February 2019

Preview Feature: Chicago’s Asian Pop-Up Cinema Season Eight

CHICAGO – One of the most successful ongoing film festivals is Chicago’s Asian Pop-Up Cinema (APUC). Facilitated by founder and veteran film programmer Sophia Wong Bocchio, the fest anticipates Season Eight with another amazing line-up of films from Japan, Mongolia, Singapore, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, Indonesia and South Korea.

Theater Review: ‘It’s NOT ALL About You John Michael’ in Chicago

It's NOT ALL About You John Michael

CHICAGO – John Michael epitomizes the art of the monologue. The Chicago transplant, by way of Dallas, is moving on (he says temporarily) from the city that inspired his last show, “Meatball Seance,” after notorious and successful runs of his other one-man shows, “John Michael and the Order of the Penix” and “Dementia Me.” His farewell performance is his latest, another laugh riot, “It’s NOT ALL About You John Michael,” and will take place at Mary’s Attic in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood on March 1st, 2019. Click here for details, including ticket information.

Film Feature: HollywoodChicago.com Remembers Albert Finney

CHICAGO – He moved deftly from British matinee idol to formidable movie star to reliable character actor, and was nominated four times for an Academy Award (no wins). Albert Finney had a nearly 50 year stage and screen career that encompassed virtually all types and genres of acting. He died in London on February 7th, 2019. He was 82.

Theater Review: Kicky ‘The Soccer Player in the Closet’ from Nothing Without a Company

Soccer Player in the Closet, The 2

CHICAGO – Connecting to the theater collective Nothing Without a Company means a couple of things. One, you may visit parts of Chicago you’ve never seen before – in this case a plant store in an industrial area south of Humboldt Park – and two, you will see some daring and outside-the-box stagings. “The Soccer Player in the Closet” is their latest production – a World Premiere – and it provides what the title implies and beyond. The play runs through March 17th, 2019. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

Exclusive Photo: Peter Tork, Member of 'The Monkees,' Dies at 77

Peter Tork, photo by Joe Arce

CHICAGO – Hey, hey, he (was) a Monkee, and Peter Tork liked Monkee-ing around. The eternally optimistic-but-doofus character of the “Pre-Fab Four” 1960s pop group The Monkees was also a consummate musician, and was one the first members of the made-for-TV band that protested the false backing tracks to their playing and singing. Tork died on February 21st, 2019. He was 77.

Film News: ‘Green Book,’ Olivia Colman Shock at 91st Oscars

CHICAGO – After all the controversies that beset the 91st Academy Awards, the actual event continued to surprise, with the stunning upset of Olivia Colman (“The Favourite”) as the Best Actress honoree – besting heavily favored Glenn Close – to the naming of “Green Book” as Best Picture, which overcame a backlash regarding the liberties of its based-on-truth story.

Oscar Week: HollywoodChicago.com Predictions for 2019 Academy Awards

CHICAGO – Time to fill out the Oscar prediction ballots! The 91st Academy Awards are on Sunday, February 24th, 2019, and HC film critics Patrick McDonald, Michael “Spike” Walters and Jon Lennon Espino are ready to add their prognosticating powers to eight major categories, plus three wild cards. Let the predicting begin.

Photo Gallery: Travis Scott at Chicago's United Center on Feb. 21, 2019

| Image 1 of 4 |
Travis Scott at the United Center, 1 of 4

CHICAGO – Rapper Travis Scott performs at Chicago’s United Center on Thursday, February 21st, 2019. Photographer Ethan Madison, shooting for HollywoodChicago.com, brings you the photos! Click “Next” and “Previous” to scan through the slideshow or jump directly to individual photos with the captioned links below. All photos © Ethan Madison for HollywoodChicago.com.

Oscar Week: Co-Directors Explain How ‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’

Ralph Breaks the Internet

CHICAGO – The Best Animated Film category at the 91st Academy Awards honor both these visual treats and their status in the new Golden Age. The visual density of today’s animation reaches a new height in a rare Walt Disney Studio sequel, “Ralph Breaks the Internet.” This is a follow-up to “Wreck-It Ralph,” a huge animated hit film. Returning to guide the sequel, which has Wreck-It Ralph “inside” the internet, are co-directors Phil Johnston and Rich Moore.

Film Review: Satisfying Emotion in ‘How to Train Your Dragon: Hidden World’

How to Train Your Dragon 3

CHICAGO –All fiery things must come to an extinguishing point, and the “How to Train Your Dragon” animated film series concludes with its third entry, subtitled “Hidden World.” To finish things up the creators turn on the Dragon power, there are literally thousands of them flamed up and ready to go.

Satisfying Emotion in ‘How to Train Your Dragon: Hidden World’

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

CHICAGO –All fiery things must come to an extinguishing point, and the “How to Train Your Dragon” animated film series concludes with its third entry, subtitled “Hidden World.” To finish things up the creators turn on the Dragon power, there are literally thousands of them flamed up and ready to go.

Flashback Podtalk, Photo: Jussie Smollett on The Red Carpet in 2017

CHICAGO – Before everything else happened, Jussie Smollett was an actor from the TV series “Empire” and portrayed Langston Hughes in the film “Marshall” … featuring Chadwick Boseman of “Black Panther” as young Thurgood Marshall. Smollett walked the Red Carpet for the film in 2017, at the 53rd Chicago International Film Festival.

Oscar Week: Podtalks with Nominated Best Director Adam McKay on His Filmmaker Philosophy

Vice, Adam McKay

CHICAGO – Director Adam McKay has come to the meatiest part of his long and successful career. He began with comedy in TV and film, and was first known for hilarious movies like “Anchorman,” “Talledega Nights,” and “Step Brothers.” Recently, he has moved into more complex filmmaking, like the highly touted (and Oscar nominated for Best Picture and Director) “The Big Short” in 2015, and this year’s “Vice,” nominated again for Best Picture, Best Director and for his Best Original Screenplay.

Oscar Week: Directors Betsy West & Julie Cohen on Their Nominated Documentary ‘RBG’

RBG Ruth Bader Ginsburg

CHICAGO – Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the notorious “RBG,” has been a steady and abiding voice on that high court since 1993. But how much do we really know about this unassuming and highly admired jurist? Co-directors Betsy West and Julie Cohen answer this question in their documentary “RBG.” The film is one of five nominees competing for gold in the Feature Documentary category, to be given on Sunday at the 91st Academy Awards.

Podtalk: Director Stephen Merchant for ‘Fighting with My Family’

CHICAGO – Stephen Merchant is well known for his hilarious takes on über-tall (he’s six-foot-seven) and awkward comedy. He helped create the British “The Office” TV series with longtime collaborator Ricky Gervais, and HBO shows like “Extras” and “Hello Ladies.” He writes and directs his first major feature, the pro wrestling film “Fighting with My Family.”

Oscar Week: Interview with Nominees Yalitza Aparicio & Marina de Tavira of ‘Roma’

ROMA Actors, Photo by Joe Arce

CHICAGO – One of the more pleasant surprises of the 2018 film year was the rise of the connectively expressive film “Roma,” written and directed by Alfonso Cuarón. Not only is it nominated for Best Picture, Best Foreign Language Film and Best Director at the 91st Academy Awards, but the two lead actresses – Yalitza Aparicio and Maria de Tavira – are nominated for Best Actress and Supporting Actress. Jon Lennon Espino, contributor at HollywoodChicago.com, interviewed both actresses last October at the 54th Chicago International Film Festival.

Oscar Week: Podtalk with Director Bing Liu of Oscar nominated Feature Doc ‘Minding the Gap’

Minding the Gap, directed by Bing Liu

CHICAGO – All through the 2019 Oscar Week, HollywoodChicago.com will rerun significant articles from 2018 that feature the nominees associated with Sunday’s Academy Award ceremony. Today is a Podtalk with director Bing Liu, who was the filmmaker behind a Best Documentary Feature nominee, “Minding the Gap.” The film seems to be a nostalgic profile of Liu’s youth in Rockford, Illinois, as he goes back to his hometown to explore the skateboarding culture that kept him balanced while growing up in a difficult home environment. What he found out about himself was an organic reveal in the film, both shocking and cathartic.

Film Review: Relatable Togetherness Highlight 2019 Oscar Nominated Animated Short Films

2019 Oscar Animated Shorts

CHICAGO – The relationships in our lives affect who we are, whether they are momentary or long term. Interestingly, like the Oscar nominated Live Action shorts, the Animated Short Film nominees have that similar connective themes in four of the five stories. Family relationships, son-to-mother, mother-to-daughter, daughter-to-father and parents-to-child, are explored in poignant and expressive ways. The Landmark Century Centre Cinema in Chicago are currently showing all the shorts in one program. Click here for more information.

Relatable Togetherness Highlight 2019 Oscar Nominated Animated Short Films

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

CHICAGO – The relationships in our lives affect who we are, whether they are momentary or long term. Interestingly, like the Oscar nominated Live Action shorts, the Animated Short Film nominees have that similar connective themes in four of the five stories. Family relationships, son-to-mother, mother-to-daughter, daughter-to-father and parents-to-child, are explored in poignant and expressive ways. The Landmark Century Centre Cinema in Chicago are currently showing all the shorts in one program. Click here for more information.

Digital TV Review: Chicago-Produced ‘Geek Lounge’ Premieres on Amazon Prime

Geek Lounge

CHICAGO – The comic book admiration society has been the fastest growing sub-culture in the last 25 years. Once thought a remnant of childhood is now a flourishing industry in show business, comic book shops and conventions. “Geek Lounge,” a TV series created by producer/director/writer Larry Ziegelman, explores the comic book/pop culture generation, and is now streaming on Amazon Prime. Click here for the details.

Film Review: Sequel Surprisingly Surpasses the First Film in ‘Happy Death Day 2U’

hdd2u

CHICAGO – At some point, we’ve all experienced deja vu. Sure, it could just be because we lead a monotonous, predictable life, but I’d personally welcome the idea of something supernatural at play over the more practical explanation. That’s exactly what “Happy Death Day” introduced, and it was a hilarious slasher take on “Groundhog Day”, and luckily the sequel, “Happy Death Day 2U”, adds to the experience.

Sequel Surprisingly Surpasses the First Film in ‘Happy Death Day 2U’

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

CHICAGO – At some point, we’ve all experienced deja vu. Sure, it could just be because we lead a monotonous, predictable life, but I’d personally welcome the idea of something supernatural at play over the more practical explanation. That’s exactly what “Happy Death Day” introduced, and it was a hilarious slasher take on “Groundhog Day”, and luckily the sequel, “Happy Death Day 2U”, adds to the experience.

Film Review: The James Cameron Touch Creates ‘Alita: Battle Angel’

CHICAGO – The creation of new worlds has always been a mainstay of the cinema, virtually since it was invented. And whether you love or are indifferent to the films of James Cameron (“Titanic”), he remains one of the prime movers in advancing the creative tools of films. His influence is all over “Alita: Battle Angel.”

The James Cameron Touch Creates ‘Alita: Battle Angel’

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

CHICAGO – The creation of new worlds has always been a mainstay of the cinema, virtually since it was invented. And whether you love or are indifferent to the films of James Cameron (“Titanic”), he remains one of the prime movers in advancing the creative tools of films. His influence is all over “Alita: Battle Angel.”

Film Review: Something for Everyone in Delicious ‘Isn’t It Romantic’

CHICAGO – “Isn’t It Romantic” knows exactly what it is, and what it wants to be. It is simultaneously for people who love Romantic Comedy, and those who profess to hate them … but may secretly love them. It’s an amusing trifle that’s about as surprising as a heart shaped box of chocolates, but sometimes that’s what you want.

Something for Everyone in Delicious ‘Isn’t It Romantic’

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

CHICAGO – “Isn’t It Romantic” knows exactly what it is, and what it wants to be. It is simultaneously for people who love Romantic Comedy, and those who profess to hate them … but may secretly love them. It’s an amusing trifle that’s about as surprising as a heart shaped box of chocolates, but sometimes that’s what you want.

Podtalk: Production Crew & Cast of Michael Glover Smith’s ‘Rendezvous in Chicago’

Rendezvous in Chicago 2

CHICAGO – Filmmaking is a collaborative art, the melding of technical skill and creative energy. Proving that collaboration on a very high level is the new film “Rendezvous in Chicago,” written and directed by Michael Glover Smith. This passion project, shot in eight days, brought together a production crew and cast who perfectly meshed to create the “romance-in-the-Windy-City movie the world has been waiting for.” For the rest of the 5-Star review from HollywoodChicago.com, click here.

Film Review: Childhood is a Major Theme in 2019 Oscar Nominated Live Action Short Films

2019 Oscar Live Action Shorts

CHICAGO – There are four films among the five Oscar-nominated Live Action Shorts for 2019 that have childhood in their theme, and they all are telling about situations in the more in-your-face dark circumstances of life today (or in the case of one film, 25 years ago). The Landmark Century Centre Cinema in Chicago are currently showing all the shorts in one program. Click here for more information.

Childhood is a Major Theme in 2019 Oscar Nominated Live Action Short Films

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

CHICAGO – There are four films among the five Oscar-nominated Live Action Shorts for 2019 that have childhood in their theme, and they all are telling about situations in the more in-your-face dark circumstances of life today (or in the case of one film, 25 years ago). The Landmark Century Centre Cinema in Chicago are currently showing all the shorts in one program. Click here for more information.

Exclusive Photos: In Memoriam Character Actors Dick Miller and Julie Adams

Dick Miller, photo by Joe Arce

CHICAGO – They often are the background people, the best friends or townspeople in various film and TV parts. Two character actors, who have over 200 roles between them, passed away recently. Dick Miller and Julie Adams were both previous subjects for the lens of photographer Joe Arce of HollywoodChicago.com.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Grace, Or the Art of Climbing

    CHICAGO – What is life but a constant climb? The Brown Paper Box Co., one of the most vital storefront theater groups in Chicago, asks that question and more in the significant “Grace, Or the Art of Climbing.” Using a woman’s journey through some difficult situations, the parallels of “the climb” become a artfully performed story that is all inspiration and uplift. The play runs through July 7th, 2019, at Stage 773 in the Belmont Avenue Theater District in Chicago. For more information and tickets, click here.

  • Elizabeth Laidlaw

    CHICAGO – The recent limited series “The Red Line” on CBS-TV was notable for a couple elements – it was set in Chicago and it featured Chicago actors in major roles. Creators Caitlin Parrish and Erica Weiss (from here), cast their Chi-town colleague Elizabeth Laidlaw, who portrayed police officer “Vic” Renna.

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