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November 2012

Film Review: Metaphor is Message in Violent ‘Killing Them Softly’

CHICAGO – If there ever was an industry that deserved a good metaphor bashing, it would be the financial sector. “Killing Them Softly” does a hit-over-the-head with the symbolism, but at the same time delivers a gritty and literate parable, featuring Brad Pitt, James Gandolfini and Ray Liotta.

Metaphor is Message in Violent ‘Killing Them Softly’

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

CHICAGO – If there ever was an industry that deserved a good metaphor bashing, it would be the financial sector. “Killing Them Softly” does a hit-over-the-head with the symbolism, but at the same time delivers a gritty and literate parable, featuring Brad Pitt, James Gandolfini and Ray Liotta.

Film Review: Arnold Finds New Way to Capture ‘Wuthering Heights’

CHICAGO – Andrea Arnold continues to make the case that she’s one of the world’s most interesting filmmakers with the unexpected creative success of her adaptation of “Wuthering Heights,” a story that may not at first seem to fit in her narrative framework but proves to be a perfect choice for this multi-talented filmmaker.

Andrea Arnold Finds New Way to Capture ‘Wuthering Heights’

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

CHICAGO – Andrea Arnold continues to make the case that she’s one of the world’s most interesting filmmakers with the unexpected creative success of her adaptation of “Wuthering Heights,” a story that may not at first seem to fit in her narrative framework but proves to be a perfect choice for this multi-talented filmmaker.

HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: 40 Pairs of Passes to ‘Playing For Keeps’ With Gerard Butler, Jessica Biel

CHICAGO – In the latest HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: Film with our unique social giveaway technology, we have 40 pairs of movie passes up for grabs to the advance screening of the new romantic comedy “Playing For Keeps” with Gerard Butler!

Film Review: ‘The Collection’ Assaults Viewers with Nonsensical Gore

CHICAGO – “The Collection” is a very, very, very, very bad movie. It is really only watchable because it’s so bad. It’s one of those flicks that encourages talking or tweeting in the theater merely so you can make it enjoyable by laughing at it and not really with it.

‘The Collection’ Assaults Viewers with Nonsensical Gore

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

CHICAGO – “The Collection” is a very, very, very, very bad movie. It is really only watchable because it’s so bad. It’s one of those flicks that encourages talking or tweeting in the theater merely so you can make it enjoyable by laughing at it and not really with it. However, one cannot deny that Marcus Dunstan’s completely illogical mess of a horror film certainly never bores. It’s too bafflingly stupid to be truly boring.

Film News: 2013 Independent Spirit Award Nominations Announced

2013 Indie Spirit Award Nominations

CHICAGO – Two acclaimed crowd-pleasers led the nominees for the 2013 Independent Spirit Awards, which were announced November 27th. The quirky ensemble comedies “Silver Linings Playbook” and “Moonrise Kingdom” snagged five nominations apiece. The latter picture recently garnered a Best Feature accolade from the Gotham Independent Film Awards.

Blu-ray Review: Holidays Are Brighter with ‘The Muppet Christmas Carol’

Muppet Christmas Carol

CHICAGO – Has The Muppets comeback taken with the general populous? The wonderful movie from last year didn’t quite turn into the box office phenomenon that it deserved to be and I worry that we may have to wait for another comeback for Kermit, Miss Piggy, Gonzo, and the rest of the gang. Until then, satisfy yourself and teach your kids about these characters with the 20th anniversary edition of “The Muppet Christmas Carol,” new to Blu-ray.

Blu-ray Review: Great Release For Fantastic ‘ParaNorman’

CHICAGO – “ParaNorman” better be included in any conversation of the best animated films of 2012 and the excellent Blu-ray from Universal, released today, makes that case even further than the theatrical one with a stellar collection of special features and beautiful HD transfer. I love this movie.

Video Game Review: ‘Need For Speed: Most Wanted’ Plays Like J.J. Abrams Film

CHICAGO – I am not (by any means) what you’d call a gear-head. I’m the guy who skips through the car reviews on “Top Gear” to get to the challenges, I’ve changed oil twice in my life, and my current sick ride is a 2001 Chevy Lumina with a bum tail light.

Film News: Corey Feldman Chats Up ‘6 Degrees of Hell’ on Indie Outlook

Corey Feldman on Indie Outlook

CHICAGO – Actor Corey Feldman, the star of iconic films such as “The Goonies,” “Stand by Me” and “The Lost Boys,” took part in an exclusive interview with Indie Outlook, the independent film blog launched by Hollywood Chicago staff writer Matt Fagerholm. Feldman discussed his new role in Joe Raffa’s supernatural thriller, “6 Degrees of Hell,” which is now available on DVD.

Blu-ray Review: Inconsistent Comedy ‘The Watch’ Wastes Talented Cast

The Watch with Vince Vaughn from Seth Rogen

CHICAGO – There are people who made it who probably think that the real-world controversy around Trayvon Martin, which forced the film to abandon its original title of “Neighborhood Watch,” is what undid “The Watch” with Ben Stiller & Vince Vaughn, one of the biggest bombs of Summer 2012.

Blu-ray Review: Stunning Restorations in ‘Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection’

CHICAGO – Seeing Kim Novak’s first appearance in “Vertigo,” that stunning shot of a green dress in a sea of black suits at Ernie’s, is something that every movie fan should experience in HD. And now they can on one of the fifteen discs included in the glorious “Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection,” the Blu-ray release of 2012.

Blu-ray Review: John Carpenter’s ‘They Live’ Gets Collector’s Edition

They Live

CHICAGO – John Carpenter was one of the most important filmmakers of the ’70s and ’80s but he fell hard after the release of his last great film, 1988’s “They Live,” recently released in a Collector’s Edition Blu-ray from Shout Factory’s horror branch, Scream Factory. Some might even quibble with that, arguing that “Live” was the start of the decline. The film was pretty widely ridiculed on release, although it’s gained a following in the quarter-century since, one that should be happy if not overjoyed by a long overdue Blu-ray release.

Video Game Review: ‘Call of Duty: Black Ops 2’ Brings Changes But Keeps Strengths

CHICAGO – Entering a freshly crowded field of first-person shooters, “Call of Duty: Black Ops 2” had a lot of buzz behind it. The good news is that the game virtually matches the hype. This is absolutely on the upper end of the get-it-while-it’s-new list. Those who have criticized Activision for turning “COD” into an annual cash cow simply have little to complain about here. Almost everything has been given the once over and improved upon.

HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: 25 Pairs of Anytime Passes to ‘Hitchcock’ With Anthony Hopkins

CHICAGO – In this HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: Film, we have 25 pairs of run-of-engagement, guaranteed, anytime movie passes up for grabs for “Hitchcock” starring Anthony Hopkins as Alfred Hitchcock and Helen Mirren as his wife!

TV News: ‘Dallas’ Star Larry Hagman Dies at 81

DALLAS – Larry Hagman, who created one of the most famous television villains of all time (J.R. Ewing of the TV nighttime soap sensation “Dallas”), passed away on Friday of complications from cancer. He was ironically in Dallas, Texas working on the new version of “Dallas,” which was recently resurrected by TNT.

Blu-ray Review: Aardman Offers Holiday Alternative with ‘Arthur Christmas’

Arthur Christmas

CHICAGO – Aardman Animation has been such a vital, creative force in the history of family entertainment that I worry that the relatively lackluster reception stateside for films like “Arthur Christmas” could derail the company a bit. Most U.S. audiences ignored this solid holiday offering and the Spring’s “The Pirates! A Band of Misfits” (although both were much bigger hits overseas). Do yourself a favor and take a trip off the beaten holiday movie path to check out “Arthur Christmas,” a smart, fun comedy for the entire family.

DVD Review: ‘The Incredible Mel Brooks’ Offers Timeless Comedy

The Incredible Mel Brooks

CHICAGO – Mel Brooks is an indisputable genius and his comic mastery gets a perfect tribute in the 5-DVD-and-1-CD set from Shout Factory, “The Incredible Mel Brooks,” a treasure trove of rare clips, old TV shows, appearances, and recollections from one of comedy’s greatest writers. This is a fantastic set, a perfect gift for the comedy fan in your family.

Blu-ray Review: Collector’s Edition of ‘Harold & Kumar’ Films

Harold & Kumar Collector's

CHICAGO – You have to love how Warner Bros. takes every opportunity to create holiday season collector’s sets for their hit franchises. It makes sense to have lavish sets for films like “Harry Potter” but I picture people sitting around trying to figure out what physical collectibles to include in some of their sets and I have to laugh. Whoever came up with air fresheners and White Castle coasters for “Harold & Kumar” deserves a raise.

Interview: Rocker Dee Snider on Life After ‘Celebrity Apprentice’

Dee Snider

CHICAGO – When the new 2013 cast of “Celebrity Apprentice” was recently announced, it brought back memories of last season, in which one of the contestants was rocker Dee Snider (“Twisted Sister”). Snider was in Chicago in May on a promotional tour, touting his new book “Shut Up and Give Me the Mic.”

HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: Free ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ Tix to Extended-Cut World Premiere

CHICAGO – In the latest HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: Film with our unique social giveaway technology, we have 22 pairs of one-night-only, world-premiere, guaranteed passes up for grabs to two gloriously remastered episodes of TV’s “Star Trek: The Next Generation” like you’ve never seen them before!

Film Review: Banal Story, Unique Visuals Define ‘Rise of the Guardians’

Rise of the Guardians

CHICAGO – Okay, we get it. The current crop of animators can create amazing worlds, full of sensory-expanding images and visions of magical awe (and in 3D). But, if there is a dull story interacting with the eye candy, it can feel like a fancy cake that tastes like sawdust. Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Isla Fisher Jude Law and Hugh Jackman lend their voices to “Rise of the Guardians.”

Banal Story, Unique Visuals Define ‘Rise of the Guardians’

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

CHICAGO – Okay, we get it. The current crop of animators can create amazing worlds, full of sensory-expanding images and visions of magical awe (and in 3D). But, if there is a dull story interacting with the eye candy, it can feel like a fancy cake that tastes like sawdust. Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Isla Fisher Jude Law and Hugh Jackman lend their voices to “Rise of the Guardians.”

Film Review: ‘Hitchcock’ at its Heart is a Relationship Film

CHICAGO – The great director Alfred Hitchcock had morphed to legend rather than a man, so it’s interesting that two films have recently been released about his all-too-human foibles. The feature film, starring Sir Anthony Hopkins as the director, gets inside the man’s relationships in “Hitchcock.”

‘Hitchcock’ at its Heart is a Relationship Film

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

CHICAGO – The great director Alfred Hitchcock had morphed to legend rather than a man, so it’s interesting that two films have recently been released about his all-too-human foibles. The feature film, starring Sir Anthony Hopkins as the director, gets inside the man’s relationships in “Hitchcock.”

Film Review: Geopolitics Aside, ‘Red Dawn’ is Decent Action Movie

CHICAGO – Given the state of the post-9/11 world, and the delicate negotiations between nations, remaking “Red Dawn” posed a considerable risk. But the film takes a ‘“damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead,” approach, and pulls off an adrenaline rush featuring Chris Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson and Josh Peck.

Geopolitics Aside, ‘Red Dawn’ is Decent Action Movie

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

CHICAGO – Given the state of the post-9/11 world, and the delicate negotiations between nations, remaking “Red Dawn” posed a considerable risk. But the film takes a ‘“damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead,” approach, and pulls off an adrenaline rush featuring Chris Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson and Josh Peck.

Film Review: ‘Life of Pi’ Offers Little More Than Stunning Visuals

CHICAGO – Ang Lee’s “Life of Pi” is a film that defies much critical thought in that it demands dismissal of such things in order to work. It is a story that needs to be transcendent in the way it transports the viewer through its fantastic tale that promises nothing less than evidence of God.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Knick, The

    CHICAGO – Cinemax’s ominous new series “The Knick” is a hospital drama that’s very much in the voice of its director, Steven Soderbergh. Set in New York City at the turn of the 20th century, the series presents the medical world as it inches closer and closer to modernity, while making contemporary parallels to the desperate hustle by surgery room clients and their doctors alike regarding treatment of the human body. What has changed in the politics of medicine? What hasn’t?

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    CHICAGO – The Internet is for real in “Transcendence”, a B-movie with grade-A production quality, loaded with terabyte-size open-ended questions, so long as one can accept it lastly with a scientific mindset. It is a film that perceives technology to be more expansive than a box of wires and computer chips, and actualizes the expanse of the internet as limitless to the realm of spiritual.

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