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August 2016

Interview: Jackie Joyner-Kersee on Comcast’s Internet Essentials Expansion in Chicago

Internet Essentials by Comcast

CHICAGO – When Olympian Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Comcast Senior Executive VP David L. Cohen gather the press corp to represent the company’s “Internet Essentials,” it’s sure to become a benefit for the City of Chicago. The Essentials program seeks to close the “Digital Divide” – the gap for web access in poorer communities – and bring the internet to everyone’s home.

Slideshow: ‘Southside With You’ Red Carpet, Press Conference featuring John Legend

| Image 1 of 5 |
John Legend, Executive Producer of ‘Southside with You.’

CHICAGO – There are previous examples of films that were made with a president as a character while he was in office, including “P.T. 109” (John F. Kennedy, war story), “W.” (George W. Bush, Oliver Stone biography) and “Yankee Doodle Dandy” (Franklin D. Roosevelt, cameo). President Barack Obama has joined their ranks, but the subject matter of “Southside With You” is decidedly different. The film chronicles his first date with Michelle Robinson, now the First Lady.

Film News: Gene Wilder of ‘Willy Wonka’ Fame Dies at 83

LOS ANGELES – The genius comedy of Gene Wilder was often in the subtlety. With a slow burn or a raised eyebrow, Wilder was able to draw big laughs. The star of “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” and “Young Frankenstein” died in Stamford, Connecticut, according to his nephew in Los Angeles. He was 83.

Film Review: ‘Don’t Breathe’ is a Terrifying Sensory Experience

CHICAGO – The horror genre can be a complex creature. The great films can show you the difference between ‘horror’ and ‘terror’. Some horror is all shock and no substance, while terror can be all fear, but no shock. The difference between them is so nuanced that only a skilled director, like Fede Alvarez, can show you the difference in his latest film, “Don’t Breathe.”

‘Don’t Breathe’ is a Terrifying Sensory Experience

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

CHICAGO – The horror genre can be a complex creature. The great films can show you the difference between ‘horror’ and ‘terror’. Some horror is all shock and no substance, while terror can be all fear, but no shock. The difference between them is so nuanced that only a skilled director, like Fede Alvarez, can show you the difference in his latest film, “Don’t Breathe.”

Film News: 2016 Chicago 48 Hour Film Project Kicks Off Aug. 26

2016 48 Hour Film Project

CHICAGO – The annual Chicago 48 Hour Film Project, 2016 edition, begins on Friday, August 26th. Filmmakers from all over the Chicagoland area will compete in an attempt to make the best short film in 48 hours. Starting at 7:30pm, the movie making teams will be assigned a genre, character, prop and line of dialogue, that they will use to base their film on. By Sunday, August 28th, they must deliver a finished 4-7 minute film. For complete details, click here.

Interview: Actor Stephen Lang, Director Fede Alvarez Advise You to ‘Don’t Breathe’

CHICAGO – The horror genre in film is always looking for a shot in the old fear factor, and the new release “Don’t Breathe” delivers that injection (heh-heh). The second film by director Fede Alvarez (“Evil Dead”) features character actor favorite Stephen Lang – he prefers “Slang.” The film opens nationwide on August 26th.

Red-Carpet Video Interviews: Jack Huston, Roma Downey, Mark Burnett for ‘Ben-Hur’

CHICAGO – HollywoodChicago.com brings you our red-carpet interviews with Jack Huston (“Judah Ben-Hur”), executive producer Roma Downey, executive producer Mark Burnett and Wilfredo “Pastor Choco” De Jesus from the Chicago premiere of “Ben-Hur” on Aug. 19, 2016 at Kerasotes ShowPlace ICON Theatre.

Film Review: Remake of ‘Ben-Hur’ Can’t Find Right Tone or Pacing

Ben-Hur

CHICAGO – In most cases, remaking a classic film is a fool’s errand that will end in disappointment for everyone involved. The greatest pitfall is the inevitable comparison between the two films. This form of cinematic suicide is becoming more prominent as cash grabs attempt to revive still relevant films. There are few stories that can and should be resurrected, but “Ben-Hur” is not among them.

Remake of ‘Ben-Hur’ Can’t Find Right Tone or Pacing

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

CHICAGO – In most cases, remaking a classic film is a fool’s errand that will end in disappointment for everyone involved. The greatest pitfall is the inevitable comparison between the two films. This form of cinematic suicide is becoming more prominent as cash grabs attempt to revive still relevant films. There are few stories that can and should be resurrected, but “Ben-Hur” is not among them.

Interview: Actor Craig Robinson, Director Chad Hartigan Reflect on ‘Morris From America’

CHICAGO – When a 13 year old African American teenager is suddenly put into the atmosphere of Germany – specifically Old Heidelberg – then a whole new adventure awaits for “Morris from America.” Craig Robinson (“The Office”) portrays the title character’s father, and the film is directed by Chad Hartigan.

Red-Carpet Video Interviews: John Legend & Parker Sawyers for Barack Obama Film ‘Southside With You’

John Legend and Adam Fendelman at Southside With You

CHICAGO – HollywoodChicago.com brings you our red-carpet interviews with John Legend (executive producer, original song), Parker Sawyers (“Barack Obama”), Michael Tanne (writer, director, producer) and Vanessa Bell Calloway (Marian Robinson, Michelle’s mother) from the Chicago premiere of “Southside With You” on Aug. 18, 2016 at the Music Box Theatre.

HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: 50 Pairs of Passes to ‘Don’t Breathe’ From ‘Evil Dead’ Creators

CHICAGO – In the latest HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: Film, we have 50 pairs of advance-screening movie passes up for grabs to the new horror film “Don’t Breathe” from the creators of “Evil Dead” and producer Sam Raimi!

Film Review: Fulfilling Emotion & Sumptuous Animation Awaits in ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’

CHICAGO – In our short lives, what do we most need? It’s a hard question to answer sometimes, but the new animated film “Kubo and the Two Strings” does a memorable job of answering the query. The journey of Kubo, like Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz,” leads to a place where he needs to go.

Fulfilling Emotion & Sumptuous Animation Awaits in ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’

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

CHICAGO – In our short lives, what do we most need? It’s a hard question to answer sometimes, but the new animated film “Kubo and the Two Strings” does a memorable job of answering the query. The journey of Kubo, like Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz,” leads to a place where he needs to go.

Slideshow: 2016 Wizard World Comic Con Chicago From Aug. 18-21

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Barry Bostwick of ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’ and ‘Spin City.’

CHICAGO – One of Chicago’s most popular pop culture gatherings is the Wizard World Comic Con, and the 2016 edition is building anticipation for the weekend of August 18th through the 21st. Besides the fan costumes, vendor booths and comic book legends, Wizard World has appearances from TV and movie celebrities, highlighted by Michael J. Fox (“Back to the Future”), David Duchovny (“The X-Files”) and Princess Leia herself, the one and only Carrie Fisher.

Theater News: Rich Cotovsky at Final ‘Abbie Hoffman Died for Our Sins’ Fest From Aug. 19-21, 2016

Abbie Hoffman Died for Our Sins Fest

CHICAGO – It’s 3am on Saturday night/Sunday morning on August 20th, and you’re just not ready to quit. How about indulging in the 2016 “Abbie Hoffman Died for Our Sins” Theater Festival? The three-day theater marathon is in its 28th edition, and will be sponsored for the final time by the Mary-Arrchie Theatre Company, and hosted by the “Godfather of Storefront Theater,” Rich Cotovsky. It all takes place at the Den Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee in Chicago (details below).

Film Review: ‘War Dogs’ Fires Blanks in a Sorry Attempt at Satire

CHICAGO – “War Dogs” is an insufferable, self important, and heavy handed attempt at satire that can’t stop congratulating itself for all the big truths it’s blowing up, bro. “Old School” and “Hangover” director Todd Phillips fancies himself an auteur, but here it seems like he’s imitating David O Russell imitating Martin Scorsese.

‘War Dogs’ Fires Blanks in a Sorry Attempt at Satire

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

CHICAGO – “War Dogs” is an insufferable, self important, and heavy handed attempt at satire that can’t stop congratulating itself for all the big truths it’s blowing up, bro. “Old School” and “Hangover” director Todd Phillips fancies himself an auteur, but here it seems like he’s imitating David O Russell imitating Martin Scorsese.

Interview: Director Marie Ullrich on Blu-ray & DVD Release of ‘The Alley Cat’

Alley Cat, The

CHICAGO – Using Chicago as a backdrop has rarely been as kinetic and exciting as under the direction of Marie Ullrich. Expanding upon a short film she produced in 2010 called “Faster,” about a bike messenger in the Windy City, Ullrich went for a grittier and more emotional look at that world in “The Alley Cat” in 2014. The film was released on Blu-ray and DVD on August 16th, 2016.

Interview: Director Travis Knight Strums ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’

CHICAGO – One of the great benefits of the new Golden Age of Animation has been the emergence of other studios…like Laika Entertainment, which has released “Coraline,” “ParaNorman” and “The Boxtrolls,” all nominated for Oscars. Travis Knight directs their latest stop-motion style animated film, “Kubo and the Two Strings.”

Interview: John Michael is the One-Man Show in ‘Dementia Me’

CHICAGO – No one would call talented one-man-show artist John Michael conventional, at least if they are in their right mind. So ironically, after tackling sexually transmitted disease in his last solo performance, he takes on the vagrancies of old age and caring for elderly patients in his truly heartfelt “Dementia Me.”

Film Review: ‘Equity’ Tells a Story of Women in High Finance

CHICAGO – The key moment in “Equity” is early in the film. The main character was asked at a seminar why she got into high level finance. She paused for a second, and said “money.” The gals can be just as greedy as the guys, and their stakes in that greed can be just as exploitable.

‘Equity’ Tells a Story of Women in High Finance

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

CHICAGO – The key moment in “Equity” is early in the film. The main character was asked at a seminar why she got into high level finance. She paused for a second, and said “money.” The gals can be just as greedy as the guys, and their stakes in that greed can be just as exploitable.

Film Review: ‘Sausage Party’ is a Hard R-Rated Raunchy Good Time

CHICAGO – First things first. Don’t let the fact this is animated fool you, “Sausage Party” is most definitely, absolutely NOT FOR CHILDREN. This is a hard R-rated Seth Rogen raunch fest that may induce nightmares into more sensitive viewers and contains images of animated debauchery that can not be unseen. But it is inventively profane, with more on its mind than just animated f-bombs.

‘Sausage Party’ is a Hard R-Rated Raunchy Good Time

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

CHICAGO – First things first. Don’t let the fact this is animated fool you, “Sausage Party” is most decidedly, definitely, absolutely NOT FOR CHILDREN. This is a hard R-rated Seth Rogen raunch fest that may induce nightmares for more sensitive viewers and contains images of animated debauchery that can not be unseen. But it is inventively profane, with more on its mind than just animated f-bombs.

Interview: Simon Helberg Performs With ‘Florence Foster Jenkins’

CHICAGO – For nine seasons, Simon Helberg has graced the television screen as Howard, on the number one comedy hit “The Big Bang Theory.” As the show nears the end of its run, Helberg is breaking out a bit, starting with a vital supporting role opposite Meryl Streep in the new film, “Florence Foster Jenkins.”

Film Review: Unexpected Lessons for the Student of ‘Indignation’

CHICAGO – America was a very different place in 1951, and there are very few people around to tell us about it. That is why reminders of the more confining social order that existed back then is necessary, and is expressed in the film “Indignation.” This is an adaptation of a recent Philip Roth novel, and he was able to articulate the era.

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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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