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Film Review: Fantasy & Feelings Comingle in ‘A Monster Calls’

Monster Calls, A

CHICAGO – The nature of dying, especially in process with a close loved one, is a testing ground for unwieldy and alien emotions. When, why and how we’re challenged does not have a timetable, nor a convenience. All of this is played out as fantasy in the vital “A Monster Calls.”

Film Review: ‘Finding Dory’ Essentially Finds Its Sweet Spot

CHICAGO – Pixar’s sequel to its underwater animated tearjerker “Finding Nemo” isn’t quite in the same league, but “Finding Dory” is satisfying all the same. This time the story focuses on Marlin and Nemo’s forgetful friend Dory, as she searches for the family she can’t quite remember.

Film Review: Consciousness Morality for Robots in Odd ‘Chappie’

CHICAGO – Who would think a robot movie would teach us about being more intuitively “human”? “Chappie” is a very peculiar film – with fighting robots, violence and grit on one side, and the tenderness of finding a nurturing source and a consciousness on the other. It is worth experiencing.

Film Review: No Faith in the Spectacle of ‘Exodus: Gods and Kings’

CHICAGO – The world certainly didn’t need another “Ten Commandments,” but director Ridley Scott tries to remake the 50’s Biblical epic anyway – led by Christian Bale as a scowling and shouting Moses. Yet Bale can’t hold a staff to Charlton Heston and Scott is no Cecil B. DeMille.

DVD Review: Frustrating USA Mini-Series ‘Political Animals’

Political Animals

CHICAGOUSA’s mini-series “Political Animals” should have been one of the TV events of 2012. Instead it was just one of its biggest disappointments. That cast! That subject! In a political, election season! Zzzzzzz. Sadly, the creators of “Political Animals” delivered a program more like “Dallas” than “The West Wing” and viewers tuned out to the degree that the potential second season was canned. Now we can see what went wrong in one lackluster DVD set.

Blu-ray Review: Criterion Upgrades Ang Lee’s Masterful ‘The Ice Storm’

The Ice Storm

CHICAGO – Ang Lee won his second Oscar this year for his work on “Life of Pi” but he wasn’t even nominated for one of the best films of his career, the masterful “The Ice Storm,” recently upgraded to Blu-ray by Criterion and re-released on DVD. Few films from 1997 have held up more completely as Lee’s adaptation of the Rick Moody novel feels even more symbolically dense and accomplished. It’s a stellar drama, one of the best of the ’90s, and Criterion has loaded it down with special features.

Film Review: Cillian Murphy, Robert De Niro in Messy ‘Red Lights’

CHICAGO – “Red Lights” is a mess. And yet it’s also not messy enough. Rodrigo Cortes follows up his vastly superior “Buried” with this supernatural tale filled with plot contrivances that would make M. Night Shyamalan call bullshit. Still, he does so with a direct, straightforward style when a bit less polish would have given it the character it’s missing.

Interview: Cillian Murphy, Rodrigo Cortes Run ‘Red Lights’

CHICAGO – Writer/director Rodrigo Cortes really broke through with the award-winning “Buried,” starring Ryan Reynolds. He returns this week with a very different thriller called “Red Lights,” starring the great Cillian Murphy, who joined Mr. Cortes recently in Chicago for a discussion about “2001,” working with Robert De Niro, and the complexity of audience expectations.

TV Review: Sigourney Weaver Carries USA’s Disappointing ‘Political Animals’

CHICAGO – I’m a political junkie who naturally loves to follow the world of journalism as well and so I was psyched about the premiere of USA’s mini-series, “Political Animals,” a star-studded affair about how a powerful Washington family deals with a headstrong reporter and the secrets they still hope to keep.

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  • Bobby Pin Girls

    CHICAGO – The “breeder years” are difficult on everyone, as the biological imperative becomes overwhelming and the couplings that result yield both discovery and misadventure. Nothing Without a Company’s new play “Bobby Pin Girls” highlight two such Millennial women, roommates who are having man trouble, although the argument can be made that it’s eternally “boy trouble.” The show has a Thursday-Sunday run at the Chicago Mosaic School through December 3rd, 2017. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

  • Transformers 5 front

    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. It’s goofiness is its charm, and it was released on Blu-Ray/DVD on September 26th, 2017 (Digital HD already available).

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