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Film Review: Bill Murray Rolls Downhill in ‘Rock the Kasbah’

Rock the Kasbah

CHICAGO – What’s up with this movie? Everything in it is so wrong headed, despite movie star casting and a attempt toward “current events.” Setting itself in a modern and complex country – Afghanistan – but creating a perspective on that country that is straight ugly American, “Rock the Kasbah” is a total downer.

Interview: Director Douglas Tirola on ‘Drunk Brilliant Stoned Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon’

Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of National Lampoon

CHICAGO – Before the days of 24/7 internet access to every form of entertainment that exists, there were eras of radical performance expression that changed the landscape of attitudes toward everything – think of The Beatles evolving music and also changing social culture. The roots of another evolution, especially in comedy, began with a modest humor magazine that brought together the right mix of anarchists and misfits. What they did would influence comedy for years afterward, and their story is told in “Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of National Lampoon,” directed by Douglas Tirola.

Film Review: Unusual, Passionate ‘Aloha’ is Deeply Resonant

CHICAGO – Films with major movie stars that take real chances on story formula are rare. “Aloha” is one such example, and produces considerations that are way off the beaten path. Is it an allegory? An absurdity? An homage to 1960s paranoia? Only writer/director Cameron Crowe knows for sure.

Preview: Final Four Nights of 2015 Chicago Critics Film Festival

CHICAGO – As the Chicago Critics Film Festival (CCFF) – a film festival as programmed by the members of the Chicago Film Critics Association – heads into its last four nights, the variety and depth of the films that are being screened continues to astound and entertain. It all takes place at the Music Box Theatre in Chicago, May 4 through 7, 2015.

Film Review: ‘Dumb and Dumber To’ Too Dumb to Be Funny

CHICAGO – “Dumb And Dumber To” is an exercise in diminishing returns. Jim Carrey and the Farrelly Brothers expend twice the effort for less than a third of the laughs. It benefits greatly from the enormous well of goodwill created by the original’s inspired idiocy.

Blu-ray Review: Bowling Comedy ‘Kingpin’ Rolls Onto Blu-ray

Kingpin Blu-ray

CHICAGO – Before 1998’s “The Big Lebowski” there was 1996’s “Kingpin”, the Farrelly brothers bowling comedy that didn’t have the narrative intricacies of the Coen brothers’ classic, but had plenty of jokes about middle-aged men playing the sport. Today finds the release of “Kingpin” to Blu-ray for the first time, coming with only one new special feature.

Film Review: Phony ‘St. Vincent’ is Bill Murray’s Worst Choice Since ‘Garfield’

CHICAGO – “Garfield, maybe” was the sole utterance of regret that iconic actor/prolific movie-golfer Bill Murray expressed in 2009’s “Zombieland” before he died. Should the adoration for this cameo resurrect him for that film’s announced sequel, Murray will hopefully denounce “St. Vincent,” his most needless and perverse career choice since vocally birthing “Garfield” (and yes, that includes getting a handjob as Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 2012’s also terrible “Hyde Park on Hudson”).

Interview: Ted Melfi Directs Bill Murray in ‘St. Vincent’

CHICAGO – There are few better opportunities for a filmmaker than directing Bill Murray in a character role. Theodore “Ted” Melfi got that assignment, after pursuing Murray with his screenplay for the new film, “St. Vincent.” The effort to convince the veteran comic actor to take the title role paid off, and other notable actors joined in.

Preview: Mid-Week With the 50th Chicago International Film Festival

CHICAGO – The 50th Chicago International Film Festival of 2014 gets into gear this week, with a line-up of films from all over the world. The festival breaks down these films in several categories, including the Main Competition, New Directors, Docufest, Out-Look (LGBT), World Cinema, After Dark and Spotlight Scandinavia.

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  • Sherlock Holmes with David Arquette (teaser)

    CHICAGO – Different isn’t bad and might be great, but you’d better have an irrefutable reason to change what was never broken. Campy being the only word to accurately convey this alternate-reality version of Sherlock Holmes with an original script, writer Greg Kramer and director Andrew Shaver try too hard to be different without ever figuring out why.

  • Merry Widow, The

    CHICAGO – Standing up at the Lyric Opera house in Chicago is unusual before a show. But in this case, it was the night after a tragedy, and the operetta “The Merry Widow” – set in Paris, France, in 1905 – was about to unfold. The orchestra struck up La Marseillaise, a reminder that we’ll always have Paris.


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