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Film Review: Fantasy & Feelings Comingle in ‘A Monster Calls’

Monster Calls, A

CHICAGO – The nature of dying, especially in process with a close loved one, is a testing ground for unwieldy and alien emotions. When, why and how we’re challenged does not have a timetable, nor a convenience. All of this is played out as fantasy in the vital “A Monster Calls.”

Film Feature: The 10 Best Films of 2016, By Patrick McDonald

CHICAGO – It’s that time of the film year, the “Ten Best” lists. In representing my 2016 picks – as “Patrick McDonald” – I looked for the emotional experience as much as anything. I think every filmgoer, from the most casual to the ardent buff, adhere to their favorites through that feeling of connection.

Exclusive Portrait: Author & Actress Felicia Day in the Spotlight

Felicia Day, photo by Joe Arce

CHICAGO – Familiar to video gamers everywhere with her web series “The Guild,” actress and author Felicia Day had a very busy 2016 with the release of her book, “You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost).” Photographer Joe Arce of HollywoodChicago.com shot this Exclusive Portrait of Ms. Day in April of 2016.

Film Review: ‘Neruda’ Turns the Biography Film Into Fine Art

CHICAGO – “In me nothing is extinguished or forgotten…” is a single line from a poem by Pablo Neruda (“If You Forget Me”), and succinctly describes the film tribute to him, written by Neruda’s fellow Chilean countryman Guillermo Calderón, and directed with grace by another Chilean, Pablo Larrain.

Film Review: ‘Lion’ Can’t Quite Tame Audience’s Hearts

CHICAGO – “Lion” is the kind of inspirational-triumph-over-insurmountable-odds and adversity stories that’s bound to appeal to grandmothers and Academy voters, and it does offer plenty of material to tug at the heartstrings. But it’s a movie that only gets the job half done, and unfortunately loses its way once Nicole Kidman comes into the picture.

Film News: Remembering Debbie Reynolds, in 2009 Interview

LOS ANGELES – The shocking news of the passing of Debbie Reynolds, hours after her daughter Carrie Fisher passed away, is still resonating in the 2016 atmosphere. Ms. Reynolds died of a massive stroke on December 28th, at her son’s home near Los Angeles, while making funeral arrangements for her daughter. She was 84.

Exclusive Portrait: Carrie Fisher at the 2016 Chicago Wizard World Comic Con

Carrie Fisher, photo by Joe Arce

CHICAGO – As the shock of Carrie Fisher’s passing – on December 27th, 2016 – still resonates, HollywoodChicago.com offers this Exclusive Portrait of the icon taken by photographer Joe Arce at the 2016 Chicago Wizard World Comic Con in August. Ms. Fisher made her first appearance at the Chicago event, greeting fans and signing autographs.

Film News: Carrie Fisher of ‘Star Wars’ Fame Dies at 60

LOS ANGELES – The force was always with Carrie Fisher to the day she passed away…Tuesday, December 27th, 2016. The actress and writer died of the heart attack she suffered on a flight from London to Los Angeles four days ago. Best known for her role as Princess Leia in the first “Star Wars” trilogy, she was 60 years old.

Film Review: ‘Assassin’s Creed’ Has Odd Breeding for a Movie

Assassin's Creed

CHICAGO – I’m not a gamer, but of course I’ve heard about “Assassin’s Creed.” The film based on the video game is a wild and undisciplined attempt to expand that particular universe, but does succeed in creating an oddball science fiction that has implications in geo-religious power and control.

Film Review: Brainiac Fulfillment is the Key to ‘Hidden Figures’

CHICAGO – In America, there is the history we have, and the history that we want to have happened. “Hidden Figures” falls into the second category, but it’s presented in such a way that it fulfills the goal – tell an amazing story about a group of African American women who helped launch men into space.

Film Review: Story Can’t Match Eye-Popping Visuals of ‘Passengers’

Passengers

CHICAGO – The use of science fiction for all kind of stories is one of the hottest go-to genres for Hollywood today. “Passengers” is a love story, and adds the visual glory of modern special effects…but the soapy tale of a star-crossed (literally) couple is problematic and cliché ridden, and breaks at the end with heroics that are shoehorned into the rest of the scenario.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Kid Thing, The

    CHICAGO – Like the awesome Engine Who Could, the mighty Nothing Without a Company stage crafters have constructed another triumph at their new home in Berger Mansion on Chicago’s north side. “The Kid Thing” – written by Sarah Gubbins – is a terse, convincing and emotional play about fear, identity and breeding, and it is performed by its cast of five with utter authenticity. The show has a Thursday-Sunday run at the Berger North Mansion through April 15th, 2017. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

  • Wiz, The

    CHICAGO – When stage theater can cause outbreaks of elation, celebration and joy, then it must be due to Kokandy Productions’ revival of “The Wiz.” The urban reinterpretation of “The Wizard of Oz” story – told through tuneful euphoria and jubilant dance – is ecstatically produced, in every morsel of its stagecraft.

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