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Film Review: ‘Long Shot’ Awkwardly Combines Politics & Romance

CHICAGO – “Long Shot” is a bit of a hybrid that can’t quite decide what it wants to be. Is it a political satire, or is it another in a long line of Seth Rogen stoner comedies with a little rom com thrown in for good measure? It’s a little of both, with the shaggy dog stoner comedy the dominant form … making it a somewhat jarring and incongruous fit with the more political elements of this comedy.

Film Review: Vivacity and Simplicity Come Together in ‘Teen Spirit’

CHICAGO – For most of us, music literally becomes the soundtrack to our lives. They become a reflection of our mood, innermost thoughts, and even our fears. Sometimes they are just a pick me up, the same way Cardi B is currently soundtracking the writing of this review. Certain, well-placed songs can even tell our life story without us having to utter a single word, much like Teen Spirit.

Film Review: ‘Hellboy’ Maintains Energy Just by Being Hellboy

CHICAGO – The latest film reboot is “Hellboy,” and it cruises based on the viability and popularity of its title character. David Harbour takes the reins from Ron Perlman in portraying the demon, and although it’s bogged down by the story, the latest iteration works because the character is so weirdly appealing.

Podtalk: Producer Stephanie Buxbaum on Her Adventures in Reality & Doc Series Television

Stephanie Buxbaum 3

CHICAGO – In the history of “Reality TV” there has been periods of up-and-down popularity, shows that have been around seemingly forever (“Big Brother,” “Amazing Race”) and spinoffs to new styles like “documentary series” as networks like the National Geographic Channel emerged. In all those permutations, producer Stephanie Buxbaum has experienced it all, and has the career and stories to prove it.

Film Review: ‘Robin Hood’ is a By-the-Book Waste of Cinema Energy

Robin Hood

CHICAGO – No one in the movie-going universe was pining for another Robin Hood remake. No. One. Yet, with the story in public domain and some overseas cash to spend, here we are. Taron Egerton (“Kingsman” series) takes on the title role, with support from Jamie Foxx.

Film Review: Entertaining ‘A Simple Favor’ Can’t Maintain Its Mojo

CHICAGO – As the secrets are revealed in “A Simple Favor,” filtered through the witty and entertaining directorial style of Paul Feig (“Bridesmaids”), the story moves with charm and energy for three-quarters of its running time. But as the mystery gets solved, the conclusion doesn’t live up to the promising beginning.

Film Review: ‘Kin’ Overcomes Early Portrayal Issues to Score Big

CHICAGO – The concept of “family” has been romanticized to death in the movies in the last generation, coinciding with the increasing decline of actual togetherness. The new film “Kin” is essentially about family, but it also is about otherworldly weaponry, gritty crime lords and the old on-the-road story.

Podtalk: Josh & Jonathan Baker on the Passion of ‘Kin’

CHICAGO – The tagline for the new film “Kin” is “No force is stronger than family,” and who would know that better than a couple of twin brother filmmakers. Josh and Jonathan Baker make their feature film debut with this gritty sci-fi action picture, and create a new direction and style for the genre.

Film Review: A Bit of Pop/Rock Magic Spins in ‘Juliet, Naked’

CHICAGO – The story of a drop-out rock and roll star… usually disappearing at the height of their fame… has fascinated the movies in both fiction (“Eddie and the Cruisers”) and documentary (“Waiting for Sugarman”). “Juliet, Naked” takes the premise and creates a charming, romantic story about fandom and redemptive decisions.

Film Review: ‘The Spy Who Dumped Me’ Didn’t Need the Spy Part

CHICAGO – It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a film completely stolen by a supporting character, but Kate McKinnon in “The Spy Who Dumped Me” managed to do just that… which was fortunate because the “spy” part of the story is a seen-it-before kill and gun fest that felt like the first draft of a James Bond knock-off.

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