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May 2017

Podcast Talk: Rebecca Fons on Reopening the Iowa Theater in Winterset on May 25, 2017

Rebecca and Marianne Fons of the Iowa Theater

CHICAGO – When Rebecca Fons, the former Education Manager of the Chicago International Film Festival, was getting married to Jack C. Newell – a prominent Chicago film director – her mother Marianne told her something that would change the course of their lives. Fons’ hometown movie theater, the “Iowa,” was about to offered for sale. In the equivalent of the recent Matt Damon family film favorite, Rebecca and Marianne Fons was about to star in their version of “We Bought a Movie Theater.”

Film News: Roger Moore, Who Portrayed James Bond, Dies at 89

SWITZERLAND – Of all the breathless hype that comes with each new James Bond movie, the man who played Bond the longest (and in the most films) is often forgotten. Sir Roger Moore – he was knighted for his charity work – portrayed Bond from 1972 to 1985, and died in Switzerland on May 22, 2017. He was 89.

Film Review: ‘Everything, Everything’ Offers Close to Nothing, Nothing

CHICAGO – I’ll be the first to admit that I am not the target audience for these stock young adult romance novels. Aside from the odd fascination and romanticization of teenage death and terminal illness, these stories feel trite and much closer to fantasy than anything real or plausible. This is what the film “Everything, Everything” brings to the table, which essentially translates to Nothing, Nothing.

‘Everything, Everything’ Offers Close to Nothing, Nothing

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

CHICAGO – I’ll be the first to admit that I am not the target audience for these stock young adult romance novels. Aside from the odd fascination and romanticization of teenage death and terminal illness, these stories feel trite and much closer to fantasy than anything real or plausible. This is what the film “Everything, Everything” brings to the table, which essentially translates to Nothing, Nothing.

Film Review: Diane Lane Hits the Blacktop in ‘Paris Can Wait’

Paris Can Wait

CHICAGO – The cache of “Paris Can Wait” is what immediately makes it attractive. It’s Diane Lane road tripping through France on the way to Paris, guided by the script and direction of Eleanor Coppola, in her narrative film debut (at age 80!). Along the way there is food, seduction, incredible sights and Alec Baldwin. That formula was destined to work.

Diane Lane Hits the Blacktop in ‘Paris Can Wait’

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

CHICAGO – The cache of “Paris Can Wait” is what immediately makes it attractive. It’s Diane Lane road tripping through France on the way to Paris, guided by the script and direction of Eleanor Coppola, in her narrative film debut (at age 80!). Along the way there is food, seduction, incredible sights and Alec Baldwin. That formula was destined to work.

Film Review: ‘Alien: Covenant’ is a Pale Copy of Previous Best Films

CHICAGO – It’s worth noting that the Alien series extends back nearly 40 years, and yet the chest-bursting Xenomorphs have produced a grand total of exactly two good movies. The orginal “Alien” and “Aliens” are great films that stand the test of the time, while every other entry in this series would require a significant stretch of the imagination to be called barely watchable.

‘Alien: Covenant’ is a Pale Copy of Previous Best Films

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

CHICAGO – It’s worth noting that the Alien series extends back nearly 40 years, and yet the chest-bursting Xenomorphs have produced a grand total of exactly two good movies. The orginal “Alien” and “Aliens” are great films that stand the test of the time, while every other entry in this series would require a significant stretch of the imagination to be called barely watchable.

Podcast Talk: Asian Pop-Up Cinema Honors Hong Kong Pop & Film Legend Teddy Robin Kwan

Asian Pop Up Cinema 2017 Closing Night

CHICAGO – When The Beatles changed pop music forever in the early 1960s, they also launched a worldwide revolution of bands and songwriters. One such star was Teddy Robin Kwan, who founded Teddy Robin & the Playboys in Hong Kong, and rightly took the crown as “The King of Asian Pop.” And for his second act, the small-but-mighty Kwan became one of Hong Kong’s top film composers, as well as a director and actor of note. He was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Asian Pop-Up Cinema series Closing Night Gala in Chicago on May 11th, 2017.

Film News: Chicago Critics Film Festival Closes With ‘A Ghost Story’ on May 18, 2017

Chicago Critics Film Festival MB Marquee

CHICAGO – All great things must inevitably end, and the 5th annual Chicago Critics Film Festival will go out with a bang, with the hottest film at the recent Sundance Film Festival, “A Ghost Story,” at Chicago’s Music Box Theatre on Thursday May 18th (8pm). This will conclude a day of films, with “Lucky,” “Mr Roosevelt” and “Menashe” screen preceding the finale.

Podcast Talk: Allison Tolman & Lucas Neff of ABC-TV’s ‘Downward Dog’

CHICAGO – From “Mr. Ed” to “Dog with a Blog,” talking animals have had their place on TV. The latest has origins as a web series, with the clever title “Downward Dog.” The show premieres on Wednesday, May 17th, 2017 (9:30pEST/8:30pCST), on ABC TV, and features Ned the Dog as Martin, and human companions portrayed by Allison Tolman and Lucas Neff.

Interview: Director Azazel Jacobs Looks at ‘The Lovers’

Azazel Jacobs The Lovers

CHICAGO – There is a familiar Stephen Sondheim song called “Send in the Clowns,” which speaks of the absurdity of relationships, and their ups and downs. Writer/director Azazel Jacobs has kind of made a movie version of that song’s meaning, with the trials of a married couple, cheating on each other, in “The Lovers.”

Red-Carpet Exclusive Portrait, Audio: Jeremy Piven for Gene Siskel Center Renaissance Award

Jeremy Piven, photo by Joe Arce

CHICAGO – Actor Jeremy Piven came home to Chicago on May 13th, 2017, to moderate the Gene Siskel Center Renaissance Award tribute to actor Kevin Spacey. Piven, who grew up in nearby Evanston, Ill., has forged a diverse career in Hollywood, and is most well-known for portraying super-agent Ari Gold in the HBO series “Entourage.”

Interview: Director Pat Healy of ‘Take Me’ at Chicago Critics Film Festival on May 15, 2017

CHICAGO – An original voice, in an original conceptual movie, is a rare category of cinema art. Director and lead actor Pat Healy, working from a script from Mike Makowsky, has fashioned “Take Me,” a thriller about kidnapping and having the tables turned.

Film Review: ‘King Arthur: Legend of the Sword’ is a Dull, Magicless Bore

CHICAGO – Have you ever had such a bad case of déjà vu while watching a film that trying to remember where the familiar elements are from turns into a more enjoyable experience than actually seeing the film itself? If you haven’t, your quest for that kind of film is fulfilled by the incredibly forgettable “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.”

‘King Arthur: Legend of the Sword’ is a Dull, Magicless Bore

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

CHICAGO – Have you ever had such a bad case of déjà vu while watching a film that trying to remember where the familiar elements are from turns into a more enjoyable experience than actually seeing the film itself? If you haven’t, your quest for that kind of film is fulfilled by the incredibly forgettable “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.”

Interview: Collin Souter, Short Film Programmer for the 2017 Chicago Critics Film Festival

Collin Souter

CHICAGO – In all film festivals, the real hidden talent can often be found in the Short Films Program. This is the beginning for many great filmmakers, and it is up to the film reporters and programmers to unearth these creative jewels. Film Critic and Writer Collin Souter is the Short Films Programmer for the Chicago Critics Film Festival (CCFF), and the fest will be presenting two separate programs on May 13th and 14th, 2017, during the run of the festival, which takes place from May 12th through May 18th at Chicago’s Music Box Theatre (details below).

Film Review: Amy Schumer, Goldie Hawn Bring Hilarity to ‘Snatched’

CHICAGO – This is the Amy Schumer-in-the-movies we’ve all been waiting for… the brash zing factory who has a bit of insecurity behind her adventurous and licentious ways. Schumer teams with Goldie Hawn in a mother and daughter laugh factory called “Snatched.”

Amy Schumer, Goldie Hawn Bring Hilarity to ‘Snatched’

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

CHICAGO – This is the Amy Schumer-in-the-movies we’ve all been waiting for… the brash zing factory who has a bit of insecurity behind her adventurous and licentious ways. Schumer teams with Goldie Hawn in a mother and daughter laugh factory called “Snatched.”

Film News: Chicago Critics Film Festival Opens With ‘The Little Hours’ on May 12, 2017

CHICAGO – The only film festival in the U.S. programmed by a film critics group is right here in the Windy City, with the 5th Chicago Critics Film Festival (CCFF) taking place at the historic Music Box Theatre from May 12th through May 18th, 2017.

Exclusive Portrait: Ian Harding for His New Book ‘Odd Birds’

CHICAGO – He has won seven Teen Choice Awards in a row for his portrayal of Ezra Fitz on the ABC Family series “Pretty Little Liars,” and he is now the author of a new book. Ian Harding has written “Odd Birds,” a collection of essays on bird watching and show business. In an event sponsored by Anderson’s Book Shop, he appeared at North Central College in Naperville, Ill.

Film News: Mimi Plauché Named New Artistic Director at Chicago International Film Festival

Mimi Plauché

CHICAGO – Cinema/Chicago – the parent organization of the Chicago International Film Festival (CIFF) – announced today that Mimi Plauché will take over as Artistic Director for the festival, effective immediately. She assumes the position formerly head by Michael Kutza, the Founder of CIFF. Kutza will continue with the festival as President & CEO, overseeing operations, the branding of Cinema/Chicago, fundraising and the education programs.

Film Review: Love is Champion in ‘The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki’

The Happiest Day of Olli

CHICAGO – As a film set in 1962, shot on glorious black & white 16mm stock, “The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki” has both a feeling that it was made back then, and a timelessness that radiates from that quality. The film is about a boxer, but his heart turns out to be the champion.

Love is Champion in ‘The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki’

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

CHICAGO – As a film set in 1962, shot on glorious black & white 16mm stock, “The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki” has both a feeling that it was made back then, and a timelessness that radiates from that quality. The film is about a boxer, but his heart turns out to be the champion.

Film Review: Life Reveals Itself Through Courses in ‘The Dinner’

CHICAGO – There is a peculiar and particular morality in the maneuverings of “The Dinner,” a multi-course meditation on how a tragic incident can split both opinion and family. Everything in the present situation has a below-the-surface past that festers like an unhealed wound, constantly causing pain.

Life Reveals Itself Through Courses in ‘The Dinner’

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

CHICAGO – There is a peculiar and particular morality in the maneuverings of “The Dinner,” a multi-course meditation on how a tragic incident can split both opinion and family. Everything in the present situation has a below-the-surface past that festers like an unhealed wound, constantly causing pain.

Festival Feature: The Films of the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival

CHICAGO – The 16th Tribeca Film Festival wrapped last Sunday (April 30, 2017) and the award-winning films of the festival have been named. Patrick McDonald of HollywoodChicago.com was there for the first week of Tribeca and files his personal best of the films he experienced.

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  • Downward Dog

    CHICAGO – From “Mr. Ed” to “Dog with a Blog,” talking animals have had their place on TV. The latest has origins as a web series, with the clever title “Downward Dog.” The show premieres on Wednesday, May 17th, 2017 (9:30pEST/8:30pCST), on ABC TV, and features Ned the Dog as Martin, and human companions portrayed by Allison Tolman and Lucas Neff.

  • Positively Present: An Uplifting Cabaret

    CHICAGO – When faced with adversity, the best way around it is to somehow break into song. That is the feeling behind the Brown Paper Box Co.’s “Positively Present: An Uplifting Cabaret,” running April 7th and 8th at Mary’s Attic in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood. The event features company member Kristi Szczepanek as host, and presents song stylings by other company members, including Anna Schutz, plus some special guests. For details and ticket information, click here.

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