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Film Review: Chaos of Power in Hilarious ‘The Death of Stalin’

CHICAGO – If you want a film to take your mind off the current American power structure, that at the same time provides some truth to the situation, you won’t do better than “The Death of Stalin.” A monster comedic cast – including Steve Buscemi and Jeffrey Tambor – is assembled for this hilarious farce.

Podtalk: Arthur Swidzinki of Film ‘Shred America,’ Premiering in Chicago on March 24, 2018

Shred America

CHICAGO – It was the age of innocence, way back in 2008. Social media was a fledging duck, GPS was in its spare infancy and ride service didn’t exist… what better time for four dudes to skateboard from Chicago to New York City. “Shred America” is the film documentary story of Arthur Swidzinki, Michael Kosciesza, James Lagen and Anthony Michal in 2008, as they did what many twenty-year-olds have done throughout time – just say “what the f**k” and go for it, then film the results. “Shred America” premieres at the Patio Theatre in Chicago on March 24th, 2018 (details below).

Entertainment News: 54th Chicago International Television Festival on March 20-22, 2018

2018 CIFF TV

CHICAGO – The rise of innovative and inclusive television programming, along with the expansion of the broadcast spectrum that includes digital and online options, has been the most important entertainment story of the last five years. The 54th Chicago Television Festival – an offshoot of the Chicago International Film Festival, and presented by their agency Cinema/Chicago – has grown in prestige and importance along with that evolution in TV, and will take place from Tuesday, March 20th through Thursday, March 22nd, 2018, at the AMC River East 21 Theater at 322 East Illinois, Chicago.

Film Review: ‘Love, Simon’ is a Palatable Queer Film Entry That Leaves Us Wanting

CHICAGO – Anyone who has ever held a big secret knows that the weight of it is usually worse than the secret itself. The only thing worse than that is when the secret you’re holding back is your true self. “Love, Simon” explores the all-too-familiar, high school coming of age story, but with the added complication of coming to terms with your sexuality and identity.

Film Review: ‘7 Days in Entebbe’ is Surprisingly Effective

7 Days in Entebbe

CHICAGO – What would you expect from an event subject that has been already rendered four times on film, and deals with terrorism, hijacking and government negotiation? “7 Days in Entebbe” contained all of this, and yet still maintained a separate energy and cinematic artistry. In many ways, it’s one of the most surprising films of the young year.

Film Review: Alicia Vikander Has a Case of the Runs in ‘Tomb Raider’

CHICAGO – Movies based on video games are almost never good… even the best ones only ascend to the level of “barely watchable.” By that measure, “Tomb Raider” can be considered a modest success since it didn’t make me want to claw my eyes out. I have to confess I never saw either of the first two films with Angelina Jolie, but after watching this I’m not actually clamoring at the bit to catch up.

Podtalk: Joe Minoso for ‘Alonso, The Dream and the Call’

CHICAGO – He has portrayed the reliable firefighter Joe Cruz for six seasons on NBC-TV’s “Chicago Fire”… Joe Minoso both plays that role and actually lives in Chicago now. Before his stint on “Fire,” he had completed a short film for local filmmaker Ben-Hur Uribe, “Alonso, The Dream and the Call,” which has just been released for Amazon Prime download.

Podtalk: Christian Taylor on Origins for her Documentary ‘The Girl Who Wore Freedom’

The Girl Who Wore Freedom

CHICAGO – The era of World War II, now close to 80 years in the past, seems ever so farther in the rear view mirror of history. Movies have done their part to keep the memories and the spirit alive, so joining such works as “Band of Brothers” and “Saving Private Ryan” is a new documentary in development, “The Girl Who Wore Freedom,” now in pre-production by filmmakers Christian Taylor and Terry Jun of Reverse Negative Studios in Skokie, Ill.

Film Review: Helen Mirren Takes Another Ride in ‘The Leisure Seeker’

Leisure Seeker, The

CHICAGO – Helen Mirren keeps establishing herself as an international treasure with each new role. She is the prime motivator in the new film “The Leisure Seeker,” about a retired couple taking one last spin in their RV, which takes its nickname from the title of the film. Along the way secrets are revealed and the devastation of dementia is exposed, but the story never gets too serious or heavy handed.

Film Review: ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ Can’t Smooth Its Bizarre Fabric

CHICAGO – Although I am an admirer of Oprah Winfrey, it’s unfortunate that the best way to describe “A Wrinkle in Time” – with her role as goddess problem solver – is Worst. Episode. of. Oprah. Ever. The film, based on a novel from 1962, caves into effects over cohesiveness or story.

Interview: Sophia Wong Boccio on Season 6 of Chicago’s Asian Pop-Up Cinema

Sophia Wong Boccio

CHICAGO – The Asian Pop-Up Cinema (APUC) series has established a foothold in the Chicago film scene through the last three years and now five seasons. For Spring 2018, Season 6 will open on March 13th with a U.S. Premiere from Japan, “Colors of Wind,” featuring an appearance by hot lead Japanese actor, Yuki Furukawa (click here for details). The series will then unspool 14 more films through May 16th, all facilitated and curated by the Founder of APUC, veteran film programmer Sophia Wong Boccio.

Film News: ‘Midwest Shorts’ Screens at Midwest Independent Film Festival on March 6, 2018

March 2018 Midwest Indie

CHICAGO – Short films, in a society increasingly becoming attention challenged, are getting a new lease as an essential film showcase. The Midwest Independent Film Festival will highlight a “Midwest Shorts Program” for their second 2018 event on March 6th. 13 films are part of the line-up, including a World Premiere, a Festival Premiere, Two Chicago Premieres and a 2017 Sundance Film Festival Selection. For more information, including line-ups and tickets, click here.

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  • Speech & Debate (stage play)

    CHICAGO – “Speech & Debate,” the latest production from the mighty Brown Paper Box Company, continues their tradition of thinking outside that “box” in presenting storefront theater that makes a statement and a difference. “Speech” goes inside America by showcasing the outsiders… those who create art because they can’t get it right in real life. This non-equity Chicago stage play premiere is finely tuned and wonderfully acted, and runs through March 4th, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

  • We're Gonna Be Okay

    CHICAGO – The 1960s were a time of historical social transition. The movements – civil rights, feminist, gay rights – all had roots in that tumultuous decade. The Chicago premiere of Basil Kreimendahl’s “We’re Gonna Be Okay” echoes all of those movements in its characters, and collides them against the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. The show has a Thursday-Sunday run at the American Theater Company through March 4th, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.


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