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Film Reviews

Film Review: ‘Poltergeist’ Remake Has a Soul of Its Own

CHICAGO – Whether it’s the 1982 original or the remake just released in theaters today to the wrath of numerous fans, the lesson of “Poltergeist” remains the same: Don’t do a half-assed job when relocating skeletons for corporate greed, or suffer the supernatural consequences.

Film Review: Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Dour Zombie Drama ‘Maggie’

Maggie, 2015

CHICAGO – A common quagmire during a zombie outbreak, as expressed in the 367 films about the topic made about such an event since 2000, concerns what to do when your loved one is infected. For many movies, it makes for the tearful, climactic moment; for the dour drama “Maggie,” it’s the total narrative examination that just about fills half a movie, featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger as a rugged, lumberjack dad who is disturbed by the ailing conditions of his infected daughter (played by Abigail Breslin).

Film Review: A Magician Debunks the Paranormal in Beguiling Doc ‘An Honest Liar’

An Honest Liar, 2015

CHICAGO – Magician James Randi, or “The Amazing Randi,” has a made a legacy in using his love of magic to show audiences how they’re being tricked by evangelists, spoon-benders, psychics, etc. A ruthlessly charming Houdini-wannabe with instant showman charisma, he exists as the humbling gravity to a world that can convince itself that unattainable answers are to be found in ideas beyond science.

Film Review: Adam Sandler’s ‘The Cobbler’ a Historical, Stupefying Disaster

The Cobbler, 2015

CHICAGO – The newest Adam Sandler film that doesn’t feature him dressed like a chubby middle schooler is really bad, but in a special way. Similarly, it is an instant classic in the legacy of bizarre disasters, a footnote in writer/director history that must be witnessed to be fully understood.

Film Review: Fascinating, Infuriating Injustice in ‘Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem’

Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem, 2015

CHICAGO – The title event of “Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem” is a prison sentence with no predictable day of release. The prisoner is Viviane (a fascinating Ronit Elkabetz), a soft-spoken middle-aged woman well beyond the point of a content unhappiness. She is trapped to a farce, as the divorce laws of Israel demand that a husband agree to the divorce before it can be finalized, with three rabbis and a lawyer each to discuss the event.

Film Review: Breathless Beauty Within Animated Wonder ‘Song of the Sea’

Song of the Sea, 2015

CHICAGO – Just in time for its potential win of the “Best Animated Feature” Oscar this Sunday, the Irish animated film “Song of the Sea” opens this weekend at Chicago’s Music Box Theater. A grab-bag myth come to storytelling life, this film is vitalized by its gorgeous animation as much as the heart within its narrative.

Film Review: Efficient Submarine Adventure ‘Black Sea’ Offers Classic Thrills

CHICAGO – Having explored the farthest fields of space in films like “Gravity” and “Interstellar,” we may have forgotten the danger that awaits down below. “Black Sea” is a lean, often thrilling submarine tale that takes viewers on a journey of timeless terror and sacrificial pursuits.

Film Feature: Global Hacking of ‘Blackhat’ is the Future of Action Movies

Blackhat 2015 Hemsworth, Computer, Viola Davis

CHICAGO – “Blackhat” is a hacker’s actioner of high-tech and low-tech genre jolts, but its construction provides a thrill of its own - that of witnessing the next era of the action movie.

Film Review: Hacker Thriller ‘Blackhat’ Has a Finger on the Enter Key

CHICAGO – A speedy film project can take about a year from conception to final cut; director Michael Mann’s wired-in thriller “Blackhat” might as well have been written, shot, and cut last month. Not just because of its epilogue to the rise and defeat of the Guardians of Peace, but for its modernity.

Film Review: Sprightly Bear Tale ‘Paddington’ is Good Fun

Paddington with Ben Whishaw

CHICAGO – It may prove hard to recall an era of talking creatures in live-action movies before the napalm hellfire of “Alvin and the Chipmunks” or “The Smurfs.” But, lest we forget, “Babe” has more Academy Awards than “The Master.” Arriving at the coy and wise time of the film year where expectations are either golden or underneath the barrel, talking bear Paddington arrives stateside as a well-behaved throwback to brighter days for a simple genre, with an efficient sense of humor and a few globs of vision, too.

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  • Speech & Debate (stage play)

    CHICAGO – “Speech & Debate,” the latest production from the mighty Brown Paper Box Company, continues their tradition of thinking outside that “box” in presenting storefront theater that makes a statement and a difference. “Speech” goes inside America by showcasing the outsiders… those who create art because they can’t get it right in real life. This non-equity Chicago stage play premiere is finely tuned and wonderfully acted, and runs through March 4th, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

  • We're Gonna Be Okay

    CHICAGO – The 1960s were a time of historical social transition. The movements – civil rights, feminist, gay rights – all had roots in that tumultuous decade. The Chicago premiere of Basil Kreimendahl’s “We’re Gonna Be Okay” echoes all of those movements in its characters, and collides them against the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. The show has a Thursday-Sunday run at the American Theater Company through March 4th, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.


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