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Documentary

Film Review: Life, Geopolitics & Hockey in Excellent ‘Red Army’

CHICAGO – How often can we learn life lessons from the most unlikely of sources? The documentary “Red Army” is one such source, as director Gabe Polsky tells the story of the Soviet Union hockey team, which expands to the the very parameters of human nature and competition.

Interview: Director Gabe Polsky on Superb Documentary ‘Red Army’

CHICAGO – Every red-blooded American has been told the story of the “Miracle on Ice,” the 1980 Winter Olympic upset of the mighty Soviet Union hockey team by Team USA. But who were the Soviet players? Why were they the best in the world? Director Gabe Polsky explores these questions in the documentary “Red Army.”

Interview: Co-Directors Aaron Wickenden, Dan Rybicky of Outsider Artist Doc ‘Almost There’

Almost There, Aaron Wickenden & Dan Rybicky

CHICAGO – The discovery of an outsider artist’s eccentric creations leads to the testing revelation of a public shame in “Almost There,” a definitively human documentary that mixes the idiosyncratic canvas of “Grey Gardens” with the compassion of “Hoop Dreams.” Making its Chicago premiere tomorrow night at the Gene Siskel Film Center, “Almost There” has sold out its 7:45pm screening, but tickets a

Film Review: BP Spill Aftermath Exposed in Humanizing Doc ‘The Great Invisible’

The Great Invisible, 2014 second try

CHICAGO – Four years later, and the change that lamentably only comes from the casualties of life and livelihood has not reached the Gulf of Mexico. Director Margaret Brown’s documentary compassionately bestows a disillusioned voice to the affected individuals, from oil riggers to oyster shuckers, whose reliance on the gulf’s livelihood was devastated when BP spilled a total of 176 million gallons of oil over 87 days starting on April 20, 2010.

Film Review: Ego an Arduous Carousel in Documentary ‘Harmontown’

Harmontown, Dan Harmon, 2014

CHICAGO - Dan Harmon does not look very good in his documentary “Harmontown,” which is probably why he agreed to the project. The creator of NBC’s cult comedy “Community” is presented wantonly in this documentation of his tour across America to interact with his fans through live recordings of his podcast “Harmontown.”

Film Review: More Questions Than Answers in ‘Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon’

Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon

CHICAGO – Not much is really revealed about the subject of the documentary “Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon,” co-directed by comedian Mike Myers. Shep is a rock star agent, Shep gets rich, Shep shares his Hawaiian beach condo with big stars, Shep represents gourmet chefs, Shep likes to cook and Shep strangely wants kids, despite being in his sixties and not being able to maintain any domestic relationship. There is no there in this film, only the spoils of good representation.

Film Review: Documentary ‘Kids for Cash’ Shares Multiple Viewpoints

Kids for Cash

CHICAGO – The funny thing about documentaries is that any goal of truly replicating reality, or the truth, is impossible. Unless a documentary film were to convey an experience with 360 degrees and 24/7 coverage (AKA life), it will always be a subjective endeavor. Documentary storytellers are always creating a point of view, simply by choosing where to point a camera, and where to cut a sequence.

Interview: Director Ed Brown Deals with ‘Unacceptable Levels’

Unacceptable Levels, Director Ed Brown, photo by Joe Arce

CHICAGO – As modern life becomes more toxic and technology uses more chemicals within everyday foodstuffs and products, the consequence for disease and sickness as a result is an increasing threat. Ed Brown, a filmmaker and concerned family man, explores this phenomenon in a new documentary, “Unacceptable Levels.”

Film Review: ‘Blackfish’ Emphasizes Folly of Animal Captivity

CHICAGO – We see the public service ads often – dogs and cats in captivity after neglect and abuse. The images parade by, and the sadness in their expressions are heartbreaking. The same can be said for killer whales in captivity, used for SeaWorld shows and exploited in “Blackfish.”

Interview: Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite Reveals the ‘Blackfish’

CHICAGO – It was all so innocent. Filmmaker Gabriela Cowperthwaite was curious about killer whale performances – think Shamu at SeaWorld – and began to do research. What she uncovered, to her total surprise, that there was a pattern to accidental deaths traced back to one whale. The result is her new documentary, “Blackfish.”

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Spike Heels Stage Play

    CHICAGO – If you can remember the 1990s outside of childhood, you are in the glow of middle age, so congratulations. The Brown Paper Box Co. theater ensemble takes us back to those thrilling days of yesteryear with “Spike Heels,” a relationship comedy centering on the co-mingling antics of two couples, with a slight nod toward George Bernard Shaw and the play “Pygmalion” (or its musical counterpart, “My Fair Lady”).

  • 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.

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