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Film Review: American Legal System is Put on Trial in ‘Crown Heights’

CHICAGO – There is no justice for the poor. That should be carved in stone on courthouses beside all the platitudes of American “equality” and “law.” In an eye-opening narrative film based on a true story, “Crown Heights” explores just how an impoverished individual can be found guilty and imprisoned unjustly for years.

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: Actress Jenny Slate Answers the Call in ‘Landline’

CHICAGO – Jenny Slate keeps getting more high profile, both in voiceover work (“The Secret Life of Pets”) and as an actress. Her latest film is “Landline,” her second with director Gillian Robespierre. In the film, Slate portrays an engaged-to-be-married “adult” who is having trouble coming to terms with her life.

Film Review: ‘City of Ghosts’ Puts Citizen Faces on Syrian Crisis

CHICAGO – Syria has become a distant place, disconnected from the wider world through civil war and extreme sociopolitical instability, including the takeover of some regions by ISIS (the Islamic State). “City of Ghosts” looks at Raqqa, a Syrian city with the iron boot of ISIS on their necks, and the citizens who risk their lives to tell that story to the world.

Interviews: Honorees of Awards Night at the Chicago International Television Festival

2017 CIFF TV Awards

CHICAGO – It was an evening to honor the past, current and future brands in TV media at the 53rd Chicago International Television Awards Night on Thursday, March 23rd, 2017. TV advertising creator Joe Sedelmaier, WGN-TV Entertainment Reporter Dean Richards and Amazon Studios – represented by Development Executive Jill Arthur – were the individual honorees at the ceremony.

Interviews: 53rd Chicago International Television Awards on Mar. 23, 2017

CIFF TV Awards 2916

CHICAGO –The 53rd Chicago International Television Awards, a companion celebration to the Chicago International Television Festival – and presented by Cinema/Chicago, the organization who presents the Chicago International Film Festival – will take place Thursday, March 23rd, 2017, and will honor entertainment reporter Dean Richards, advertising guru Joe Sedelmeier and the newly-formed-but-already-influential Amazon Studios. The entire television festival will take place from March 21st to the 23rd at the AMC River East 21, and screenings are free and open to the public. Click here for a complete schedule and details.

Film Review: Gravity of Poetic Dreams Carry Weight in ‘Paterson’

Paterson

CHICAGO – What is more ordinary than a man alone with his thoughts, and then applying those thoughts to paper in the form of poetry? “Paterson” is a celebration of such ritual, and other dreams in the working class. It never panders, it never makes the “hero” that heroic, but it does challenge him in an ordinary sense, to work it out as meaningful poetics.

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.

Film Review: Surprising Fun in Revenge Tale of ‘The Handmaiden’

CHICAGO – Although “The Handmaiden” is based in deceit, fetishes, thievery and subservience, director Park Chan-Wook (“Stoker”) keeps it light by the addition of some subversive humor, and weaves a mystery with a pitch that is like the “The Sting” meets “In the Realm of the Senses.”

Red-Carpet Exclusive Portraits: Woody Allen for ‘Café Society’

CHICAGO – He is one of the most prolific American directors of the modern cinema era, and has also forged a career as stand-up comedian, actor, playwright and screenplay artist. He is Woody Allen, and he walked the Red Carpet at the Chicago History Museum on July 21st, 2016, for his new film ‘Café Society.’

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Bobby Pin Girls

    CHICAGO – The “breeder years” are difficult on everyone, as the biological imperative becomes overwhelming and the couplings that result yield both discovery and misadventure. Nothing Without a Company’s new play “Bobby Pin Girls” highlight two such Millennial women, roommates who are having man trouble, although the argument can be made that it’s eternally “boy trouble.” The show has a Thursday-Sunday run at the Chicago Mosaic School through December 3rd, 2017. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

  • Transformers 5 front

    CHICAGO – Knock me over with a feather kids, but I enjoyed “Transformers: The Last Knight.” Maybe it was in comparison to the others or maybe director Michael Bay has beaten me into submission, but this one had the right story elements and casting to make it work, with exceptions of course. It’s goofiness is its charm, and it was released on Blu-Ray/DVD on September 26th, 2017 (Digital HD already available).

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