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Film Review: Johnny Depp Stays Afloat in ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales’

CHICAGO – The “Pirates Of The Caribbean” series has undergone a strange transformation over five films. The first film was better than any movie “based on a theme park ride” then it had any business being. But now in its fifth film voyage, “Dead Men Tell No Tales” bears a closer resemblance to the ride now more that ever.

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.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Adam West, LIFE Magazine

    CHICAGO – As they say about Adam West’s interpretation of Batman, “he hit so hard, that words describing the impact appeared out of thin air.” But there was more to him than just the superhero tights, as Patrick McDonald, Spike Walters and Jon Espino of HollywoodChicago.com remember the three main characters in the career of Adam West, who passed away last week.

  • Jeff Awards, 2017

    CHICAGO – The 44th edition of the Non-Equity Jeff Awards were given out on June 5th, 2017, at what insiders call “the theater prom.” The event honors the non-union smaller or “storefront” theater companies, and their efforts to produce quality stage work. Hosted in grand style by Alexis Roston and Lillian Castillo, the recipients of the top play was “At the Table” by the Broken Nose Theatre and top musical was “High Fidelity” by the Refuge Theatre Project.

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