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Patrick McDonald

Film Review: Discerning the Heroes is Tough in ‘Megan Leavey’

Megan Leavey

CHICAGO – The poster is what gives away “Megan Leavey” the most. The titular soldier, and her bomb-sniffing dog, below a billowing American flag. So which war is it? Why, it’s the Iraq invasion, where the U.S. military and the politicians at home “freed” the Iraqi citizens from a peaceful life. Making a dog story out of that boondoggle doesn’t make it any more palatable, except to “support the troops.”

Theater News: 2017 Non-Equity Jeff Awards Celebrate Best of Chicago Theater

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.

Interview, Audio: Trey Edward Shults Directs ‘It Comes at Night’

CHICAGO – In 2016, a new filmmaker voice made its way into the scene, and it was significant. Trey Edward Shults released his debut film “Krisha,” a shattering story of addiction and its effect on family. The film got him a deal with the distributor/producer A24, and his sophomore effort – the horror/thriller “It Comes at Night” – will be released on June 9th, 2017.

Podcast Talk: John Charles Meyer on ‘Dave Made a Maze,’ Screening in Chicago on June 6, 2017

Dave Made a Maze

CHICAGO – Truly unique and creative micro-budget films are as rare as a sighting of Bigfoot these days, as so many people are picking up a camera to give it try. The production of “Dave Made a Maze” is a happy exception, a film that delivers the thrills and at the same time makes fun of them. Throw in hipsters-in-peril and homages to 1980s adventure films, and it’s easy to find the way through this fun movie.

Film News: CUFF Closing Night Film is ‘Manlife: The Last of the Lawsonians’ on June 4, 2017

Manlife

CHICAGO – It’s been five days of off-the-wall cinema, filmmaker appearances, afterparty happenings and showing off the emerging Logan Square neighborhood. The 2017 Chicago Underground Film Festival (CUFF) is wrapping up on Sunday, June 4th, with a day of film presentations, culminating with the special U.S. and World Premiere of “Manlife: The Last of the Lawsonians.”

Podcast Talk: Michael Galinsky’s ‘All the Rage’ at Chicago Underground Film Fest on June 3, 2017

All the Rage

CHICAGO – Dealing with pain has become almost an obsession with Americans. Between over the counter sales of pain relievers, doctor visits and the prescription abuse of painkillers, a crisis has come about. Why are we hurting? Director Michael Galinsky, with co-directors Suki Hawley and David Beilinson, explore an alternative means of pain treatment in “All the Rage.”

Film Review: The Human Being Behind the Greatness in ‘Churchill’

Churchill

CHICAGO – Winston Churchill, except to hardcore history buffs, is fast fading from the cultural radar. Often called the Greatest Briton Ever, the lion who led his people for so many years became a bit toothless during the greatest World War II battle ever conceived, D-Day the Sixth of June. That moment in his life, and the lives of those around him, is the subject of the magnificent new film, “Churchill.”

Interview, Audio: Comedian Demetri Martin on His Film ‘Dean’

CHICAGO – The dry, hangdog demeanor of comedian Demetri Martin is familiar to fans who have watched his Comedy Central show, “Important Things,” experienced his notable stand up routines and read his best-selling books. It seemed a natural to leap into film, so Martin has written, directed and portrays the title character in the new release, “Dean.”

Film Feature: HollywoodChicago.com Remembers Roger Moore as Bond, James Bond

Roger Moore

CHICAGO – “Shaken, Not Stirred.” “Bond, James Bond.” “Jaws.” All the Bond iconography was celebrated by the actor who portrayed him in the most films, and the longest time period. Sir Roger Moore brought a suave and quipping JB to the filmgoers of the 1970s and ‘80s, so the film writers of HollywoodChicago.com – Jon Espino, Patrick McDonald and Spike Walters – bring essays in honor of their favorite Roger Moore Bond films.

Exclusive Portraits: Helen Mirren & Taylor Hackford Honored at Cinema/Chicago Gala

CHICAGO – There ain’t nothing like Dame Helen Mirren, international star and Oscar winner for “The Queen.” She, along with her husband Taylor Hackford (director of “Ray” and “An Officer and a Gentleman”), were honored at the Cinema/Chicago Spring Gala on May 24, 2017.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Monica Raymund on set for 'Tanya'

    CHICAGOTV fans know Monica Raymund as paramedic Gabby Dawson on the long-running “Chicago Fire.” But the talented actor is expanding her range, debuting her first film as director, “Tanya,” at the Midwest Independent Film Festival on Tuesday, August 1st, 2017. The short film – written by Sam Forman – will be part of “Female Filmmakers Night” at the Midwest Indie, and is part of Raymund’s involvement with Hidden Tears Project, an organization dedicated to raising consciousness by creating media on gender inequality, sexual abuse and human trafficking.

  • They're Playing Our Song

    CHICAGO – During the late disco era of the 1970s, an unusual musical opened on Broadway. Essentially a two person stage play, “They’re Playing Our Song” involved a songwriter and a lyricist who develop a stronger connection than just writing partners. The always passionate Brown Paper Box Co. of Chicago has unearthed this chestnut with a bright and fun revival at the Rivendell Theatre through August 20th, 2017.

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