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Film Review: Vigilante Overkill Defines Ultra-Violent ‘Death Wish’

CHICAGO – Man, talk about bad timing. With the Stoneman Douglas shootings still making news, America will now entertain itself with a vigilante doctor shooting anything he sees? Yeesh. Bruce Willis is game in the watchable-but-ultra-violent “Death Wish.”

Oscar Week: Gary Oldman is Winston Churchill in ‘Darkest Hour’

CHICAGO – He has been cleaning up in the preliminary awards so far in 2018, and he’s an odds-on favorite to take the Oscar for Best Actor on Sunday, March 4th. Veteran actor Gary Oldman donned make-up and found the right accent to portray Winston Churchill in “Darkest Hour” (also nominated for the Best Picture).

Interview: Voice Artist Rob Paulsen on ‘Animaniacs Live!’ in Grayslake, Ill. on March 3, 2018

Rob Paulsen, "Animaniacs"

CHICAGO – If the words, “We’re Animaniacs…” immediately makes you think, “There’s baloney in our slacks…” then you’ll want to experience voiceover artist Rob Paulsen, the iconic character of Yakko on that series, as well as the voice of Pinky (“Pinky and The Brain”) and Donatello/Raphael (“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”), among many other cartoon legends. Rob, with Animaniacs composer Randy Rogel, will be appearing in “Animaniacs Live!” at the James Lumber Center for the Performing Arts in Grayslake, Ill., on Saturday, March 3rd, 2018 (click link below for details).

Oscar Week: Steve James on ‘Abacus: Small Enough to Jail’

CHICAGO – Oscar Week is upon us, and Chicago is represented with a nomination in the Best Documentary (Feature) category at the 90th Academy Awards on March 4th, 2018. “Abacus: Small Enough to Jail” is directed by Steve James of Chicago’s Kartemquin Films, and is one of five nominees for the prestigious award.

Film Review: Jason Bateman & Rachel McAdams Score on ‘Game Night’

CHICAGO – A game cast elevates what is otherwise a bit of a ho hum affair in the action comedy “Game Night.” Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams are a middle class couple hosting weekly game nights with a group of good friends. But when Bateman’s competitive venture capitalist older brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler) comes to town, he promises to take game night up a notch.

Film Review: Consider the Meaning of Life Force in ‘Annihilation’

CHICAGO – Alex Garland, the standout creator/director of “Ex Machina,” is back with “Annihilation,” another science fiction story. And like the previous film, it explores implications of a sci-fi event, in this case an outer space incident that restructures a cellular code, that ends up destructive.

Theater Review: Brown Paper Box Company Hosts a Monumental ‘Speech & Debate’

Speech & Debate (stage play)

CHICAGO – “Speech & Debate,” the latest production from the mighty Brown Paper Box Company, continues their tradition of thinking outside that “box” in presenting storefront theater that makes a statement and a difference. “Speech” goes inside America by showcasing the outsiders… those who create art because they can’t get it right in real life. This non-equity Chicago stage play premiere is finely tuned and wonderfully acted, and runs through March 4th, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

Film Review: ‘Early Man’ is Unabashedly Freaking Hilarious

CHICAGO – Humor flows from one individual, and reaches another. Whether the receiver laughs or not is subjective, based on experiences and worldview. It can be agreed, however, that animator Nick Park (“Wallace & Gromit”) is hilarious, and he’ll make the world laugh in “Early Man.”

Film News: DePaul University’s Big Shoulders International Student Film Fest on Feb. 16 & 17, 2018

Big Shoulders International Film Festival

CHICAGO – As the DePaul University film school grows and evolves, it continues to have innovative ideas to promote the art of cinema. For the first time, the College of Computing and Digital Media (which encompasses the film school) is presenting the Big Shoulders International Student Film Festival. The screening events, which are free and open to the public, will take place on February 16th and 17th, 2018. For more information about the specifics of the Fest, including how to reserve a seat for the screenings, click here.

Film Review: All Forms of Heroism Available in ‘Black Panther’

CHICAGO – The fortune of the latest Marvel Studios superhero epic, “Black Panther,” lies in its solid foundation in African mythos and intelligent storytelling. And with Ryan Coogler (“Creed”) as director, there are still major confrontations and battles, intertwined into the soul.

Film Review: Diversity & High Quality in 2018 Oscar-Nominated Live Action Short Films

2018 Live Action Oscar Nominated Shorts

CHICAGO – From deafness to religious conflict to one of the most vicious events in American history, the Oscar nominated Live Action short films fulfill the drama, emotions and even laughs in a compact form. The 2018 Live Action Shorts nominees are being shown in one program, locally at the Landmark Century Centre Cinema in Chicago. Click here for more information. The Animations Shorts are also being shown.

Film Review: Strange ‘15:17 to Paris’ Can’t Make the Connection

CHICAGO – What’s up with Clint Eastwood, and why in the Sam Hill did he attach himself as director to this film? Also, why was the decision made to use the actual rescuers as the actors in a true terrorist train incident? Nothing adds up in the strangely disconnected “15:17 to Paris.”

Film Review: Zen and the Art of Cinema in ‘24 Frames’

24 Frames

CHICAGO – The legendary Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami (“Certified Copy”) passed away in 2016, but he left one more meditation on cinema and illusion, in the artistic “24 Frames.” Yes, it refers to the number of still photos that make up a second of film, but in this case it is also Kiarostami’s observations of stillness in motion.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • 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.

  • Cold War

    CHICAGO – Local filmmaking is thriving, thanks to the many creators who choose to make independent movies in Chicago. Co-directors Stirling McLaughlin and J. Wilder Konschak (also writer) brought their cast and crew to the Windy City to make their comedy, “Cold War.” The film made its digital debut on April 6th, 2018, and will be available on iTunes, Google Play, FandangoNow, Amazon, Vudu and more.

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