June 2013

Feature: 5 Signs of the Apocalypse in ‘The Bling Ring’

CHICAGO – “The Bling Ring” is the latest film from director Sofia Coppola. Her universe of the American Dream is filtered through a circumstance of Hollywood privilege. Who better to understand the end of the world than a director in the grasp of the modern film industry? The end is near.

TV Review: Showtime’s ‘Ray Donovan’ is Next Great Drama

Ray Donovan

CHICAGO – “I like you. You say what you mean.” Showtime’s brilliant new show, “Ray Donovan,” is titled after a straightshooter in a town where no one is honest; a problem solver in a place built on mountains of problems. Ann Biderman’s stunning drama (directed and produced by “Sopranos” vet Allen Coulter) is the kind of dense patchwork quilt of character and theme that separate great shows from merely good ones.

TV Review: Final Season of ‘Dexter’ Starts on Confident Note

Dexter S8 (cropped)

CHICAGO – The start of the eighth and final season of “Dexter” feels like a comeback album from a band that you used to love. There’s a blend of true happiness that this show looks, after four episodes, that it will end on a strong note, but also a bit of anger at the weak storytelling and stupid decisions that led us here.

HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: 40 Pairs of Passes to Comedian Kevin Hart’s ‘Let Me Explain’

CHICAGO – In the latest HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: Film with our unique social giveaway technology, we have 40 pairs of advance-screening movie passes up for grabs to comedian Kevin Hart’s “Let Me Explain” – filmed at his sold-out Madison Square Garden show!

Film Review: Clever ‘100 Bloody Acres’ Finds Horror-Comedy Balance

100 Bloody Acres
HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.5/5.0
Rating: 3.5/5.0

CHICAGO – “We’re not psychos, all right?!?! We’re small business operators.” It’s been awhile since there was a horror-comedy as fun as “100 Bloody Acres,” opening today in Chicago at the Music Box Theatre, and playing in some other markets around the country.

Clever ‘100 Bloody Acres’ Finds Horror-Comedy Balance

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

CHICAGO – “We’re not psychos, all right?!?! We’re small business operators.” It’s been awhile since there was a horror-comedy as fun as “100 Bloody Acres,” opening today in Chicago at the Music Box Theatre, and playing in some other markets around the country.

DVD Review: First Season of Sundance Channel’s Riveting ‘Rectify’

Rectify

CHICAGO – As excellent as the current state of writing is in television, even our best programs often fit neatly into genres. It’s a three-party system — drama, comedy, and reality. And some of our most critically-acclaimed shows are so because of how they play within audience expectations (“Homeland,” “Parks & Recreation”) and not how they push them.

Blu-ray Review: ‘21 & Over’ Wastes Funny Cast with Juvenile Humor

21 and Over with Miles Teller, Justin Chon

CHICAGO – Have you ever been so drunk that you threw up in slow motion while riding a mechanical bull? Have you ever been so wasted that you stood on a bar and pissed on the people in front of you? Have you ever had a teddy bear glued to your junk at a party? Of course not. And you don’t know anyone else who has either.

Blu-ray Review: Dwayne Johnson Shows Range in Nearly Effective ‘Snitch’

Snitch with Dwayne Johnson (review)

CHICAGO – “Snitch” is so close to being a movie that works. Dwayne Johnson shows more dramatic range than he ever has before, Jon Bernthal proves he can be a strong supporting actor, and the film’s true story sheds interesting light on the stupidity of mandatory drug sentencing. Why then is “Snitch” so flat? It’s a film with good ideas and performances but none of the grit, dread, or danger needed for its crime saga to be effective.

Film Review: Jason Statham Shows Range on Road to ‘Redemption’

CHICAGO – Stephen Knight, the writer of brilliant scripts for “Eastern Promises” & “Dirty Pretty Things,” makes his directorial debut with “Redemption,” opening today in limited release, starring Jason Statham in a role that proves that he has more dramatic range than he’s usually asked to display.

Jason Statham Shows Range on Road to ‘Redemption’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.0/5.0
Rating: 3.0/5.0

CHICAGO – Stephen Knight, the writer of brilliant scripts for “Eastern Promises” & “Dirty Pretty Things,” makes his directorial debut with “Redemption,” opening today in limited release, starring Jason Statham in a role that proves that he has more dramatic range than he’s usually asked to display.

Film Review: Neil Jordan’s ‘Byzantium’ Feels Drained of Passion

CHICAGO – I’ve rarely said this about Neil Jordan movie – in fact, maybe never – but I was bored during his latest, the vampire drama “Byzantium,” a movie with an intriguing cast and interesting story but little in the way of passion, emotion, dread, or the other intangibles needed to make a horror film like this effective.

Neil Jordan’s ‘Byzantium’ Feels Drained of Passion

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

CHICAGO – I’ve rarely said this about Neil Jordan movie – in fact, maybe never – but I was bored during his latest, the vampire drama “Byzantium,” a movie with an intriguing cast and interesting story but little in the way of passion, emotion, dread, or the other intangibles needed to make a horror film like this effective.

Film Review: Melissa McCarthy, Sandra Bullock Fuel ‘The Heat’

CHICAGO – An incredibly talented ensemble elevates a pretty pedestrian script in the just-funny-enough “The Heat,” a movie that gets better as it goes along, largely because its two mega-talented stars carry it over some mediocre patches of writing. Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock simply have unimpeachable comic timing.

Melissa McCarthy, Sandra Bullock Fuel ‘The Heat’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.0/5.0
Rating: 3.0/5.0

CHICAGO – An incredibly talented ensemble elevates a pretty pedestrian script in the just-funny-enough “The Heat,” a movie that gets better as it goes along, largely because its two mega-talented stars carry it over some mediocre patches of writing. Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock simply have unimpeachable comic timing.

Interviews: Paul F. Tompkins, Cast of ‘Sullivan & Son’ at 2013 ‘Just for Laughs Chicago’

Paul F. Tompkins, photo by Joe Arce

CHICAGO – The hottest comic and comedy show came together at the 2013 TBS “Just for Laughs Chicago” festival in June. Paul F. Tompkins – podcaster and host of VH1’s “Best Week Ever” – had a show, and also at the event were the cast of comedians that make up the TBS sitcom, “Sullivan & Son.”

Blu-ray Review: ‘Movie 43’ Should Get Dozens of Agents Fired

Movie 43

CHICAGO – “Movie 43” is sometimes, most of the time, breathtakingly awful. It’s the kind of material that would get booed on “America’s Got Talent,” gonged on “The Gong Show,” and kicked out of an open mic night at a local comedy club. It’s just insanely stupid. And baffling. Not one, not two, but dozens of people, many of them incredibly talented, thought “Yeah, that’s funny.

Film Review: ‘A Band Called Death’ Proves That Quality Survives

CHICAGO – Wouldn’t we all like to believe that if one is true to their passion, honest with their creative vision, and unwavering in the world’s inability to embrace them that it is only a matter of time before that changes? We’ve always loved this theme in fiction and the encouraging idea that cream rises to the top propelled “Searching For Sugar Man” to an Oscar because of the goodwill it engendered.

‘A Band Called Death’ Proves That Quality Survives

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

CHICAGO – Wouldn’t we all like to believe that if one is true to their passion, honest with their creative vision, and unwavering in the world’s inability to embrace them that it is only a matter of time before that changes? We’ve always loved this theme in fiction and the encouraging idea that cream rises to the top propelled “Searching For Sugar Man” to an Oscar because of the goodwill it engendered.

Interview: Paul Feig Proves Again That Women Are Funny in ‘The Heat’

CHICAGO – Every once in a while, some moron brings up the argument again that men are funnier than women. These people are not only ignorant, they’re not paying attention to the current state of the genre. Whether it’s the state of the form on TV in shows like “Nurse Jackie” & “Parks & Recreation” or the success of films like “Bridesmaids” and the upcoming “The Heat,” women are ruling comedy.

Film Review: Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx in ‘White House Down’

CHICAGO – How could a movie in which the President shoots a rocket from the back of a limousine during a car chase on the White House lawn possibly be boring? Roland Emmerich somehow finds a way in the numbing “White House Down,” a movie that make absolutely no sense but fails to entertain as B-movie escapism (as his movies sometimes have in the past).

Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx in ‘White House Down’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 1.5/5.0
Rating: 1.5/5.0

CHICAGO – How could a movie in which the President shoots a rocket from the back of a limousine during a car chase on the White House lawn possibly be boring? Roland Emmerich somehow finds a way in the numbing “White House Down,” a movie that make absolutely no sense but fails to entertain as B-movie escapism (as his movies sometimes have in the past).

Interviews: Tim Meadows, Scott Adsit, Kevin Dorff at 2013 ‘Just for Laughs’

CHICAGO – A round-up of comic stars at the TBS “Just for Laughs Chicago” this year included three notable alumni from The Second City stage. Tim Meadows (“Saturday Night Live”), Scott Adsit (“30 Rock”) and Kevin Dorff (writer/performer for “Late Night with Conan O’Brien”) all were on The Second City main stage on Wells Street in Chicago during the beginning of their careers.

HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: 25 Pairs of Passes to ‘Despicable Me 2’ With Steve Carell, Russell Brand

CHICAGO – In the latest HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: Film with our unique social giveaway technology, we have 25 pairs of advance-screening movie passes up for grabs to the highly anticipated “Despicable Me 2” starring Steve Carell and Russell Brand!

TV Review: TNT Spins Wheels with ‘Perception,’ ‘Rizzoli & Isles’

Perception

CHICAGOTNT brings “Perception” and “Rizzoli & Isles” back for new seasons tomorrow night, Tuesday, June 25, 2013, and the first episodes are unlikely to hook anyone new while also not annoying previous fans of either program. It’s the definition of playing it safe. With networks like AMC, FX, and A&E pushing boundaries, it’s beginning to get harder to make excuses for TNT, especially after they canceled their two most interesting dramas, “Monday Mornings” & “Southland.”

Blu-ray Review: ‘The Incredible Burt Wonderstone’ Isn’t Funny at Home Either

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

CHICAGO – Some comedies improve when they climb down off the big screen and take up residence on the small one. Perhaps it’s just that we’re more forgiving at home then we are when we’re paying a fortune for tickets, parking, and popcorn. Or we’re just more accustomed to bad comedy writing on TV. However, “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone,” one of the more notable box office flops of 2013 so far (it couldn’t crack $23 million TOTAL) is not one of those better-at-home comedies. It’s still a stunniningly flat, boring piece of work and the scant special features do nothing to improve it.

Blu-ray Review: ‘Oz the Great and Powerful’ Sinks Like Leaky Balloon

Oz the Great and Powerful

CHICAGO – Sam Raimi’s “Oz the Great and Powerful” starts so promisingly. The full-frame black-and-white scenes that open the film have a clever charm as they introduce us to the title character (James Franco) and whisk him off to the legendary land of witches and talking scarecrows. And that scene where the film expands as he reaches his fantasy land is a beauty.

Blu-ray Review: Criterion Upgrades Bergman’s ‘Wild Strawberries’

Wild Strawberries

CHICAGO – Every month, Criterion mixes in a few HD upgrades for films in their collection to sit alongside new releases for the collection. One of those titles this month is spine #139, Ingmar Bergman’s adored “Wild Strawberries” (1957). It’s not one of my favorite Bergman films as I’ve always found its structure more frustrating than enlightening but “Wild Strawberries” has loyal fans who will be satisfied by this strong HD transfer and interesting special features.

TV Review: Stephen King’s ‘Under the Dome’ Shows Promise on CBS

CHICAGO – Stephen King’s “Under the Dome” would have likely been a standard mini-series back in the day when such a thing happened on the networks in iterations like “It,” “The Stand,” and “Storm of the Century.” In a time when network mini-series are a lost form, CBS has taken the daring move of turning King’s book into a fully-formed, 13-episode Summer series, with the door apparently open for more beyond this initial arc.

TV Feature: If I Had an Emmy Ballot 2013

CHICAGO – With Emmy ballots due this Friday and the natural human tendency to procrastinate, I’m betting a lot of you Academy members are still sweating some tough decisions this year. Let me help.

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  • South Side

    CHICAGO – One the brightest comedies set in Chicago is “South Side,” created by Bashir Salahuddin and Diallo Riddle. The pair moved the show from Comedy Central to HBO Max, and Season Two dropped for streaming on November 11th, 2021, with the same free-wheeling and hilarious misadventures of Simon and Kareme.

  • Colin in Black & White

    CHICAGO – Patrick McDonald of HollywoodChicago.com appears on “The Morning Mess” with Dan Baker on WBGR-FM (Monroe, Wisconsin) on November 4th, 2021, reviewing the new miniseries “Colin in Black & White” – regarding the early years of ex-NFL QB Colin Kaepernick – currently streaming on Netflix.

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