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Film Review: Keep Your Eye on Jennifer Lawrence in ‘Red Sparrow’

CHICAGO – It is movie star time for JLaw (Jennifer Lawrence) in ‘Red Sparrow,’ because her performance transcends the muddy plot, and her charisma – even with the lowest of low key characters – creates an interest in her thought process, even as she muddles through the story.

Film Review: Gunplay & Violence Fuel Heroics in ‘American Assassin’

American Assassin

CHICAGO – There was another mass shooting (eight dead) in Texas this week, but it was underreported because it didn’t involve “undesirables” and just seemed like another week in America. This blithe attitude towards guns, gunplay and violence continues in the movies, this week with the overindulgent release “American Assassin.”

Film Review: ‘xXx: Return of Xander Cage’ is Action as Phantasm

CHICAGO – The true miracle of “xXx: Return of Xander Cage” – besides constantly breaking the law of physics – was making the sonorous line readings of Vin Diesel almost palatable. This over-the-top action fantastic turns up every implausibility dial to the red zone, but satisfactorily entertains.

Film Review: ‘The Accountant’ is a Strange Indulgence for Ben Affleck

Accountant, The

CHICAGO – Remember the hilarious video of Ben Affleck during the “Batman v Superman” promotions, his blank stare synched up to the song “The Sound of Silence”? Well, he’s decided to take that expression to a mainstream role, as he blankly applies that manner to “The Accountant.”

Film Review: Oliver Stone’s ‘Snowden’ a Lesson for Our Times

CHICAGO – The experience of director Oliver Stone, to look underneath the slimy rocks of government secrecy and bureaucracy, produces an excellent history lesson in “Snowden,” an overview of Edward Snowden, a whistleblower against the government who is still in exile.

Film Review: Matt Damon is Fighting Mad in Tense ‘Jason Bourne’

CHICAGO – To come back to a character that everyone thought he had left behind, Matt Damon needed the right creative team. He got it again in co-writer (with Christopher Rouse) and director Paul Greengrass, and together they fashioned a paranoid spy tale in the rat-a-tat “Jason Bourne.”

Film Review: Meet the Press in Illuminating ‘Kill the Messenger’

Kill the Messenger

CHICAGO – When journalists were heroes and exposed those in power for their sins, movies were made like “All the President’s Men.” Gary Webb of the San Jose Mercury News was one of those journalist heroes during the 1990s, but he wasn’t celebrated in his time. The indictments, induced paranoia and outright lies against him are distinctly chronicled in the luminary “Kill the Messenger.”

Interview: Director Michael Cuesta on Issues in ‘Kill the Messenger’

CHICAGO – What happens when too much truth is exposed, and those who will feel the backlash from that exposure are too powerful? The new film “Kill the Messenger,” directed by Michael Cuesta, seeks an answer to that question through the true story of journalist Gary Webb, a victim of his own investigative reporting.

Film Review: High-Level Reboot for ‘Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit’

CHICAGO – Actor Chris Pine should use the term “Rebooter” as his middle name. After taking on the Captain Kirk role in the “Star Trek” series, he now is the latest to portray CIA super spy as “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit,” a literate and pulse racing adventure directed by Kenneth Branagh.

TV Review: ‘Covert Affairs’ Puts the Team Back in the CIA

CHICAGO – In an era where America’s budget concerns are front and center, a TV series celebrating the awesomeness of the CIA seems a bit ill-timed. Piper Perabo portrays an undercover operative in the second season premiere of USA Network’s “Covert Affairs.”

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  • Speech & Debate (stage play)

    CHICAGO – “Speech & Debate,” the latest production from the mighty Brown Paper Box Company, continues their tradition of thinking outside that “box” in presenting storefront theater that makes a statement and a difference. “Speech” goes inside America by showcasing the outsiders… those who create art because they can’t get it right in real life. This non-equity Chicago stage play premiere is finely tuned and wonderfully acted, and runs through March 4th, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

  • We're Gonna Be Okay

    CHICAGO – The 1960s were a time of historical social transition. The movements – civil rights, feminist, gay rights – all had roots in that tumultuous decade. The Chicago premiere of Basil Kreimendahl’s “We’re Gonna Be Okay” echoes all of those movements in its characters, and collides them against the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. The show has a Thursday-Sunday run at the American Theater Company through March 4th, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.


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