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Elizabeth Banks

Film Review: Grim Conclusion for ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2’

CHICAGO – This has to be what the filmmakers intended when they split the final book of the “Hunger Games” series into two films. While “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1” was all set up, Part 2 doesn’t just lead up to a huge climax.

Film Review: Nichely Entertaining ‘Magic Mike XXL’ a Substanceless Soft Porn

Magic Mike XXL with Channing Tatum

CHICAGO – You know those amateur porns with no-name actors that use cheesy dialogue in between the sex scenes those viewers simply want? You never expect a real story or actually developed characters because it’s a collection of sex scenes. It’s not a real, you know, movie.

Interview: Jada Pinkett Smith Plays Host in ‘Magic Mike XXL’

CHICAGO – Jada Pinkett Smith was doing it her way long before she became half of one of Hollywood’s biggest power couples. From modest beginnings, she worked her way up through the entertainment ranks on television, movies and in a metal band (more on that below). She portrays Rome in the sequel “Magic Mike XXL.”

Film Review: Brian Wilson Redeems His Soul in ‘Love & Mercy’

CHICAGO – Brian Wilson has been called one of the greatest songwriters in popular music history. His tonality and approach towards his best compositions have been studied like Mozart. In “Love & Mercy,” we see that the thing that made Wilson great also had the power to destroy him.

Interview: John Cusack Channels Brian Wilson in ‘Love & Mercy’

CHICAGO – John Cusack has never rested on his laurels, which are many in his film career, nor stood still as an artist or an actor. His latest film is the magnificent “Love & Mercy,” in which he portrays music legend Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys as a middle aged man, trying to break free of the circumstances in his life.

Interview: Music Icon Brian Wilson Taps Into ‘Love & Mercy’

CHICAGO – Singer/composer Brian Wilson, best known as the mastermind behind The Beach Boys, enters a room. His biographic circumstance and music history immediately fills that room. His life story is now brilliantly set to film, as he is portrayed by Paul Dano and John Cusack through different life stages in “Love & Mercy.”

Film Review: Sequel’s Tune is Off Key in ‘Pitch Perfect 2’

Pitch Perfect 2

CHICAGO – “Pitch Perfect 2” wasn’t bad. There was the same off-kilter weirdness and funny lines of the first film, but in this sequel there were also stretches of boring, seemingly made-up stuff to slog through. I guess repeating a premise about college singing groups doesn’t offer much more to say.

Film Review: ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1’ Shouldn’t Have Been Split in Two

CHICAGO – My issue with the “one movie split into two parts” debate isn’t even about money, which is clearly the main reason why we’ve seen blockbuster films do it like the two-part “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” and now the two-part “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay”.

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  • King and I, The

    CHICAGO – The venerable musical “The King and I,” by the legendary team of (Richard) Rodgers and (Oscar) Hammerstein, is now 65 years old. The Lyric Opera of Chicago is injecting fresh life into this senior aged play, with a sumptuous new production that is top drawer at every level.

  • New Country

    CHICAGO – The Country Music industry has become as huge as any category of music entertainment. So Mark Roberts, the creator of the TV sitcom “Mike & Molly,” has fashioned a boisterous new play about the machinations of that genre of music industry, and gave it the plaintive title of “New Country.”

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