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Blu-ray Review: Remarkable Breadth of Modern Animation in New Releases

The LEGO Movie with Will Ferrell

Remember when we were growing up? We were LUCKY if we got a decent animated film once a year in the ’80s and we spent most of our Saturday mornings watching total junk that now passes as nostalgia. We can say that music, film, or even literature was better when we younger. Animation? No way. Just take a look at four recent releases of the animated form that perfectly show the breadth and remarkable quality of the medium (and, yes, animation is a “form,” not a “genre.”)

DVD Review: Celebrate Father’s Day with The Duke

The John Wayne Epic Collection

There is no studio that times their releases more perfectly than Warner Bros. Around the end-of-year holidays there will be gift sets for films like “Elf” and “Willy Wonka.” Near Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, you can expect gift-appropriate releases.

DVD Review: Criterion Release of 1960s Italian Road Trip Film ‘Il Sorpasso’

Il Sorpasso, Criterion Collection

CHICAGO – With the recent popularity of road trip movies in both mainstream films and the art house, it is a fitting pleasure that the Criterion Collection has released Dino Risi’s “Il Sorpasso,” a jazzy road trip movie that takes the story structure to its basics. Two opposing types meet unexpectedly, travel to random exotic locations, and interact with people who are rest stops in themselves.

What to Watch: March 25-April 11, 2014

The Wolf of Wall Street

What to Watch is back in two-week form this time around, hitting the most important Blu-ray, DVD, and streaming offerings from both March 25th and April 1st. No April Fool’s Day jokes here. We’re above that. Sorta. What you will find is one of the best movies of last year, a fantastic comedy series, a foreign film you really should see, and further proof that John Cusack is merely slipping into straight-to-DVD oblivion like that damn horse in “The Neverending Story”. Pick one of the six. What the Hell, pick two.

DVD Review: ‘Contracted’ is Sick, But That’s a Good Thing

Contracted DVD (teaser)

CHICAGO – We’ve all seen the girl at the party. You know the one who catches your eye as she walks by. She’s beautiful but alone, looks a little lost, and, sadly, almost always winds up with some other guy. Eric England introduces us to such a girl at the beginning of his film “Contracted” and then spends the rest of the movie’s runtime punishing the hell out of her as a mysterious and fast moving STD eats away at all the things that had us looking in the first place.

What to Watch: Mar. 11-24, 2014

American Hustle

An Oscar winner, a major Oscar nominee, two more pieces of Oscar bait, and a few movies that never got anywhere near Oscar. Welcome to What to Watch. We don’t play favorites. Oh, wait, yes we do. You should definitely rent or buy the titles on this first page. The second page is more optional.

DVD Review: ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’ Sings Again on DVD

Inside Llewyn Davis

CHICAGO – “Inside Llewyn Davis” shows the strength of the Coen brothers’ authorship, and the vitality their vision gives to different time periods, locations, and life experiences. This freewheelin’ bildungsroman of destiny? coincidence? trails a scraggly singer/songwriter (Oscar Isaac as the title character), daring to spread olden tunes in a period of American artistry that is pre-Dylan.

What to Watch: Feb. 25-Mar. 10, 2014

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

We’re back! Did you survive the Oscars? Are you looking for something to watch on Blu-ray, DVD, or streaming service? We have a few options for you released right at the end of February or the beginning of March, including a couple great animated shows, a Best Picture nominee, an FX sitcom, and a mega-blockbuster. Pick your favorites. All five are worth a look.

DVD Review: ‘Blue is the Warmest Color’ Gets Slight Release

Blue is the Warmest Color

The Criterion Collection’s deal with IFC Films has to a unique subset of their catalog. While most Criterion films are either acknowledged classics or foreign/smaller films that the company wants to shed more light on, the IFC ones are generally current. While some of the choices have questionable, we’ve also seen recent greats like “Certified Copy,” “Fish Tank,” next month’s “The Great Beauty,” and this week’s “Blue is the Warmest Color” joining the collection earlier than they otherwise would have. “Blue” is a great film with two of the best performances of 2013. Sadly, the DVD release doesn’t reflect the film’s quality.

What to Watch: Feb. 18-24, 2014

The Americans

What an amazing week for TV fans. As if you didn’t have enough stacking to do with the new, brilliant season of “House of Cards” on Netflix, there are four other full seasons in this week’s What to Watch that you really should watch front to back. And then there’s the still-amazing “Darkman,” a cult classic that perfectly captures Sam Raimi’s skill at controlled chaos. Finally, we have two ’80s horror flicks in one set in “Bad Dreams” and “Visiting Hours.” Check ‘em all out (OK, you can skip the genre stinkers).

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Knick, The

    CHICAGO – Cinemax’s ominous new series “The Knick” is a hospital drama that’s very much in the voice of its director, Steven Soderbergh. Set in New York City at the turn of the 20th century, the series presents the medical world as it inches closer and closer to modernity, while making contemporary parallels to the desperate hustle by surgery room clients and their doctors alike regarding treatment of the human body. What has changed in the politics of medicine? What hasn’t?

  • Transcendence

    CHICAGO – The Internet is for real in “Transcendence”, a B-movie with grade-A production quality, loaded with terabyte-size open-ended questions, so long as one can accept it lastly with a scientific mindset. It is a film that perceives technology to be more expansive than a box of wires and computer chips, and actualizes the expanse of the internet as limitless to the realm of spiritual.

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