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Film Review: Supremely Silly ‘Mortdecai’ is a Pleasant Surprise

CHICAGO – I have to say while watching Johnny Depp in “Mortdecai,” I found myself amused. I rarely elicited anything more than a slight chuckle, but its indomitable spirit of silliness made it a not entirely unpleasant evening out.

Blu-ray Review: ‘August: Osage County’ is a Rusty Family Drama

August: Osage County

CHICAGO – John Wells’ adaptation of Tracy Letts’ “August: Osage County” is a movie that fell off the radar in 2013 during the busiest time of the year. When we were all caught up in narratives of lone survival, or tales of how this country was morally eroded by financial excess, this loud ode to miserable family gatherings moved into theaters, scooped up a couple of Oscar nominations for its revered talent (Meryl Streep & Julia Roberts), and then vanished.

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.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Lori Petty, photo by Joe Arce

    CHICAGO – Lori Petty will never be predictable, nor put into some show business box. The free-wheelin’ Ms. P applies her expansive performance skills to the role of Lolly – a guest spot that turned into a recurring character – on Netflix’s hot series “Orange is the New Black,” which released its third season on June 12th, 2015.

  • The Projects

    CHICAGO – The legacy of public housing is one of the strangest forces of karma in the City of Chicago. For example, sites that were once some of the roughest and most neglected housing for the poor now contain luxury condos. It is the people of those former hellholes that still remember the sorrowful history of what they once called home. The American Theater Company (ATC) have gathered these stories for the poignant and extraordinary “The Projects.”

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