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Kristen Wiig

Film Review: ‘Zoolander 2’ Continues Silly, Surreal Hilarity

CHICAGO – Humor is subject to the receiver, of course, and what is funny is as distinct to each individual as a fingerprint. Having said that, I found “Zoolander 2” to be hilarious, as it delivered again what made the first film work – tweaking the self-importance of fashion and celebrity.

Interview: Director Sebastián Silva Delivers a ‘Nasty Baby’

Nasty Baby

CHICAGO – “Nasty Baby” is a family film, with a family that consists of a gay/mixed race couple, and their best girlfriend who wants to have a baby with them. This unconventionality is made less remarkable simply because the characters are all motivated by their own fragile egos – which sometimes is good, and sometimes not so much.

Film Review: Entertaining ‘The Martian’ is a Hollywood Space Opera

CHICAGO – It’s all based on science, they told us! “The Martian” is an old fashion feel-good movie about the hard working astronauts and scientists of the good old American space program, trying to rescue a stranded spaceman from Mars, aided by a brave cast of astro-colleagues.

Film Review: Adolescence Boldly Drawn in ‘Diary of a Teenage Girl’

Diary of a Teenage Girl

CHICAGO – Real boldness, real truth, is hard to fine in teenage stories. The confusing and hormonal time is often trivialized, or used as a prop for unlikely situations. “Diary of a Teenage Girl” pulls no such punches, in a tale of a 15 year old girl having her first love affair – with a 35 year old man.

DVD Review: Historical Figures Cheersed in Brilliant ‘Drunk History: Seasons 1 & 2’

Drunk History Seasons 1 & 2, 2014

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.

Interview: Djimon Hounsou is Vocal in ‘How to Train Your Dragon 2’

CHICAGO – Character actor Djimon Hounsou (Jee-mahn Hahn-soo) is memorable in any role he takes on – whether it’s working with Steven Spielberg in “Amistad,” or being so indelibly subtle for “In America.” Hounsou has also forged a true character in his voiceover work as Drago Bludvist in “How to Train Your Dragon 2.”

Film Review: Heroic, Visually Bold ‘How to Train Your Dragon 2’

CHICAGO – “How to Train Your Dragon 2” is spectacular in 3D, the filmmakers actually geared the film to enhance that much maligned vision. It also features a warm and heroic story about the coming-of-age for the character Hiccup, and his now fully trained dragon, Toothless.

Blu-ray Review: ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’

Walter-Mitty-Hiking.jpg

CHICAGO – Ben Stiller plays Walter Mitty: a man whose constant daydreams about life are interrupted by a series of real-life adventures that may or may not help him find love and save his job. This is a sweet-tempered and often visually spectacular film. It has the guts to be really weird at times as well. The end result? The film is entertaining, but it’s just too scattered to really imprint on the average viewer. That’s too bad because Ben Stiller distinguishes himself here in way that real cineastes will appreciate.

Film Feature: The 10 Best Films of Sundance 2014

The instant-response nature of our media has forced a bizarre question on nearly every minute of the Sundance Film Festival — “Is it a GOOD year?” Journalists and festival goers talk in hushed tones about the first time they saw beloved Sundance films like “Clerks,” “Bottle Rocket,” “Winter’s Bone,” or “Beasts of the Southern Wild” and wonder if there’s anything this year to compare. Personally, I had a spectacular year.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Harry Lennix, photo by Joe Arce

    CHICAGO – Mention the name Harry Lennix, and images of his many character roles are bound to emerge – Harold Cooper in the TV series “The Blacklist,” General Swanwick from “Batman v Superman” and Commissioner Blades from Spike Lee’s recent “Chi-Raq.” The deeply knowledgeable Lennix brings his years of dramatic expertise, as he directs the Congo Square Theatre Company’s world premiere stage play “A Small Oak Tree Runs Red.’

  • King and I, The

    CHICAGO – The venerable musical “The King and I,” by the legendary team of (Richard) Rodgers and (Oscar) Hammerstein, is now 65 years old. The Lyric Opera of Chicago is injecting fresh life into this senior aged play, with a sumptuous new production that is top drawer at every level.

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