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Emma Thompson

What to Watch: Mar. 11-24, 2014

American Hustle

An Oscar winner, a major Oscar nominee, two more pieces of Oscar bait, and a few movies that never got anywhere near Oscar. Welcome to What to Watch. We don’t play favorites. Oh, wait, yes we do. You should definitely rent or buy the titles on this first page. The second page is more optional.

Film Review: Celebration of Creation in Warm ‘Saving Mr. Banks’

CHICAGO – The world of creation, and the imagination behind it, gets an honorable and elegantly performed treatment in the fascinating “Saving Mr. Banks.” What seems like a “making of” film about the legendary “Mary Poppins,” becomes much more rich in symbolism and consideration.

HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: 100 Pairs of Tix to ‘Mary Poppins’ Backstory ‘Saving Mr. Banks’

CHICAGO – In the latest HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: Film with our unique social giveaway technology, we have 100 pairs of advance-screening tix up for grabs to the “Mary Poppins” backstory “Saving Mr. Banks” with Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks!

Blu-ray Review: Strong Ensemble Propels Surprisingly Entertaining ‘Beautiful Creatures’

Beautiful Creatures

CHICAGO – It may not be a beautiful film but the latest attempt at cashing in on the “Twilight” craze, Richard LaGravenese’s “Beautiful Creatures,” recently released on Blu-ray and DVD, is surprisingly good-looking. The young leads show a lot more life than typical YA fare, the supporting cast is truly stellar, and the script from the author of “The Fisher King” and this weekend’s “Behind the Candleabra” has some interesting ideas about religion, fate, and maturity. It’s too long by some stretch and too many of the same ideas are hit repeatedly but when the supporting cast, including three Oscar winners, is allowed to do what they do best, it’s damn pretty to watch.

Film Review: Uneven ‘Beautiful Creatures’ Still Casts Spells

CHICAGO – The young adult horror/romance genre is running out of themes, could somebody please come up with a hunky Frankenstein monster? “Beautiful Creatures” uses witches as it’s premise, and features newcomers Alice Englert and Aiden Ehrenreich as the spell-crossed lovers.

Interview: Alice Englert, Aiden Ehrenreich of ‘Beautiful Creatures’

CHICAGO – The peculiar genre of young adult supernatural fiction has produced collections that define popularity. The new film “Beautiful Creatures” is the latest adaptation that feature young lovers among the mystic spells. Newcomers Alice Englert and Aiden Ehrenreich portray that couple.

Blu-ray Review: Pixar’s ‘Brave’ Already Deserves Critical Second Look

Brave

CHICAGO – Disney/Pixar’s “Brave” was largely dismissed by most critics when it was released in theaters this Summer, even if audiences did seem more engaged, pushing the flick to over half-a-billion dollars worldwide and making heroine Merida one of Halloween’s most common costumes. Domestically, the film made more than “WALL-E,” “Ratatouille,” or “Cars 2.” So why did critics let it go so easily?

Film Review: ‘Brave’ Connects While Not Matching Pixar Standard

CHICAGO – Pixar’s 13th film has been lauded as a major first for the company – the inaugural adventure aimed squarely at young females. Luckily, there’s nothing here that diminishes that goal in any way. “Brave” features a strong, well-designed, interesting heroine, perfectly voiced by Kelly Macdonald, and it doesn’t pander to its demographic, proving that girls can play with the big boys while also giving them a fable of their own.

Interview: Mark Andrews, Katherine Sarafian Find Ways to be ‘Brave’

CHICAGO – Director Mark Andrews is a part of the one of the most important creative brain trusts of the last twenty years — the men and women at Pixar. He was one of the story supervisors for Brad Bird’s “The Incredibles” and took over the directorial reins from Brenda Chapman on this week’s “Brave.”

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Drunk History Seasons 1 & 2, 2014

    CHICAGO – The awesomeness of history loses any of its stuffiness with the incredibly fun, indeed educational show “Drunk History” from Comedy Central, its two seasons now released on DVD. Hosted by its creator Derek Waters, the show is a celebration of various historic figures and their under-appreciated true tales, as expressed by funny people narrating in the universal language of inebriation; their recounts are then reenacted by famous actors working with their given dialogue, dressed with the comic cheapness of a bloated biopic.

  • Happy Christmas

    CHICAGO – “Drinking Buddies” director Joe Swanberg’s latest release of the same star wattage is “Happy Christmas,” an even lower-fi story than the Olivia Wilde beer comedy, steered even more by the casting that it was able to assemble. However, with this movie Swanberg doesn’t so much worry about having a story that could be confused with a more mainstream romantic comedy if it were to have a bigger budget.

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