June 2019

Film Review: ‘Yesterday’ is a Can’t-Miss Premise That Still Misses

CHICAGO – As a Beatles fanatic who has a band because of their existence, the premise of “Yesterday” was can’t miss. A man wakes up after an accident to discover he’s the only person to know that The Beatles existed? Sign me up and buy me popcorn. It’s unfortunate that the story went in a direction that did miss.

‘Yesterday’ is a Can’t-Miss Premise That Still Misses

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

CHICAGO – As a Beatles fanatic who has a band because of their existence, the premise of “Yesterday” was can’t miss. A man wakes up after an accident to discover he’s the only person to know that The Beatles existed? Sign me up and buy me popcorn. It’s unfortunate that the story went in a direction that did miss.

Film Review: Horror is Worth a Visit in 'Annabelle Comes Home'

CHICAGO – There is such an unnerving quality to older dolls, which is why they lend themselves so perfectly to horror stories. There’s just an unsettling feeling when looking at their static expression, usually plastered with a permanent smile that gives me terrible flashbacks to when I worked retail.

Horror is Worth a Visit in 'Annabelle Comes Home'

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

CHICAGO – There is such an unnerving quality to older dolls, which is why they lend themselves so perfectly to horror stories. There’s just an unsettling feeling when looking at their static expression, usually plastered with a permanent smile that gives me terrible flashbacks to when I worked retail. Oddly enough, “Annabelle Comes Home” similarly elicits familiar feelings of terror but channels it through an 80’s horror homage.

Slideshow: Jon Favreau, Robert Downey Jr. Featured at 2019 Gene Siskel Film Center Gala

| Image 1 of 4 |
Jon Favreau, recipent of the Siskel Center Renaissance Award.

CHICAGO – The annual Gene Siskel Film Center Gala – benefitting the cinema jewel of Chicago’s State Street – took place on June 15th, 2019, and packed some serious super heroism. Each year, the Center honors a special guest with their Renaissance Award, and the 2019 honor went to Jon Favreau. To interview the actor/director at the event was Robert Downey Jr., who just anchored Marvel Studios “Avengers: Endgame,” portraying Tony Stark/Iron Man.

Podtalk: Director Miranda Bailey Feature Film Debut is ‘Being Frank’

Miranda Bailey of 'Being Frank'

CHICAGO – Miranda Bailey has a proven track record as a film producer of big title independent films, and has worked as a writer and actor. She has now conquered the creative side, as she makes her debut as a feature film director with “Being Frank.” The film features comedian Jim Gaffigan in the title role, and also features Anna Gunn, Samantha Mathis and Alex Karpovsky.

Film Review: Less Black Magic, More Black Mirror Succeeds in 'Child's Play'

CHICAGO – There are some fears in this world that seem irrational to us. Like a fear of clowns or the fear of using an elevator. Horror films are at the core of some of these fears, with the truly great ones creating new things to fear. The “Child’s Play” franchise may have had its roots in psychopathic soul transfers, but the update focuses on the ghost in the machine.

Less Black Magic, More Black Mirror is a Success in 'Child's Play'

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

CHICAGO – There are some fears in this world that seem irrational to us. Like a fear of clowns or the fear of using an elevator. Horror films are at the core of some of these fears, with the truly great ones creating new things to fear. The “Child’s Play” franchise may have had its roots in psychopathic soul transfers, but the update focuses on the ghost in the machine.

Podtalk: Comedian Jim Gaffigan on His New Film ‘Being Frank’

CHICAGO – Comedian Jim Gaffigan is one of the funniest persons on earth, basically by being himself (Score!). In the last five years, he has been immersing himself into the waters of character acting in the movies, doing some serious supporting roles in films like “Chuck” and “Chappaquiddick.”

Film News: Jakob Dylan to Appear in Chicago for ‘Echo in the Canyon’ on June 21, 2019

Echo in the Canyon 2

CHICAGO – Rock royalty is coming to town, both in the presence of Jakob Dylan (The Wallflowers) and in a new documentary where Dylan explores the roots of the California rock sound of the 1960s, entitled “Echo in the Canyon” (many of the rockers back then lived in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Laurel Canyon). Director Andrew Slater will join Dylan for the film perspective, and Dylan will perform after the screening, taking place on June 21st, 2019, at the historic Music Box Theatre. For more information and tickets, click here.

Rock Past Reverberates With ‘Echo in the Canyon’

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

CHICAGO – So much ink and retrospective media space has been taken up with the British Invasion of America, starting with The Beatles in 1964. Well, finally there is a new documentary that goes back to the good old USA during that era, to give that folk/rock “California Sound” its due.

Podtalk: Director Gigi Saul Guerrero Previews ‘Culture Shock’ at Cinepocalypse Film Fest

Culture Shock

CHICAGO – She calls her style of grindhouse and gore films “Tex Mex,” and you won’t find a better femme fatale producing a better debut film in that genre. Director Gigi Saul Guerrero gave Chicago audiences a sneak preview – at the Cinepocalypse Film Festival at the Music Box Theatre – of her debut “Culture Shock,” which will premiere for Hulu on July 4th, 2019, part of their “Into the Dark” series of horror films through Blumhouse Television.

Film News: Closing Night of 2019 Cinepocalypse in Chicago is ‘Airheads’ on June 20, 2019

Airheads

CHICAGO – Has it been a week already? Has it been 25 years already? The 2019 Cinepocalypse Film Festival is drawing to a close with the film “Airheads” (1994), celebrating its 25th Anniversary. The All-Star cast, in their younger days, includes Brendan Frasier, Steve Buscemi, Adam Sandler, Chris Farley, Joe Mantegna and Judd Nelson. Director Michael Lehmann (“Heathers”) will appear on behalf of the film at the historic Music Box Theatre in Chicago, with a Closing Night after party to follow. For more information and tickets, click here.

Film Review: Another Winner from the Creative Team of ‘Toy Story 4’

CHICAGO – When you’ve brought to life one of the greatest animation series ever produced, there is not much to prove. The “Toy Story” series has relied on the strong and emotional stories since 1995, and after a nine year break comes back for one more intriguing spin for their characters, finding a new path in “Toy Story 4.”

Another Winner from the Creative Team of ‘Toy Story 4’

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

CHICAGO – When you’ve brought to life one of the greatest animation series ever produced, there is not much to prove. The “Toy Story” series has relied on the strong and emotional stories since 1995, and after a nine year break comes back for one more intriguing spin for their characters, finding a new path in “Toy Story 4.”

Film Review: 'The Dead Don't Die' Offers Full-On Horror Homage But Little Else

dead don't die

CHICAGO – Before Jordan Peele, before Mike Flanagan, before James Wan, and especially before all of Blumhouse, there were other masters of horror who paved the way for the filmmakers we know today. The Carpenters, the Cravens, and the Argentos of the world helped turn horror into the thriving genre it is today. Jim Jarmusch’s “The Dead Don’t Die” openly acknowledges this with their love letter approach to the genre itself.

'The Dead Don't Die' Offers Full-On Horror Homage But Little Else

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

CHICAGO – Before Jordan Peele, before Mike Flanagan, before James Wan, and especially before all of Blumhouse, there were other masters of horror who paved the way for the filmmakers we know today. The Carpenters, the Cravens, and the Argentos of the world helped turn horror into the thriving genre it is today. Jim Jarmusch’s “The Dead Don’t Die” openly acknowledges this with their love letter approach to the genre itself.

Podtalk: Singer NORAA is Ready to Break Through in the USA

CHICAGO – One the most exciting moments in the culture of music is the anticipated new talent sensation. Warner Music Group’s Elektra France recently discovered a German-born singer known as NORAA – who was supplementing her music career by working as a school teacher – and took her out of the classroom and into the recording studio. She has already made in-roads in her native European scene, and now is poised to conquer the USA. Her first single, “Lie to Me,” was released in April, and is already made its way to radio station and streaming playlists in Europe and America.

Podtalk: Filmmaker Scott Powers on ‘Insomnium,’ with VOD Release on June 18, 2019

Insomnium

CHICAGO – The supernatural thriller, where unseen forces begin to permeate the normalcy of life, has been a staple in the “scary movie” genre since telling stories on film began. The debut of filmmaker Scott Powers, the aptly titled “Insomnium,” is one of those types of supernatural film, combining sleep deprivation with the connective spirits of something not quite right. The film is releasing on Video-On-Demand (VOD) through various outlets on June 18th, 2019. See below for a special offer for readers of HollywoodChicago.com. For the trailer of “Insomnium, click here.

Theater Review: Brown Paper Box Co. ‘Grace, Or the Art of Climbing’ thru July 7, 2019

Grace, Or the Art of Climbing

CHICAGO – What is life but a constant climb? The Brown Paper Box Co., one of the most vital storefront theater groups in Chicago, asks that question and more in the significant “Grace, Or the Art of Climbing.” Using a woman’s journey through some difficult situations, the parallels of “the climb” become a artfully performed story that is all inspiration and uplift. The play runs through July 7th, 2019, at Stage 773 in the Belmont Avenue Theater District in Chicago. For more information and tickets, click here.

Podtalk: Chicago Short Film ‘The Orchestra’ at 2019 Cinepocalypse on June 16, 2019

Orchestra, The

CHICAGO – As the 2019 Cinepocalypse Film Fest rolls on through June 20th, short films take center stage. On Sunday, June 16th (9:30pm), the “Shorts Block 1: Shadows Within” takes the screen at the historic Music Box Theatre. Chicago is represented in this block through “The Orchestra,” written and directed by Curtis J. Matzke. For more information and tickets, click here.

Podtalk: Reflecting on ‘The Last Black Man in San Francisco’

CHICAGO – San Francisco is dying. Not from blight or fault lines, but by the excess of new tech money that has been buying the city block by block. The diversity that made the town is also going away, and this circumstance is poignantly rendered in the new film “The Last Black Man in San Francisco.”

Film Review: ‘The Secret Life of Pets 2’ Feels More Like a Cat Nap Than Catnip

pets 2-1

CHICAGO – As a pet owner, I know firsthand that I want an exciting life for my guinea pigs. When I’m off at work, I’d like to think that they throw parties or have some sort of hangouts with other guinea pigs or pets in the area. The alternative being the sad realization that they are stuck in their cage while I’m away, probably bored out of their little minds. “The Secret Life of Pets” franchise continues to brings the fantasy to life, even if the sequel feels too tame.

‘The Secret Life of Pets 2’ Feels More Like a Cat Nap Than Catnip

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

CHICAGO – As a pet owner, I know firsthand that I want an exciting life for my guinea pigs. When I’m off at work, I’d like to think that they throw parties or have some sort of hangouts with other guinea pigs or pets in the area. The alternative being the sad realization that they are stuck in their cage while I’m away, probably bored out of their little minds. “The Secret Life of Pets” franchise continues to brings the fantasy to life, even if the sequel feels too tame.

Film Review: Boot This Reboot of ‘Men In Black International’

CHICAGO – “Men in Black International” is less a reboot than a frantic attempt at CPR for the once viable franchise … which never should have made it to a fourth installment. That’s not to say this is totally unwatchable. But it’s a kind of okay not-that-great-not-that-awful iteration which neither reminds us why we liked the series in the first place nor has much of a reason to exist.

Boot This Reboot of ‘Men In Black International’

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

CHICAGO – “Men in Black International” is less a reboot than a frantic attempt at CPR for the once viable franchise … which never should have made it to a fourth installment. That’s not to say this is totally unwatchable. But it’s a kind of okay not-that-great-not-that-awful iteration which neither reminds us why we liked the series in the first place nor has much of a reason to exist.

Film News: Elevated Films Chicago Presents ‘Saint Frances’ on June 13th, 2019

Saint Frances

CHICAGO – After making its sensational opening night local debut at the Chicago Critics Film Festival in May, the film “Saint Frances” – directed by Alex Thompson and written by (also lead actor) Kelly O’Sullivan – will kick off the the fifth season of the Elevated Films Chicago series on Thursday, June 13th (7:30pm), at the Ace Hotel Chicago. For more information and tickets, click here.

Film News: Opening Night of 2019 Cinepocalypse in Chicago is ‘Verotika’ on June 13, 2019

2019 Cinepocalypse

CHICAGO – Genre films, those categories of movies that have specific themes – horror, thriller, comedy – but remain undefined in their unique qualities, is exactly what the Cinepocalypse Film Festival is all about. The week-long 2019 edition of the fest kicks off on Thursday, June 13th, at Chicago’s historic Music Box Theatre with the World Premiere of “Verotika,” written and directed by Glenn Danzig, founder and vocalist of the legendary band Misfits. Danzig will appear on behalf of the film. For more information and tickets, click here.

Podtalk: Actor Elizabeth Laidlaw on ‘The Red Line’ and Beyond

CHICAGO – The recent limited series “The Red Line” on CBS-TV was notable for a couple elements – it was set in Chicago and it featured Chicago actors in major roles. Creators Caitlin Parrish and Erica Weiss (from here), cast their Chi-town colleague Elizabeth Laidlaw, who portrayed police officer “Vic” Renna.

Podtalk: Nicole Brending’s ‘Dollhouse’ Closes the Chicago Underground Film Fest, June 9, 2019

2019 CUFF Dollhouse

CHICAGO – Closing Night is upon the 26th Chicago Underground Film Festival (CUFF), and a provocative film will bring down the curtain on the fest. “Dollhouse,” subtitled “The Eradication of Female Subjectivity from American Popular Culture,” will screen at 8:30pm on Sunday, June 9th, 2019, at the Logan Theatre in Chicago. Click here for details and tickets.

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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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