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Film Review: ‘Wonder Woman’ Creates Power with Social Justice

CHICAGO – There is a truth in the latest superhero epic, “Wonder Woman,” that is undeniable. The suppression of the power of woman in society, and denying the acceptance of all people – who just desire love – is the evil that can destroy the world. Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman saves the day.

Podcast Talk: Full Spectrum Features ‘Chicagoland Shorts Vol. 3’ on May 30, 2017

Chicagoland Shorts Vol. 3

CHICAGO – One the top filmmaker organizations of Chicago is Full Spectrum Features. The non-profit production and exhibition collective has made their “Chicagoland Shorts” series (Vol. 1 & 2) a representation of diverse Windy City creativity, applying their mission statement of supporting minority, female and LGBTQ filmmakers in that mix. “Chicagoland Shorts Vol. 3” will have its World Premiere on May 30th, 2017, at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) in downtown Chicago, as announced by the Program Director of Full Spectrum Features, Dane Haiken. The screening begins at 6pm, and is free and open to the public.

Interview: Loren Hammonds, Programmer of Immersive Films at Tribeca Film Festival

Loren Hammonds

CHICAGO – The future of story experience was on display at the recent 16th Tribeca Film Festival, and its popularity bodes well for the evolution of audience interaction. The “Virtual Arcade,” which was at the festival hub in the Tribeca neighborhood, featured Virtual Reality (VR), interactive storytelling and immersive experiences, which takes the participant into the world they once only watched. Loren Hammonds is the Programmer for these experiential works.

Exclusive Portraits: Remembering Gregg Allman, Who Dies at 69

SAVANNAH, GA – He survived a life of excess, musical triumph and celebrity coupling. Rocker Gregg Allman, one of the founding members of The Allman Brothers Band, died at his home in Georgia on May 27th, 2016. The influential innovator of the Southern rock sound and for a brief period, the husband of Cher, was 69 years old.

Film Review: Johnny Depp Stays Afloat in ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales’

CHICAGO – The “Pirates Of The Caribbean” series has undergone a strange transformation over five films. The first film was better than any movie “based on a theme park ride” then it had any business being. But now in its fifth film voyage, “Dead Men Tell No Tales” bears a closer resemblance to the ride now more that ever.

Film Review: Nostalgia Not Enough to Save ‘Baywatch’ From Drowning

CHICAGO – Going to the beach is simultaneously an exciting and disgusting experience. Swimming in the cool water that thousands have gone inside in the past, with more than a few leaving bodily fluid deposits, is the perfect way to describe “Baywatch”. No amount of beefy biceps or shirt-busting breasts could have given “Baywatch” the buoyancy needed to keep from sinking, let alone stay afloat.

Exclusive Portraits, Audio: Ed Asner, TV Icon & Character Actor

CHICAGO – When Mary Tyler Moore passed away in January, it was another reminder of her groundbreaking 1970s TV series “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” One of her co-stars – who portrayed bossman Lou Grant, and made his own mark in TV and movies thereafter – was Ed Asner. The actor appeared at “The Hollywood Show.”

Podcast Talk: Rebecca Fons on Reopening the Iowa Theater in Winterset on May 25, 2017

Rebecca and Marianne Fons of the Iowa Theater

CHICAGO – When Rebecca Fons, the former Education Manager of the Chicago International Film Festival, was getting married to Jack C. Newell – a prominent Chicago film director – her mother Marianne told her something that would change the course of their lives. Fons’ hometown movie theater, the “Iowa,” was about to offered for sale. In the equivalent of the recent Matt Damon family film favorite, Rebecca and Marianne Fons was about to star in their version of “We Bought a Movie Theater.”

Film News: Roger Moore, Who Portrayed James Bond, Dies at 89

SWITZERLAND – Of all the breathless hype that comes with each new James Bond movie, the man who played Bond the longest (and in the most films) is often forgotten. Sir Roger Moore – he was knighted for his charity work – portrayed Bond from 1972 to 1985, and died in Switzerland on May 22, 2017. He was 89.

Film Review: ‘Everything, Everything’ Offers Close to Nothing, Nothing

CHICAGO – I’ll be the first to admit that I am not the target audience for these stock young adult romance novels. Aside from the odd fascination and romanticization of teenage death and terminal illness, these stories feel trite and much closer to fantasy than anything real or plausible. This is what the film “Everything, Everything” brings to the table, which essentially translates to Nothing, Nothing.

Film Review: Diane Lane Hits the Blacktop in ‘Paris Can Wait’

Paris Can Wait

CHICAGO – The cache of “Paris Can Wait” is what immediately makes it attractive. It’s Diane Lane road tripping through France on the way to Paris, guided by the script and direction of Eleanor Coppola, in her narrative film debut (at age 80!). Along the way there is food, seduction, incredible sights and Alec Baldwin. That formula was destined to work.

Film Review: ‘Alien: Covenant’ is a Pale Copy of Previous Best Films

CHICAGO – It’s worth noting that the Alien series extends back nearly 40 years, and yet the chest-bursting Xenomorphs have produced a grand total of exactly two good movies. The orginal “Alien” and “Aliens” are great films that stand the test of the time, while every other entry in this series would require a significant stretch of the imagination to be called barely watchable.

Podcast Talk: Asian Pop-Up Cinema Honors Hong Kong Pop & Film Legend Teddy Robin Kwan

Asian Pop Up Cinema 2017 Closing Night

CHICAGO – When The Beatles changed pop music forever in the early 1960s, they also launched a worldwide revolution of bands and songwriters. One such star was Teddy Robin Kwan, who founded Teddy Robin & the Playboys in Hong Kong, and rightly took the crown as “The King of Asian Pop.” And for his second act, the small-but-mighty Kwan became one of Hong Kong’s top film composers, as well as a director and actor of note. He was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Asian Pop-Up Cinema series Closing Night Gala in Chicago on May 11th, 2017.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Downward Dog

    CHICAGO – From “Mr. Ed” to “Dog with a Blog,” talking animals have had their place on TV. The latest has origins as a web series, with the clever title “Downward Dog.” The show premieres on Wednesday, May 17th, 2017 (9:30pEST/8:30pCST), on ABC TV, and features Ned the Dog as Martin, and human companions portrayed by Allison Tolman and Lucas Neff.

  • Positively Present: An Uplifting Cabaret

    CHICAGO – When faced with adversity, the best way around it is to somehow break into song. That is the feeling behind the Brown Paper Box Co.’s “Positively Present: An Uplifting Cabaret,” running April 7th and 8th at Mary’s Attic in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood. The event features company member Kristi Szczepanek as host, and presents song stylings by other company members, including Anna Schutz, plus some special guests. For details and ticket information, click here.

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