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Walt Disney Studios

Film Review: Flawless ‘Beauty and the Beast’ is a New Classic

CHICAGO – Do not doubt the power of live action to create a new atmosphere of joy and…dare I say it…beauty. The re-imagining of the animated classic “Beauty and the Beast” is everything that the previous was and much more. It packs a true and emotional wallop that follows through to the end.

Film Review: Discover the 2017 Oscar Short Film Nominees

CHICAGO – One of the more overlooked set of nominees at Academy Awards time is two categories for Best Short Film – Live Action and Animated. The 2017 nominees are packaged as two presentations that are currently screening in Chicago at the Landmark Century Centre Cinema.

Film Review: Strong Cast Turns on ‘The Light Between Oceans’

CHICAGO – In the early 1970s, “Love Story” was all the rage, with its catchphrase “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” Just as sudsy, and with its own catchphrase, is “The Light Between the Oceans.” The film, set in the early 20th Century, salvages a by-the-numbers tale with fine performances.

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.”

Film Review: Sweetness & Light is the Character of ‘The BFG’

CHICAGO – One observation…when ‘The BFG” was written in 1982 by iconic children’s author Roald Dahl, little did he know that acronyms would become the way we talk. When I first saw that title, I wondered what that “F” stood for. It’s “Friendly,” by the way, which is perfect for this film.

Film Review: ‘Finding Dory’ Essentially Finds Its Sweet Spot

CHICAGO – Pixar’s sequel to its underwater animated tearjerker “Finding Nemo” isn’t quite in the same league, but “Finding Dory” is satisfying all the same. This time the story focuses on Marlin and Nemo’s forgetful friend Dory, as she searches for the family she can’t quite remember.

Film Review: ‘The Jungle Book’ is a Technical Marvel Missing Some Magic

CHICAGO – While Disney Studios’ new live action version of “The Jungle Book” is an improvement over the 1967 animated version, it’s more of a technical marvel than magical fable. And it’s unable to completely transcend the earlier version’s limitations.

Film Review: Shining Restoration of Jean Cocteau’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’

Beauty and the Beast (Cocteau)

CHICAGO – One of the legendary films in cinema history is Jean Cocteau’s “La Belle et La Bete,” also known to generations as “Beauty and the Beast.” The restored re-release is touring the country, and in Chicago it’s currently at the Gene Siskel Film Center, and Patrick McDonald of HollywoodChicago.com will lead a discussion of the film there on Monday, April 11, 2016.

Interview: Director Yuichi Satoh on ‘Poison Berry in My Brain’

Poison Berry in My Brain

CHICAGO – An extraordinary filmed recently screened in Chicago, but not for the reasons that are expected. The Japanese film “Poison Berry in My Brain” was directed by Yuichi Satoh, and starred popular native actress Yoko Maki. What was extraordinary about the film is that the plot parallels the well-received animated movie, “Inside Out,” except “Poison Berry” is live action, and the character representations of the brain controllers are manipulating a frustrated woman, not a little girl. Funny they were both conceived around the same time, and were released in the same year.

Film Review: ‘Inside Out’ is a Loving Masterwork of Pixar Animation

CHICAGO – It starts with the imagination, and the story that comes from that lightning inner creativity. Nobody, it seems, does it better than Pixar Animation, and they are taking it all to a new level. For your consideration, and in a perfect world a candidate for Best Picture, “Inside Out.”

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Downward Dog

    CHICAGO – From “Mr. Ed” to “Dog with a Blog,” talking animals have had their place on TV. The latest has origins as a web series, with the clever title “Downward Dog.” The show premieres on Wednesday, May 17th, 2017 (9:30pEST/8:30pCST), on ABC TV, and features Ned the Dog as Martin, and human companions portrayed by Allison Tolman and Lucas Neff.

  • Positively Present: An Uplifting Cabaret

    CHICAGO – When faced with adversity, the best way around it is to somehow break into song. That is the feeling behind the Brown Paper Box Co.’s “Positively Present: An Uplifting Cabaret,” running April 7th and 8th at Mary’s Attic in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood. The event features company member Kristi Szczepanek as host, and presents song stylings by other company members, including Anna Schutz, plus some special guests. For details and ticket information, click here.

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