CHICAGO – If you’ve ever wondered what the difference is between a director and a producer, let “47 Ronin” explain how the hierarchy of creativity hinders the evolution of even the most straightforward-sounding pitches. “47 Ronin” is the type of samurai movie set in Japan that features native actors speaking only English, while Keanu Reeves stars as an outsider clearly plunked into the picture for stateside star power.
CHICAGO – The actor Greg Kinnear has been known for his neat and tidy image, but never has he portrayed a religious leader. His role as Todd Burpo – a pastor of a church and the father whose son believes “Heaven Is for Real” – brings the energy of spirituality to the movies just in time for the Easter holiday.
CHICAGO – Nick Frost has played character and comic roles as the affable sidekick, especially in the famed “Cornetto Trilogy” – “Shaun of the Dead,” “Hot Fuzz’ and “The World’s End” – alongside Simon Pegg and director Edgar Wright. Frost is a leading man now, strutting his stuff on the salsa dance floor in “Cuban Fury.”
CHICAGO – When traveling on a Nicolas Cage trip, it’s best to buckle up. Director David Gordon Green collaborated with Cage on the new film, “Joe,” and actor Tye Sheridan (“Tree of Life,” “Mud”) was Cage’s teenage co-star. Cage portrays the title character, a reformed hellraiser who can’t help but have sympathy for a lost soul.
CHICAGO – The buzz for the new film, “Under the Skin,” is tremendous, both for Scarlett Johansson’s performance and the amount of symbolic and real exposure for the actress. Director Jonathan Glazer (“Sexy Beast,” “Birth”) has fashioned a metaphoric gem based on a novel by Michel Faber, about an alien visitor.
CHICAGO – In 2011, a new kind of martial arts film hit the screens, and wowed audiences with outrageous fight scenes, stunts and violence. “The Raid: Redemption” put Welsh filmmaker Gareth Evans – working from Indonesia – on the map, and he is back with fight choreographer and lead actor Iko Uwais in “The Raid 2.”
CHICAGO – The story of a Chicago-based woman – who died in 2009 at age 83 – has become the subject of a remarkable new documentary. “Finding Vivian Maier” is a film about revelation, and was created by co-directors John Maloof and Charlie Siskel, with the support of Executive Producer and comedian Jeff Garlin.
CHICAGO – In November of 2013, the 31st annual Chicago LGBT International Film Festival, also known as “Reeling31,” provided a week long showcase for gay filmmakers. There were many new voices in the mix, and they were on the Red Carpet on opening night of the Fest.
CHICAGO – “The Land of Eb,” released through Video On Demand last week, is a perfect example of stories that emerge from the expansion of digital filmmaking. The highly personal and location-specific story involves the other side of paradise, the Kona district on the big island of Hawaii, and the background of the residents.
CHICAGO – Actress Roma Downey and Producer Mark Burnett are on a mission. After producing the huge success of the miniseries “The Bible” last year, the husband-and-wife team now turn to the “greatest story ever told” – the life of Jesus Christ – in the new film “Son of God.”
CHICAGO – The path to this year’s remake of the 1986 film “About Last Night” starts right here in Chicago, based on the original 1974 stage version, “Sexual Perversity in Chicago” by David Mamet. Two co-stars in the remake – Michael Ealy and Regina Hall – visited the source city to talk about their version.