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 – Filmmaker Darryl Roberts has been on an eight-year journey to chronicle the influence of corporations, advertising and images on today’s teenagers. After releasing the first two “America the Beautiful” documentaries, his latest – and potentially most controversial – is “America the Beautiful 3: The Sexualization of Our Youth.”
CHICAGO – There are many categories of film director types – facilitators, tacticians, framers, to name a few – but there are few real artists. Bennett Miller has guided three films in his career, “Capote,” “Moneyball” and his latest “Foxcatcher.” All three have a purposeful artistry, and explore the soul within the humanity it portrays.
CHICAGO – Journalists are under fire, both in the hot zones of the world’s conflicts, and within the economics of the shrinking news business. One journalist – Maziar Bahari – became part of the drama in the 2009 Iranian presidential elections, and that story is told in writer/director Jon Stewart’s new film, “Rosewater.”
CHICAGO – Portraying Stephen Hawking, as Eddie Redmayne did in “The Theory of Everything,” required an intense physicality and emotionalism that was projected from different angles, much more challenging than a usual biographical role. In this instance, Redmayne projects the feeling of Hawking’s time and space.
CHICAGO – The show business life is ripe for drama, and the new film “Beyond the Lights” explores the difficulties of the the superstar reaches of the music business, through a Beyoncé-type singer. Actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw plays Noni, and the film’s director is Gina Prince-Bythewood (“Love & Basketball”).
CHICAGO – What better way to get over the post-election hangover than hearing from the progressive lion, Michael Moore. Moore was on the Red Carpet at the 50th Chicago International Film Festival, and ran into an old friend, Chaz Ebert.
CHICAGO – Cindy Crawford is one of the great supermodels, and while she acknowledges her one-of-a-kind beauty, it was also her intelligence and hard work that created her successful modeling and business careers. Ms. Crawford is also the Charity Challenge Ambassador for the Art Van furniture stores.
CHICAGO – Some say, to use a FOX News term, that America is “post-racial.” The election of Barack Obama is supposed to have ended the debate on race, and any marginalization because of race. Of course, that is not possible in society and culture, and it’s articulated in writer/director Justin Simien’s new film, “Dear White People.”
CHICAGO – Jason Schwartzman likes to portray writers – he was one in his HBO series “Bored to Death” – and he portrays one in his latest film, “Listen Up Philip.” He also has played many characters in director Wes Anderson’s universe, and did a fantastic turn as composer Richard M. Sherman in last year’s “Saving Mr. Banks.”
CHICAGO – She was the Queen of 1980’s femme fatales, who later became a memorable stage and character actress. Kathleen Turner wowed audiences back in the day with hits including “Body Heat,” “Romancing the Stone,” “Prizzi’s Honor,” “Peggy Sue Got Married” and “War of the Roses.”