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Toni Collette

Film Review: ‘xXx: Return of Xander Cage’ is Action as Phantasm

CHICAGO – The true miracle of “xXx: Return of Xander Cage” – besides constantly breaking the law of physics – was making the sonorous line readings of Vin Diesel almost palatable. This over-the-top action fantastic turns up every implausibility dial to the red zone, but satisfactorily entertains.

Film Review: Unfunny ‘Tammy’ is a Melissa McCarthy Misfire

Tammy front

CHICAGO – Melissa McCarthy has jumped the shark. Or if she hasn’t, she’s strapped on the skis and is contemplating the ramp. Going once more to the same character well – this time with a script co-written with her husband Ben Falcone and directed by him – McCarthy shows little originality or gumption as the title character in “Tammy..”

HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: 50 Pairs of Passes to ‘Tammy’ With Melissa McCarthy

CHICAGO – In the latest HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: Film, we have 50 pairs of advance-screening movie passes up for grabs to the new “R”-rated comedyTammy” starring Melissa McCarthy and Susan Sarandon!

Blu-ray Review: Sweet, Sentimental ‘The Way, Way Back’

The Way, Way Back

CHICAGO – “The Way, Way Back” made a solid $21 million domestically but I kind of expected it to be an even bigger hit when I saw it back in January at the Sundance Film Festival. I saw several dozen films at this year’s fest and nothing produced a response like Nat Faxon & Jim Rash’s sweet, sentimental comedy. The audience I saw it with LOVED it. And now that it’s on Blu-ray and DVD, I expect it to reach an even bigger audience through word-of-mouth recommendations. It’s a fun, clever movie with some great performances, including a supporting turn by Sam Rockwell that stands with the best of the year.

Film Review: Romantic Comedy ‘Enough Said’ is a Sweet, Gentle Gem

CHICAGO – The plot description which this review will eventually get to is going to make Nicole Holofcener’s “Enough Said” sound sitcomish. It’s a conceit straight out of Must-See TV.

TV Review: Great Cast, Clever Concept Carry ‘Hostages’

CHICAGOCBS’s “Hostages” is the first interesting new drama of 2013 (well, tied with NBC’s “The Blacklist,” which airs at the same time tonight, Monday, September 23, 2013). It’s not an instant hit creatively but there’s a lot to like here, particularly in its great cast and clever concept, one that engages the viewer enough with the promise of excitement for all fifteen weeks of this shortened season.

Film Review: For a Real Summer Movie, Go ‘The Way, Way Back’

CHICAGO – Nothing evokes the time, sights and smells of summer like the getaway resort. The long days, the mystery of night, the first crush and the summer job are all brought back in the soapy yet fun “The Way, Way Back,” featuring Steve Carell, Sam Rockwell and Allison Janney.

Film Review: Hard to Wrap Head Around Misguided ‘Mental’

CHICAGO – Despite boasting the talented efforts of the always-great and tragically underrated Toni Collette, P.J. Hogan’s “Mental,” opening this weekend in Chicago, is a tonal mess. It’s a bewilderingly strange movie, the kind of thing that one might write off as being lost in translation from its Australian origin before realizing it wasn’t that funny there either.

Film Review: ‘Hitchcock’ at its Heart is a Relationship Film

CHICAGO – The great director Alfred Hitchcock had morphed to legend rather than a man, so it’s interesting that two films have recently been released about his all-too-human foibles. The feature film, starring Sir Anthony Hopkins as the director, gets inside the man’s relationships in “Hitchcock.”

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Monica Raymund on set for 'Tanya'

    CHICAGOTV fans know Monica Raymund as paramedic Gabby Dawson on the long-running “Chicago Fire.” But the talented actor is expanding her range, debuting her first film as director, “Tanya,” at the Midwest Independent Film Festival on Tuesday, August 1st, 2017. The short film – written by Sam Forman – will be part of “Female Filmmakers Night” at the Midwest Indie, and is part of Raymund’s involvement with Hidden Tears Project, an organization dedicated to raising consciousness by creating media on gender inequality, sexual abuse and human trafficking.

  • They're Playing Our Song

    CHICAGO – During the late disco era of the 1970s, an unusual musical opened on Broadway. Essentially a two person stage play, “They’re Playing Our Song” involved a songwriter and a lyricist who develop a stronger connection than just writing partners. The always passionate Brown Paper Box Co. of Chicago has unearthed this chestnut with a bright and fun revival at the Rivendell Theatre through August 20th, 2017.

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