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Film Review: Unoriginal, Unfunny ‘This is Where I Leave You’ a Poor Man’s ‘August: Osage County’

CHICAGO – Jason Bateman and an all-star cast got me there. The unfunny copycat story left me regretting it. If you don’t start with a solid plot that’s at least somewhat new, it doesn’t matter how many “A”-listers you throw into an ensemble. They’re just individuals doing the best they can with weak material.

Film Review: Liam Neeson in Forgettable ‘A Walk Among the Tombstones’

CHICAGO – Liam Neeson still looks good being a badass., but “A Walk Among The Tombstones” is a vehicle unworthy of his particular set of skills. It’s not a tightly constructed thriller like “Nonstop,” and it lacks the sheer over-the-top ludicrousness of “Taken 2.”

Film Review: Vibrant Indie Pop Musical ‘God Help the Girl’

God Help the Girl

CHICAGO – Opening at Chicago’s Music Box Theater this weekend is a full-length musical conceived by Stuart Murdoch, the lead singer of indie pop darlings Belle & Sebastian, making his debut as a writer/director. Surpassing the notion of a concept album, Murdoch has engineered a vibrant experience that is missing all but the introduction of a new dance move.

Film Review: ‘The Maze Runner’ a Cut Above Teenage Dystopia Genre

CHICAGO – Yes, the future world of teenage bleakness, so popular in “The Hunger Games’ and “Divergent,” now has its own genre. “The Maze Runner” is an excellent entry, and gets over its stilted dialogue and scary monsters by adding in surprises and atmospheric mystery..

Film News: Opening Night for Chicago’s LGBT International Film Festival Reeling32 on Sept. 18, 2014

Reeling 32

CHICAGO – The second oldest LGBT Film Festival is right here is Chicago, as “Reeling32” moves up a couple of months from their previous year November start date. Opening Night is September 18th, 2014, and the fest begins at the Music Box Theatre in Chicago, with the provocative “Boy Meets Girl,” directed by Eric Schaeffer and featuring Michelle Henley, Michael Welch and Alexandra Turshen.

Interview: Young Actors Seek Their Reward in ‘The Maze Runner’

CHICAGO – What is wrong with our future? The Young Adult category of future fiction seems to think we’re all doomed, what with “The Hunger Games,” “Divergent” and now “The Maze Runner” film adaptations. The latest “Maze” take is pretty darn good, though, thanks to actors Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario and Will Poulter.

Blu-ray Review: ‘Star Trek: The Compendium’ Provides Victory Lap for Revitalized Franchise

Star Trek Into Darkness

CHICAGO – With J.J. Abrams not involved with the creation of a third “Star Trek” movie, a compendium of his work within the franchise only seems fitting. Loaded with special features but only a few new ones, this disc set is a strong choice for those who don’t already have both entertaining blockbusters in their collection.

Film Review: Superlative ‘The Guest’ Returns a Soldier to Our Times

CHICAGO – The essential killing machine to protect the Homeland hasn’t been invented yet. Or has it? Filmmakers Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett combine “The Terminator” with a perfect metaphor for perpetual war in a new release, “The Guest.”

Interview: Filmmaker Team Comes Together to Invite ‘The Guest’

CHICAGO – War is on the country’s mind once again, and in this week’s film releases, “The Guest” is coming to theaters. The main creative team behind it – lead actor Dan Stevens, screenwriter Simon Barrett and director Adam Wingard – weave a tale of a soldier that metaphorically reminds us that something is wrong.

Film Review: Parts Are Better Than the Whole in ‘The Skeleton Twins’

CHICAGO – Live from the movies, it’s Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig! The two “Saturday Night Live” veterans are “The Skeleton Twins,” and both have more to do than just be funny. There are moments that sink or swim, depending on the “Twins,” and those parts are greater than the narrative sum.

Film Review: Animal Psychology Charges Rugged Thug Tale ‘The Drop’

The Drop

CHICAGO – For a film adapted from “Mystic River” and “Gone Baby Gone” author Dennis Lehane, there are no children in danger in “The Drop,” but there is a pit bull puppy named Rocco. The dog’s involvement in the story, an animal who gets as many closeups this side of a Charles Martin Smith film, invites the uncharacteristically blunt metaphor of how creatures fight for power, or even just the impression of power.

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  • Star Trek Into Darkness

    CHICAGO – With J.J. Abrams not involved with the creation of a third “Star Trek” movie, a compendium of his work within the franchise only seems fitting. Loaded with special features but only a few new ones, this disc set is a strong choice for those who don’t already have both entertaining blockbusters in their collection.

  • References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot

    CHICAGO – In “References to Salvador Dali Makes Me Hot,” now at the Den Theatre in Chicago through September 7th, the intersect of author José Rivera and the strong cast of actors make for a formidable partnership. Committed and passionate interpreters take both the soft and edgy parts of the narrative to task.

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