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Film Review: 'Free Fire' Knows That Happiness is a Warm Gun

Free Fire

CHICAGO – In a film that had a sassy, arbitrary perspective on its own flipped-out story, “Free Fire” sought to out-Quentin Tarantino in freaky funny characters and ammo-splurging gun battles. Director Ben Wheatley (“High-Rise”) took an ensemble cast to rarified heights of insult comedy, revenge dynamics and bullets that hit the bone.

Interview: Director Ben Wheatley Ignites His New Film ‘Free Fire’

CHICAGO – One of the more lovely examples of pure cinema – if that description can be given to a film with nearly constant gunplay – is in the upcoming release of “Free Fire.” Director Ben Wheatley (“High-Rise”) constructs a dark and funny scenario within one room, and fills it with symbolism and homage to other movies.

Film Review: Rousing Adventure Awaits in ‘Kong: Skull Island’

CHICAGO – King Kong is a wholly generated creature of the movies. Ever since the gorilla legend came to life on screen way back in 1933, he has appeared in countless official remakes, cheap exploitation flicks and now as a symbol of American overreach. He still rules in “Kong: Skull Island.”

Film News: ‘Spotlight’ Wins Best Picture at 2016 Academy Awards

CHICAGO – “Spotlight” held off all challengers at the 88th Academy Awards, as the film won Best Picture, after Alejandro González Iñárrittu had won Best Director for the second year in a row for “The Revenant.” Chris Rock held steady as the host, acknowledging Oscar’s diversity problems with a series of comedy bits.

Entertainment News: Best Picture ‘The Revenant,’ TV’s ‘Mr. Robot’ Are 2016 Golden Globe Winners

CHICAGO – The best of 2015 in film and TV was celebrated at the 73rd Golden Globe Awards on January 10th, 2016. Hosted with the usual sass by Ricky Gervais, the Globes honored “The Revenant” (Drama) and “The Martian” (Comedy) as Best Pictures, and surprised in TV Best categories with “Mr Robot” (Drama) on the USA Network and “Mozart in the Jungle” (Comedy) on Amazon Video.

Film News: Chicago Film Critics Association Names ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ as 2015 Best Picture

CHICAGO – “Mad Max: Fury Road,” the hyper-driven artistic achievement by director George Miller, was designated Best Picture of 2015 by the Chicago Film Critics Association (CFCA), at a ceremony on December 16th. George Miller was also honored as Best Director, and “Mad Max” received five total honors.

Interview: Actor Jake Johnson on Evolving in ‘Digging for Fire’

CHICAGO – Actor Jake Johnson is expanding his presence in movies, and much of that has to do with his collaboration with director – and Chicago native – Joe Swanberg. Johnson and Swanberg have teamed up for their second film, after the success of 2013’s “Drinking Buddies, and are listed as co-writers in “Digging for Fire.”

Blu-ray Review: ‘The Gambler’ Still Wins on Blu-ray

Gambler, The 2

CHICAGO – Browsing Dostoyevsky titles with consideration for proper roles for Mark Wahlberg, one might expect the Beantown hero to take on an adaptation of “The Idiot” before anything like “The Gambler.” After all, while Wahlberg has proven to be a diverse screen force - one who has well-grown past his Funky Bunch days - he often leans towards goofy men, or at least goofy men in goofy movies.

2015 Sundance Diary: ‘Digging for Fire,’ ‘Entertainment’ & ‘Results’

PARK CITY, Utah – There are still some films to be discussed in my Sundance coverage. Here’s write-ups of “Digging for Fire,” “Entertainment,” and “Results,” which featured the return of festival-approved directors, albeit heading in different directions.

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.

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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 10th, 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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