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Film Review: ‘When the Game Stands Tall’ a Sermonizing Snooze

CHICAGO – “When The Game Stands Tall” has more sermons than a month of Sundays. Its heart is in the right place, but it’s more likely to put its audience to sleep than bring it to its feet. By now the tropes of the inspirational sports drama have become as familiar as the West Coast Offense, but this film can’t effectively figure out how to execute them.

Film Review: Psychological, Religious Edge to ‘The Possession of Michael King’

Possession of Michael King, The

CHICAGO – The problem with most horror films is that they don’t understand what really scares us, and substitute bloody messes or the jack-in-the-box “boo!” instead of what really gets under our skins. “The Possession of Michael King” is a rare and special exception, taking demonic possession to broad depths of psychological and religious symbolism.

Film Review: ‘Land Ho!’ a Funny Film Driven by Memorable Characters

Land Ho!

CHICAGO – The pure, character-driven film is as rare as a comic book movie with a bad opening weekend. “Land Ho!” is one of those celluloid treats, the simple story of “Odd Couple” senior citizens – portrayed unforgettably by Earl Lynn Wilson and Paul Eenhoorn – who take a trip to the country of Iceland, and learn how to, and how not to, get along.

Film Review: ‘If I Stay’ Can’t Rinse its Too-Sudsy Soap Opera

CHICAGO – We hate it when they grow up. Chloë Grace Moretz, a former child actor, takes on a first-teen-love role, and the results are decidedly mixed. The extreme emotions, the circumstances and Ms. Moretz’s performance undermine the soapy “If I Stay.”

Film Review: ‘Sin City: A Dame to Kill For’ Breaks No New Ground

CHICAGO – When the first “Sin City” (2005) was released – based on the graphic novels by Frank Miller – the conversion of a film to a noir-like comic book atmosphere was pioneering. The sequel “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” has heightened that look, but this time has much less to say.

Exclusive Portraits: Chloë Grace Moretz For New Film ‘If I Stay’

CHICAGO – Chloë Grace Moretz has grown up onscreen, and the former child actor is now a teenager in the new film “If I Stay.” Recently, she was in the area promoting the film, handing out free cupcakes to fans and admirers at the Sprinkle Cupcakes store in downtown Chicago.

Film Review: American Story of T-Rex Named Sue in ‘Dinosaur 13’

Dinosaur 13 front

CHICAGO – Only in America can an animal die millions of years ago, have its fossilized bones discovered in the 20th Century, and end up in a court of law, determining who she belongs to as if in a child custody case. The story of the most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex ever found is chronicled in the new documentary “Dinosaur 13.”

Interview: Director Aaron Katz Gives a Shout Out to ‘Land Ho!’

CHICAGO – There might not be a more unusual movie this year than “Land Ho!” The film follows two “golden boys,” sixtysomethings Mitch (Earl Lynn Nelson) and Colin (Paul Eenhoorn), as they take an Odd Couple-type trip to Iceland. Writer/director Aaron Katz (“Dance Party, USA”) breaks that ice between the two men.

Film Review: As Title Implies, ‘The Expendables 3’ Totally Expendable

CHICAGO – The old man as macho action hero trend has finally calcified. If you haven’t seen either of the two previous “Expendables” pictures – this is definitely not the place to start. Sylvester Stallone’s creaky franchise hits rock bottom.

Interview: Director Todd Miller, Peter Larson of ‘Dinosaur 13’

Dinosaur 13

CHICAGO – When the skeletal remains of a long-lost animal is discovered and pulled from the earth, does anybody really own it? That is the question in the new documentary, “Dinosaur 13,” directed by Todd Miller. It’s the story of discovering those dinosaur bones and the implications for the person who exhumed them, Peter Larson.

Film Review: ‘The Giver’ Takes Too Much From Young Adult Formula

CHICAGO – “The Giver” must have seemed a lot newer back when it was written than it does now. The Newberry Medal winning, middle school staple predates many other Young Adult series about oppressive big brother-ish societies.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Knick, The

    CHICAGO – Cinemax’s ominous new series “The Knick” is a hospital drama that’s very much in the voice of its director, Steven Soderbergh. Set in New York City at the turn of the 20th century, the series presents the medical world as it inches closer and closer to modernity, while making contemporary parallels to the desperate hustle by surgery room clients and their doctors alike regarding treatment of the human body. What has changed in the politics of medicine? What hasn’t?

  • Transcendence

    CHICAGO – The Internet is for real in “Transcendence”, a B-movie with grade-A production quality, loaded with terabyte-size open-ended questions, so long as one can accept it lastly with a scientific mindset. It is a film that perceives technology to be more expansive than a box of wires and computer chips, and actualizes the expanse of the internet as limitless to the realm of spiritual.

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