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Oscar Week: Podtalk with Greta Gerwig, 2018 Oscar Best Director Nominee for ‘Lady Bird’

Greta Gerwig, "Lady Bird"

CHICAGO – One of the most fulfilled movies of 2017 was the sublime “Lady Bird,” the major film debut of actor Greta Gerwig. Nimbly shooting her own script, the achingly honest story about a teenager (portrayed essentially by Saiorse Ronan) going through her Senior Year of high school in Sacramento, California, was a breakout film of the year, and was nominated for Best Picture, as well as Best Actress for Ronan, Best Supporting Actress for Laurie Metcalfe (as the Ronan character’s mother) and Best Original Screenplay/Best Director for Greta Gerwig.

Film Review: Funny ‘The Disaster Artist’ Takes Us Back to ‘The Room’

CHICAGO – “The Room” is a post-millennial cult movie that plays the midnight and college movie circuit, entertaining audiences with its sheer badness. Its story is told in the “The Disaster Artist,” featuring James Franco as the director of “The Room,” and he also directed the film. Very meta.

Film Review: Authentic Coming-of-Age in Expressive ‘Lady Bird’

CHICAGO – In one of the best American films of 2017, Greta Gerwig went behind the camera to write and direct an autobiographical overview of her Senior Year in high school, within a directionless town and family. The result is enlightening truth, told with laugh-out-loud directness and connective empathy. The film is a total winner.

Film Review: Individualism in ‘Menashe’ Challenges the Tribe

CHICAGO – We all belong to something, be it a family, workplace, congregation or (expansively) a tribe. But within all that belonging is a sometimes nagging feeling of being an outsider. There is not a human being in existence that hasn’t felt that way, and a new film expresses that feeling in “Menashe.”

Interview, Audio: Abby Quinn, Gillian Robespierre & Elisabeth Holm of ‘Landline’

Landline Abby Quinn, Elisabeth Holm, Gillian Robespierre photo by Patrick McDonald

CHICAGO – It takes a collaborative village to make a movie, and part of that collective came to Chicago to promote “Landline.” Director Gillian Robespierre, Co-Writer Elisabeth Holm and debut actress Abby Quinn were essential to the film, which is set in 1990s New York City and features Jenny Slate in the lead role.

Interview, Audio: David Lowery, Writer & Director of ‘A Ghost Story’

CHICAGO – Not all supernatural tales are meant to scare, and writer/director David Lowery haunts in a different way with his new film, “A Ghost Story.” Using the classic “white sheet” costume, with actor Casey Affleck underneath it for most of the film, Lowery creates a spirit with both emotion and a contemplation of its fate.

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.

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.

Interview: Director Azazel Jacobs Looks at ‘The Lovers’

Azazel Jacobs The Lovers

CHICAGO – There is a familiar Stephen Sondheim song called “Send in the Clowns,” which speaks of the absurdity of relationships, and their ups and downs. Writer/director Azazel Jacobs has kind of made a movie version of that song’s meaning, with the trials of a married couple, cheating on each other, in “The Lovers.”

Film Review: 'Free Fire' Knows That Happiness is a Warm Gun

Free Fire

CHICAGO – In a film that had a sassy, arbitrary perspective on its own flipped-out story, “Free Fire” sought to out-Quentin Tarantino in freaky funny characters and ammo-splurging gun battles. Director Ben Wheatley (“High-Rise”) took an ensemble cast to rarified heights of insult comedy, revenge dynamics and bullets that hit the bone.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Jesus Christ Superstar, Lyric Opera

    CHICAGO – As a wee lad, I would often go into my parent’s record collection. One day, out of the blue, that brown double album with the gold embossed angels appeared, like a gift from the divine. “Jesus Christ Superstar” began as a record album “rock opera” in 1970, evolved to a Broadway show and film, and then was interpreted through a myriad of stage revivals over the years. The latest is an exciting piece of stagecraft at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. The show has a various evening/matinee run through May 20th, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

  • Cornerstone, Nothing Without a Company

    CHICAGO – We all need some help. The stage play group Nothing Without a Company realizes that, and has collaborated with the organization “Cornerstone” to provide that assistance. Cornerstone is a seminar and a happening in downtown Chicago, facilitated by “experts” to generate your potential. The presentation has a Thursday-Sunday run at Michigan Avenue’s Artspace 8 through May 6th, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

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