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Patrick McDonald

The Poor in China on River Without a Paddle in Documentary ‘Up the Yangtze’

Chen Bo Yu, Up the Yangtze (1)

CHICAGO – China is on the world’s mind. The once-mysterious communist “enemy” is now the economic friend of all the essential profiteers.

‘When Did You Last See Your Father?’ a Family Affair Between Colin Firth, Jim Broadbent

CHICAGO – With Father’s Day upon us, what better time for a film about dysfunctional relations between a father and a son?

The tongue-tying title “When Did You Last See Your Father?” is a true story exploring the secrets and lies over a lifetime of dealing with dad and a son’s bitterness when confronting everything during the time of a patriarch’s death.

The Need For Each Other Transcends Politics, Resentment in Absorbing ‘The Edge of Heaven’

Nurgul Yesilcay, Patrycia Ziolkowska, The Edge of Heaven (4)

CHICAGO – As we sit here in the U.S. embroiled in the presidential elections and summertime, the rest of the world simmers within its own unique problems. What about Germany and Turkey? Director and writer Fatih Akin answers this question in the film “The Edge of Heaven” through several distinct characters who symbolize relations between the countries.

Julianne Moore Pushes Freudian Implications to Limit in ‘Savage Grace’

CHICAGO – The national acting treasure Julianne Moore never shies away from a performance challenge. From her memorable exposure in Robert Altman’s “Short Cuts” to her willingness to go all the way in Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Boogie Nights,” Moore has proven that true vulnerability in a role requires the ability to bare – and bear with – all.

M. Night Shyamalan’s ‘The Happening’ a Creepy, Paranoid Ride Through Today’s Environment

The Happening (12)

CHICAGO – Trying to understand the thought process of writer and director M. Night Shyamalan is akin to analyzing Jell-O. What keeps it wiggling and what binds it together?

Tepidly Paced ‘The Duchess of Langeais’ a Costume Drama Lacking the Dramatic

CHICAGO – Honoré de Balzac is a famous French writer from the post-Napoleonic age who focused on the societal mores with a sense of realism that hadn’t been seen in literature until that point. He reveled in the oblique moral ambiguity of the human condition.

Interview: Director Roger Spottiswoode Captures Spirit of China’s Past in ‘The Children of Huang Shi’

Guang Li, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, The Children of Huang Shi (1)

CHICAGO – The second Chinese/Japanese war, which was a 1937 prelude to the great conflict of World War II, is notable today mostly because modern China rose from its ashes. Largely forgotten except for the survivors, it is a backdrop for “The Children of Huang Shi,” which is a new film from veteran director Roger Spottiswoode.

Interview: Director Steve Conrad Elevates Chicago Setting, Sean William Scott in New Comedy ‘The Promotion’

Seann William Scott, John C. Reilly, The Promotion (1)

CHICAGO – Barring extreme wealth or hermetics, everyone uses the grocery store. It is the great equalizer – the marketplace where all socioeconomic groups can co-exist side by side – in pursuit of daily bread. Inspired by this reality, writer and director Steve Conrad turned it into his feature directorial debut.

Interview: Directors Mark Osborne, John Stevenson Create Balance Between Action, Zen in ‘Kung Fu Panda’

Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Kung Fu Panda (4)

CHICAGO – In this summer movie season of old men with whips, gals in stilettos and superheroes a go-go, you may ask: “Where’s the cartoon?” (“Speed Racer” doesn’t count.) Indeed, the most highly anticipated animation event of the summer is “Kung Fu Panda”.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Orange is the New Black

    CHICAGO – Orange Day is Friday (July 27, 2018)… as in “Orange is the New Black.” That’s when Season Six will be available for download from Netflix, as the online series continues to showcase the women inmates at Litchfield Penitentiary, three of whom are played by Taylor Schilling (Piper), Kate Mulgrew (Red) and Dascha Polanco (Daya).

  • Everybody, Brown Paper Box Co

    CHICAGO – When is the last time a stage play, based in an intimate setting, made you think about your life, death, and the destiny inherent in both? “Everybody,” staged by Brown Paper Box Co. (BPBCo), is such a play, and the energetic aura and sense of surprise that the show contains is soul soothing wonder. The show has various evening/matinee performances at the Pride Arts Center in Chicago run through August 12, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

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