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Angela Bassett

TV Review: ‘American Horror Story: Coven’ Casts a Spell

CHICAGO – Take this with a giant grain of salt but FX’s “American Horror Story: Coven” shows incredible promise in its premiere episode tonight, setting a number of creative plates spinning in directions that could be fascinating. Why the salt? Well, “American Horror Story: Asylum” started with similar promise and quickly became cluttered and unfocused.

Film Review: Gerard Butler Stars in Violent, Stupid ‘Olympus Has Fallen’

CHICAGO – Antoine Fuqua’s “Olympus Has Fallen” (or “Die Hard in the White House”) is a stupid, exploitative movie that wants to be “Call of Duty: Black Ops” in film form but ends up more like one of its countless, ineffective rip-offs. There are moments of goofy, B-movie fun (certainly more of them than in the much-worse “A Good Day to Die Hard”) but not enough to get over the brutal nonsense that makes up most of this action flick.

Interview: Director Antoine Fuqua Lifts Up ‘Olympus Has Fallen’

CHICAGO – The upcoming political action thriller “Olympus Has Fallen” has a familiar director behind it, the inventive Antoine Fuqua. Known best for “Training Day,” which won the Best Actor Oscar for Denzel Washington, he also directed ‘The Replacement Killers” (1998), “Shooter” (2007) and “Brooklyn’s Finest” (2009).

Film Review: ‘This Means War’ With Reese Witherspoon is an Attack on Movie Decency

CHICAGO – McG’s “This Means War” with Chris Pine, Tom Hardy, and Reese Witherspoon is an aggressively annoying movie. It isn’t just bad. It grates. It frustrates. It baffles with its incompetence.

Blu-ray Review: Denzel Washington in Spike Lee’s Timeless ‘Malcolm X’

Malcolm X

CHICAGO – Spike Lee has been getting national buzz again after the Sundance premiere of his controversial “Red Hook Summer” and the ageless Denzel Washington is back in the spotlight as his latest action vehicle, “Safe House,” premieres in theaters on Friday. It seems a perfect time for a Blu-ray release to bring audiences back to one of their career highlights. Over twenty years ago, the two collaborated on their most artistically rewarding venture, the epic “Malcolm X,” a fantastic film that has held up remarkably well, in no small part due to the excellent HD transfer from Warner Bros.

Blu-Ray Review: Ryan Reynolds Can’t Save Goofy ‘Green Lantern’

Green Lantern

CHICAGO – After the abysmal theatrical reviews, I thought it would be easier to completely dismiss “Green Lantern,” the least-acclaimed and least-profitable of the Summer 2011 Superhero Quartet (which also included “X-Men: First Class,” “Thor,” and “Captain America: The First Avenger” — and I would rank them in that order in terms of quality with “GL” bringing up the rear). The fact is that this is not an “Elektra” or “Ghost Rider”-level mess. There are things about Martin Campbell’s film that work, especially in the first half, but a goofy story and aesthetic ultimately sink the film to cartoonish levels.

Blu-Ray Review: ‘Jumping the Broom’ Stumbles Over Clichés

Jumping the Broom Blu-Ray

CHICAGO – Salim Akil’s “Jumping the Broom” is the sort of sociological comedy so hell-bent on smothering the audience in a sentimental love-fest that it quickly softens its potentially biting premise. Akil’s background in television (“The Game,” “Girlfriends”) may explain why the film feels like an uneasy melding of sitcom and soap opera clichés. Any time the film threatens to become interesting, it instantly goes into autopilot.

Film Review: Ryan Reynolds in ‘Green Lantern’ is Spectacle Over Story

CHICAGO – The tipping point is close approaching in the super hero movie aura, especially as the B-list get their moment in the projection machine. “Green Lantern,” featuring Ryan Reynolds, stays true to its comic book roots, but lacks any cohesive passion within the main story.

Film Review: No Leap of Faith to Enjoy ‘Jumping the Broom’

Jumping the Broom

CHICAGO – There is a tradition within the African American community during weddings. It stems from the past, when marriage was deemed illegal for the race, and provides the title for a new film, “Jumping the Broom.” The now symbolic gesture is the basis for a clash between families and social classses in one seriocomic marriage weekend.

Interview: Angela Bassett Takes a Leap in ‘Jumping the Broom’

CHICAGO – Angela Bassett has a quiet sophistication, when combined with her movie star presence only enhances her unique beauty. She is also a superior actor, taking on an intriguing role as a matriarch in the upcoming film “Jumping the Broom.”

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with Megan Fox

    CHICAGO - Look past the cheesy carbs and b-boy poses, this shiny mo-cap reboot of cartoon juggernaut “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” offers slick entertainment that makes for a welcome surprise for middle school fare. Proving that executive producer Michael Bay has both grown up but it still frightfully in tune with what jazzes teens, this surprise box office hit is indeed a nice slice of a blockbuster spectacle, whether or not a viewer cares about the turtles or not.

  • HoliDaze Front

    CHICAGO – Need a break from the noise of the holidays? Step Up Productions, – in residence at Chicago Dramatists Theater – present “HoliDaze,” a collection of six one-act plays, all dealing with the nature and nurture of the season. The showcase runs through December 21st, 2014.

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