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Blu-ray Review: Found Footage Fails to Save 'Devil’s Due,' 'Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones'

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones

CHICAGO – Flooding the market with the shaky cam, the growing use of found footage has had more impact on horror than any other genre. Sometimes it’s used to great effect. But more often than not, such films lack the craft needed to propel viewers into the nightmares. “Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones” and “Devil’s Due” are cases in point.

Blu-ray Review: Teen Horror Comedy ‘Vampire Academy’ Fine for Fans

Vampire Academy from Mean Girls director

CHICAGO – Mark Waters’ “Vampire Academy” is one of the more toothless attempts to make a “fetch” bloodsucker movie for the middle-high school crowd, to use a phrase from his revered teen comedy “Mean Girls”. Based on the six book series written by Rachelle Mead (which has sold 8 million copies worldwide) “Vampire Academy” the movie tackles teenage friendship in the chaos of high school with the same type of Waters’ “I’m not like a regular mom, I’m a cool mom” distance, but with even softer gloves.

Blu-ray Review: Spike Jonze’s ‘Her’ Only Gets Better with Repeat Viewing

Her

As a full-time film/TV/game critic and father of three, I very rarely have time to watch something more than once, even if it’s my favorite of the year. And yet I’ve revisited Spike Jonze’s “Her” twice now (for a total of three viewings) and it’s that very rare film that gets richer and more emotionally engaging with each subsequent viewing. I think by the end of the year, it might be my favorite film of 2013.

Blu-ray Review: ‘I, Frankenstein’ Could Be Worst Movie of 2014 So Far

I, Frankenstein

I’m sometimes in the mood for a bad movie. In the middle of the Chicago Critics Film Festival, weighed down with stress related to producing it and the serious subject matter of our films this year, I felt a need for a bit of movie fast food and popped in “I, Frankenstein,” recently released on Blu-ray and DVD. This movie cheeseburger will give you food poisoning.

Blu-ray Review: Super Stylized War Epic ‘Stalingrad’ is Proud, Goofy

Stalingrad

CHICAGO – It does not take even a high school history class to understand the liberty used in “Stalingrad’s” presentation of its title siege. Boasted as the highest-grossing Russian movie ever, this former IMAX 3D event is the country’s own adaptation of the hero glorification seen in “300”, complete with copious slow motion and overflowing testosterone. Made with great pride but also a somewhat goofy sense of war, “Stalingrad” is as irreverent with its filmmaking style as it is reverent to the country’s glory.

Blu-ray Review: Fan Service ‘Veronica Mars’ Returns Home

Veronica Mars

CHICAGO – A TV movie for the silver screen, “Veronica Mars” is a historical film that was Kickstarted into existence by the will of 91,585 backers. Now, it stands like a crossroads in the intersection between TV and film, showing that what may work in TV doesn’t necessarily make for a great film.

Blu-ray Review: ‘August: Osage County’ is a Rusty Family Drama

August: Osage County

CHICAGO – John Wells’ adaptation of Tracy Letts’ “August: Osage County” is a movie that fell off the radar in 2013 during the busiest time of the year. When we were all caught up in narratives of lone survival, or tales of how this country was morally eroded by financial excess, this loud ode to miserable family gatherings moved into theaters, scooped up a couple of Oscar nominations for its revered talent (Meryl Streep & Julia Roberts), and then vanished.

Blu-ray Review: Three 1980s Comedy Hits Get HD Upgrades

Revenge of the Nerds

Did you think we’d ever live in a time when you could watch a guilty pleasure like “Weekend at Bernie’s” in pristine HD? Every few weeks here at HC, we bring to light classicc films coming to Blu-ray for the first time like “Sorcerer” or “Breaking the Waves” or “Bachelor Party.” Wait. What?

Blu-ray Review: William Friedkin’s Classic ‘Sorcerer’ Finally Released

Sorcerer

The Chicago Critics Film Festival is currently underway at the Music Box Theatre in Chicago (“I Origins,” “Willow Creek,” “Starred Up,” “Obvious Child,” “Animals,” and more have yet to play) but last year’s event still holds a fond place in the memory of Chicago’s film scene.

Blu-ray Review: Criterion Assembles Great Package For Landmark ‘Breaking the Waves’

Breaking the Waves

It’s hard to overstate the shock waves that Lars Von Trier’s “Breaking the Waves” made when it was released in 1996. It’s not as if LVT was a completely unknown commodity but this was a new level for the filmmaker in the way he both played with his form and embraced larger-than-life imagery. “Breaking the Waves” was both grounded in classic themes and felt like the coming-out party for Dogme, the movement founded by LVT that embraced natural filmmaking techniques like handheld cameras and sunlight.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Bobby Pin Girls

    CHICAGO – The “breeder years” are difficult on everyone, as the biological imperative becomes overwhelming and the couplings that result yield both discovery and misadventure. Nothing Without a Company’s new play “Bobby Pin Girls” highlight two such Millennial women, roommates who are having man trouble, although the argument can be made that it’s eternally “boy trouble.” The show has a Thursday-Sunday run at the Chicago Mosaic School through December 3rd, 2017. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

  • Transformers 5 front

    CHICAGO – Knock me over with a feather kids, but I enjoyed “Transformers: The Last Knight.” Maybe it was in comparison to the others or maybe director Michael Bay has beaten me into submission, but this one had the right story elements and casting to make it work, with exceptions of course. It’s goofiness is its charm, and it was released on Blu-Ray/DVD on September 26th, 2017 (Digital HD already available).

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