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Film News: Remembering Debbie Reynolds, in 2009 Interview

LOS ANGELES – The shocking news of the passing of Debbie Reynolds, hours after her daughter Carrie Fisher passed away, is still resonating in the 2016 atmosphere. Ms. Reynolds died of a massive stroke on December 28th, at her son’s home near Los Angeles, while making funeral arrangements for her daughter. She was 84.

Film Review: ‘The Secret Life of Pets’ Neuters Promising Cast

CHICAGO – A promising voice cast of comedy greats is effectively neutered in the blasé animated family film “The Secret Life Of Pets.” It doesn’t have the multi-layered story of the best Pixar movies – or even the “Despicable Me” films – to satisfy both kids and grownups. The bigger it tries to be, the more exhausted it seems.

Film Review: ‘Finding Dory’ Essentially Finds Its Sweet Spot

CHICAGO – Pixar’s sequel to its underwater animated tearjerker “Finding Nemo” isn’t quite in the same league, but “Finding Dory” is satisfying all the same. This time the story focuses on Marlin and Nemo’s forgetful friend Dory, as she searches for the family she can’t quite remember.

Film Review: ‘Concussion’ Can’t Quite Tackle its Difficult Subject

Concussion

CHICAGO – “Concussion” suffers from what I call the “Moneyball” problem – it’s got an interesting subject matter, but it doesn’t seem to know what to do with it. It doesn’t have enough faith in its own material or its audience, so it stocks up on a lot of off-the-shelf melodrama in effort to avoid digging into what makes the story interesting in the first place. It’s also a movie that chickens out at the end and seems afraid to pick a fight.

Film Review: Jessica Chastain, Oscar Isaac Endure ‘A Most Violent Year’

A Most Violent Year

CHICAGO – The effect of violence, centering on the roughest statistical year for it (1981) in New York City history, becomes a flashpoint for the way business has always been done. If someone isn’t intimidating their competitor with lawyers or shady marketing practices, a few hired goons can do the trick. Oscar Isaac takes the beating, both real and metaphorical, in writer/director J.C. Chandor’s “A Most Violent Year.”

Blu-ray Review: ‘The Guilt Trip’ Marred by Maddeningly Formulaic Script

The Guilt Trip Blu-ray

CHICAGO – “The Guilt Trip” is hideously uninspired dreck of the most shameful variety. It casts two major yet mismatched talents and refuses to utilize their distinctive gifts for the entirety of its running time. All they’re required to do is sleepwalk through a plot so uninspired that audiences will have no problem predicting its path with their eyes closed and their ears covered.

Film Review: Judd Apatow’s ‘This is 40’ Clutters Truth with Cliché

CHICAGO – Judd Apatow’s “This is 40” is a true disappointment, a comedy that purports to say something honest and insightful about approaching middle age in the ‘10s but blurs truth by smothering it in contrivance and cliché.

Blu-ray Review: Beautiful ‘Finding Nemo’ Was Made For HD

CHICAGO – Disney/Pixar’s “Finding Nemo” disappointed somewhat when it was recently re-released in 3D with grosses that paled in comparison to 3D reboots of “Beauty & the Beast” and “The Lion King.” Perhaps it’s because the movie was so beautiful in two dimensions that fans didn’t think it needed a third. The new Blu-ray release in time for the holiday season certainly makes the case as this is undeniably one of Pixar’s absolute best.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • 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.

  • They're Playing Our Song

    CHICAGO – During the late disco era of the 1970s, an unusual musical opened on Broadway. Essentially a two person stage play, “They’re Playing Our Song” involved a songwriter and a lyricist who develop a stronger connection than just writing partners. The always passionate Brown Paper Box Co. of Chicago has unearthed this chestnut with a bright and fun revival at the Rivendell Theatre through August 20th, 2017.

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