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Film Review: Spirituality Over Dogma Uplifts ‘Heaven Is for Real’

CHICAGO – It would be easy to dismiss “Heaven Is for Real,” given that it is based on the visions of the afterlife by a child, that just happens to coincide perfectly with Christian doctrine (Jesus, Angels, etc.). But there is more to this film in the sincerity of its spirituality, and it succeeds with that inspiration.

Interview: Greg Kinnear is Preaching in ‘Heaven Is for Real’

CHICAGO – The actor Greg Kinnear has been known for his neat and tidy image, but never has he portrayed a religious leader. His role as Todd Burpo – a pastor of a church and the father whose son believes “Heaven Is for Real” – brings the energy of spirituality to the movies just in time for the Easter holiday.

Film Review: Facing Life Transitions in ‘Hide Your Smiling Faces’

CHICAGO – The pain and passion of prepubescent youth and adolescence unravels in the excellent directorial debut of Daniel Patrick Carbone, “Hide Your Smiling Faces.” Carbone captures the isolation and meticulous boredom at a time of life when everything conspires to happen on a daily basis.

Film Review: Jude Law Tolls the Bell for ‘Dom Hemingway’

Dom Hemingway

CHICAGO – “Dom Hemingway” begins with a tight close-up on a barely recognizable Jude Law, portraying the title character. He’s giving a monologue, literally spraying the words. When the circumstance is revealed as to what is happening to him, there is an awareness that this is not going to be your Daddy’s petty safecracker ex-con film.

Film Review: ‘Oculus’ Succeeds Psychologically, Fails Supernaturally

CHICAGO – Films in general are knocked for being knockoffs of something else. Horror films in particular have it especially hard in the “new” department because we’re so quickly annoyed when we’ve “seen it all before”.

Film Review: Captivating Tale of Primal Manhood in David Gordon Green’s ‘Joe’

Joe - Nicolas Cage & Tye Sheridan

CHICAGO – This week in movies about men we have “Joe”, a wild drama about Texas males at their most primal. It is the newest film from director David Gordon Green, and features Nicolas Cage in some of his finest work.

Interview: Nick Frost Kicks Up His Salsa Heels in ‘Cuban Fury’

Cuban Fury

CHICAGO – Nick Frost has played character and comic roles as the affable sidekick, especially in the famed “Cornetto Trilogy” – “Shaun of the Dead,” “Hot Fuzz’ and “The World’s End” – alongside Simon Pegg and director Edgar Wright. Frost is a leading man now, strutting his stuff on the salsa dance floor in “Cuban Fury.”

Film Review: ‘Draft Day’ is Daft, Except as an NFL Infomercial

CHICAGO – Kevin Costner has defined a career in sports themed movies. From the Iowa farmer building a baseball diamond in “Field of Dreams,” to “Bull Durham,” to “For the Love of the Game,” he exemplified game day heroics. Yet being an NFL executive in “Draft Day” isn’t quite as exciting.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • 47 Ronin with Keanu Reeves

    CHICAGO – If you’ve ever wondered what the difference is between a director and a producer, let “47 Ronin” explain how the hierarchy of creativity hinders the evolution of even the most straightforward-sounding pitches. “47 Ronin” is the type of samurai movie set in Japan that features native actors speaking only English, while Keanu Reeves stars as an outsider clearly plunked into the picture for stateside star power.

  • A Field in England (teaser)

    CHICAGO – I can’t recommend this more. “A Field in England” is a flashback and a flash forward all at once. It’s impossible to watch without thinking of great counter culture cinema. In fact when I saw it at Fantastic Fest 2013 it played as part of a double bill with Ken Russell’s “The Devils” (1971). They made perfect cinematic companion pieces. Russell’s film concerned a wayward priest desperate to protect his 17th century city from corruption in the Church only to fall victim to group hysteria when he is, ironically, accused of witchcraft by a jealous nun.

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