April 2019

Film Review: Disneynature’s ‘Penguins’ in Flight with the Flightless

CHICAGO – It is the tenth anniversary of Disneynature, the arm of Walt Disney Pictures that releases a new nature doc around every Earth Day. This year the naturally visual interest of “Penguins” are their subject, and the film does a nice job on the life cycle journey of these fascinating flightless birds.

Disneynature’s ‘Penguins’ in Flight with the Flightless

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

CHICAGO – It is the tenth anniversary of Disneynature, the arm of Walt Disney Pictures that releases a new nature doc around every Earth Day. This year the naturally visual interest of “Penguins” are their subject, and the film does a nice job on the life cycle journey of these fascinating flightless birds.

Film News: Chicago’s Asian Pop-up Cinema Screens ‘Memories of a Dead End’ on April 17, 2019

Memories of a Dead End

CHICAGO – Korea Week continues in Season Eight of Chicago’s Asian Pop-Up Cinema (APUC) on Wednesday, April 17th, 2019, and the film presented will be “Memories of a Dead End.” The story of emotional healing is directed by Hyun-young Choi, who will appear on behalf of the co-produced South Korean/Japan film at AMC River East 21 in downtown Chicago.

Interview: Chicago’s Asian Pop-up Cinema Continues with ‘The Pension’ on April 16, 2019

Pension, The

CHICAGO Two weeks to go in Season Eight of Chicago’s Asian Pop-Up Cinema (APUC), and this week (April 16-17, 2019) is Korea week. Director Jeonghuh Deok-Jae will appear on behalf of the film “The Pension” – a anthology film set at the title hotel in South Korea – at AMC River East 21 in Chicago on April 16th, 2019.

Film Review: ‘The Chaperone’ is Excellent Lesson in 1920s Identity

The Chaperone

CHICAGO – Although mostly set in the early 1920s, “The Chaperone” has some pungent lessons regarding identity, and living life authentically. The story of former silent film star Louise Brooks and her first trip to New York City expresses both how we can live today and how they lived back then.

‘The Chaperone’ is Excellent Lesson in 1920s Identity

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

CHICAGO – Although mostly set in the early 1920s, “The Chaperone” has some pungent lessons regarding identity, and living life authentically. The story of former silent film star Louise Brooks and her first trip to New York City expresses both how we can live today and how they lived back then.

Film Review: ‘Little’ Squanders Its Comedic and Social Potential in an Attempt to Play It Safe

CHICAGO – After a typical late night, deep dive of the internet, I found something terrifying. Around the 60’s, creating dinners in Jello were popular for some reason. Although I liked every individual ingredient, seeing the way they fit together was a less than appetizing. Watching “Little” reminds me of this experience except after the film, I was left with a bland, spiceless taste in my mouth.

‘Little’ Squanders Its Comedic and Social Potential in an Attempt to Play It Safe

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

CHICAGO – After a typical late night, deep dive of the internet, I found something terrifying. Around the 60’s, creating dinners in Jello were popular for some reason. Although I liked every individual ingredient, seeing the way they fit together was a less than appetizing. Watching “Little” reminds me of this experience except after the film, I was left with a bland, spiceless taste in my mouth.

Podtalk: DOC 10 Co-Founder Steve Cohen on Documentary Art & Fest Finales on April 14, 2019

Steve Cohen & Paula Foehle

CHICAGO – One of the exciting weekend film festivals in Chicago is DOC 10, a celebration of non-fiction filmmaking at its highest level. And no one knows that more than Steve Cohen, the co-founder – with Paula Froehle – of the festival. Cohen and Froehle not only help facilitate and curate DOC 10, but also produce documentaries through their Chicago Media Project. The Closing Night Film of DOC 10, on April 14th, 2019, is “Biggest Little Farm.” For more information and tickets, click here.

Film News: Chicago’s DOC 10 Fest Opens with ‘Knock Down the House’ on April 11, 2019

Knock Down the House

CHICAGO – One of the great predictors of Oscar worthy films is Chicago’s DOC 10 festival. The Chicago Media Project presents its fourth annual documentary fest, a weekend of 10 prominent documentaries that end up either making a national statement or nominated for awards (last year’s fest included Oscar nominees “Minding the Gap” and “RBG”). It all takes place at the Davis Theatre in the Lincoln Square neighborhood from April 11th-14th, 2019, and opens with “Knock Down the House.” For more information and tickets, click here.

Film Review: ‘Hellboy’ Maintains Energy Just by Being Hellboy

CHICAGO – The latest film reboot is “Hellboy,” and it cruises based on the viability and popularity of its title character. David Harbour takes the reins from Ron Perlman in portraying the demon, and although it’s bogged down by the story, the latest iteration works because the character is so weirdly appealing.

‘Hellboy’ Maintains Energy Just by Being Hellboy

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

CHICAGO – The latest film reboot is “Hellboy,” and it cruises based on the viability and popularity of its title character. David Harbour takes the reins from Ron Perlman in portraying the demon, and although it’s bogged down by the story, the latest iteration works because the character is so weirdly appealing.

Film News: 35th Chicago Latino Film Festival Closing Night with ‘El Reality’ on April 11, 2019

El Reality

CHICAGO – The 35th edition of the Chicago Latino Film Festival (CLFF) is coming to a close, and their final night film is “El Reality” on April 11th, 2019, at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood. This Closing Night event and its gala after party (at Chez, 247 East Ontario) celebrates the whole festival, concluding after a two week run. For more information and tickets, click here.

Entertainment News: Annual ‘Watchathon Week’ from Comcast Xfinity TV, April 8 - 14, 2019

Watchathon

CHICAGO – Get the couches ready and the soft pants on … it’s time to binge watch with Xfinity TV. In the week of April 8th through the 14th, 2019, Xfinity offers their seventh annual “Watchathon Week” to their customers, giving them an opportunity to catch up with thousands of movies and shows, including the entire series of “Game of Thrones,” in anticipation of its final season.

Film Review: An Obsessive Couple’s Journey in ‘Ash is Purest White’

CHICAGO – Obsessive love is a movie story staple, and “Ash is Purest White” puts a Chinese point-of-view on this strange phenomenon. This is a coupling in the background of organized crime and a changing China, and their success and failure is based on the events surrounding them as much as their devotion to each other.

An Obsessive Couple’s Journey in ‘Ash is Purest White’

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

CHICAGO – Obsessive love is a movie story staple, and “Ash is Purest White” puts a Chinese point-of-view on this strange phenomenon. This is a coupling in the background of organized crime and a changing China, and their success and failure is based on the events surrounding them as much as their devotion to each other.

Film Review: Terrible Messaging in ‘The Best of Enemies’ Ruins an Otherwise Serviceable Film

CHICAGO - According to my YouTube history, unlikely animal friendships would likely be in my top 10 most watched videos, alongside DIY home projects and finding out if that sharp pain means I’m dying. Something as simple as a cat and dog being bffs is adorable, but unlike what “The Best of Enemies” would have you believe, two naturally opposing forces don’t always need to play nice.

Terrible Messaging in ‘The Best of Enemies’ Ruins a Serviceable Film

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

CHICAGO – According to my YouTube history, unlikely animal friendships would likely be in my top 10 most watched videos, alongside DIY home projects and finding out if that sharp pain means I’m dying. Something as simple as a cat and dog being bffs is adorable, but unlike what “The Best of Enemies” would have you believe, two naturally opposing forces don’t always need to play nice.

Podtalk: Alison Klayman on ‘The Brink,’ Her New Documentary Profiling Steve Bannon

Brink, The

CHICAGO – What does the title of Alison Klayman’s new documentary, “The Brink,” mean? On the surface, it is a fly-on-the-wall profile of right wing operative Steve Bannon, who worked for Donald Trump’s campaign in 2016 and was on his executive staff at the White House, until he unceremoniously resigned.

Interview: Dillon Schneider of ‘Best Video’ Nominee at American Country Music Awards

Dillon Schneider

CHICAGO – Dillon Schneider is the quintessential local man made good. A graduate of Chicagoland’s Barrington High School and the city’s Columbia College, Schneider was the cinematographer for the music video “Burn Out” by Midland, which is nominated for Best Video at the 54th American Country Music (ACM) Awards, coming up on April 7th, 2019.

HollywoodChicago.com ESP, En Español: 'Shazam!' y 'The Best of Enemies'

CHICAGO – Cada semana, HollywoodChicago.com le traerá las criticas de las películas que hemos visto y que están saliendo esa semana, pero en español. HollywoodChicago.com ESP no sólo representa HollywoodChicago.com Espanol, sino también Esta Semana en Peliculas. Esta semana, nos sobrecargamos y canalizamos a nuestro héroe interior con “Shazam!”, y luego tomamos un viaje al pasado con una historia real que tiene un mensaje dañino con “The Best of Enemies”.

Podtalk: Wendy Mateo of ‘Good Mothers’ at 35th Chicago Latino Film Festival, April 7, 2019

Good Mothers

CHICAGO – The 35th Chicago Latino Film Festival (CLFF) continues this week through April 11th, 2019, with a ghostly double feature. The short film “Good Mothers” (USA) is about two sisters building an altar to their mother, which conjures her spirit for 24 hours. Writer/director/Lead Actor Wendy Mateo will represent the film at the screening on April 7th, paired with “My Girlfriend’s Ghost” (Dominican Republic). For more details and tickets, click here.

Photo Gallery: The Darbies Perform at the RocHaus on April 5, 2019

| Image 1 of 6 |
The Darbies at the RocHaus, 1 of 6

WEST DUNDEE, Ill. – The Darbies are a rock n roll quartet forged in the majestic and azure city-tide of the west end of Los Angeles. Like many bands before them, The Darbies are tinged with that peculiar, mythic brilliance that characterizes the musical portraiture of the teeming Los Angeles soundscape. Young, ambitious, persistent and forged with an undeniable devil-may-care-vintage-rock swagger, The Darbies are climbing to the top with a rapidity matched only by the sweltering charisma of their captivating musical presence, and breathtakingly cathartic live performances.

Film Review: ‘Shazam!’ is a Paint by Numbers Superhero Movie

CHICAGO – The former Captain Marvel (story below) is now “Shazam!,” and has his own film in the DC Comics universe. Zachary Levi portrays the title character, now with a new origin to go along with his new name. Speaking of that, no new ground is broken in this pretty standard foster-kid-makes-good hero epic.

‘Shazam!’ is a Paint by Numbers Superhero Movie

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

CHICAGO – The former Captain Marvel (story below) is now “Shazam!,” and has his own film in the DC Comics universe. Zachary Levi portrays the title character, now with a new origin to go along with his new name. Speaking of that, no new ground is broken in this pretty standard foster-kid-makes-good hero epic.

Interview: U.S Premiere of ‘Humanpersons’ at 35th Chicago Latino Film Fest, April 3, 2019

Humanpersons

CHICAGO – The 35th Chicago Latino Film Festival (CLFF) continues this week with the special U.S. Premiere of “Humanpersons,” a searing Spain/Panama/Brazil co-produced drama on human trafficking, specifically for the harvesting of transplant organs. Writer/director Frank Spano, a Spanish/South American filmmaker and actor, completed this second feature recently, and filmed some scenes in the State of Illinois. He will make an appearance at the premiere, which will be at 6pm on April 3rd, 2019. For more details and tickets, click here.

Podtalk: Chicago Co-Producer JoAnn Fakhouri on Digital Release of ‘Dreams I Never Had’

Dreams I Never Had

CHICAGO – Immigration is a hot-button topic in our current landscape, and director Iyad Hajjaj has pushed that button with his latest film, “Dreams I Never Had.” The spin in the story is based on truth, where a teenage girl – trafficked illegally into America – is attached to a family to essentially become their domestic laborer. Chicagoan JoAnn Fakhouri was the co-producer on the project, and brought in some Chicago talent to contribute to the production. “Dreams I Never Had” is now available for download on Amazon Prime Video and other digital outlets.

Film Review: Historical Drama is Fortified by Technique in 'Sunset'

CHICAGO – History is made when you’re often busy making other plans. That is ardently illustrated in “Sunset,” a drama set early in the second decade of the 20th Century in the on-the-brink-of-revolution capital of Budapest, Hungary. A retail store is the town’s centerpiece, plus there is a mysterious woman associated with that store, until she isn’t.

Historical Drama is Fortified by Technique in 'Sunset'

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

CHICAGO – History is made when you’re often busy making other plans. That is ardently illustrated in “Sunset,” a drama set early in the second decade of the 20th Century in the on-the-brink-of-revolution capital of Budapest, Hungary. A retail store is the town’s centerpiece, plus there is a mysterious woman associated with that store, until she isn’t.

Podtalk: Midwest Independent Film Fest Screens ‘Same Boat’ on Apr. 2, 2019

Same Boat

CHICAGO – Combining time travel and a cruise ship has never been so hilarious. So describes this unique and magical “Same Boat” (directed by Chris Roberti and written by Roberti with Josh Itzkowitz), is a Chicago Premiere at the Midwest Independent Film Festival on April 2nd, 2019. Click here for tickets and details.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • 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.

  • 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.

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