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Film Feature: HollywoodChicago.com Remembers the Films of Director John G. Avildsen

John G. Avildsen

CHICAGO – His films were more popular than his name, but director John G. Avildsen did put his mark on the last 30 years of 20th Century movies. Avildsen died last week at the age of 81. He is known best for the Oscar Best Picture-winning “Rocky” (1976), but also did the controversial “Joe” (1970), “Save the Tiger” (1973, Best Actor Oscar for Jack Lemmon), John Belushi’s last film “Neighbors” (1981), “The Karate Kid” (1984), “Lean on Me” (1989) and “8 Seconds” (1994). Patrick McDonald, Spike Walters and Jon Espino of HollywoodChicago.com offer three essays on their Avildsen favorites.

Film News: Merle Hayden, Subject of ‘Manlife: The Last of the Lawsonians,’ Dies at 96

Merle Hayden

RACINE, WIS – The last of the Lawsonians has now passed on. Merle Hayden, six days after he made an appearance on Closing Night at the Chicago Underground Film Festival (CUFF), died on June 10th, 2017, of natural causes in Racine, Wisconsin. He was 96 years old. His life was the subject of a World Premiere documentary shown at CUFF, “Manlife: The Last of the Lawsonians” on June 4th. Mr. Hayden made an appearance at that screening, lucidly participated in a Q&A and got to celebrate the achievement of his life’s work brought to a cinematic form.

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.

Music Review: Iron Maiden Conjures the Soul of Heavy Metal in Chicagoland Concert

Iron Maiden, photo by Jeff Doles

CHICAGO – On a hot and humid night – with dark ominous clouds enveloping the Hollywood Casino Amphitheater in Tinley Park, Ill. on June 15th, 2017 – the crowd gathered to see Iron Maiden, and spilled into their seats like a cold beer from the tap. The heavy metal-loving masses, with their torn jeans and ever-present mullets, got ready for the latest show in the band’s “The Book of Souls” World Tour by responding in Pavlovian fashion to UFO’s “Doctor Doctor” (Maiden’s intro song), as it boomed from the venue’s speakers.

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.

Podcast Talk: Dan Pal on the ‘Queer Bits Film Festival’ in Chicago on June 17, 2017

Queer Bits Film Festival

CHICAGO – June is Pride Month, a celebration of LGBTQ liberation, and all other forms of orientation and gender liberation. What began as a gay and trans rights flashpoint on a June night in 1969, during the push back riots at the Stonewall Inn in New York City, has become a month-long commemoration of the evolution in identity rights and freedoms. An event in Chicago associated with Pride Month is the annual “Queer Bits Film Festival” – a short film program at the Pride Arts Center on North Broadway on June 17th, 2017 at 7:30pm – that showcases the best of Queer cinema from around the world. The festival producers are Shaun Baer and Dan Pal.

Interview, Audio: Documentary Director Steve James on ‘Abacus: Small Enough to Jail’

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail

CHICAGO – The documentary maker Steve James, one of the best in the history of cinema, has a resume of quality reporting through feature film that is stunning in its context. The director of “Hoop Dreams,” “Stevie,” “The Interrupters,” “Head Games” and the Roger Ebert biography “Life Itself” has a new doc, focusing on one repercussion of the financial crisis of 2008, subtly entitled “Abacus: Small Enough to Jail.

Exclusive Portraits: Joey McIntyre of New Kids on the Block, Performing in Chicago June 16, 2017

Joey McIntyre, photo by Joe Arce.

CHICAGO – It’s time for a certain generation to get their screams of adulation ready, as New Kids on the Block – also known as NKOTB – are back on the road and appearing in Chicagoland at Allstate Arena in nearby Rosemont, Ill., on June 15 & 16, 2017. Joey McIntyre is one of the band members, and he also had a new mock reality premiere in April of 2017 called “Return of the Mac” (Pop TV Channel). HollywoodChicago.com was there to capture some Exclusive Portraits of “The Mac,” when he appeared at Studio Xfinity in Chicago in March to promote the show.

TV Feature: HollywoodChicago.com on Three Parts of Adam West

CHICAGO – As they say about Adam West’s interpretation of Batman, “he hit so hard, that words describing the impact appeared out of thin air.” But there was more to him than just the superhero tights, as Patrick McDonald, Spike Walters and Jon Espino of HollywoodChicago.com remember the three main characters in the career of Adam West, who passed away last week.

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  • Adam West, LIFE Magazine

    CHICAGO – As they say about Adam West’s interpretation of Batman, “he hit so hard, that words describing the impact appeared out of thin air.” But there was more to him than just the superhero tights, as Patrick McDonald, Spike Walters and Jon Espino of HollywoodChicago.com remember the three main characters in the career of Adam West, who passed away last week.

  • Jeff Awards, 2017

    CHICAGO – The 44th edition of the Non-Equity Jeff Awards were given out on June 5th, 2017, at what insiders call “the theater prom.” The event honors the non-union smaller or “storefront” theater companies, and their efforts to produce quality stage work. Hosted in grand style by Alexis Roston and Lillian Castillo, the recipients of the top play was “At the Table” by the Broken Nose Theatre and top musical was “High Fidelity” by the Refuge Theatre Project.

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