July 2019

Exclusive Photo: Rush Rocker Geddy Lee, in Chicago for His ‘Big Beautiful Book of Bass’

Geddy Lee, photo by Joe Arce

CHICAGO – He has THE distinctive rock voice among his generation of 1970s lead singers, and catapulted the group Rush into the stratosphere with hits like “Tom Sawyer,” “Fly by Night” and “Freewill.” He defies all bass player jokes in his years of playing and influencing with that rhythm instrument. Geddy Lee came to Chicago to promote his “Big Beautiful Book of Bass.”

Film Review: 'The Farewell' Greets with Cultural, Emotional Exploration

CHICAGO – We all have those family stories that seem just so uniquely ours that it is hard to believe anyone could actually relate to them. Stories that, at the time, don’t seem like anyone else would even understand. Lulu Wang proves in “The Farewell” that all it takes is a little empathy, a skilled storyteller, and a group of talented people to bring any story to life.

'The Farewell' Greets with Cultural, Emotional Exploration

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

CHICAGO – We all have those family stories that seem just so uniquely ours that it is hard to believe anyone could actually relate to them. Stories that, at the time, don’t seem like anyone else would even understand. Lulu Wang proves in “The Farewell” that all it takes is a little empathy, a skilled storyteller, and a group of talented people to bring any story to life.

Exclusive Photo: Marc Maron, Podcaster and Actor Featured in New Film ‘Sword of Trust’

Marc Maron, Photo by Joe Arce.

CHICAGO – One of the most prominent podcasters of this particular era is Marc Maron, who famously broadcasts his “WTF with Marc Maron” show from his garage. His mix of comedians, politicians and celebrities has brought him notoriety in the crowded field. He is dipping his toe into acting, with a lead in a new film “Sword of Trust.”

Film News: ‘Apollo 11’ Documentary in Theaters for 50th Anniversary on July 20, 2019

Apollo 11

CHICAGO – Today is the 50th Anniversary of astronaut Neil Armstrong’s first step on the moon, and an excellent documentary on the subject – simply titled “Apollo 11” is doing a “one day only” showing on July 20th, 2019. For theater locations and show times around the country (type in your area), click here.

Film Review: Copy Cat Live Action ‘The Lion King’ Seems Unnecessary

CHICAGO – The latest tendency of Walt Disney Pictures to make live action remakes of their classic cartoons should have stopped at “Jungle Book” and “Beauty and the Beast.” The last three, “Dumbo,” “Aladdin” and now “The Lion King” subtract from their source cartoons, and the King is downright weird.

Copy Cat Live Action ‘The Lion King’ Seems Unnecessary

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

CHICAGO – The latest tendency of Walt Disney Pictures to make live action remakes of their classic cartoons should have stopped at “Jungle Book” and “Beauty and the Beast.” The last three, “Dumbo,” “Aladdin” and now “The Lion King” subtract from their source cartoons, and the King is downright weird.

Podtalk: Director Lulu Wang on Her New Film ‘The Farewell’

CHICAGO – One of the hottest films from the first half 2019 festival season was an emotional story about family. “The Farewell” is a breakout for both the lead actor Awkwafina (“Crazy Rich Asians”) and her director Lulu Wang. Wang’s story of her grandmother became a universal spirit about our relative connections.

Podtalk: Mindy Fay Parks, on 3rd Windy City International Film Fest, July 18-21, 2019

2019 Windy City International Film Fest

CHICAGO – One of the new Film Festival “kids” on the block is the Windy City International Film Fest, now in its 3rd edition. Touted as an indie film festival that celebrates local, national and international filmmakers, the fest has four days – July 18th through the 21st, 2019 – of networking, screenings and special events. One of the co-founders (with Josh Hope) of the fest is Mindy Fay Parks. For a complete schedule, click here.

Theater Review: Kokandy Productions ‘Head Over Heels’ Sparkles with Joy, Passion and Life

CHICAGO – Kokandy Productions is one of the best in Chicago doing musicals, and scores again with “Head Over Heels,” through August 25th, 2019, at Theater Wit. For more details and tickets, click here.

Podtalk: Judith Helfand on 'Cooked: Survival by Zip Code,' in Chicago Thru July 25, 2019

Cooked: Survival by Zip Code

CHICAGO – In the Summer of 1995, there was extreme heat in the City of Chicago for seven days, with temperatures soaring over 100 degrees with high humidity. It hit the area like a tsunami, and left power outages and and an exposure of inadequate emergency responses in its wake. The death toll from the heat, when all the analysis was done, soared to 739 people. Director Judith Helfand chronicles that event, and events like it, in her new film, “Cooked: Survival by Zip Code.”

Film Review: Kumail Nanjiani is the Only Reason to See ‘Stuber’

Stuber

CHICAGO – Kumail Nanjiani is reaching the next level of stardom. Recently, he was the best thing in the rebooted “MIB: International” (as a cartoon sprite), and now he is the only reason to indulge in “Stuber.” Kumail portrays a nervy UBER driver named Stu (get it?), and upholds everything about the buddy movie that is enjoyable. The rest of it, including his buddy Dave Bautista, land with a dull thud.

Kumail Nanjiani is the Only Reason to See ‘Stuber’

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

CHICAGO – Kumail Nanjiani is reaching the next level of stardom. Recently, he was the best thing in the rebooted “MIB: International” (as a cartoon sprite), and now he is the only reason to indulge in “Stuber.” Kumail portrays a nervy UBER driver named Stu (get it?), and upholds everything about the buddy movie that is enjoyable. The rest of it, including his buddy Dave Bautista, land with a dull thud.

Podtalk: Tracy Edwards, Skipper & Subject of Documentary ‘Maiden’

CHICAGO – In the pantheon of firsts, there are so many of them that fly under our radar. For every Rosa Parks, there are a number of women who take the challenge to make social change. In 1989, British-born Tracy Edwards became the first female skipper, guiding an all-female crew and sailboat in the prestigious Whitbread Around the World Race. Her story is told in “Maiden.”

Podtalk: Bob Sirott & Marianne Murciano, Part of PBS Station WTTW’s ‘Summer of Space’

Bob Sirott, Summer of Space

CHICAGO – July 20th, 2019, will mark the 50th Anniversary that a human being – astronaut Neil Armstrong – first stepped on the moon. All month in July/August, PBS station WTTW is featuring its “Summer of Space,” with special programming dedicated to both the Apollo 11 moon landing/walk and other space-themed shows. Participating are Chicago media personalities Bob Sirott and Marianne Murciano, in “Jim Lovell in Booth One with Sirott and Murciano.” For a schedule of showings, click here.

Film Review: Unbelievable Story is Key to ‘Framing John DeLorean’

Framing John DeLorean

CHICAGO – The story of auto impresario John DeLorean is definitely one of truth is stranger than fiction, but also has a basis in “what ifs?” The fascinating new documentary of his life tells that story, breaking down the vagueness of how a former General Motors superstar got involved in a drug deal to save his own car company. As always, a situation like that has more loopholes.

Unbelievable Story is Key to ‘Framing John DeLorean’

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

CHICAGO – The story of auto impresario John DeLorean is definitely one of truth is stranger than fiction, but also has a basis in “what ifs?” The fascinating new documentary of his life tells that story, breaking down the vagueness of how a former General Motors superstar got involved in a drug deal to save his own car company. As always, a situation like that has more loopholes.

Film News: ‘The Wizard of Oz’ 80th Anniversary in Chicago’s Millennium Park, July 10, 2019

Wizard of Oz, The

CHICAGO – The Windy City is off to see the Wizard again, as the Grant Park Music Festival celebrates the 80th Anniversary of “The Wizard of Oz” at the Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park. The festivities include a costume party, hosted by Linda Kollmeyer (“The Lottery Lady”), followed by the presentation with a live orchestra accompaniment – on the Park’s giant LED screen – of the classic 1939 film.

The event is free and open to the public (first-come, first-served) in both the “seating bowl” area and lawn, and begins at 6:30pm with the costume party, with the screening at 8pm. For more information, click here.

Theater Review: Americana of ‘The Music Man’ is Revived at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre

CHICAGO – Professor Harold Hill has come back to River City, and that means trouble right here. Meredith Willson’s “The Music Man” is now in major revival at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago.

Podtalk: Dr. Michelle Oakley, ‘Yukon Vet,’ Reflects on Season Seven

CHICAGO – The rumors of a series stoppage were just rumors, as Dr. Michelle Oakley is in the midst of production on Season Seven of her popular “Dr. Oakley, Yukon Vet,” which airs on the Nat Geo Wild Channel. Soon the continuing story of an animal enthusiast turned Canadian Yukon veterinarian will have new adventures.

Film Review: Mind-Blowing ‘Midsommar’ is Disturbing and Beautiful

Midsommar

CHICAGO – “Midsommar” is beautifully composed, disturbing in nature and very very Swedish. Writer/Director Art Aster creates a stunning sophomore effort (after his brilliant debut “Hereditary”) that is pure cinema, and weaves a fantastical tale of humanity stripped to its bare bones. It moves a bit slow, but it also builds to something completely original and unexpected.

Mind-Blowing ‘Midsommar’ is Disturbing and Beautiful

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

CHICAGO – “Midsommar” is beautifully composed, disturbing in nature and very very Swedish. Writer/Director Ari Aster creates a stunning sophomore effort (after his brilliant debut “Hereditary”) that is pure cinema, and weaves a fantastical tale of humanity stripped to its bare bones. It moves a bit slow, but it also builds to something completely original and unexpected.

Podtalk: Dacre Montgomery & Cary Elwes on ‘Stranger Things 3’

CHICAGO – Season Three of “Stranger Things,” one of the hottest TV series in the last couple of years, is launching on Netflix on July 4th, 2019. The series is going back to the world of Indiana and the “Upside Down,” and joining the cast – which includes Dacre Montgomery as Billy Hargrove – is veteran actor Cary Elwes.

Podtalk: Director Gigi Saul Guerrero Debuts ‘Culture Shock,’ Streaming on Hulu, July 4, 2019

Culture Shock

CHICAGO – She calls her style of grindhouse and gore films “Tex Mex,” and you won’t find a better femme fatale producing a better debut film in that genre. Director Gigi Saul Guerrero makes her feature film debut with “Culture Shock,” which will premiere for the Hulu streaming service on July 4th, 2019, part of their “Into the Dark” series of horror films through Blumhouse Television.

Film Review: Fireworks for the 4th in ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’

CHICAGO – “Spider-Man: Far From Home” is remarkably light on its feet considering it takes place in the wake of the events of “Avengers: Endgame.” After the five year period between finger snaps which is now referred to as “the blip,” Peter Parker (Tom Holland) and some of his classmates have returned the same age, while everyone else has gotten five years older.

Fireworks for the 4th in ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’

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

CHICAGO – “Spider-Man: Far From Home” is remarkably light on its feet considering it takes place in the wake of the events of “Avengers: Endgame.” After the five year period between finger snaps which is now referred to as “the blip,” Peter Parker (Tom Holland) and some of his classmates have returned the same age, while everyone else has gotten five years older.

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