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Patrick McDonald

Film Review: Odd Times at the Cinema with ‘The Great Wall’

CHICAGO – Taking a concept higher than the Wall that inspired it, and mostly succeeding, “The Great Wall” gets a nod as one of the oddest stories in a long time. Pre-supposedly based on a “legend,” it brings Matt Damon into ancient China to help battle lizard monsters at the Great Wall. Book it.

Film Review: Rotating Perspectives Converge in ‘Train Station’

Train Station

CHICAGO – Taking on the variance of choice in a very unique and compelling way, “Train Station” was interpreted through 40 filmmakers in 25 countries, following a character – The Person in Brown – in a singular story that flexes and changes as the role is exposed. Chicago was one of those filming locations, and “Train Station” will screen here at the Music Box Theatre on Wednesday, February 15, 2017.

Film Review: Discover the 2017 Oscar Short Film Nominees

CHICAGO – One of the more overlooked set of nominees at Academy Awards time is two categories for Best Short Film – Live Action and Animated. The 2017 nominees are packaged as two presentations that are currently screening in Chicago at the Landmark Century Centre Cinema.

Film Review: ‘The LEGO Batman Movie’ Delivers the Usual Laughs

LEGO Batman Movie, The

CHICAGO – “The LEGO Batman Movie” is more of a parody than the laugh-out-loud hijinks of the surprising “The LEGO Movie,” but the legend of The Bats is ripe for a good skewering, and the movie has a lot of fun doing it. Will Arnett reprises the voice as the title character, with Zach Galifianakis taking on the antics of The Joker.

Interview: Michael Sanow of ‘The Asylum’ Showcase in Chicago Through Feb. 23, 2017

Asylum, The Logo

CHICAGO – Put in a dash of crazy, add a dash of funny and you are defining “The Asylum,” a catch-all name for a couple of show events in Chicago, playing at The Apollo Theater Studio through February 23rd, 2017. Behind the scenes of these showcases is producer Michael Sanow, a Chicago theater veteran. For “The Asylum” information regarding the “Atypical Musical Comedy Show” (Tuesdays) and “Access Comedy” (Thursdays), click here.

Film Review: 2017 Best Doc Oscar Nominee ‘I Am Not Your Negro’

I Am Not Your Negro

CHICAGO – The terms that have been used to describe African Americans over the years …black, afro-americans, negro and worse… has always been what others had named them, the others that wanted to marginalize, categorize and group individuals into images of words. The documentary “I Am Not Your Negro” seeks to upend these generalizations and in turn, those words.

Interview: Amy Pietz of ‘Halfway’ to Appear at Midwest Independent Film Festival on Feb. 7, 2017

CHICAGO – Amy Pietz is a Midwesterner made good in her primary role as a working actor. And what better performer to appear at the kick-off of the 2017 Midwest Independent Film Festival, as Pietz’s new film takes place in her native Wisconsin.

Interview: Scott Freiman on ‘Deconstructing the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper Album’

Deconstructing The Beatles

CHICAGO – Scott Freiman is an entrepreneur, producer, composer and musicologist, and turned his primary passion – painstakingly delving into the song production techniques of The Beatles – into a series of lectures called “Deconstructing The Beatles.” He has turned those lectures into films, and “Deconstructing The Beatles Sgt. Pepper Album” will screen in Chicago at area Landmark Cinemas on February 6th, 2017.

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: Joy of Life Expands When Meeting ‘Toni Erdmann’

Toni Erdmann

CHICAGO – If you need a little cinema therapy, it doesn’t get any better than “Toni Erdmann.” This subtle story builds to generate a joyful feeling, which defines the small-but-important survival guides for this thing called life. Writer/director Maren Ade has delivered the goods, and the film is nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the upcoming Academy Awards.

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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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