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Patrick McDonald

‘The Signal’ Sports Plenty of Style, Little Substance in Sci-Fi Twist on Torture Porn

CHICAGO – In the last several years, the horror genre has become hot because of its return on investment. The strategy is to market the hell out of the scare factor, get a good opening weekend (which usually takes care of the filming costs several times over) and make sure the blood spatters well. There is no need for pricey star power because the “star” is always the quality kills.

Horror Master George A. Romero Reveals Veteran Zombie Lock in ‘Diary of the Dead’

CHICAGO – Master horror filmmaker George A. Romero is back for the fifth installment of his “Dead” series as what began with 1968’s “Night of the Living Dead” has fast-forwarded to “Diary of the Dead”. This time, Romero takes on the modern soul deadening of staring at screens and includes the constant navel gazing of videotaping, computers and the instant playback that has become our lives.

Despite Offering Tantalizing Possibilities, ‘Jumper’ Weakened By Formulaic Clichés

CHICAGO – As a distinct premise, “Jumper” offers tantalizing possibilities. The ability to transport yourself from one location to another with simple mind control is a cool rule of the world. While the film speaks to some of the far-reaching potential of the power, it also follows story formulas that weaken it.

Matthew McConaughey, Kate Hudson Feel Valentine’s Day Love in ‘Fool’s Gold’

Fool’s Gold (1)

CHICAGO – Check off this list of stock movie characters: the broke rogue adventurer, his sensible love interest, the daffy heiress, her gruff but benign wealthy father, the evil rival, the doltish but loyal sidekick, the evil rival’s goons and the “seems to be evil but in the end turns out heroic” buddy.

Lebanese Film ‘Caramel’ Coats Women’s Relationships With Truth

CHICAGO – In the social palette that makes up relationships for adult women, the main brushstrokes involve trust, unity and a passion for friendships. Of course, it doesn’t hurt if they can meet in their favorite beauty parlor. The film “Caramel” follows the lives of five women in Beirut, Lebanon as they experience aging, commitment, lifestyle choices and bikini waxing.

Despite Flawed Plot Clichés, Dancing Takes Center Stage in ‘How She Move’

How She Move

CHICAGO – Kids, it’s an old-fashioned dance off, and despite being about the contemporary and very urban stepdance craze, it has all the hope, dreams, choreography and clichés of a golden-age Hollywood musical revue.

Star Power Can’t Save ‘Mad Money’ From ‘Thelma & Louise’ Writer Callie Khouri

Ted Danson in Mad Money

CHICAGO – Whenever there’s stunt-movie casting with divergent generations of Hollywood “stars,” there’s bound to be trouble at the multiplex. This time, the “old to young” range of Diane “Annie Hall” Keaton, Queen Latifah and the increasingly annoying Katie Holmes attempt a stab at the classic heist movie in “Mad Money”.

Woody Allen’s ‘Cassandra’s Dream’ Expressly Hitchcockian

CHICAGO – Woody Allen – the most prolific American writer/director of the last quarter century – has a desire for a particular expression in this last part of his epic career.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Downward Dog

    CHICAGO – From “Mr. Ed” to “Dog with a Blog,” talking animals have had their place on TV. The latest has origins as a web series, with the clever title “Downward Dog.” The show premieres on Wednesday, May 17th, 2017 (9:30pEST/8:30pCST), on ABC TV, and features Ned the Dog as Martin, and human companions portrayed by Allison Tolman and Lucas Neff.

  • Positively Present: An Uplifting Cabaret

    CHICAGO – When faced with adversity, the best way around it is to somehow break into song. That is the feeling behind the Brown Paper Box Co.’s “Positively Present: An Uplifting Cabaret,” running April 7th and 8th at Mary’s Attic in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood. The event features company member Kristi Szczepanek as host, and presents song stylings by other company members, including Anna Schutz, plus some special guests. For details and ticket information, click here.

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