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Film Review: Direction Proves a Problem For Open Mic Drama ‘Rudderless’

Rudderless, Billy Crudup Anton Yelchin

CHICAGO – Actor William H. Macy’s directorial debut “Rudderless” is a film of open mic songwriting that tackles a recovery from grief with neat lyrics and easy metaphors. Instead of standing out, Macy has provided another sap’s ballad that has the cuteness of “Kumbaya”, one that aims to please the crowd without challenging emotions, only presenting them.

HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: 40 Pairs of Passes to ‘Ouija’ From ‘Paranormal Activity’ Producer

CHICAGO – In the latest HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: Film, we have 40 pairs of advance-screening movie passes up for grabs to the new horror film “Ouija” from Jason Blum (producer of the “Paranormal Activity,” “Insidious” and “The Purge” films) and the producer of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”!

Film News: ‘The President’ is Top Film at the 2014 Chicago International Film Festival

CHICAGO – The 50th Chicago International Film Festival announced its award winners in a ceremony at the city’s Sofitel Chicago Water Tower on October 17th. The Gold Hugo for “Best Film” went to “The President,” a dark satire from Georgia, France, UK, and Germany. This year’s jury members for the international feature film competition included Oscar-nominated actress Kathleen Turner and renowned German director Margarethe von Trotta.

Film Review: ‘Whiplash’ Finds a Big Rhythm, Gives it a Backbeat

CHICAGO – When is the last time you had a bit of sweat after coming out of a movie? “Whiplash” will do that, and it contains not one action sequence or superhero, unless you consider J.K. Simmons as a sociopathic music guru a hero (he is in a way), and drumming as action (it is).

Film Review: World War II Drama ‘Fury’ Fires on All Cylinders

Fury

CHICAGO – “Fury” just might be Brad Pitt’s “Saving Private Ryan.” At its heart it’s a crowd pleaser, but it never shies away from the sheer brutality of war. While it doesn’t have anything quite so devastating as “Saving Private Ryan’s” D-day sequence, it depicts the everyday horrors of killing the enemy and the men who must force themselves to make their peace with the casualties that pile up in the muck. “Fury” is equally successful in its battle sequences and in its smaller moments among its crew inside the tank. Most surprisingly of all it coaxes a decent, dare I say good, performance out of none other than Shia LaBeouf – wonders never cease.

Preview: Final Week of the 50th Chicago International Film Festival

CHICAGO – The 50th Chicago International Film Festival has hit its final six days, continuing to offer Chicagoans an electrifying group of films from around the world. The festival breaks down these films in several categories, including the Main Competition, New Directors, Docufest, Out-Look (LGBT), World Cinema, After Dark and Spotlight Scandinavia.

Film Review: Phony ‘St. Vincent’ is Bill Murray’s Worst Choice Since ‘Garfield’

CHICAGO – “Garfield, maybe” was the sole utterance of regret that iconic actor/prolific movie-golfer Bill Murray expressed in 2009’s “Zombieland” before he died. Should the adoration for this cameo resurrect him for that film’s announced sequel, Murray will hopefully denounce “St. Vincent,” his most needless and perverse career choice since vocally birthing “Garfield” (and yes, that includes getting a handjob as Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 2012’s also terrible “Hyde Park on Hudson”).

Film Review: ‘The Book of Life’ Has Uninspired Tale to Tell

CHICAGO – Unfortunately you can’t judge “The Book Of Life” by its cover. The movie draws on the fertile imagery of the Mexican “Day Of The Dead” to create its own animated world. The animation is excellent and the wooden characters seem to spring to life – but those performances are as wooden as a board.

Interview: Producer, Actors of ‘The Good Lie’ Tell Us the Truth

CHICAGO – “The Good Lie” is a honorable film overview of the Sudanese “Lost Boys,” who were refugees from a horrific civil war in that African country. Many of those boys came to America, and producer Molly Smith (“The Blind Side”), with actors Ger Duany and Emmanuel Jal, were part of the team that brought the film to life.

Interview: Ted Melfi Directs Bill Murray in ‘St. Vincent’

CHICAGO – There are few better opportunities for a filmmaker than directing Bill Murray in a character role. Theodore “Ted” Melfi got that assignment, after pursuing Murray with his screenplay for the new film, “St. Vincent.” The effort to convince the veteran comic actor to take the title role paid off, and other notable actors joined in.

Film Review: Back to Haiti, Finding Identity in Emotional ‘Lakay’

CHICAGO – Understanding identity is a lifelong pursuit. When two U.S. immigrant brothers – and filmmakers – go back to to their native Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, they find much more than expected. Tirf Alexius and Remoh Romeo documented their journey in the new film “Lakay.”

Interview: Director Damien Chazelle Cracks the ‘Whiplash’

CHICAGO – Simply one of the best movies of 2014, “Whiplash” has a tone, energy and sensibility all its own. Damien Chazelle wrote and directed the story of a jazz drummer prodigy at a prestigious New York City music college, tortured by his tyrannical instructor. The drama is scintillating, in rhythm with the natural story flow.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Star Trek Into Darkness

    CHICAGO – With J.J. Abrams not involved with the creation of a third “Star Trek” movie, a compendium of his work within the franchise only seems fitting. Loaded with special features but only a few new ones, this disc set is a strong choice for those who don’t already have both entertaining blockbusters in their collection.

  • References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot

    CHICAGO – In “References to Salvador Dali Makes Me Hot,” now at the Den Theatre in Chicago through September 7th, the intersect of author José Rivera and the strong cast of actors make for a formidable partnership. Committed and passionate interpreters take both the soft and edgy parts of the narrative to task.

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