February 2014

Film Feature: HollywoodChicago.com 2014 Oscar Predictions

CHICAGO – Get your scorecards and pencils out, because this is the last stop you’ll need for all your 2014 Academy Award predicting needs…except for the 10 million other media outlets in the age of information. Why is HollywoodChicago.com better? Because our experts have insider information that we completely make up!

DVD Review: ‘Blue is the Warmest Color’ Gets Slight Release

Blue is the Warmest Color

The Criterion Collection’s deal with IFC Films has to a unique subset of their catalog. While most Criterion films are either acknowledged classics or foreign/smaller films that the company wants to shed more light on, the IFC ones are generally current. While some of the choices have questionable, we’ve also seen recent greats like “Certified Copy,” “Fish Tank,” next month’s “The Great Beauty,” and this week’s “Blue is the Warmest Color” joining the collection earlier than they otherwise would have. “Blue” is a great film with two of the best performances of 2013. Sadly, the DVD release doesn’t reflect the film’s quality.

Blu-ray Review: Insightful, Candid Steven Soderbergh on New Criterion Release

King of the Hill

Steven Soderbergh’s film “King of the Hill” is an essential one to understanding his career simply for the way it displayed the range we would come to admire in one of our best filmmakers. Soderbergh is one of the most important directors of the last quarter-century, in no small part due to the incredible range he has displayed throughout his career. His current-century work has been defined by an incredible attention to detail but his 3rd and 4th films, “King of the Hill” and “The Underneath,” which is included on this Blu-ray in its entirety, bear the mark of a man still honing his craft. And he’ll be the first to tell you that.

Theater Review: Brown Paper Box Company’s Exuberant ‘A New Brain’

A New Brain, Brown Paper Box Company

CHICAGO – If you hear the melodic choral sounds of an amazing ensemble cast emanating from the North Side of Chicago, then it is sure to be the Brown Paper Box Company’s production of “A New Brain.” This scintillating musical is performed with mesmerizing exaltation by a formidable cast.

Film Review: Liam Neeson Can’t Bring ‘Non-Stop’ in On-Time

I’m a sucker for a well-toasted slice of escapism that employs a singular setting to maximum impact. Liam Neeson trapped on a plane with a devious killer who’s trying to extort $150 million from him? Where do line up to buy a ticket? Seriously, this is the kind of Oscar counter-programming that I love this time of year—turn off your mind and take a trip with “Non-Stop”.

Liam Neeson Can’t Bring ‘Non-Stop’ in On-Time

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 2.5/5.0
Rating: 2.5/5.0

I’m a sucker for a well-toasted slice of escapism that employs a singular setting to maximum impact. Liam Neeson trapped on a plane with a devious killer who’s trying to extort $150 million from him? Where do line up to buy a ticket? Seriously, this is the kind of Oscar counter-programming that I love this time of year—turn off your mind and take a trip with “Non-Stop”.

Blu-ray Review: ‘Gravity’ is Elegant, Nail Biting at the Same Time

gravityblucov.jpg

CHICAGO – Some films fundamentally change what you expect from cinema. “Star Wars” (1977), “Jurassic Park” (1996), “Avatar” (2007) all pushed those boundaries. In my first of a whopping eight theatrical viewings of “Jurassic Park” for instance I never once felt the illusion of watching real dinosaurs was interrupted by suddenly realizing how ‘they did it’ I was simply watching real dinosaurs.

TV Review: Second Season of ‘Hannibal’ Crosses the Next Plateau

HannibalS2A.jpg

CHICAGO – After becoming one of last season’s don’t miss shows “Hannibal” has it’s work cut out for it on several fronts. Forget the fact that the bar is set so high for the writing and the acting and visual aesthetics. Underneath all that is another far more daunting task. Show Runner Bryan Fuller has already let leak that Season Four is when the events depicted in the novels and previous film adaptations will start to enter the mix – culminating in a season that imagines events taking place after the film “Hannibal” (2001).

Interview: Roma Downey, Mark Burnett Present ‘Son of God’

CHICAGO – Actress Roma Downey and Producer Mark Burnett are on a mission. After producing the huge success of the miniseries “The Bible” last year, the husband-and-wife team now turn to the “greatest story ever told” – the life of Jesus Christ – in the new film “Son of God.”

Film News: Director, Comic Actor Harold Ramis Dead at 69

CHICAGO – He was a Ghostbuster, and Bill Murray’s sidekick in “Stripes.” He co-wrote classic modern comedies like “Animal House” and “Caddyshack.” He directed the legendary absurdist comedy, “Groundhog Day.” He is Harold Ramis, and he died on February 24th, according to his wife Erica Mann Ramis.

Film Review: Love is Impossible in Alluring Period Horror ‘In Secret’

In Secret

CHICAGO – If stories of Prince Charmings and the liberation from wicked stepmothers are fairy tales, than “In Secret” is the stuff of nightmares, where marriage is not just a prison sentence, but an unlucky life is as well. Based on the novel “Therese Raquin” by Emile Zola as published in 1867, this film’s element of ownership may be considered an artifact in 2014. But thankfully this adaptation earns its own pertinence, as a dark period thriller with real doses of hormonally fueled bad decisions.

HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: 25 Pairs of Passes to ‘Non-Stop’ with Liam Neeson

Non-Stop with Liam Neeson

CHICAGO – In the latest HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: Film with our unique social giveaway technology, we have 25 pairs of advance-screening passes up for grabs to the new suspense thrillerNon-Stop” starring Liam Neeson and Julianne Moore!

HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: 40 Pairs of Passes to ‘Son of God’ with Diogo Morgado

CHICAGO – In the latest HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: Film with our unique social giveaway technology, we have 40 pairs of advance-screening passes up for grabs to the highly anticipated new drama “Son of God” starring Diogo Morgado!

Love is Impossible in Alluring Period Horror ‘In Secret’

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

CHICAGO – If stories of Prince Charmings and the liberation from wicked stepmothers are fairy tales, than “In Secret” is the stuff of nightmares, where marriage is not just a prison sentence, but an unlucky life is as well. Based on the novel “Therese Raquin” by Emile Zola as published in 1867, this film’s element of ownership may be considered an artifact in 2014. But thankfully this adaptation earns its own pertinence, as a dark period thriller with real doses of hormonally fueled bad decisions.

Video Game Review: ‘Masters of the World: Geopolitical Simulator 3’ is Economic Stimulis for the Brain

Masters Of The World: Geopolitical Simulator 3

CHICAGO – “Everyone hates the President” said my Mother after I, yet again, bemoaned the extreme polarization of folks on various social media platforms toward Mr. Obama. I guess it’s true. But still, don’t these people on Facebook and Twitter and Disqus know how hard that job is? What the actual *job* of the President is?

Film Review: Stereotypical ‘3 Days to Kill’ Tonally Uneven

CHICAGO – As a director, Kevin Costner comes across as a patient guy who waits for the right material to come along. Considering the last movie he helmed is a little over ten years old (“Open Range”), one might also consider him picky too.

Stereotypical ‘3 Days to Kill’ Tonally Uneven

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 2.5/5.0
Rating: 2.5/5.0

CHICAGO – As a director, Kevin Costner comes across as a patient guy who waits for the right material to come along. Considering the last movie he helmed is a little over ten years old (“Open Range”), one might also consider him picky too. As an actor, it feels like Costner woke up one recent morning and thought, “Hey, I should do a handful of movies in a row. I’m not getting any younger!”

Film Review: Explosive Conclusion is the Fate for ‘Pompeii’

CHICAGO – For a film in which everyone knows the ending walking in, “Pompeii” creates a decent good-versus-evil precursor to the volcanic big bang, and enough sword and sandals style fight sequences to provide some action. It all comes down to an active volcano, in modern digital design and 3D.

Explosive Conclusion is the Fate for ‘Pompeii’

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

CHICAGO – For a film in which everyone knows the ending walking in, “Pompeii” creates a decent good-versus-evil precursor to the volcanic big bang, and enough sword and sandals style fight sequences to provide some action. It all comes down to an active volcano, in modern digital design and 3D.

Exclusive Portrait: Happy Birthday to Supermodel Cindy Crawford

Cindy Crawford, photo by Joe Arce

CHICAGO – Happy Birthday to DeKalb, Ill., native Cindy Crawford on February 20th. The supermodel went from those modest roots to become one of the most famous cover girls in fashion history. She has appeared on magazines like Vogue, Elle, Cosmopolitan and Allure. She has represented fashions for Versace, Escada, Revlon and Ink. She is a brand name herself, and has launched a furniture line.

What to Watch: Feb. 18-24, 2014

The Americans

What an amazing week for TV fans. As if you didn’t have enough stacking to do with the new, brilliant season of “House of Cards” on Netflix, there are four other full seasons in this week’s What to Watch that you really should watch front to back. And then there’s the still-amazing “Darkman,” a cult classic that perfectly captures Sam Raimi’s skill at controlled chaos. Finally, we have two ’80s horror flicks in one set in “Bad Dreams” and “Visiting Hours.” Check ‘em all out (OK, you can skip the genre stinkers).

Exclusive Portrait: Tattoo Artist Kat Von D, Formerly of ‘LA Ink’

Kat Von D, photo by Joe Arce

CHICAGO – In the world of tattoo art, there are few bigger personalities than Kat Von D. She was on two tattoo art-based reality shows on the TLC network, “Miami Ink” and “LA Ink,” plus has written two best selling books on the topic, and has launched make-up and clothing lines. She was in Chicago last year to promote her third book, “Go Big or Go Home: Taking Risks in Life, Love and Tattooing.”

Video Game Review: ‘Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition’ Delivers Action, Downplays Feminism

Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition

CHICAGO – Lara Croft is all about her boobs. I mean, seriously. I don’t mean to be this guy, but if you’re a gamer who was around to play or hear about the initial “Tomb Raider,” the first thing your subconscious brings to mind – most likely – is Ms. Croft’s green tank top and those not-quite-round polygonal boobies.

HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: 10 ‘The Best Man Holiday’ Blu-ray Combo Packs with Taye Diggs

CHICAGO – In the latest HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: Combo Pack with our unique social giveaway technology, we have 10 free Blu-ray and DVD combo packs up for grabs for the home entertainment release of the new comedy “The Best Man Holiday” starring Taye Diggs!

HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: 40 Pairs of Passes to ‘3 Days to Kill’ with Kevin Costner

CHICAGO – In the latest HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: Film with our unique social giveaway technology, we have 40 pairs of advance-screening passes up for grabs to the new crime drama3 Days to Kill” starring Kevin Costner from director McG!

Blu-ray Review: Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Foreign Correspondent’ Joins Criterion Club

Foreign Correspondent

Cinema history has a few great double-up years: 12-month periods in which a classic filmmaker had not one but two great films. Mel Brooks may be the most notorious, releasing two of the best comedies of all time in 1974 (“Blazing Saddles” & “Young Frankenstein”) and Steven Spielberg has arguably done it a few times, inarguably in 1993 (“Jurassic Park” & “Schindler’s List”) and he would double-up again in 2002 (“Minority Report” & “Catch Me If You Can”) and 2011 (“Tintin” & “War Horse”).

‘Tim’s Vermeer’ is a Lovingly Rendered Obsession

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

CHICAGO – One of the fabulous subsets of human success is the person who evolves beyond collecting material goods and uses the bounty for pursuits of utter usefulness, which cannot be mastered unless that wealth buys the time and resources. Case in point, the subject of “Tim’s Vermeer.”

Film Review: ‘Tim’s Vermeer’ is a Lovingly Rendered Obsession

Tim's Vermeer

CHICAGO – One of the fabulous subsets of human success is the person who evolves beyond collecting material goods and uses the bounty for pursuits of utter usefulness, which cannot be mastered unless that wealth buys the time and resources. Case in point, the subject of “Tim’s Vermeer.”

Film Review: ‘Winter’s Tale’ Freezes in Cheesy Movie Hell

CHICAGO – The poster for “Winter’s Tale,” after promising that “It’s not a true story, it’s a love story,” makes a large demand from its viewers at the bottom: “This Valentine’s Day, Believe In Miracles.”

Blu-ray Review: ‘Haunter’ Does More Than Simply Haunt

Haunter-Stephen-McHattie.jpg

CHICAGO – Director Vincenzo Natali’s name always gets my attention. You always get the sense tha the’s trying to do something new. He first came to prominence with “Cube” (1997), which is a gorily stylistic bit of cheap psychological horror masquerading as science fiction. “Nothing” (2003) put two men in a literal void reminiscent in some ways of the classic and surreal Chuck Jones Looney Tune “Duck Amuck”. “Splice” (2009) offered an updated Frankenstein myth mixed with sexual politics and a critique of profit-driven genetic engineering.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Yellowstone, Season 5

    CHICAGO – Patrick McDonald of HollywoodChicago.com audio streaming series review for “Yellowstone,” the popular Western series set in modern Montana … in Season 5. Available to stream on the Paramount Network and through Video On Demand beginning November 13th.

  • Paranormal Activity: The Ultimate Chills Collection

    CHICAGO – Patrick McDonald of HollywoodChicago.com appears on Eddie Volkman Show with Hannah B on Star 96.7 WSSR-FM (Joliet, IL) reviewing the new Paramount Pictures Blu-Ray Collection of “Paranormal Activity: The Ultimate Chills Collection,” containing all seven films in the series plus a documentary.

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