CHICAGO – If you can remember the 1990s outside of childhood, you are in the glow of middle age, so congratulations. The Brown Paper Box Co. theater ensemble takes us back to those thrilling days of yesteryear with “Spike Heels,” a relationship comedy centering on the co-mingling antics of two couples, with a slight nod toward George Bernard Shaw and the play “Pygmalion” (or its musical counterpart, “My Fair Lady”).
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CHICAGO – Actor William H. Macy’s directorial debut “Rudderless” is a film of open mic songwriting that tackles a recovery from grief with neat lyrics and easy metaphors. Instead of standing out, Macy has provided another sap’s ballad that has the cuteness of “Kumbaya”, one that aims to please the crowd without challenging emotions, only showing them.
CHICAGO – December has seen the release of two different Comedy Central shows finally arriving to DVD, “Broad City” and “Kroll Show.” Expressing their comedy in different formats, these shows from rising comedians Abbi Jacobson & Ilana Glazer (“Broad City”) and Nick Kroll (“Kroll Show”) introduce a cable channel’s audience to new talent, while nonetheless presenting a distinct contrast in creativity.
CHICAGO – The awesomeness of history loses any of its stuffiness with the incredibly fun, indeed educational show “Drunk History” from Comedy Central, its two seasons now released on DVD. Hosted by its creator Derek Waters, the show is a celebration of various historic figures and their under-appreciated true tales, as expressed by funny people narrating in the universal language of inebriation; their recounts are then reenacted by famous actors working with their given dialogue, dressed with the comic cheapness of a bloated biopic.
CHICAGO – “Drinking Buddies” director Joe Swanberg’s latest release of the same star wattage is “Happy Christmas,” an even lower-fi story than the Olivia Wilde beer comedy, steered even more by the casting that it was able to assemble. However, with this movie Swanberg doesn’t so much worry about having a story that could be confused with a more mainstream romantic comedy if it were to have a bigger budget.
CHICAGO – The oughts was the era of the workplace mock-doc comedy, with shows like “The Office” and “Reno 911!” born into a time where TV viewers were excited to see see fake realities about the crumminess of a job. While this series has been available in separate season collections previously, “Reno 911!” is now available in a complete series set, one that boasts a grand amount of special features content in spite of some lacking comedy in the actual show.
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.”)
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.
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 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.
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.