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Film Review: Family Secrets, Fine Acting in ‘August: Osage County’

CHICAGO – There will be inevitable comparisons to the Pulitzer Prize winning stage version of “August: Osage County” from the thousands of people who have been touched by the stage play. But in giving the film version a chance, there is the same passion, drama and heat of family dysfunction within it, with a dream cast.

Interview: Finding Truth with Cast of ‘August: Osage County’

CHICAGO – Gathering an ensemble cast for a film version of a Pulitzer Prize winning stage play is a tricky assignment. Some of the actors selected for “August: Osage County” – play and screenplay by Tracy Letts – are a mix of veterans (Juliette Lewis, Margo Martindale) and relative newcomers (Julianne Nicholson).

HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: 40 Pairs of Passes to ‘August: Osage County’ with Meryl Streep

August: Osage County with Meryl Streep

CHICAGOHighly anticipated! In the latest HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: Film with our unique social giveaway technology, we have 40 pairs of advance-screening passes up for grabs to the darkly searing “Tracy Letts” comedy “August: Osage County” starring Meryl Streep!

Blu-ray Review: ‘Jack the Giant Slayer’ Crushes Entertainment with Spectacle

Jack the Giant Slayer

CHICAGO – Every element of “Jack the Giant Slayer,” released today on Blu-ray and DVD, feels like a subpar version of something done better in a superior film. There’s the epic scope and final siege of a “Lord of the Rings” film. There’s the reimagined fairy tale not unlike “Alice in Wonderland” or “Oz the Great and Powerful.”

Film Review: ‘Jack the Giant Slayer’ Has Some Fee-Fi-Fo Fun

CHICAGO – The trend of taking ancient fairy tales – “Hanzel and Gretel” and “Snow White,” for example – and converting them into computer generated mega-pictures is peculiar, and glaringly profitable (no “rights” to buy). The latest, “Jack and the Giant Slayer,” has some fun up the beanstalk again.

Film Review: Shattering Power of True Story of ‘The Impossible’

CHICAGO – Juan Antonio Bayona’s “The Impossible” captures what its title implies. It transports us to an unimaginable situation, into an absolute nightmare in which air is replaced by rushing water, families are ripped apart, and people’s lives hang in the balance. It is a remarkable achievement in filmmaking, a film that is at times devastating, at times emotional, at times inspirational, and always riveting. It’s one of the best films of 2012.

Interview: Director Juan Antonio Bayona Recreates ‘The Impossible’

CHICAGO – Juan Antonio Bayona’s “The Impossible,” starring Tom Holland, Naomi Watts, and Ewan McGregor, is one of the most emotionally wrenching films in years (and my #7 film of 2012). The movie recreates the devastating 2004 tsunami through the true story of a family that was there when it happened.

Blu-ray Review: ‘Salmon Fishing in the Yemen’ Follows Feel-Good Formula

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen Blu-ray

CHICAGO – “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” is a romantic comedy so lightweight that it threatens to float off into the ether. It has perhaps the least gripping title since Ingmar Bergman’s “Sawdust and Tinsel,” which is strange since the rest of the production reeks of commercial calculation. Yet the film is based on Paul Torday’s book of the same name, so the studio must have considered the title marketable.

DVD Review: Danny Boyle’s Memorable Debut in Hitchcockian ‘Shallow Grave’

Shallow Grave

CHICAGO – Danny Boyle’s “Shallow Grave,” recently released on Criterion Blu-ray and DVD, is such a striking debut and has held up significantly better than many films of its day. Not only does it fully display future Oscar winner Danny Boyle’s notable degree of style but it’s a daring film in its willingness to present unlikable characters caught in a situation that they arguably deserve.

Blu-ray Review: ‘Perfect Sense’ Offers Drab Yet Touching Metaphor for Death

Perfect Sense Blu-ray

CHICAGO – For a film that promises steamy scenes between two stars who share a fearlessness for performing in the nude, “Perfect Sense” is a doozy of a downer. It’s a fine showcase for the oft-underutilized talents of Ewan McGregor and Eva Green, but the plot is one slow descent toward doom that leaves viewers with very little to contemplate besides the sickening tragedy of death.

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  • Ride Along with Ice Cube

    CHICAGO – Few figures have had less of an exciting domination of the world than Kevin Hart. In the past few years, the comedian has skyrocketed to leading fixture in the comedy scene, creating hit scripts out of films like “Think Like A Man” and “About Last Night,” while taking victory laps in his lacking stand-up features like “Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain”. The big problem is that these projects don’t justify his comic potential.

  • The King of Comedy

    Something always felt a bit out of place for me in Martin Scorsese’s brilliant “The King of Comedy”, just released on Blu-ray for the first time. I couldn’t put my finger on it but chalked it up to it being thematically ahead of its time in its investigation of the cult of personality that defines modern entertainment.

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