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Podtalk: Robert Forster & Elizabeth Chomko of ‘What They Had’

CHICAGO – Families dealing with the effects of aging parents – which include dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease – can experience a new film which explores these topics through the family dynamic. “What They Had” is writer/director Elizabeth Chomko’s debut, and features Robert Forster, Blythe Danner, Hilary Swank and Michael Shannon.

Film Review: Keira Knightley is Ahead of Her Times as ‘Colette’

Colette

CHICAGO – The maturation of Keira Knightley… from ‘Bend it Like Beckham” to “Pride and Prejudice” to the current “Colette,” has had the actor delivering an evolving depth and purpose to her roles. The latest is a fantastic overview of an ahead-of-her-time French novelist, as the rest of society tried to catch up.

Film Review: ‘Papillon” Still Packs a Classic & Compelling Story

Papillon 2018

CHICAGO – The remarkable true-ish story of “Papillon” is difficult to mess up. Henrí Charriére published the “autobiographical novel” in 1969, and the first film version dropped in 1973, with Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman as the two leads no less. The latest film has Charlie Hunnam and Rami Malek in those leads, as two French prisoners constantly trying to escape.

Film Review: ‘Leave No Trace’ is Emblematic of Our Times

CHICAGO – The temptation to “drop out” must weigh heavily on the minds of many Americans on a daily basis. “Leave No Trace” views this phenomenon through a prism of many factors, including materialism and mental illness. Ben Foster and Thomasin McKenzie are a father/daughter duo who drop out, then tune in.

Film Review: Awkward Human Nature Explored in ‘On Chesil Beach’

CHICAGO – If you hook up with people for that inevitable physical connection, you’ve experienced the odd emotional wrestling match of the “first time” – whether it’s the first “first time” or any other new partner first time. “On Chesil Beach” focuses on a young British couple in 1962, as they first time their virginal wedding night.

Film Review: Strange Story of ‘Disobedience’ is Constant Distraction

CHICAGO – The director Sebastían Lelio is no stranger to oddball human stories. His 2017 film, “A Fantastic Woman” – the Oscar winner for Best Foreign Language Film – was a one-of-a-kind but amazingly poignant story of identity. His latest, “Disobedience,” mines the same human territory with lesser results.

Film Review: ‘Beirut’ is a Superbly Tense Geopolitical Thriller

CHICAGO – The psychological desperation of life-or-death decisions are in play within “Beirut,” the new geopolitical thriller featuring Jon Hamm (“Mad Men”). The various mazes within the story, set during the Lebanon civil war of the 1980s, is comparative to “Casablanca,” especially through the world-weary expression of Hamm’s character.

Film Review: Charles Dickens is ‘The Man Who Invented Christmas’

Man Who Invented Christmas, The

CHICAGO – The story of Ebenezer Scrooge, as told in Charles Dicken’s classic “A Christmas Carol,” seems to be the one constant that survives the commercialization of the holiday season. The story of Scrooge’s creation is told with expressive sentimentality in “The Man Who Invented Christmas.”

Film Review: Discerning the Heroes is Tough in ‘Megan Leavey’

Megan Leavey

CHICAGO – The poster is what gives away “Megan Leavey” the most. The titular soldier, and her bomb-sniffing dog, below a billowing American flag. So which war is it? Why, it’s the Iraq invasion, where the U.S. military and the politicians at home “freed” the Iraqi citizens from a peaceful life. Making a dog story out of that boondoggle doesn’t make it any more palatable, except to “support the troops.”

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.

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  • Stephanie Buxbaum

    CHICAGO – In the history of “Reality TV” there has been periods of up-and-down popularity, shows that have been around seemingly forever (“Big Brother,” “Amazing Race”) and spinoffs to new styles like “documentary series” as networks like the National Geographic Channel emerged. In all those permutations, producer Stephanie Buxbaum has experienced it all, and has the career and stories to prove it.

  • Deadbeat2

    CHICAGO – Not many web series start out as music videos, but the new online (YouTube) drama “Deadbeat 2” was just that. Created, written and directed by Danny Froze, the made-in-Chicago story recently premiered episodes five and six in the series, which features actor Kiwaun Stoutmire in the lead role of Ronnie.

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