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Interview: Producer George Avraam on ‘Beloved Days’ at Chicago European Union Film Fest

CHICAGO – How can the innocence of an entire nation be looked upon with nostalgia and tribute? When in 1970, a small village on the island country of Cyprus was the setting for a film company and a major movie star (Raquel Welch).

Film News: TCM Host & Film Historian Robert Osborne Dies at 84

NEW YORK CITY – Robert Osborne, one of the great film advocates and historians of our era, who hosted on Turner Classic Movies (TCM) with passionate skill from 1994 until recently, has passed away on March 6th, 2017, in New York City. The way that Mr. Osborne inspired film lovers everywhere was deep and influential. He was 84.

Theater Review: John Michael is Really Cooking in ‘Meatball Seance’

Meatball Seance

CHICAGO – Currently, one of the best monologists in Chicago – and certainly one of the nuttiest – is John Michael. After notorious and successful runs of his last two one-man shows, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Penix” and “Dementia Me,’ Michael is taking on his dating life once again in the fun and hilarious “Meatball Seance.” The show has a Thursday night slot at Mary’s Attic in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood through April 6th, 2017. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

Interview: Benjamin May on ‘The Legend of Swee’ Pea’ at the Midwest Independent Film Festival

Legend of Swee' Pea, The

CHICAGO – The road to athletic success is littered with the clichés of “might have been” and “never was,” but rarely does it contain a success story that is despite the person who achieved that success. In the early 1990s, a journeyman broke into the National Basketball Association, the first time in its history that a player that never graduated from high school made it to the big show. That man is Lloyd Daniels, and his story is in the documentary “The Legend of Swee’ Pea,” by filmmaker Benjamin May. The director will appear – with his cinematographer Daniel Levin – on behalf of his film at its Chicago premiere, presented by the Midwest Independent Film Festival on Tuesday, March 7th, 2017 (details below).

Interview: Actor David Oyelowo Presides Over ‘A United Kingdom’

CHICAGO – Actor David Oyelowo is very familiar with portraying a man of consequence put into a difficult leadership role. In 2014, he took on the role of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in “Selma.” Currently, he is in theaters with “A United Kingdom,” which tells the story of an African prince who led his country to a new mindset in the 1950s.

Theater Review: Collaboraction Exposes the ‘Gender Breakdown’

Gender Breakdown

CHICAGO – In a spectacular original work, the power of the theater comments upon the inequity of “types” for women performers in the theater and other media. Collaboration’s “Gender Breakdown” is a performance piece on how women are subject to many cattle calls just based on how they look, and how certain women – especially those of color and ethnicity – will not even be considered for roles that involve romance or portraying a lead protagonist, for example…even when doing scene training in college. The stories are direct and authentic, and burst from the hearts of the storytellers. It runs in Chicago through March 19th, 2017 (see link below).

Film Review: As Comedy, ‘Table 19’ Only Serves Hor d’Oeuvres

CHICAGO – “Table 19” is an example of a movie that doesn’t try to do too much. It simply takes its little idea and lets it play out, without the forced subplots and desperate stabs of fake urgency so many studio comedies resort to – it’s one part aimless hang out comedy, one part rom-com.

Film News: 20th Chicago European Union Film Festival Opens at Gene Siskel Center on Mar. 3, 2017

20th Chicago European Union Film Festival

CHICAGO – From March 3rd to the 30th, the 20th Chicago European Union Film Festival (CEUFF) of 2017 will unfurl at the Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago. The Opening Night Film is from Malta – and their emerging film industry – and it’s entitled “20,000 Reasons,” directed by Jameson Cucciardi. For more information, including a complete schedule of films, click here.

Interview: Layne Marie Williams on Chicago ‘Women of the Now’ Event, Mar. 4, 2017

Women of the Now

CHICAGO – When we last talked to filmmaker and activist Layne Marie Williams, she was premiering her short work, “Dollface,” to universal acclaim. Besides her many upcoming film projects, Ms. Williams is also striking a blow for countering the negative aspects of the Donald Trump fear-mongering, with an event called “Women of the Now Presents: The Rise of the Femme Pyre.” This activist party and fundraiser will be at Camera Ambassador (Embassy Studios) within the Pilsen neighborhood in Chicago on March 4th, 2017. For details and ticket information, click here.

Film Review: ‘The Shack’ is About Spirituality, Not Filmmaking

CHICAGO – To create spirituality from tragedy is like shooting the proverbial fish – a prominent symbol for Christianity – in a barrel. “The Shack” is based on a popular novel, and doesn’t try to do anything different or cinematic with a man encountering the Holy Trinity after a horrific incident.

Film Feature: HollywoodChicago.com Remembers Bill Paxton

Bill Paxton, "Titanic"

LOS ANGELES – A shock occurred on Oscar Sunday when it was announced that popular actor Bill Paxton had died after complications during surgery. He had appeared in classic films like “The Terminator,” “Weird Science” “Aliens” “One False Move,” “True Lies,” “Apollo 13” and “Titanic,” and the HBO series “Big Love.” He was 61.

Film Review: ‘Logan’ Bares Its Sharp Claws & Eviscerates Us Emotionally

CHICAGO – There is a war raging in the comic book cinematic universe where filmmakers think that these kinds of films should embrace their over the top (verging on campy) nature while others think they should be darker and made deathly serious. “Logan” proves that they are both wrong as it strikes a balance between all of those elements while remaining true to the character.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Downward Dog

    CHICAGO – From “Mr. Ed” to “Dog with a Blog,” talking animals have had their place on TV. The latest has origins as a web series, with the clever title “Downward Dog.” The show premieres on Wednesday, May 17th, 2017 (9:30pEST/8:30pCST), on ABC TV, and features Ned the Dog as Martin, and human companions portrayed by Allison Tolman and Lucas Neff.

  • Positively Present: An Uplifting Cabaret

    CHICAGO – When faced with adversity, the best way around it is to somehow break into song. That is the feeling behind the Brown Paper Box Co.’s “Positively Present: An Uplifting Cabaret,” running April 7th and 8th at Mary’s Attic in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood. The event features company member Kristi Szczepanek as host, and presents song stylings by other company members, including Anna Schutz, plus some special guests. For details and ticket information, click here.

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