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Film Review: ‘It’s a Wonderful Life in Concert’ at Chicago Symphony Center

It's a Wonderful Life at the CSO

CHICAGO – The Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) has come up with the perfect celebration for the pre-holiday weekend, presenting Frank Capra’s classic film “It’s a Wonderful Life in Concert.” On Dec. 10th and 11th, 2016. The CSO will accompany the soundtrack on a restored version of the film.

Film Review: 'Miss Sloane' Thrills Politically, But Drags Narratively

CHICAGO – Nothing says the holiday season like a film about lobbying and politics. If you read that sarcastically, you’d be wrong. “Miss Sloane” offers a female spin for an otherwise male-dominated political landscape. Most of you are trying to tune out politics after the elections, but this film builds off of that momentum by reminding us how we arrived to that point.

Film Review: ‘Office Christmas Party’ is Just Ho-Hum Humbug

CHICAGO – “Office Christmas Party” summons up a few jolly ho-ho-ho’s, but can’t quite deliver even one decent belly laugh you’d expect, considering the talented cast chock full of funny folks. It’s halfway decent premise is drowned in a sea of unfulfilled potential and weak material that the ensemble can only do so much to save.

Film News: ‘For Grace’ is Top Film at 2016 ‘Best of the Midwest’ Awards Night

Best of the Midwest 2016

CHICAGO – On Tuesday, December 6th, the Midwest Independent Film Festival gave out their 2016 “Best of the Midwest” Awards with a ceremony at Rockit Bar & Grill in Chicago. Best Feature honors went to “For Grace,” directed by Mark Helenowski and Kevin Pang. Best Female Actor was Amy Frazzini of “Guidance,” Best Male Actors were T.J. Jagodowski and David Pasquesi of “T.J. & Dave,” and Best Screenplay was Robert Putka of “Mad,” among other categories.

Interview: Co-Directors Josh Gordon & Will Speck Invite All to ‘Office Christmas Party’

CHICAGO – The raucous party movie has become a reliable staple in movieland, and now a production tackles the holiday soiré, and all that can go wrong. “Office Christmas Party” is co-directed by Josh Gordon and Will Speck, who also gave us “Blades of Glory” and “The Switch.”

Film News: Midwest Independent Film Festival ‘Best of the Midwest’ on Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016

MIFF 2016 BMA

CHICAGO – On Tuesday, December 6th, the Midwest Independent Film Festival will award their 2016 “Best of the Midwest” honors with a ceremony at Rockit Bar & Grill, 22 W. Hubbard, in Chicago. The evening will be hosted by Festival Director Mike McNamara, and nominees include the short film “Lady of the House” (directed by Brad Bischoff), plus feature films “Mad” (directed by Robert Putka), and “My Friend’s Rubber Ducky” (directed by Josh Hyde).

Film Review: Natalie Portman Embodies a Magnificent ‘Jackie’

CHICAGO – Capturing one of the most familiar woman of the last fifty years would seem impossible, except when focusing on one of the defining moments of her life. “Jackie” reveals Jacqueline Kennedy during the time of her husband John’s assassination, and when the nation lost a president.

Interview: Director Jack C. Newell on Digital Release of ‘Open Tables’

CHICAGO – Local filmmaking has always gotten a boost through director Jack C. Newell. His 2015 film “Open Tables,” shot in Chicago and Paris, will get it’s digital release on Tuesday, December 6th, 2016, on iTunes and Video-On-Demand. This coincides with his art project “The Wabash Lights,” and his continued production work.

Film News: Chicago’s Asian Pop-Up Cinema to Screen ‘The Assassin' & ‘Round Trip Heart’

Asian Pop Up Cinema Dec. 2016

CHICAGO – The Asian Pop-Up Cinema Series, spotlighting a variety of diverse Asian films, concludes its 2016 Fall Season with two films in the next week, ”The Assassin” (Taiwan), on Wednesday, Nov 30th; and ”Round Trip Heart” (Japan), on Sunday, Dec. 4th (Director Yuki Tanada will attend). Click each individual title for more details.

Interview: Director Julie Dash of ‘Daughters of the Dust’

CHICAGO – Iconic and historical are the two apt terms for a film directed by an African American woman, the first to be distributed theatrically, Was it the 1920s? 1940s? It had to be the 1970s. No, it was 1992 when that barrier was broken, with the film “Daughters in the Dust,” directed by Julie Dash.

Interview: Christine Dudley, Director of The Illinois Film Office

Christine Dudley, Director of the IFO

CHICAGO – When filmmakers are searching for the “rules of the road,” when seeking to produce in Chicago or elsewhere in Illinois, one of the stops they need to make is with The Illinois Film Office. The Film Office is part of the state’s Department of Commerce, and not only takes care of production coordination, but the economic incentives for film, television and advertising in the area. Since 2015, the Director of The Illinois Film Office has been Christine Dudley.

Film Review: Casey Affleck Anchors ‘Manchester by the Sea’

CHICAGO – Tis the season for earnest character studies, and Casey Affleck in “Manchester by the Sea” has a doozy. Portraying a Boston guy with a mountain of sadness within, Affleck harbors the range of emotions like a coiled snake ready to strike, but manages to keep it all undercover.

Interview: Chef Robert Irvine Wishes You a Happy Thanksgiving

Robert Irvine of Food Network

CHICAGO – What better holiday than Thanksgiving to highlight a celebrity chef? Chef Robert Irvine is familiar to fans of the Food Network, through his shows “Dinner: Impossible” and “Restaurant: Impossible.” His brand of tough love has expanded to a new self help series, appropriately titled “The Robert Irvine Show.” Irvine was recently in Chicago appearing on behalf of Comcast at the Studio Xfinity store.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • [Trans]formation

    CHICAGO – The issue of gender identity, especially for those who are born with a vagueness as to what to call themselves between/beyond boy and girl, has come front and center in the U.S., both with the legalization of gay marriage and the callous repudiation of identity by trying to pass laws dismissing it (the North Carolina “bathroom” laws). The performance companies of The Living Canvas and Nothing Without a Company is currently staging “[Trans]formation,” which presents gender identity art by six performers, who perform most of the play in the nude.

  • Life Sucks

    CHICAGO – Let’s face it, life does suck. But what can we do about that? How do we survive? Lookingglass Theatre Company’s latest stage presentation tries to answer those thorny questions through a group of fellow travelers, flung together at a cabin retreat, trying to figure out why (indeed) “Life Sucks.”

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