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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.

Interview: John Krasinski Turns Toward Family in ‘The Hollars’

CHICAGO – Any story involving family interactions is ripe for exploration, and John Krasinski (“The Office”) performs in and takes the director’s chair for the new film, “The Hollars.” This is his second directorial effort, looking at the somewhat dysfunctional title family during a medical crisis involving the mother (Margo Martindale).

Film Review: ‘Equity’ Tells a Story of Women in High Finance

CHICAGO – The key moment in “Equity” is early in the film. The main character was asked at a seminar why she got into high level finance. She paused for a second, and said “money.” The gals can be just as greedy as the guys, and their stakes in that greed can be just as exploitable.

Interview: Director Rebecca Miller Executes ‘Maggie’s Plan’

CHICAGO – Quirky Greta Gerwig is at it again (being quirky), and this time she’s looking for solutions in “Maggie’s Plan.” The made-in-New-York-City film has overtures of Woody Allen, combined with “Crossing Delancey.” Director Rebecca Miller (“Personal Velocity”) produces a valentine to all her influences and settings.

Film Review: Susan Sarandon Plays Smother Mother in ‘The Meddler’

CHICAGO – Some mothers are born great, others have greatness thrust upon them. The Mom of “The Meddler” – portrayed with precise intuition by Susan Sarandon – is of the greatness-of-the-future variety, by simply evolving to be herself. Rose Byrne as daughter Lori tags along.

Interview: Director Lorene Scafaria Presents ‘The Meddler’

CHICAGO – The combining of icon Susan Sarandon and a “smother mother” from New Jersey is unbeatable, especially under the sure hand of writer/director Lorene Scafaria. The distinctive voice that brought us “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World,’ now is taking on mother/daughter relationships in “The Meddler.”

Interview: Actor Don Cheadle Discovers Himself ‘Miles Ahead’

CHICAGO – Like improvisational jazz, the performance career of Don Cheadle has many moods, directions and shadings. For his latest film, he takes on the titles of co-writer and director, along with the lead role of music legend Miles Davis. This all comes together is the aptly titled “Miles Ahead.”

Interview: Melissa Rauch Finishes First in ‘The Bronze’

CHICAGO – She’s conquered television, and now it’s time for the movies. Melissa Rauch – also known as Bernadette on “The Big Bang Theory” – has created a new, uniquely voiced character named Hope Greggory. The character is a third placed, foul-mouthed Olympic gymnast in the new film “The Bronze.”

Film Review: Personal Holocaust Horror is Rooted in ‘Son of Saul’

CHICAGO – The Oscar nominated, Golden Globe winning Best Foreign Language Film is a another trip into the well of horror that was the Holocaust. After over 100 movie treatments, director László Nemes finds a more personal story to tell, and it all unfolds in “Son of Saul.”

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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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