April 2012

Film Review: Mel Gibson Stars in Mediocre ‘Get the Gringo’

CHICAGO – Originally titled “How I Spent My Summer Vacation,” Mel Gibson’s latest star vehicle is taking an unusual road to your viewing pleasure, bypassing theatrical release and even skipping Blu-ray/DVD for a debut this week on DirecTV On Demand. Is this the new delivery system of the future?

Mel Gibson Stars in Mediocre ‘Get the Gringo’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 2.0/5.0
Rating: 2.0/5.0

CHICAGO – Originally titled “How I Spent My Summer Vacation,” Mel Gibson’s latest star vehicle is taking an unusual road to your viewing pleasure, bypassing theatrical release and even skipping Blu-ray/DVD for a debut this week on DirecTV On Demand. Is this the new delivery system of the future?

Interview: Director Brian Jun Uncovers ‘Joint Body’ at Midwest Independent Film Festival

Joint Body

CHICAGO – Director Brian Jun is a veteran filmmaker, having completed his third feature, and this will be the second time his work has been showcased at the Midwest Independent Film Festival. His film “Joint Body” will be at the festival on Tuesday, May 1st, at the Landmark Century Cinema in Chicago.

Film Review: Jason Statham in Highly Charged, Metaphoric ‘Safe’

CHICAGO – There is an underlying smokiness to the ultra-violent “Safe” that is worth exploring. By creating a triangle of doom between the Chinese mob (the Triads), the Russian mob and the corrupt New York City Police Department, it’s just a small leap to apply the same function between the countries they represent. Action star Jason Statham puts it all together.

Jason Statham in Highly Charged, Metaphoric ‘Safe’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.5/5.0
Rating: 3.5/5.0

CHICAGO – There is an underlying smokiness to the ultra-violent “Safe” that is worth exploring. By creating a triangle of doom between the Chinese mob (the Triads), the Russian mob and the corrupt New York City Police Department, it’s just a small leap to apply the same function between the countries they represent. Action star Jason Statham puts it all together.

Film Review: The Dog Days of Diane Keaton in ‘Darling Companion’

Darling Companion

CHICAGO – “If you want a friend in Washington,” Harry S. Truman once said, “get a dog.” The same can be said for the film industry, as they keep producing canine quandaries. Diane Keaton, Kevin Kline, Sam Shepard and Elisabeth Moss cozy up to their own ‘Darling Companion.’

The Dog Days of Diane Keaton in ‘Darling Companion’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.5/5.0
Rating: 3.5/5.0

CHICAGO – “If you want a friend in Washington,” Harry S Truman once said, “get a dog.” The same can be said for the film industry, as they keep producing canine quandaries. Diane Keaton, Kevin Kline, Sam Shepard and Elisabeth Moss cozy up to their own ‘Darling Companion.’

Blu-ray Review: Mark Wahlberg, Ben Foster in Generic ‘Contraband’

Contraband with Mark Wahlberg (review)

CHICAGO – “Contraband” has some action movie elements that work but too much of it is overly familiar, especially the parts played by leads Mark Wahlberg and supporting actors J.K. Simmons, Ben Foster & Giovanni Ribisi, strong actors who resort to their basic tricks here and just don’t deliver. I like all four guys but this is lazy work in a relatively lazy film overall. All in all, “Contraband” is a mediocre movie that moves quickly enough to barely fit the bill on a rainy Saturday night but isn’t the best work by anyone involved.

Blu-ray Review: Michael Fassbender, Carey Mulligan in Stunning ‘Shame’

Shame

CHICAGO – We’re never going to get the films we deserve from adult filmmakers if the NC-17 continues to operate under the stigma that it does. “Shame” was a perfect film to warrant an NC-17 and yet the rating became the story instead of the film itself, to the point that critics and awards voters didn’t give this excellent work the credit it deserves. When viewers catch up with it over the next few years, they’ll be stunned that the film earned zero Oscar nominations. What Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan do here is nothing short of stunning.

Film Review: Edgar Allan Poe Deserves Better Than ‘The Raven’

CHICAGO – “The Raven” is such a snooze fest that it could have the disastrous effect of turning young viewers off from actually reading Edgar Allan Poe. Trust me, young readers – nothing by Poe is this generic, dull, boring, or plain stupid.

Edgar Allan Poe Deserves Better Than ‘The Raven’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 1.0/5.0
Rating: 1.0/5.0

CHICAGO – “The Raven” is such a snooze fest that it could have the disastrous effect of turning young viewers off from actually reading Edgar Allan Poe. Trust me, young readers – nothing by Poe is this generic, dull, boring, or plain stupid. Taking the two hours of your life that it would take to see “The Raven” and reading anything by the man who inspired it would be a smarter use of your time. And you’d be less likely to fall asleep.

Film Review: Emotionally Devastating Lesson on Grief From ‘Monsieur Lazhar’

Monsieur Lazhar
HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4.5/5.0
Rating: 4.5/5.0

CHICAGO – “Monsieur Lazhar,” an Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language Film that is now opening at the Music Box Theatre in Chicago, deftly handles delicate themes in a way that saves them from the cliché they so often become in the cogs of the Hollywood machine. The set-up sounds like a ‘90s Robin Williams movie as a teacher helps an elementary class deal with tragic loss but this remarkably human, touching, brilliant film never succumbs to melodrama, finding something truthful in the complex relationship between adults and children forced to grow up too soon.

Emotionally Devastating Lesson on Grief From ‘Monsieur Lazhar’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4.5/5.0
Rating: 4.5/5.0

CHICAGO – “Monsieur Lazhar,” an Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language Film that is now opening at the Music Box Theatre in Chicago, deftly handles delicate themes in a way that saves them from the cliché they so often become in the cogs of the Hollywood machine. The set-up sounds like a ‘90s Robin Williams movie as a teacher helps an elementary class deal with tragic loss but this remarkably human, touching, brilliant film never succumbs to melodrama, finding something truthful in the complex relationship between adults and children forced to grow up too soon.

Film Review: Fallible Human Beings Bless ‘We Have a Pope’

We Have a Pope

CHICAGO – It’s getting harder and harder to satirize something as über-holy as the Vatican, given their preferred state of reality, but director Nanni Morretti gives it an absurd cinematic try just by highlighting the humanity behind the state of grace. Michel Piccoli portrays the title character in ‘We Have a Pope.’

Fallible Human Beings Bless ‘We Have a Pope’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4.5/5.0
Rating: 4.5/5.0

CHICAGO – It’s getting harder and harder to satirize something as über-holy as the Vatican, given their preferred state of reality, but director Nanni Morretti gives it an absurd cinematic try just by highlighting the humanity behind the state of grace. Michel Piccoli portrays the title character in ‘We Have a Pope.’

Film Review: Darkly Comic Jason Segel in ‘The Five-Year Engagement’

CHICAGO – There are some major laughs in “The Five-Year Engagement,” good old fashion you-can’t-breathe laughs. But is it also dark and serious at times, and makes some surprising contemporary statements regarding coupling. Jason Segel and Emily Blunt portray the engaged couple.

Darkly Comic Jason Segel in ‘The Five-Year Engagement’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4.0/5.0
Rating: 4.0/5.0

CHICAGO – There are some major laughs in “The Five-Year Engagement,” good old fashion you-can’t-breathe laughs. But it is also dark and serious at times, and makes some surprising contemporary statements regarding coupling. Jason Segel and Emily Blunt portray the engaged couple.

HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: 3 Prize Packs Each With 5 Disappearing Animated Disney Classics

April 30, 2012 update: The Disney vault has closed on these titles!
This HollywoodChicago.com Hookup is now closed.

CHICAGO – In our latest disappearing Disney classics edition of the HollywoodChicago.com Hookup, we have 3 prize packs each with 5 classic Disney films up for grabs right before they head back into the Disney vault on April 30, 2012!

TV News: FOX Renews ‘Fringe’ For Fifth Season

Fringe: S3

CHICAGOFOX just announced that they have renewed the low-rated but fan-loved “Fringe” for a fifth and final season to air in the 2012-13 season. That’s the good news. The bad news is that there will be only 13 episodes left in your favorite show, although writers will surely make them count, knowing that they can wrap up all of their plotlines with a series-ending arc.

Film Review: Clever, Fun Adventures of ‘The Pirates! Band of Misfits’

CHICAGO – “The Pirates! Band of Misfits” has that incredible Aardman energy and elegance of works like “Wallace & Gromit” and “Chicken Run” along with some of the best voice work you’ll hear in an animated film all year.

Clever, Fun Adventures of ‘The Pirates! Band of Misfits’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4.0/5.0
Rating: 4.0/5.0

CHICAGO – “The Pirates! Band of Misfits” has that incredible Aardman energy and elegance of works like “Wallace & Gromit” and “Chicken Run” along with some of the best voice work you’ll hear in an animated film all year.

Film Review: Mesmerizing Performance From Willem Dafoe Carries ‘The Hunter’

The Hunter
HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4.0/5.0
Rating: 4.0/5.0

CHICAGO – “The Hunter” is an uniquely mesmerizing film about a man on a complex journey. While the film threatens to fall into cliché (and sometimes hangs on by its fingernails on the precipice of doing so), excellent cinematography and another mesmerizing performance by Willem Dafoe keep it engaging enough to the point that it develops a fascinating rhythm of its own. There’s a lot to like here in this tale of a lonely man, his elusive prey, and the family he meets that gets caught in the middle.

Mesmerizing Performance From Willem Dafoe Carries ‘The Hunter’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4.0/5.0
Rating: 4.0/5.0

CHICAGO – “The Hunter” is an uniquely mesmerizing film about a man on a complex journey. While the film threatens to fall into cliché (and sometimes hangs on by its fingernails on the precipice of doing so), excellent cinematography and another mesmerizing performance by Willem Dafoe keep it engaging enough to the point that it develops a fascinating rhythm of its own. There’s a lot to like here in this tale of a lonely man, his elusive prey, and the family he meets that gets caught in the middle.

Film News: First Look at ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’

The Hobbit Poster

CHICAGO — Warner Bros. Pictures geared up for the release of Peter Jackson’s upcoming epic “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” by screening 10 minutes of never-before-seen footage at CinemaCon, the official convention of the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO) according to a studio press release. Ian McKellan, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom and Elijah Wood return to reprise their roles as seen in the trilogy “The Lord of the Rings”, the sequel to J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit”.

Film Review: Excellent Rock Doc ‘Takeover!’ Goes on Tour with Band

Takeover
HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4.0/5.0
Rating: 4.0/5.0

CHICAGO – “Takeover!” chronicles the unique and interesting story of Full Service, a rock band from Austin, Texas who decided that they were going to tour with 311 and Snoop Dogg…even if they didn’t know about it. The film plays tomorrow night, April 27, 2012 at the Dream Theater in Chicago and is followed by a Q & A and acoustic performance. It’s a good-natured, sweet, fun documentary about the power of creativity. Sometimes you don’t need money, food, a plan, enough gas, or even a stage — you just need your passion to play.

Excellent Rock Doc ‘Takeover!’ Goes on Tour with Band

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4.0/5.0
Rating: 4.0/5.0

CHICAGO – “Takeover!” chronicles the unique and interesting story of Full Service, a rock band from Austin, Texas who decided that they were going to tour with 311 and Snoop Dogg…even if they didn’t know about it. The film plays tomorrow night, April 27, 2012 at the Dream Theater in Chicago and is followed by a Q & A and acoustic performance. It’s a good-natured, sweet, fun documentary about the power of creativity. Sometimes you don’t need money, food, a plan, enough gas, or even a stage — you just need your passion to play.

Blu-ray Review: Diane Lane, James Gandolfini Shine in ‘Cinema Verite’

Cinema Verite Blu-ray

CHICAGOHBO’s under-appreciated original movie recalls the moment when entertainment-seeking Americans averted their eyes from actors to their neighbors over the fence. Voyeurism had a new name, “cinema verite,” and one-time producer Craig Gilbert was determined to take it from art houses to small screens in homes across the country.

Film News: Chicago’s Music Box Theatre Pays Off Roger Ebert Bet, Will Screen ‘Red Rock West’

Red Rock West

CHICAGO – In Feb. 2012, the Music Box Theatre (on Chicago’s north side) offered a challenge to Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert. If he could beat them in predicting the 86th Annual Oscars – as part of his “Outguess Ebert” contest – then the theatre would screen any film chosen by the Pulitzer Prize-winning legend. Roger Ebert presents “Red Rock West” at the Music Box Theatre on May 1, 2012.

Exclusive Portraits: Khloé, Kim Kardashian at Chicagoland Appearance

| Image 1 of 4 |

SCHAUMBURG, Ill. – It was a fan frenzy on April 20, 2012 as admirers of Khloé and Kim Kardashian showed up to meet the reality TV stars at Sears Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg, Ill. About to launch the seventh season of their show “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” Kim and Khloé were in town promoting their own “Kardashian Kollection” line of clothing for Sears.

HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: 5 New-Music CDs to Peter Gabriel’s Album ‘Live Blood’

Peter Gabriel's live album Live Blood

CHICAGO – In our latest new-music CD edition of HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: Music, we have 5 new-music CDs up for grabs for the upcoming release of Peter Gabriel’s two-disc CD album “Live Blood,” which was recorded live at London’s iconic Hammersmith Apollo!

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  • Adriana Leonard & Carley Marcelle

    CHICAGO – When two passionate content creators got together, they sought not only to produce a work of entertainment, but a higher philosophy within it. Co-Writers/Directors and Executive Producers Adriana Leonard and Carley Marcelle have created “Beta” A Digital Series, and they are about to launch it.

  • Xfinity Watchathon

    CHICAGO – Comcast announced last week that the Xfinity Watchathon Week 2020 will take place from May 11th through the 17th. Included in the free offerings for customers will be the Hulu originals “Little Fires Everywhere” and “The Handmaid’s Tale,” and other original shows from EPIX, STARZ and SHOWTIME channels. The Watchathon will be available on the X1, Flex and Xfinity Stream platforms.

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