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Film Review: Denzel Washington & Viola Davis Swing for the ‘Fences’

CHICAGO – Viola Davis and Denzel Washington are actors who are likely to give plays adapted for the screen a good name. Their commitment to the material shines through in the new film “Fences.” Davis and Washington have a well worn familiarity with the characters –having portrayed them on Broadway in the 2010 revival of August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize winning play.

Film Review: Despite Cast, ‘Sing’ Fails to Strike a Chord

CHICAGO – Singing is something that everyone can do. I tend to do it while in the shower or sitting in traffic. I’ve been told I have the singing voice of an angel… of death. Okay, I’m exaggerating, but the point is that while everyone can sing, not everyone should. The same extends to creating films like “Sing,” which is loud but seldom harmonious.

Interview: Meiling Jin Premieres Made-in-Chicago ‘Chop Chop TV Show’ on Dec. 22, 2016

Meiling Jin of 'Chop Chop'

CHICAGO – Tenacity and purpose reaps benefits, and no one knows this more than hard-working Chicago journalist, actress, producer and model Meiling Jin. She is the producer and lead actress in the new made-in-Chicago sitcom, “Chop Chop TV Show” (AKA “Chop Chop”), premiering on December 22nd, 2016 (11pm CST), on Comcast, Xfinity, WOW and RCN broadcast systems Channel 25. The show combines Ms. Jin, her roommate, and her diverse friendships in a series of adventures and misadventures in the great city of Chicago.

Interview: Jovan Adepo & Stephen McKinley Henderson of ‘Fences’

CHICAGO – The film adaptation of a stage play by August Wilson, the late playwright known for his “Pittsburgh Cycle” of dramas, was aided by Denzel Washington, both portraying the lead role and directing “Fences.” Washington had done the play on Broadway, and recruited to the film his stage mate Stephen McKinley Henderson and newcomer Jovan Adepo.

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 News: Chicago Film Critics Association Names ‘Moonlight’ as 2016 Best Picture

Moonlight

CHICAGO – The poignant identity film “Moonlight” was named the 2016 Best Picture by the Chicago Film Critics Association (CFCA), in an announcement on December 15th. The film also took home the Best Director (Barry Jenkins) and Best Supporting Actor (Mahershala Ali) honors. “Manchester by the Sea” got the most honors, with four, from a voting survey of the CFCA.

Film Review: ‘La La Land’ Will Create Love for Musicals Again

CHICAGO – “La La Land” has the spirit of an old time “Singin’ In The Rain”-type Hollywood musical, but this is no throwback or revival. It brings that spirit into the modern age and gets it to live, breathe, and thrive once again. It’s a beautiful technicolor spectacle that celebrates the whimsy of musicals, while finding a way to translate it credibly and wonderfully to the modern age.

Exclusive Portrait: Anna Kendrick in Chicagoland for New Book ‘Scrappy Little Nobody’

Anna Kendrick, photo by Joe Arce

CHICAGO – After conquering the movie business, it makes sense that popular actress Anna Kendrick would take on the best seller list with her new book “Scrappy Little Nobody.” The book is a series of personal essays about her life in moviedom, and she appeared in Chicagoland last month in Naperville, Ill., for an event sponsored by Anderson’s Bookshop.

Interview: Damien Chazelle & Rosemarie DeWitt of ‘La La Land’

CHICAGO – Bringing the musical movie genre back requires a bit of nostalgia, a nod to modernity and always old fashioned star power. Writer/director Damien Chazelle (“Whiplash”) combined all three to produce “La La Land,” with Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling as star-crossed lovers. Rosemarie DeWitt also has a featured role.

Film Review: ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ is a Worthy Addition

CHICAGO – I guess from now on, it will never be the holidays without a Star Wars movie, and why not? Every year, we’ll have a celebration with the ardent fans and characters that are one in that universe, “a long time ago, in a galaxy far far away.” For 2016, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.”

Interview: Asian Pop-Up Cinema Closes Fall Season with Yuki Tanada’s ‘Round Trip Heart’

Yuki Tanada of 'Round Trip Heart'

CHICAGO – Put it in the books. The highly successful and popular Asian Pop-Up Cinema in Chicago closed their 2016 Fall Season with “Round Trip Heart,” a Japanese film from female director Yuki Tanada. Ms. Tanada tells the story of Hachiko, a food cart attendant who works on the “Romance Train.” She temporarily goes off track when a mysterious stranger reads a private note from her mother, and insists on taking the buttoned-up woman on a journey to find that mother. Tanada appeared on behalf of her film at the final Asian Pop-Up Cinema screening for 2016.

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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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