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Film Review: Toni Collette Discovers that Horror is ‘Hereditary’

CHICAGO – The classic horror/psychological films continue to chill our souls long after the experience of them. “Hereditary” uses a masterful performance by Toni Collette, and layers it with symbolic commentary and freaky scares to accomplish that lingering discomfort. After viewing it, the cluck of the tongue will never be the same.

Podtalk: Actor Blake Jenner Nurtures ‘American Animals’

Blake Jenner of AMERICAN ANIMALS

CHICAGO – One of the coolest-cat young actors is Blake Jenner. The versatile performer began his career on TV’s “Glee,” portraying Ryder Lynn. Since that time, three short years ago, he has broken out in a big way, landing in the ensemble cast of “Everybody Wants Some!!” and “The Edge of Seventeen.” His latest is a combination documentary/narrative film, the unusual and absorbing “American Animals.”

Film Review: Sandra Bullock & Heist Crew Con Us in ‘Ocean’s 8’

CHICAGO – In “Ocean’s 8,” a diamond necklace at the Met Gala isn’t the only thing getting ripped off. This all female knock off provides a reasonable facsimile of a facsimile of the original’s suave swagger, but doesn’t have anything else to go on. “Oceans 11” is a movie that never should have gotten a sequel, much less become some kind of a franchise.

Feature: TCM Host Ben Mankiewicz on His Father & 50 Years After Robert F. Kennedy’s Death

Robert F. Kennedy

CHICAGO – It was 50 years ago today – June 6th, 1968 – that Robert F. Kennedy died, struck down by an assassin’s bullet while in California on the presidential campaign trail. His press secretary, Frank Mankiewicz, delivered the news to the media, emphasizing that RFK was only “42 years old.” Frank Mankiewicz was the father of Ben Mankiewicz, the current host of Turner Classic Movies (TCM).

Podtalk: Bryan Wendorf of the 25th Chicago Underground Film Festival, June 6-10, 2018

CHICAGO – Even though the definition of “underground” changes at lightning speed in the digital age, the perennial Chicago Underground Film Festival (CUFF) is presenting it’s 25th edition, and it grows in influence every year.

Podtalk: Noga Ashkenazi of ‘Saints Rest,’ at Midwest Independent Film Fest on June 5, 2018

Saints Rest

CHICAGO – Another new voice has emerged on the film scene, and she is ready for her close-up. The director and co-writer (with Tyson Stock) of “Saints Rest” is Noga Ashkenazi, a filmmaker who grew up in Tel Aviv (Israel), but studied at Grinnell College in Iowa. Her new film is set in Grinnell, and will make its Midwest Premiere at the Midwest Independent Film Festival in Chicago on Tuesday, June 5th, 2018. For more information, including ticket purchasing, click here.

Film Review: A Fashionable Life in ‘The Gospel According to André’

Gospel According to Andre, The

CHICAGO – He’s not a household name, but his influence has affected the closets of those households. André Leon Talley (“ALT”) is a New York City fashionista of the highest order, despite a background that would never predict that fate. But a person in the right place at the right time with the right work ethic can product magical results, and “The Gospel According to André” conjures that journey for Talley.

Film Review: Man & Machine Come Together For a Sci-Fi ‘Upgrade’

CHICAGO – “We can rebuild him, we have the technology…” Those words from the 1970s series “The Six Million Dollar Man” seems more truth than science fiction these days, as breakthroughs in humans plus robotics get ever closer to rebuilding us. This is all explored in the fun and action-oriented film “Upgrade.”

Interview: Ginger Zee on Her New Book ‘Chasing Helicity’

CHICAGO – Ginger Zee is more than a popular meteorologist who comes into homes during the A.M. on “Good Morning America.” She is also an advocate in her pursuit of weather reporting and a newly minted writer of fiction. She combined both for middle school readers, in her new book “Chasing Helicity.”

Film Review: Awkward Human Nature Explored in ‘On Chesil Beach’

CHICAGO – If you hook up with people for that inevitable physical connection, you’ve experienced the odd emotional wrestling match of the “first time” – whether it’s the first “first time” or any other new partner first time. “On Chesil Beach” focuses on a young British couple in 1962, as they first time their virginal wedding night.

Theater Review: Nothing Without a Company’s ‘ThroatPunch’ Reacts Through its Performers

ThroatPunch

CHICAGO – The provocative title of Sharon Krome’s new stage play, “ThroatPunch,” does not contain that particular fight technique. But it does have standout performances by the three person cast, as they make their way in Chicago, circa 1983, amid their emerging twentysomething punk rock attitude. The World Premiere of the show has a Thursday-Sunday run at the Chicago Mosaic School through June 3rd, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

Exclusive Photo: Happy Birthday to Movie & TV Icon Joan Collins

Joan Collins, portrait by Joe Arce

CHICAGO – The ageless Joan Collins is probably best known for the prime time soap opera “Dynasty,” which ran from 1981 to 1989, but she is also a throwback to the last of the old studio system in Hollywood, when she was signed to a contract with 20th Century Fox in 1955. For her latest act, she will appear in the upcoming eighth season of FX Channel’s “American Horror Story.” Her birthday, May 23rd, is today.

Film Review: Story is Just a So-So for ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’

CHICAGO – “Solo: A Star Wars Story” is one intergalactic space adventure that sadly never makes the jump to light speed. The end result Is not awful, it’s not great, it’s just kinda okay… it slavishly attends to the beats hinted at in the original trilogy without offering much in the way of surprises, or freshness.

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  • Cher Show, The

    CHICAGO – Cherilyn Sarkisian… yes, that is her birth name… is the redoubtable Cher, and it’s perfect timing for her to have a jukebox musical tribute. “The Cher Show,” covering three eras/songs of the six-decade career of Cher, opens for a Chicago preview before its Broadway run, from June 12th through July 25th, 2018.

  • ThroatPunch

    CHICAGO – The provocative title of Sharon Krome’s new stage play, “ThroatPunch,” does not contain that particular fight technique. But it does have standout performances by the three person cast, as they make their way in Chicago, circa 1983, amid their emerging twentysomething punk rock attitude. The World Premiere of the show has a Thursday-Sunday run at the Chicago Mosaic School through June 3rd, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

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