HBO Home Entertainment

Blu-ray Review: Naggingly Hollow ‘Hemingway and Gellhorn’ Falls Flat

Hemingway and Gellhorn blu-ray

CHICAGO – It doesn’t sound like a particularly bad idea. In exploring the globe-trotting adventures of author Ernest Hemingway and war correspondent Martha Gellhorn, why not use archival footage of the actual sights and sounds that they encountered, while nesting the actors into the frame, a la “Forrest Gump”? I didn’t think it was a bad idea at all until roughly three minutes into the movie.

Blu-ray Review: HBO’s ‘Game Change’ Triumphs with Brilliant Performances

Game Change Blu-ray

CHICAGO – When the HBO film, “Game Change,” was first announced, it sounded rather unnecessary. Why would Alaska governor-turned-vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s overinflated celebrity deserve such a prestigious biopic? Wasn’t her TLC program, not to mention Tina Fey’s brilliant SNL parody, more than enough small-screen exposure for the oft-embarrassing politician?

Blu-ray Review: ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’ Still Delights 10 Years Later

My Big Fat Greek Wedding Blu-ray

CHICAGO – It is with mixed emotions that one regards the tenth anniversary edition of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” On one hand, it evokes memories of the crowded theaters that guffawed in delight during the film’s year-long theatrical run. On the other hand, it serves as a bitter reminder of the failed career it had promised to launch.

Blu-ray Review: HBO’s Average ‘Too Big to Fail’ Stages Star-Studded Talkathon

Too Big to Fail Blu-ray

CHICAGO – Sometimes a film is so good that it casts a shadow over all the other pictures that have the misfortune of sharing striking similarities. HBO’s star-studded adaptation of Andrew Ross Sorkin’s book, “Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System—and Themselves” does its titular subject matter justice—but not nearly as well as J.C. Chandor’s “Margin Call.”

Blu-ray Review: Diane Lane, James Gandolfini Shine in ‘Cinema Verite’

Cinema Verite Blu-ray

CHICAGOHBO’s under-appreciated original movie recalls the moment when entertainment-seeking Americans averted their eyes from actors to their neighbors over the fence. Voyeurism had a new name, “cinema verite,” and one-time producer Craig Gilbert was determined to take it from art houses to small screens in homes across the country.

Blu-ray Review: ‘The Sunset Limited’ Brilliantly Adapts Cormac McCarthy’s Play

The Sunset Limited Thumb

CHICAGO – Tommy Lee Jones’s production of Cormac McCarthy’s two-character play debuted last year on HBO to little fanfare. Now that the film has finally been released on Blu-ray and DVD, it deserves to be placed at the top of every cinephile’s queue. It is, quite simply, one of the best films of 2011 and the finest cinematic adaptation yet made of the great novelist’s work.

DVD Review: Spike Lee’s ‘If God is Willing and da Creek Don’t Rise’

If God Is Willing and da Creek Don't Rise DVD

CHICAGO – Perhaps no American artist has chronicled a modern disaster with as much passion and meticulous attention to detail as Spike Lee. His 2006 documentary about the struggles of New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, “When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts,” was television at its most vital, provocative, wrenchingly powerful and resoundingly humanistic.

DVD Review: Jeff Bridges Sticks to Old Tricks in ‘A Dog Year’

A Dog Year DVD

CHICAGO – “A Dog Year” flew under everyone’s radar when it debuted on HBO in September 2009, mere months before its lead actor went on to win the Oscar for Best Actor. Now headlining two of the most anticipated films of the 2010 winter movie season, Jeff Bridges is bigger than ever. But will that make audiences any more interested in checking out this forgotten “Dog”?

DVD Review: ‘You Don’t Know Jack’ Makes Case For Dr. Kevorkian

You Don't Know Jack

CHICAGO – It all seems perfectly simple to Dr. Jack Kevorkian. When a person is suffering, and recovery isn’t an option, what’s the point of elongating the agony? Should medical professionals force that person to live in pain or grant his (or her) wish to die in peace? The answer is a no-brainer for Kevorkian, whose perspective is unclouded by the complications of “religious dogma.”

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Grace, Or the Art of Climbing

    CHICAGO – What is life but a constant climb? The Brown Paper Box Co., one of the most vital storefront theater groups in Chicago, asks that question and more in the significant “Grace, Or the Art of Climbing.” Using a woman’s journey through some difficult situations, the parallels of “the climb” become a artfully performed story that is all inspiration and uplift. The play runs through July 7th, 2019, at Stage 773 in the Belmont Avenue Theater District in Chicago. For more information and tickets, click here.

  • Elizabeth Laidlaw

    CHICAGO – The recent limited series “The Red Line” on CBS-TV was notable for a couple elements – it was set in Chicago and it featured Chicago actors in major roles. Creators Caitlin Parrish and Erica Weiss (from here), cast their Chi-town colleague Elizabeth Laidlaw, who portrayed police officer “Vic” Renna.

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