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Podtalk: Playwright Hannah Ii-Epstein of Nothing Without a Company’s 'Not One Batu'

Not One Batu

CHICAGO – The State of Hawaii may be one of the most misunderstood in America. Because of its reputation as a tourist mecca, the fact that native peoples live and work there like any other place is hard to imagine. Also unimaginable is the drug use of island residents, but playwright and Hawaiian native Hannah li-Epstein wrote about it in her stage play “Not One Batu,” now in its Premiere Chicago run at the Berger Park Coach House through July 28th, 2018. For more information, including tickets, click here.

Film Review: ‘Leave No Trace’ is Emblematic of Our Times

CHICAGO – The temptation to “drop out” must weigh heavily on the minds of many Americans on a daily basis. “Leave No Trace” views this phenomenon through a prism of many factors, including materialism and mental illness. Ben Foster and Thomasin McKenzie are a father/daughter duo who drop out, then tune in.

Film Review: Truth Upstages Fiction Again in ‘Three Identical Strangers’

Three Identical Strangers

CHICAGO – The eternal debate of what affects human development more, our nature or our nurturing, opens up again in the wild story of “Three Identical Strangers,” a new documentary about triplets who were separated at birth, only to discover each other by chance and uncover some difficult truths about that separation.

Film Review: ‘Ant-Man and The Wasp’ is Abuzz with Laughs & Shrinkage

CHICAGO – Gag writers, it’s time to head to Marvel Studios. Apparently the direction their superhero franchises are going for is laughs. “Ant-Man and the Wasp” is a prime example… the second film in the “Ant-Man” series amps up the humor, priming a hero that can go super small or massive. Go ask Alice, I think she’ll know.

Film Review: ‘The First Purge’ is Nothing But Tedious Trash

CHICAGO – I saw the original “The Purge” five years ago, but missed the other two installments. Let me say that nothing in the new prequel “The First Purge” makes me want to make up for lost time and catch up. The setup is the same… one night of legalized violence each year where the citizens are allowed to do whatever they want without the fear of prosecution.

Podtalk: Anuradha Rana of DePaul University on Their Student Film Festival & Chicago Cinema

Anuratha Rana, DePaul

CHICAGO – One of the growth areas in the Chicago film scene has been in academia, as traditional liberal arts universities in the area have been expanding their teaching programs and becoming more influential, in concert with the overall growth of the film industry in the Windy City. One such academic leader is DePaul University, an institution that has become one of the Top 25 film schools in the nation, through their Cinematic Arts program and innovations like their new Big Shoulders International Student Film Festival. Assistant Professor Anuradha Rana is part of that success.

Theater Review: Overstuffed But Entertaining ‘The Cher Show’

CHICAGO – Has anybody in show business had more “comebacks” than Cher… or if you added her many last names Cher Sarkisian La Piere Bono Allman? All of the triumphs and downturns are shoehorned into “The Cher Show,” now in Chicago in a pre-Broadway run through July 15, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

Film Review: 'Sicario: Day of the Soldado' Ripped From Headlines

CHICAGO – We don’t really know what is going on at the Mexican border, nor if we’re lucky understand the desperation in crossing over. “Sicario: Day of the Soldado” is a cynical and sad film, but gives a bit of perspective on the this ongoing situation, especially as it deflates the current presidential administration.

Podtalk: Co-Directors David & Nathan Zellner Rescues the Western in ‘Damsel’

Damsel

CHICAGO – The familiar archetypes of the Hollywood Western… the dusty town, the swinging saloon doors and the cowboys looking the part… are all present and accounted for in “Damsel,” written and directed by David and Nathan Zellner (“Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter”). The twist comes in the action of the characters, portrayed by Robert Pattinson (“Twilight”), Mia Wasikowska (“Alice in Wonderland”) and the Zellners themselves.

Film Review: ‘Uncle Drew’ Scores Points as a Feel Good Film

CHICAGO – Sometimes, you just want to escape to the surreal “Land of The Feel Good,” where all relationships work themselves out and all results are victorious. “Uncle Drew” is that film for this pre-holiday weekend, and although this basketball comedy is not a slam dunk, it certainly hits several heart-and-soul points.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Orange is the New Black

    CHICAGO – Orange Day is Friday (July 27, 2018)… as in “Orange is the New Black.” That’s when Season Six will be available for download from Netflix, as the online series continues to showcase the women inmates at Litchfield Penitentiary, three of whom are played by Taylor Schilling (Piper), Kate Mulgrew (Red) and Dascha Polanco (Daya).

  • Everybody, Brown Paper Box Co

    CHICAGO – When is the last time a stage play, based in an intimate setting, made you think about your life, death, and the destiny inherent in both? “Everybody,” staged by Brown Paper Box Co. (BPBCo), is such a play, and the energetic aura and sense of surprise that the show contains is soul soothing wonder. The show has various evening/matinee performances at the Pride Arts Center in Chicago run through August 12, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

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