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Film Review: Jake Gyllenhaal is Eerily Seductive as the ‘Nightcrawler’

CHICAGO – This film can be defined as “Network” meets Norman Bates, but it also exposes virtually all our modern sins, in a chilling story about a loser who spouts business self help while taping bloody crimes that sell on the morning news. Jake Gyllenhaal is the “Nightcrawler.”

Interview: Director Justin Simien Reflects on ‘Dear White People’

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.”

Interview: Jason Schwartzman Hears All in ‘Listen Up Philip’

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.”

Film Review: The Worst Horror Film of 2014, ‘Ouija’ is ‘Mama’ From 11 Narcoleptic Producers

CHICAGO – Out of respect for the filmmakers and actors, I don’t walk out on films. I hold true to that even when I know in the first 10 minutes the film’s not for me. Perhaps the second act could surprise me. Maybe the whole film is a flop but it redeems itself with shock and awe in the last 5 minutes.

Film Review: Racial Satire ‘Dear White People’ is Heated, Hilarious

CHICAGO – A new voice has everyone’s attention with the shaking-head comedy “Dear White People,” a necessary “Wake UP!” to a melting pot nation that still needs to get itself together, even if a black president is in the White House.

Film Review: Keanu Reeves in Ludicrous Premise as ‘John Wick’

CHICAGO – Keanu Reeves has been in a lot of dogs over the years, but rarely has he left such a high body count while avenging one of them. “John Wick” is a brutal revenge thriller where Reeves is a ex-mob enforcer who goes on a murderous rampage leaving blood on every doorstep to avenge the death of his dog.

Film Review: Michael Keaton Soars in Mesmerizing ‘Birdman’

CHICAGO – There are parts of “Birdman” that are absolutely breathtaking, in dialogue, performance and visual acumen. Even its subtitle, “The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance” has a wonderful payoff. Michael Keaton provides an Oscar worthy performance as the title character.

Interview: Kathleen Turner on the Red Carpet at the 50th Chicago International Film Festival

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.”

Film Review: Humdrum Documentation of Bigfoot in Found-Footage Horror ‘Exists’

Exists, 2014

CHICAGO – Director Eduardo Sánchez has found one bizarre way to commemorate the rogue nature of his horror film “The Blair Witch Project” for its 15-year-anniversary - by crafting an analogously lesser movie with the very rulebook he defied in 1999. In turn, his new Bigfoot found footage film “Exists” becomes a minimal horror project for the GoPro camera era that doesn’t have much of a life of its own outside of its “Blair Witch Project” context.

Interview: Oliver Stone on the Red Carpet at the 50th Chicago International Film Festival

CHICAGO – Love him or not, Oliver Stone is one of the most important directors of the last generation. The creator of “Born on the Fourth of July,” “JFK,” “Platoon,” “Nixon” and “Any Given Sunday” was at the 50th Chicago International Film Festival to introduce his director’s cut for “Alexander” and “Natural Born Killers.”

Interviews: Short Film Directors at the 50th Chicago International Film Festival

CHICAGO – The opportunity to sample new filmmakers is one of the true pleasures of the 50th Chicago International Film Festival, and this year’s crop of City & State short films, made in either Chicago or Illinois, was no exception. Directors Lonnie Edwards, Joel Benjamin, Meghann Artes and Robert Carnilius represented the area.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Kingpin Blu-ray

    CHICAGO – Before 1998’s “The Big Lebowski” there was 1996’s “Kingpin”, the Farrelly brothers bowling comedy that didn’t have the narrative intricacies of the Coen brothers’ classic, but had plenty of jokes about middle-aged men playing the sport. Today finds the release of “Kingpin” to Blu-ray for the first time, coming with only one new special feature.

  • 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.

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