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Film Review: Melissa McCarthy is the Charming ‘Life of the Party’

CHICAGO – Melissa McCarthy is a comedic force to be reckoned with, able to wring laughs improbably out of the stingiest of material. She always manages to find the funny, which helps elevate everyone around her, and so she slips easily in the durable friendly constructs of the campus comedy in “Life Of The Party.”

Film Review: There Are Just Enough Reasons to Go Ape Over ‘Rampage’

CHICAGO - As a whole, we have a fascination with watching destruction in front of us. It provides a catharsis from our heavily stressed lives, especially in the Trump era. It provides a necessary release of aggression, the same way video games do for people. “Rampage” scratches that itch, but only if you aren’t also looking to be intellectually stimulated or care about plot coherence.

Film Review: For Better or Worse, ‘Ready Player One’ is Nostalgia at its Purest

CHICAGO – Just in time for Easter, there’s a film filled with enough Easter eggs to drown a small country. “Ready Player One” is a “Where’s Waldo” of mostly 80’s pop culture references that are meant to trigger our (and especially filmmaker Steven Spielberg’s) sentimental, nostalgic cores by bombarding us with reminders of our childhood. These trips down memory lane are fun until they’re not.

Film Review: ‘Everything, Everything’ Offers Close to Nothing, Nothing

CHICAGO – I’ll be the first to admit that I am not the target audience for these stock young adult romance novels. Aside from the odd fascination and romanticization of teenage death and terminal illness, these stories feel trite and much closer to fantasy than anything real or plausible. This is what the film “Everything, Everything” brings to the table, which essentially translates to Nothing, Nothing.

Film Review: ‘King Arthur: Legend of the Sword’ is a Dull, Magicless Bore

CHICAGO – Have you ever had such a bad case of déjà vu while watching a film that trying to remember where the familiar elements are from turns into a more enjoyable experience than actually seeing the film itself? If you haven’t, your quest for that kind of film is fulfilled by the incredibly forgettable “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.”

Film Review: There is Little Beauty to Be Found in ‘Collateral Beauty’

CHICAGO – Charles Dickens once said, “Reflect upon your present blessings — of which every man has many — not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” Seeing the trailer for “Collateral Beauty,” it’s obvious this is the theme of the film, but it is also the theme of this review. My “blessing” to you is the foresight not to waste your time with this film.

Film Review: It is Best to Steer Clear of This ‘Entourage’

CHICAGO – I actually did watch the HBO show this big-screen iteration is based on, and I looked back in surprise to find the show actually lasted for 8 years. That’s a long time for a show that peaked in season two, and petered out into irrelevance somewhere around season four or so.

Blu-Ray Review: Timeless ‘King Kong’ Given Gorgeous HD Treatment

King Kong

CHICAGO – Is there any better metaphor in the history of film for technology taking over nature than the planes that shoot down King Kong at the end of Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack’s 1933 classic? At the height of the depression, when 25% of the workforce was unemployed, the two adventure-seekers and his team took that metaphor and spun it around an amazingly slice of entertainment that would become one of the most influential and enjoyable films ever made, now available on Blu-ray.

Blu-Ray Review: Robert Altman’s ‘The Player’ Has Lost None of Its Power

The Player

CHICAGO – Robert Altman’s “The Player” is one of the more important and influential films in the life of this film critic. It came out at a time when the film industry was in a bit of a slump and stood out as an original, creative, mesmerizing vision that I feel helped usher in a period of such productivity in the ’90s. It is a brilliant masterpiece that has lost none of its power almost twenty years after its release.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Jesus Christ Superstar, Lyric Opera

    CHICAGO – As a wee lad, I would often go into my parent’s record collection. One day, out of the blue, that brown double album with the gold embossed angels appeared, like a gift from the divine. “Jesus Christ Superstar” began as a record album “rock opera” in 1970, evolved to a Broadway show and film, and then was interpreted through a myriad of stage revivals over the years. The latest is an exciting piece of stagecraft at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. The show has a various evening/matinee run through May 20th, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

  • Cornerstone, Nothing Without a Company

    CHICAGO – We all need some help. The stage play group Nothing Without a Company realizes that, and has collaborated with the organization “Cornerstone” to provide that assistance. Cornerstone is a seminar and a happening in downtown Chicago, facilitated by “experts” to generate your potential. The presentation has a Thursday-Sunday run at Michigan Avenue’s Artspace 8 through May 6th, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

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