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Film Review: ‘The Gambler’ is a Sure Bet for the Holiday Weekend

CHICAGO – Gritty, funky and quote-worthy, this re-imagining of “The Gambler” – from a 1970s source film – is one of Mark Wahlberg’s best performances. His addicted-to-gaming soul has roots in other frustrations, and the actor is willing to communicate the whole range of emotions.

Blu-ray Review: Teen Movies Don’t Get Better Than ‘The Spectacular Now’

The Spectacular Now

We are surrounded by fiction about teenagers that treats both its subjects and its target audience like idiots. So few filmmakers understand the problems and emotions of young people that when a film as great as “The Spectacular Now” comes along (my #13 of 2013), it’s a small miracle. Reminiscent of the best of Cameron Crowe, James Ponsoldt’s adaptation of Tim Tharp’s novel (from a script robbed of an Oscar nod by Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber) is a fantastic drama about a kid realizing that he may be peaking in high school. The Blu-ray is well-accompanied by a fantastic commentary from Ponsoldt, 20 minutes of deleted scenes, and featurettes.

Blu-ray Review: Don’t Miss Remarkable Honesty of ‘Short Term 12’

Short Term 12

Short Term 12” is a special film. If through some true miracle, Brie Larson’s name is announced on Oscar nominations morning, that sound you hear is me screaming in childish glee. She certainly deserves it for this daring, honest piece of work, one that dares to suggest that there are numerous ways to stop the emotional bleeding. It could be rap, it could be art, it could be taking a bat to a car, or it could be love. Destin Cretton won the Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Most Promising Filmmaker and it was one of this year’s winners of which I was most proud we were recognizing. This is a special movie.

Film Feature: The Best Lead Performances of 2013

A fictional folk singer who feels real, a real moneymaker who feels fictional, a young woman dealing with her own wounds by helping to heal those of others, and a student discovering her sexuality through the first passionate relationship of her life — 2013 was one of the best years for lead performances in decades.

Interview: Joseph Gordon-Levitt Invokes Christopher Nolan in Directorial ‘Don Jon’ Debut

CHICAGOJoseph Gordon-Levitt is a unique dichotomy. Part independent and part mainstream film actor, he’s managed to succeed as both. And with this Friday’s release of “Don Jon,” add to that list a first-time writer and director. But none of it could have been without Christopher Nolan.

HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: 25 Pairs of Passes to ‘Don Jon’ with Joseph Gordon-Levitt

CHICAGO – In the latest HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: Film with our unique social giveaway technology, we have 25 pairs of advance-screening movie passes up for grabs to “Don,” which is the first film written and directed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt!

Film Review: ‘Short Term 12’ is an Honest, Emotional Gem

CHICAGO – There are certain jobs that I know that I could not do not because of the physical requirements but the emotional baggage I would take home with me at the end of the day. The brilliant, moving “Short Term 12” captures one of these jobs – people who look out for abandoned kids, many of them abused, addicted, and troubled the point of pure heartbreak.

Film Review: Riveting ‘The Spectacular Now’ Finds Rare Truth in Young Characters

CHICAGO – Sundance hit (and Chicago Critics Film Festival Closing Night film) “The Spectacular Now” finally opens in Chicago tomorrow, August 9, 2013 and the film’s already-impressive legion of fans is only going to grow as this stunning achievement hits more markets around the country.

HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: Handpicked by Chicago Critics, 30 Pairs of ‘The Spectacular Now’ Tix

CHICAGO – HollywoodChicago.com hooks you up to see the very best movies (large and indie) for free before anyone else can. While we’ve been doing that since 2008, in this rare Hookup we offer up advance-screening tickets to a film that has been specifically handpicked by Chicago film critics.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Book of Merman, The

    CHICAGO – One potential theater-goer loves the “The Book of Mormon.” The other would rather stay home and watch old Ethel Merman YouTube videos. Pride Films & Theater offers the ultimate solution by combining both in a campy musical, “The Book of Merman.” Yep, two Elder characters from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints meets foghorn singer Ethel Merman.

  • Men, Women & Children with Kaitlyn Dever

    CHICAGO – In “Men, Women & Children,” director Jason Reitman not-so-audaciously reflects onto viewers their world of silent screens and awkward impersonal interactions. As many stories (“Don Jon,” “Disconnect”) have taken on the torch of showing how we are, gasp! — connected to the world yet disconnected from those close to us — Reitman’s tale is just another one for the batch.

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