong note completely and the overall piece bodes well for whatever this talented director does next. Whatever flaws the film may have, it’s certainly unlike anything else in theaters right now and yet will likely remind certain viewers of beloved films like “The Graduate,” “Harold and Maude,” and “Rushmore.”

DVD Review: ‘Red White & Blue’ Plays on the Mind, Not the Gag Reflex

Red White & Blue

CHICAGO – There are few modern horror films that possess the power to shock an audience into a state of dazed, mouth-gaping awe. Audiences of increasingly young ages are well-accustomed to copious amounts of blood and gore. The excess of violence quickly and irrevocably numbs the senses. That may be why Simon Rumley’s “Red White & Blue” works so well. It plays on the mind rather than the gag reflex.

Interview: Simon Rumley Shocks the Senses in ‘Red White & Blue’

Simon Rumley Interview

CHICAGO – The scariest aspects of a Simon Rumley picture aren’t in the form of ominous monsters or buckets of blood. They are instead hidden within the corners of a tormented human psyche. It’s the impulse for destruction that haunts every one of his characters in “Red White & Blue,” a deeply unsettling drama that transforms into a galvanizing horror film during its final act.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Stephanie Buxbaum

    CHICAGO – In the history of “Reality TV” there has been periods of up-and-down popularity, shows that have been around seemingly forever (“Big Brother,” “Amazing Race”) and spinoffs to new styles like “documentary series” as networks like the National Geographic Channel emerged. In all those permutations, producer Stephanie Buxbaum has experienced it all, and has the career and stories to prove it.

  • Deadbeat2

    CHICAGO – Not many web series start out as music videos, but the new online (YouTube) drama “Deadbeat 2” was just that. Created, written and directed by Danny Froze, the made-in-Chicago story recently premiered episodes five and six in the series, which features actor Kiwaun Stoutmire in the lead role of Ronnie.

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