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Film Review: ‘Cars 3’ Puts Series Franchise Back on Right Track

CHICAGO – The Cars movies continue to be the kiddieland of Pixar Animation franchises. Kids adore them, parents tolerate them. Unlike the best of Pixar’s output, the Cars films are lovingly crafted cartoons aimed squarely at kids with far more attention detail than the average fare you’d find scrolling through Netflix. The best that can be said is that “Cars 3” represents a considerable step up from “Cars 2”.

Interview, Audio: Documentary Director Steve James on ‘Abacus: Small Enough to Jail’

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail

CHICAGO – The documentary maker Steve James, one of the best in the history of cinema, has a resume of quality reporting through feature film that is stunning in its context. The director of “Hoop Dreams,” “Stevie,” “The Interrupters,” “Head Games” and the Roger Ebert biography “Life Itself” has a new doc, focusing on one repercussion of the financial crisis of 2008, subtly entitled “Abacus: Small Enough to Jail.

Exclusive Portraits: Joey McIntyre of New Kids on the Block, Performing in Chicago June 16, 2017

Joey McIntyre, photo by Joe Arce.

CHICAGO – It’s time for a certain generation to get their screams of adulation ready, as New Kids on the Block – also known as NKOTB – are back on the road and appearing in Chicagoland at Allstate Arena in nearby Rosemont, Ill., on June 15 & 16, 2017. Joey McIntyre is one of the band members, and he also had a new mock reality premiere in April of 2017 called “Return of the Mac” (Pop TV Channel). HollywoodChicago.com was there to capture some Exclusive Portraits of “The Mac,” when he appeared at Studio Xfinity in Chicago in March to promote the show.

TV Feature: HollywoodChicago.com on Three Parts of Adam West

CHICAGO – As they say about Adam West’s interpretation of Batman, “he hit so hard, that words describing the impact appeared out of thin air.” But there was more to him than just the superhero tights, as Patrick McDonald, Spike Walters and Jon Espino of HollywoodChicago.com remember the three main characters in the career of Adam West, who passed away last week.

Interview, Audio: Director Brett Haley Discovers ‘The Hero’

CHICAGO – The familiar character actor and voiceover artist, Sam Elliott, has been breaking out in that latter part of his career. Known for his cowboy roles, smooth bass-tone voice and epic mustache, the icon has been seen lately in diverse roles in “Grandma,” “Digging for Fire,” “Grace and Frankie” and his latest – and perhaps greatest – “The Hero.”

Film Review: ‘It Comes at Night’ is a Terror-Filled, Nightmarish Delight

CHICAGO – Good horror films are difficult to find. Last year, we got the extremely satisfying horror film, “The Witch,” with breakout star Charlie the goat, AKA Black Phillip. Horror films that aren’t franchised cliches are hard to come by, but “It Comes at Night” delivers. The entire atmosphere is mysterious and foreboding. We go into this film blind as if we were stumbling through a forest at night. That is where we find the terrors, and ourselves.

Film News: Adam West, the 1960s TV Batman, Dies at 88

LOS ANGELES – When Adam West had a voice role on “The Simpsons,” portraying the Batman – as he had in the iconic TV series from 1966 through 1968 – he remarked, in reference to the rubber muscle costume that the movie actors wore, that his Batman was “All Pure West.” West died on June 9th, 2017, at the age of 88.

Film News: ‘Manlife: The Last of Lawsonians’ Wins Audience Award at 2017 Chicago Underground Film Festival

Manlife

CHICAGO – The 24th Chicago Underground Film Festival (CUFF) wrapped on June 4th, 2017, and announced their award winners on June 7th. Taking the Audience Award, the top prize at CUFF, was the closing night film “Manchild: The Last of the Lawsonians.” As a bonus, the 96 year-old star of the film, Merle Lawson, got the opportunity to bask in the limelight, as he appeared on behalf of the film.

Film Review: Discerning the Heroes is Tough in ‘Megan Leavey’

Megan Leavey

CHICAGO – The poster is what gives away “Megan Leavey” the most. The titular soldier, and her bomb-sniffing dog, below a billowing American flag. So which war is it? Why, it’s the Iraq invasion, where the U.S. military and the politicians at home “freed” the Iraqi citizens from a peaceful life. Making a dog story out of that boondoggle doesn’t make it any more palatable, except to “support the troops.”

Film Review: ‘The Mummy’ is a Marvel of a Muddled Mess

CHICAGO – Universal Studio’s “Dark Universe,” which is centered around its stable of classic movie monsters, isn’t a bad idea. But in the darkly inauspicious debut feature called “The Mummy,” everything unravels. This is a mixed, muddled, marvel of a mess that contains an assembly of special effects, but precious little life.

Theater News: 2017 Non-Equity Jeff Awards Celebrate Best of Chicago Theater

Jeff Awards, 2017

CHICAGO – The 44th edition of the Non-Equity Jeff Awards were given out on June 5th, 2017, at what insiders call “the theater prom.” The event honors the non-union smaller or “storefront” theater companies, and their efforts to produce quality stage work. Hosted in grand style by Alexis Roston and Lillian Castillo, the recipients of the top play was “At the Table” by the Broken Nose Theatre and top musical was “High Fidelity” by the Refuge Theatre Project.

Interview, Audio: Trey Edward Shults Directs ‘It Comes at Night’

CHICAGO – In 2016, a new filmmaker voice made its way into the scene, and it was significant. Trey Edward Shults released his debut film “Krisha,” a shattering story of addiction and its effect on family. The film got him a deal with the distributor/producer A24, and his sophomore effort – the horror/thriller “It Comes at Night” – will be released on June 9th, 2017.

Podcast Talk: John Charles Meyer on ‘Dave Made a Maze,’ Screening in Chicago on June 6, 2017

Dave Made a Maze

CHICAGO – Truly unique and creative micro-budget films are as rare as a sighting of Bigfoot these days, as so many people are picking up a camera to give it try. The production of “Dave Made a Maze” is a happy exception, a film that delivers the thrills and at the same time makes fun of them. Throw in hipsters-in-peril and homages to 1980s adventure films, and it’s easy to find the way through this fun movie.

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  • Wonder Woman

    CHICAGO – There are few films in 2017 that are as historically important as they are cinematically well-crafted. Of those, there is only one I saw three times in theaters. That honor comes in the form of the revolutionary “Wonder Woman,” which not only shows huge promise for the future of DC Comics films but for comic book-based films as a whole.

  • Monica Raymund on set for 'Tanya'

    CHICAGOTV fans know Monica Raymund as paramedic Gabby Dawson on the long-running “Chicago Fire.” But the talented actor is expanding her range, debuting her first film as director, “Tanya,” at the Midwest Independent Film Festival on Tuesday, August 1st, 2017. The short film – written by Sam Forman – will be part of “Female Filmmakers Night” at the Midwest Indie, and is part of Raymund’s involvement with Hidden Tears Project, an organization dedicated to raising consciousness by creating media on gender inequality, sexual abuse and human trafficking.

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