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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.

Blu-ray Review: Bowling Comedy ‘Kingpin’ Rolls Onto Blu-ray

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.

Film Review: Direction Proves a Problem For Open Mic Drama ‘Rudderless’

Rudderless, Billy Crudup Anton Yelchin

CHICAGO – Actor William H. Macy’s directorial debut “Rudderless” is a film of open mic songwriting that tackles a recovery from grief with neat lyrics and easy metaphors. Instead of standing out, Macy has provided another sap’s ballad that has the cuteness of “Kumbaya”, one that aims to please the crowd without challenging emotions, only presenting them.

HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: 40 Pairs of Passes to ‘Ouija’ From ‘Paranormal Activity’ Producer

CHICAGO – In the latest HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: Film, we have 40 pairs of advance-screening movie passes up for grabs to the new horror film “Ouija” from Jason Blum (producer of the “Paranormal Activity,” “Insidious” and “The Purge” films) and the producer of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”!

Film News: ‘The President’ is Top Film at the 2014 Chicago International Film Festival

CHICAGO – The 50th Chicago International Film Festival announced its award winners in a ceremony at the city’s Sofitel Chicago Water Tower on October 17th. The Gold Hugo for “Best Film” went to “The President,” a dark satire from Georgia, France, UK, and Germany. This year’s jury members for the international feature film competition included Oscar-nominated actress Kathleen Turner and renowned German director Margarethe von Trotta.

Film Review: ‘Whiplash’ Finds a Big Rhythm, Gives it a Backbeat

CHICAGO – When is the last time you had a bit of sweat after coming out of a movie? “Whiplash” will do that, and it contains not one action sequence or superhero, unless you consider J.K. Simmons as a sociopathic music guru a hero (he is in a way), and drumming as action (it is).

Film Review: World War II Drama ‘Fury’ Fires on All Cylinders

Fury

CHICAGO – “Fury” just might be Brad Pitt’s “Saving Private Ryan.” At its heart it’s a crowd pleaser, but it never shies away from the sheer brutality of war. While it doesn’t have anything quite so devastating as “Saving Private Ryan’s” D-day sequence, it depicts the everyday horrors of killing the enemy and the men who must force themselves to make their peace with the casualties that pile up in the muck. “Fury” is equally successful in its battle sequences and in its smaller moments among its crew inside the tank. Most surprisingly of all it coaxes a decent, dare I say good, performance out of none other than Shia LaBeouf – wonders never cease.

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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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