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Film Review: Emotionally Perfect Cowboy Elegy in ‘The Hero’

CHICAGO – The great character actor Sam Elliott – known mostly for his cowboy roles in film/TV and his unique bass sounding voiceovers – gets an opportunity to deliver a nuanced and emotional performance as a hyper-realized version of himself. There is virtue and truth in this character journey.

Interview, Audio: Director Brett Haley Discovers ‘The Hero’

CHICAGO – The familiar character actor and voiceover artist, Sam Elliott, has been breaking out in that latter part of his career. Known for his cowboy roles, smooth bass-tone voice and epic mustache, the icon has been seen lately in diverse roles in “Grandma,” “Digging for Fire,” “Grace and Frankie” and his latest – and perhaps greatest – “The Hero.”

Film Review: Chef Emerges in ‘Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent’

Jeremiah Tower

CHICAGO – The culture of food has never been more pervasive, from entire broadcast channels devoted to it, to new trends in eating being invented seemingly every day. Where did it all start? The new film ‘Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent’ documents the chef that opened the door.

Film Review: ‘Neruda’ Turns the Biography Film Into Fine Art

CHICAGO – “In me nothing is extinguished or forgotten…” is a single line from a poem by Pablo Neruda (“If You Forget Me”), and succinctly describes the film tribute to him, written by Neruda’s fellow Chilean countryman Guillermo Calderón, and directed with grace by another Chilean, Pablo Larrain.

Film Review: Superb Allegorical Story Told in Essential ‘Christine’

Christine

CHICAGO – In one of the great American films of the year, character actor Rebecca Hall interprets a based-on-truth incident from the 1970s, as she portrays the title character of “Christine.” The film encapsulates the nature of mental health, gender issues and the pursuit of random numbers.

Interview: Roger Ross Williams Creates a ‘Life, Animated’

CHICAGO – The mystery of the particulars within an autistic mind is a theme in a new documentary, as a man named Owen Suskind is profiled through his personal breakthroughs using the animated films of the Walt Disney Studios. Director Roger Ross Williams introduces the unusual journey in the compelling “Life, Animated.”

Interview: Director Sebastián Silva Delivers a ‘Nasty Baby’

Nasty Baby

CHICAGO – “Nasty Baby” is a family film, with a family that consists of a gay/mixed race couple, and their best girlfriend who wants to have a baby with them. This unconventionality is made less remarkable simply because the characters are all motivated by their own fragile egos – which sometimes is good, and sometimes not so much.

Interview: Actor Jake Johnson on Evolving in ‘Digging for Fire’

CHICAGO – Actor Jake Johnson is expanding his presence in movies, and much of that has to do with his collaboration with director – and Chicago native – Joe Swanberg. Johnson and Swanberg have teamed up for their second film, after the success of 2013’s “Drinking Buddies, and are listed as co-writers in “Digging for Fire.”

Interview: Adam Scott Wants Everyone There For ‘The Overnight’

CHICAGO – Adam Scott has become familiar to audiences through his five year run as Ben Wyatt on TV’s “Parks and Recreation,” but he is also creating a presence on the big screen, with various supporting roles in big films (“The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”) and his latest comedy, “The Overnight.”

Interviews: Two More Filmmakers at 2015 Chicago Critics Film Festival

James Ponsoldt, photo by Joe Arce

CHICAGO – The showcase and respect given to filmmakers at the recently completed 2015 Chicago Critics Film Festival (CCFF) meant that the top directors made appearances on behalf of their featured films. James Ponsoldt of “The End of the Tour” and Patrick Brice of “The Overnight” are two prime artists at the top of their game.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • 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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