Stephen Merchant

Podtalk: Director Stephen Merchant for ‘Fighting with My Family’

CHICAGO – Stephen Merchant is well known for his hilarious takes on über-tall (he’s six-foot-seven) and awkward comedy. He helped create the British “The Office” TV series with longtime collaborator Ricky Gervais, and HBO shows like “Extras” and “Hello Ladies.” He writes and directs his first major feature, the pro wrestling film “Fighting with My Family.”

Film Review: Story Spins Out of Reach for ‘The Girl in the Spider’s Web’

Girl in the Spider's Web, The

CHICAGO – There is nothing wrong with revisiting The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. That tattoo has made beaucoup bucks in book and film forms (both foreign language and Americanized versions), and Claire Foy taking over for Rooney Mara in the title role is seamless. So why the totally lackluster story? Is this a narrative source problem?

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.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • It's NOT ALL About You John Michael

    CHICAGO – John Michael epitomizes the art of the monologue. The Chicago transplant, by way of Dallas, is moving on (he says temporarily) from the city that inspired his last show, “Meatball Seance,” after notorious and successful runs of his other one-man shows, “John Michael and the Order of the Penix” and “Dementia Me.” His farewell performance is his latest, another laugh riot, “It’s NOT ALL About You John Michael,” and will take place at Mary’s Attic in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood on March 1st, 2019. Click here for details, including ticket information.

  • Soccer Player in the Closet, The 2

    CHICAGO – Connecting to the theater collective Nothing Without a Company means a couple of things. One, you may visit parts of Chicago you’ve never seen before – in this case a plant store in an industrial area south of Humboldt Park – and two, you will see some daring and outside-the-box stagings. “The Soccer Player in the Closet” is their latest production – a World Premiere – and it provides what the title implies and beyond. The play runs through March 17th, 2019. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

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