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Film Review: ‘Magic in the Moonlight’ is Woody Allen By the Book

CHICAGO – After last year’s powerful “Blue Jasmine,” writer/director Woody Allen’s trajectory seemed destined toward another film masterpiece, but “Magic in the Moonlight” isn’t it. Colin Firth and Emma Stone are an unlikely pairing in this seen-it-before-Woody film trifle.

Blu-ray Review: Oscar-Winning Crowd-Pleaser ‘Silver Linings Playbook’

Silver Linings Playbook

CHICAGO – They often say that a movie is written three times - on paper, on film, and in the editing bay. Look no further for this truth than the deleted scenes from “Silver Linings Playbook,” recently released on Blu-ray and DVD. While some of the scenes are fun and allow Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, and Robert De Niro more chances to shine, I would argue that all 26 minutes of them were correctly cut. If they hadn’t been, the movie’s not an Oscar winner.

Film Review: Mia Wasikowska Finds Trippy Mystery in ‘Stoker’

CHICAGO – There is cause and effect in life, and there are times when random acts of circumstance rinses it all away. Those emotions are realized in the strange yet compelling composition of the new film “Stoker,” featuring Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman, and Matthew Goode.

Film Review: Amazing Ensemble Rewrites ‘Silver Linings Playbook’

CHICAGO – It’s funny that a movie with the word “Playbook” in its title is so clearly about how those of us who think we know exactly where life is taking us are merely kidding ourselves. Like so many of us, the hero of “Silver Linings Playbook,” Pat Solatano (Bradley Cooper), has a plan to find happiness, to find his silver lining.

Film Review: Darkly Comic Jason Segel in ‘The Five-Year Engagement’

CHICAGO – There are some major laughs in “The Five-Year Engagement,” good old fashion you-can’t-breathe laughs. But is it also dark and serious at times, and makes some surprising contemporary statements regarding coupling. Jason Segel and Emily Blunt portray the engaged couple.

DVD Review: Excellent ‘Animal Kingdom’ Features Oscar-Nominated Performance

Animal Kingdom

CHICAGO – One of the most wonderful nominations on Oscar morning this year was that of the great Jacki Weaver for the movie that most “E!”-watchers probably had never even heard of — “Animal Kingdom.” This searing crime thriller barely found an audience when it was released in art houses but should get a nice boost from the Academy and was just released on DVD last week, Jan. 18, 2011.

Film Feature: The Best Supporting Performances of 2010

CHICAGO – It started with the best lead performances of 2010 yesterday and now we naturally move on to many of the stars who made those lead turns possible. For what is a great lead performance without the supporting ones that got it there? These were the MVPs of 2010 who may have allowed others to take the spotlight but also made it shine so much brighter.

Film Review: Guy Pearce Delves Into Corruption in Riveting 'Animal Kingdom'

Guy Pearce of Animal Kingdom

CHICAGO – The thin line between anarchy and social peace is shriveling into a microscopic blur as sentencing and incarceration become increasingly less effective as a deterrent. The human side of this perspective is explored with an artistic elegance, featuring Guy Pearce in writer/director David Michôd’s “Animal Kingdom.”

Interview: Director David Michôd Explores His ‘Animal Kingdom’

CHICAGO – The gangster movie gets a nice Freudian twist in director David Michôd’s new film, “Animal Kingdom.” This Australian import focuses on a family of bank robbers whose mother is the glue that holds their criminality together. Guy Pearce (”Memento,” “The Hurt Locker”) lends his talent as Leckie, a pursuing police officer.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Kingpin Blu-ray

    CHICAGO – Before 1998’s “The Big Lebowski” there was 1996’s “Kingpin”, the Farrelly brothers bowling comedy that didn’t have the narrative intricacies of the Coen brothers’ classic, but had plenty of jokes about middle-aged men playing the sport. Today finds the release of “Kingpin” to Blu-ray for the first time, coming with only one new special feature.

  • 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.

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