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Stephen Merchant

Film Review: As Comedy, ‘Table 19’ Only Serves Hor d’Oeuvres

CHICAGO – “Table 19” is an example of a movie that doesn’t try to do too much. It simply takes its little idea and lets it play out, without the forced subplots and desperate stabs of fake urgency so many studio comedies resort to – it’s one part aimless hang out comedy, one part rom-com.

Film Review: ‘Logan’ Bares Its Sharp Claws & Eviscerates Us Emotionally

CHICAGO – There is a war raging in the comic book cinematic universe where filmmakers think that these kinds of films should embrace their over the top (verging on campy) nature while others think they should be darker and made deathly serious. “Logan” proves that they are both wrong as it strikes a balance between all of those elements while remaining true to the character.

Preview: Just for Laughs Chicago 2012 From TBS Kicks Off June 12, 2012

Just for Laughs Chicago 2012

CHICAGO – If a collective chorus of guffaws is heard throughout the Windy City this week, blame it on the ‘Just for Laughs Chicago’ 2012 Festival. From June 12th-17th, stages large and small throughout Chicagoland will feature some of the hottest comedy acts, stars and the taping of the ‘Conan’ TBS chat show, featuring Conan O’Brien and Andy Richter.

TV Review: HBO’s ‘Eastbound & Down,’ ‘Life’s Too Short’ Offer Unique Takes on Comedy

CHICAGOHBO brings back a few of their most larger-than-life personalities with the third (and final) season premiere of “Eastbound & Down” and the stateside premiere of “Life’s Too Short.”

TV on DVD Round-up: ‘The Adventures of Merlin,’ ‘An Idiot Abroad,’ ‘Primeval’

Primeval

CHICAGO – We’re back with another DVD Round-up of recently released titles that may catch your attention when you’re browsing the DVD store this week. (Do they still have DVD stores?) This time, read this entire piece aloud in a British accent.

DVD Review: Special Edition of BBC’s Original ‘The Office’

The Office BBC

CHICAGO – I can still vividly remember when it was announced that NBC was to air a remake of the incredible British series “The Office.” Those of us familiar with the original thought it was a VERY bad idea. A guy from “The Daily Show” filling the shoes of Ricky Gervais? Now it’s safe to say, the current season excepted, that the remake has eclipsed the original. It leads me to wonder if there isn’t a whole generation now that doesn’t even know the NBC version is a remake. School them with “The Office: Special Edition,” now available for discerning Black Friday shoppers everywhere.

Blu-Ray Review: ‘Gnomeo & Juliet’ Falls Flat as Busted Yard Display

Gnomeo and Juliet

CHICAGO – The animated adventure “Gnomeo & Juliet,” recently released on Blu-ray and DVD, features an A-list voice cast and some beloved hits by Sir Elton John, but just getting talent in the recording booth either musically or merely vocally does not a movie make and the script for this thing is so uninspired and accompanied by lackluster visuals that it’s just dull to anyone over ten.

Video Game Review: Inventive, Clever, Addictive World of ‘Portal 2’

CHICAGO – “Portal 2” feels so unlike any of the dozens of games that I play every year for review that it’s nearly hard to put into words. Video game critics train themselves with their approach to shooters, sports games, mini-game collections, etc. But how do you approach something this original, this unique, and this clever without sounding hyperbolic? It’s impossible. “Portal 2” is an amazing achievement.

DVD Review: Hysterical Animation of HBO’s ‘The Ricky Gervais Show’

Ricky Gervais Show

CHICAGO – Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant are two of the funniest men alive. Their work on “The Office” and “Extras” stills stands up as brilliant, clever, and consistently hysterical. Their quick wit made them a perfect fit for the world of the podcast and it’s simply spectacular that they hold the Guinness title for the most-downloaded audio recordings. The smash hit podcasts have been turned into an animated HBO series, returning to the network on Friday, January 14th, 2011, shortly after the DVD release of the first season.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Jesus Christ Superstar, Lyric Opera

    CHICAGO – As a wee lad, I would often go into my parent’s record collection. One day, out of the blue, that brown double album with the gold embossed angels appeared, like a gift from the divine. “Jesus Christ Superstar” began as a record album “rock opera” in 1970, evolved to a Broadway show and film, and then was interpreted through a myriad of stage revivals over the years. The latest is an exciting piece of stagecraft at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. The show has a various evening/matinee run through May 20th, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

  • Cornerstone, Nothing Without a Company

    CHICAGO – We all need some help. The stage play group Nothing Without a Company realizes that, and has collaborated with the organization “Cornerstone” to provide that assistance. Cornerstone is a seminar and a happening in downtown Chicago, facilitated by “experts” to generate your potential. The presentation has a Thursday-Sunday run at Michigan Avenue’s Artspace 8 through May 6th, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

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