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Film Review: Growing Up Fast in the Skateboard Life of ‘Mid90s’

Mid90s

CHICAGO – Character actor Jonah Hill has just scored behind the camera. As writer/director of a authentic look back at the “Mid90s” he went back to his inner source of growing up in that 1990s time, skateboarding with his buds and experiencing the teenage life. The story never blinks, as the teens are authentic and the situations they get in even more so.

Film Review: Awkward & Difficult is Played Out in ‘Eighth Grade’

Eighth Grade

CHICAGO – We’ve all been there. Depending on what school structure you lived through, everyone had issues in “Eighth Grade.” Writer/director Bo Burnham puts those universal issues in a modern context (social media, online video), and portrays them through a girl struggling to belong while navigating the choppy waters of adolescence. It’s difficult, awkward and representative.

Film Review: Toni Collette Discovers that Horror is ‘Hereditary’

CHICAGO – The classic horror/psychological films continue to chill our souls long after the experience of them. “Hereditary” uses a masterful performance by Toni Collette, and layers it with symbolic commentary and freaky scares to accomplish that lingering discomfort. After viewing it, the cluck of the tongue will never be the same.

Podtalk: Writer/Director Paul Schrader Blesses ‘First Reformed’

CHICAGO – Paul Schrader can absolutely claim the title of Cinema Icon with his 40 plus years of influence and involvement as writer or director in memorable films such as “Taxi Driver,” “American Gigolo,” “Raging Bull” and “Auto Focus.” His latest written-and-directed-by film is “First Reformed,” featuring Ethan Hawke.

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.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival 2019

    CHICAGO – They’ve got the world on a string – and other forms of bringing inanimate objects to life – at the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival, which is currently presenting shows all around the city through January 27th, 2019. For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.

  • Little Women: The Musical

    CHICAGO – The story of “Little Women,” by Louisa May Alcott, has been an American institution since its publication in 1869. The story of four girls-to-little-women during the American Civil War, with their indomitable mother holding down the household while their father is away in the war, was a perfect candidate to become a Broadway musical. The Brown Paper Box Co. (BPBCo) is currently presenting a brilliant adaptation of that musical for the storefront stage, and its emotion, music craft and energy is nothing sort of a triumph… this small theater company that could does it again. The show has various evening/matinee performances at the The Strawdog Theatre in Chicago through February 9th, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

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