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Film Review: Bottom Line is ‘Blockers’ Has Some Decent Laughs

CHICAGO – Comedy is purely subjective, and the new film ‘Blockers’ sets out to prove it, by expectorating joke after joke in all categories of sophistication. Physical pratfalls, witty asides, gross-out, sex, nudity, drugs, surrealism and more are all on the humor buffet, so pick, choose and laugh, as they pile it on.

Film Review: ‘A Quiet Place’ Will Make You Wish You Had a Quiet Place to Hide

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CHICAGO – Terror and fear take several forms. Sometimes it’s something as simple as spiders or snakes or even an incompetent president. Other times it can take the form of natural states, like darkness. Horror films channel our fears, but the great ones give us something new to fear. “A Quiet Place” lures us in with the safety of silence, only to reveal the monsters hiding within.

Film News: Chicago’s DOC 10 opens with ‘Won’t You Be My Neighbor’ on April 5, 2018

Won't You Be My Neighbor

CHICAGO – Documentaries are often the most compelling filmmaking, because truth is always stranger. The Chicago Media Project presents its third annual DOC 10, a weekend festival of 11 (10+1!) prominent documentaries that often end up either making a national statement or getting nominated for awards. It all takes place at the Davis Theatre in the Lincoln Square neighborhood from April 5th-8th, 2018. For more information, including schedule and tickets, click here.

Interview: Founder/Director Pepe Vargas of 34th Chicago Latino Film Fest, April 5-19, 2018

2018 CCFF logo

CHICAGO – One of the great cinema festivals of the Windy City is run by Pepe Vargas, the Founder and Executive Director of the Chicago Latino Film Festival. The 2018 edition will be the 34th annual, and Vargas has shepherded the film celebration since its beginnings. Opening Night is on Thursday, April 5th, at the AMC River East Theatre in Chicago, with a Puerto Rican themed night, with the films “From Now On” (short) and the feature film “Broche De Oro: Beginnings.” For more details, click here.

Podtalk: 50 Years Later, Jesse Jackson on Martin Luther King Jr.

CHICAGO – On April 4th, 1968, Reverend Jesse Jackson was already, at age 26, a civil rights leader. He joined Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis, Tennessee, on that April night to help with a sanitation workers strike. He was in the parking lot of the Lorraine Motel when the shots rang out that killed Dr. King on the balcony.

Film News: Midwest Independent Film Festival Celebrates Kartemquin Films on April 3, 2018

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail

CHICAGO – It was an amazing Oscar season in 2018 for Chicago-based Kartemquin Films. Two of the their documentary film productions, “Edith + Eddie” by director Laura Checkoway and “Abacus: Small Enough to Jail” by Steve James (“Hoop Dreams”) were nominated at the 90th Academy Awards. Both films will be showcased at the Midwest Independent Film Festival on Tuesday, April 3rd, 2018, at the Landmark Century Centre Cinema in Chicago For more information, ticket purchasing, click here.

Film Review: Armie Hammer Sits for Geoffrey Rush in ‘Final Portrait’

CHICAGO – Paris in the 1960s seems to be a place where anything was possible. “Final Portrait” is an indication of this, as Armie Hammer portrays a Mad Men style American critic (what!) in 1964, who sits for a portrait painting by eccentric artist Alberto Giacometti, portrayed with relish by Geoffrey Rush.

Podtalk: Director Emily Esperanza Invites Us to ‘Make Out Party’

CHICAGO – I’m not going to tell you anything about ‘Make Out Party,’ a new film directed by Emily Esperanza, that is making its World Premiere this weekend – March 30th and 31st, 2018 – in the Windy City (info below). You’ve got to go yourself, and experience the wild ride of true collaboration and vivid creativity, produced right here in Chicago.

Film News: Last Week for Chicago European Union Film Fest, Finale is ‘The Young Karl Marx’

Young Karl Marx, The

CHICAGO – There is one week to go in one of the country’s most comprehensive Eurocentric cinema event, the 21st Chicago European Union (EU) Film Festival at the Gene Siskel Film Center. It wraps up with Closing Night on Thursday, April 5th, 2018, screening “The Young Karl Marx,” directed by Raoul Peck (“I Am Not Your Negro”). The film, which acts as a superhero origin story for a geopolitical philosophy, is the closer for the four week fest, which began on March 9th.

Film Review: For Better or Worse, ‘Ready Player One’ is Nostalgia at its Purest

CHICAGO – Just in time for Easter, there’s a film filled with enough Easter eggs to drown a small country. “Ready Player One” is a “Where’s Waldo” of mostly 80’s pop culture references that are meant to trigger our (and especially filmmaker Steven Spielberg’s) sentimental, nostalgic cores by bombarding us with reminders of our childhood. These trips down memory lane are fun until they’re not.

Film Review: ‘Leaning Into the Wind - Andy Goldsworthy’ Profiles the Artist and His Muse

Leaning Into the Wind

CHICAGO – The British artist Andy Goldsworthy is a true “outsider” artist, because many of his works are rooted in the grown-and-death cycles of the great outdoors. He is described as a sculptor, photographer and environmentalist, but many of his art creations use materials available in any wooded area, based on a connection to nature combined with a creative soul. This is profiled in the second film about him from the same director, “Leaning Into the Wind - Andy Goldsworthy.”

Film Review: Wes Anderson’s ‘Isle of Dogs’ is Inventive Delight

CHICAGO – Fans of director Wes Anderson will find plenty to love in his second stop motion animated feature (after “Fantastic Mr. Fox”), entitled “Isle Of Dogs.” It’s an immersive and intricately detailed story set in Japan, and features a dizzying array of visual gags, along with Anderson’s trademark whimsy.

Interview: ‘The Last Verse,’ at Chicago’s Asian Pop-Up Cinema on March 28, 2018

Last Verse, The

CHICAGO – It is “Taiwan Cinema Days” for the next couple of weeks at Chicago’s Asian Pop-Up Cinema (APUC) series, and it will kick off on March 28th, 2018, with the stylish and tragic “The Last Verse.” The films features Taiwanese actor Fu Meng-po as a star-crossed character nicknamed Poet, and is directed by Tseng Ying-ting. For more details about the screening, click here.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Not One Batu

    CHICAGO – The State of Hawaii may be one of the most misunderstood in America. Because of its reputation as a tourist mecca, the fact that native peoples live and work there like any other place is hard to imagine. Also unimaginable is the drug use of island residents, but playwright and Hawaiian native Hannah li-Epstein wrote about it in her stage play “Not One Batu,” now in its Premiere Chicago run at the Berger Park Coach House through July 28th, 2018. For more information, including tickets, click here.

  • Cher Show, The

    CHICAGO – Has anybody in show business had more “comebacks” than Cher… or if you added her many last names Cher Sarkisian La Piere Bono Allman? All of the triumphs and downturns are shoehorned into “The Cher Show,” now in Chicago in a pre-Broadway run through July 15, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

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