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June 2016

Exclusive Portrait: Bobby Brown Takes ‘Every Little Step’ in New Book

CHICAGO – Singer Bobby Brown has been all over the news of late, mostly because of the new memoir he’s authored (with Nick Chiles) called “Every Little Step.” He aims to set the record straight on his tumultuous career, especially regarding his marriage with the late Whitney Houston, which culminated when they split in 2007.

Interview: Harry Lennix Puts His Career & Life in Perspective

Harry Lennix, photo by Joe Arce

CHICAGO – The stage play that Harry Lennix is in town to direct – “A Small Oak Tree Runs Red” – is in its last weekend, and is giving the actor/director the best notices of the theater part in his long and successful career. For more information about the play, and ticket availability, click here.

Interview: Daniel Scheinert, Daniel Kwan Open a ‘Swiss Army Man’

CHICAGO – In what truly must be one of the most original and odd ideas for a movie in awhile, “Swiss Army Man” is opening in Chicago this week, and features Daniel “Harry Potter” Radcliffe as a dead corpse that helps a man survive. This scenario was concocted by writer/directors Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan.

Film Review: Beauty Becomes Beastly in Uneven ‘The Neon Demon’

CHICAGO – “The Neon Demon” is definitely worth seeing, if only to create an understanding as to what you think beauty is, but the film suffers in its last quarter by taking a turn towards horror. This mix of decisions by director Nicolas Winding Refn (“Drive”) is audacious and maddening.

Beauty Becomes Beastly in Uneven ‘The Neon Demon’

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

CHICAGO – “The Neon Demon” is definitely worth seeing, if only to create an understanding as to what you think beauty is, but the film suffers in its last quarter by taking a turn towards horror. This mix of decisions by director Nicolas Winding Refn (“Drive”) is audacious and maddening.

Film Review: Social History is Revitalized in ‘Free State of Jones’

CHICAGO – The United States is still fighting the Civil War, which ended in 1865. The rebellious South has never completely given away its anger and sorrow for the changes the war has wrought on them. These larger themes are examined historically in the new film, “Free State of Jones.”

Social History is Revitalized in ‘Free State of Jones’

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

CHICAGO – The United States is still fighting the Civil War, which ended in 1865. The rebellious South has never completely given away its anger and sorrow for the changes the war has wrought on them. These larger themes are examined historically in the new film, “Free State of Jones.”

Interview: Director David Farrier Finds No Mirth in ‘Tickled’

CHICAGO – In the underbelly of American society, if you dig deep enough, there is also an underbelly to the underbelly. When a New Zealand journalist named David Farrier goes to such depths, on a story about competitive tickling (yes, tickling people to laughing fits), he gets much more that he bargained for.

Interview: Gordon Quinn of Kartemquin Films on Life After 50

CHICAGO – In the final chapter of a three-part interview, Gordon Quinn of Kartemquin Films desires to evolve forward, soon after the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the iconic Chicago documentary house have past.

Interview: Gordon Quinn of Kartemquin Films Revisits ‘Hoop Dreams’

Hoop Dreams

CHICAGO – It has been 22 years since one of the greatest documentaries in film history was released, and it was created right here in Chicago by Kartemquin Films. “Hoop Dreams,” produced by Gordon Quinn (among others) and directed by Steve James, was a turning point for Kartemquin, which had at the time been making socially focused docs for over 30 years. As part of the film company’s 50th anniversary, Gordon Quinn revisits the groundbreaking film.

Interview: Elle Fanning, Nicolas Winding Refn on ‘The Neon Demon’

CHICAGO – The contemplation of beauty gets a little more truth in a new film by Nicolas Winding Refn (“Drive”) entitled “The Neon Demon.” It features Elle Fanning as Jesse, a naive girl who wants to break into the world of modeling, and does so in an unexpected way. The symbolic film has both strange drama and touches of horror.

Interview: Gordon Quinn on 50th Anniversary of Kartemquin Films

CHICAGO – Two months ago, producer/director/cinematographer/editor Gordon Quinn received the Baadasssss Award from the 2016 CIMM Fest, for his longtime contributions to the cinema scene in Chicago through Kartemquin Films. The famous production house, known for their documentaries, is celebrating their 50th anniversary.

Film News: Anton Yelchin, Chekov from ‘Star Trek’ Reboot, Dies at 27

LOS ANGELES – The loss of a up-and-coming actor at an early age is always a tragic event, and Anton Yelchin has been added to that roster. In a freak automobile accident at his home, Yelchin died on June 19th, 2016. He was best known for embracing the role of Pavel Chekov in the “Star Trek” film series reboot. He was 27 years old.

Film Review: ‘Finding Dory’ Essentially Finds Its Sweet Spot

CHICAGO – Pixar’s sequel to its underwater animated tearjerker “Finding Nemo” isn’t quite in the same league, but “Finding Dory” is satisfying all the same. This time the story focuses on Marlin and Nemo’s forgetful friend Dory, as she searches for the family she can’t quite remember.

‘Finding Dory’ Essentially Finds Its Sweet Spot

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

CHICAGO – Pixar’s sequel to its underwater animated tearjerker “Finding Nemo” isn’t quite in the same league, but “Finding Dory” is satisfying all the same. This time the story focuses on Marlin and Nemo’s forgetful friend Dory, as she searches for the family she can’t quite remember.

Interview: Chris Strompolos of ‘RAIDERS! The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made’

CHICAGO – When it comes to movie fandom, there are acolytes and obsessives, but few stories are better than three fanboys in 1982, who loved a certain film so much they decided to do a shot-by-shot remake. This is chronicled in the new documentary, “RAIDERS! The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made.”

Film Review: Life in 2016 is Famous in ‘Presenting Princess Shaw’

CHICAGO – Had you told a person 50 years ago that someday we would be able to personally record television and broadcast it to the whole world, they might have laughed and said maybe on the futuristic cartoon “The Jetsons.” But the future is now, and it lives in “Presenting Princess Shaw.”

Life in 2016 is Famous in ‘Presenting Princess Shaw’

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

CHICAGO – Had you told a person 50 years ago that someday we would be able to personally record television and broadcast it to the whole world, they might have laughed and said maybe on the futuristic cartoon “The Jetsons.” But the future is now, and it lives in “Presenting Princess Shaw.”

Film Review: Surprisingly Weird, Wacky ‘Puerto Ricans in Paris’

Puerto Ricans in Paris

CHICAGO – Occasionally, a film breaks through the miasma of images, and proclaims its uniqueness by just being weird. Case in point, the strange and wacky “Puerto Ricans in Paris,” which may have been created after two rich film producers made a one dollar bet (ala “Trading Places”) that they could come up with a movie simply based on the title.

Surprisingly Weird, Wacky ‘Puerto Ricans in Paris’

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

CHICAGO – Occasionally, a film breaks through the miasma of images, and proclaims its uniqueness by just being weird. Case in point, the strange and wacky “Puerto Ricans in Paris,” which may have been created after two rich film producers made a one dollar bet (ala “Trading Places”) that they could come up with a movie simply based on the title.

Film Review: Waste of Talent, Sequel Energy in ‘Now You See Me 2’

CHICAGO – Separately, you love all these movie star icons and funny people – Daniel Radcliffe, Michael Caine, Mark Ruffalo, Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Morgan Freeman, Lizzy Caplan and Dave Franco. Together, they add up to a terrible sequel, “Now You See Me 2.”

Waste of Talent, Sequel Energy in ‘Now You See Me 2’

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

CHICAGO – Separately, you love all these movie star icons and funny people – Daniel Radcliffe, Michael Caine, Mark Ruffalo, Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Morgan Freeman, Lizzy Caplan and Dave Franco. Together, they add up to a terrible sequel, “Now You See Me 2.”

Interview: Harry Lennix Directs the New Play ‘A Small Oak Tree Runs Red’

Harry Lennix, photo by Joe Arce

CHICAGO – Mention the name Harry Lennix, and images of his many character roles are bound to emerge – Harold Cooper in the TV series “The Blacklist,” General Swanwick from “Batman v Superman” and Commissioner Blades from Spike Lee’s recent “Chi-Raq.” The deeply knowledgeable Lennix brings his years of dramatic expertise, as he directs the Congo Square Theatre Company’s world premiere stage play “A Small Oak Tree Runs Red.’

‘Warcraft’ Tries, But Eventually Has Got No Game

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

CHICAGO – The best that can be said for the video game adaptation “Warcraft” is that it’s not the incoherent, CGI heavy and Michael-Bay-type nightmare it could have been. It’s still somewhat incoherent – full of computer generated cannon fodder – but I am surprised and happy to report it did not induce any headaches, even in pointless 3D.

Film Review: ‘Warcraft’ Tries, But Eventually Has Got No Game

CHICAGO – The best that can be said for the video game adaptation “Warcraft” is that it’s not the incoherent, CGI heavy and Michael-Bay-type nightmare it could have been. It’s still somewhat incoherent – full of computer generated cannon fodder – but I am surprised and happy to report it did not induce any headaches, even in pointless 3D.

Interview: Samantha Montgomery of ‘Presenting Princess Shaw’

CHICAGO – There are show business stories, and then there are show business miracles. In the tech age we’re living through, the needle-in-a-haystack hope that a song, video or rant will go “viral” online is part of the experience. Singer Samantha Montgomery was one such singer, and her story is in “Presenting Princess Shaw.”

Interview: Director Layne Marie Williams, Actor Hannah Kopen on ‘Dollface’ Premiere on June 10, 2016

Dollface

CHICAGO – The premiere of a director’s film is a major evolutionary moment for the cinema artist, and Layne Marie Williams will debut “Dollface” this Friday, June 10th, 2016, at the Canvas event space in Wicker Park in Chicago. The short film features Hannah Kopen in one of the lead roles, and the premiere will be part of a gallery/cinema fusion called SINtegrate. For complete details, click here.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Kid Thing, The

    CHICAGO – Like the awesome Engine Who Could, the mighty Nothing Without a Company stage crafters have constructed another triumph at their new home in Berger Mansion on Chicago’s north side. “The Kid Thing” – written by Sarah Gubbins – is a terse, convincing and emotional play about fear, identity and breeding, and it is performed by its cast of five with utter authenticity. The show has a Thursday-Sunday run at the Berger North Mansion through April 15th, 2017. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

  • Wiz, The

    CHICAGO – When stage theater can cause outbreaks of elation, celebration and joy, then it must be due to Kokandy Productions’ revival of “The Wiz.” The urban reinterpretation of “The Wizard of Oz” story – told through tuneful euphoria and jubilant dance – is ecstatically produced, in every morsel of its stagecraft.

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