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Jamie Bell

Film Review: Annette Bening Proves ‘Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool’

Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool

CHICAGOGEORGE BAILEY: “Hey, you look good. That’s some dress you got on there.” VIOLET: “This old thing? I only wear it when I don’t care how I look.” That is how actress Gloria Grahame (as Violet Bick) was introduced in the classic “It’s a Wonderful Life”. Now she is portrayed by Annette Bening in “Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool”.

Film Review: ‘Snowpiercer’ a Problematic But Wild Ride Dystopia

Snowpiercer

CHICAGO – Travelers. We are travelers in this life, and metaphorically we’re mostly in coach, but sometimes manage to get some first class treatment. What if all this traveling were confined to one vehicle? Imagine a future world contained in a constantly traveling train, and the premise for “Snowpiercer” realizes a one-of-a-kind dystopia.

Blu-ray Review: ‘Man on a Ledge’ Jumps Into Convoluted Abyss

Man on a Ledge with Sam Worthington

CHICAGO – “Man on a Ledge” wants to be “Dog Day Afternoon” for the ’10s recession (it’s not coincidental that a man screams “Attica!” at one point). A tale of a man screwed by a corrupt system who stages a complex heist and galvanizes the people of New York in the process could have worked so well. There are great actors and great ideas here. And there’s also the most convoluted, ridiculous, and poorly written script that I’ve suffered through in a very long time.

Blu-ray Review: ‘The Adventures of Tintin’ Looks Great, Feels Hollow

The Adventures of Tintin

CHICAGO – Being a Steven Spielberg super-fan, I looked forward to being able to re-appreciate “The Adventures of Tintin” with a beautiful HD picture and, I hoped, some special features to enhance my opinion of a film that I found pretty seriously flawed in theaters. Well, the HD transfer is a beauty — the film looks just as good as its 3D theatrical presentation — but the film is still flawed and the special features are lackluster. In theaters, it was a near-miss and my opinion has not changed on Blu-ray.

Film Review: Spielberg’s Disappointing ‘The Adventures of Tintin’

CHICAGO – Being a huge Steven Spielberg fan and a pretty big aficionado of Peter Jackson (who produced) as well, I was pretty psyched to see what these two undeniable geniuses could do in the world of motion-capture animation with their collaboration on the adaptation of the hit Herge cartoon “The Adventures of Tintin.”

Blu-Ray Review: Mia Wasikowska in Stellar Adaptation of ‘Jane Eyre’

Jane Eyre

CHICAGO – “Jane Eyre” is a story that has been adapted multiple times but rarely with the grace, dignity, and level of quality as Cary Joji Fukunaga’s excellent 2011 take on the timeless Charlotte Bronte novel. With impeccable production values that never smother the piece in the musty quality that so often pervades modern period pieces, “Jane Eyre” is an effective, beautiful piece of work. It’s a surprisingly strong drama that deserves a much-wider audience on Blu-ray and DVD.

Blu-Ray Review: Channing Tatum Fails to Take Flight in ‘The Eagle’

The Eagle Blu-Ray

CHICAGO – It’s safe to say Kevin Macdonald is a filmmaker more skilled in documentaries (“One Day in September,” “Touching The Void”) than he is in scripted narratives (“The Last King of Scotland,” the forgotten “State of Play” remake). His experience in nonfiction work is certainly reflected in the realism of his production design, but it doesn’t translate to his stories, which often take a shallow approach to real-life subjects.

Film Review: Mia Wasikowska, Judi Dench Float on ‘Jane Eyre’

Jane Eyre

CHICAGO – Film adaptations of classic literature are often lose-lose scenarios. The ardent admirers of the source often sour on what is left out, and the average filmgoer might wonder what the fuss is about when experiencing a truncated interpretation. There is obvious passion behind the latest adaptation of “Jane Eyre,” with performances that follow that lead.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Speech & Debate (stage play)

    CHICAGO – “Speech & Debate,” the latest production from the mighty Brown Paper Box Company, continues their tradition of thinking outside that “box” in presenting storefront theater that makes a statement and a difference. “Speech” goes inside America by showcasing the outsiders… those who create art because they can’t get it right in real life. This non-equity Chicago stage play premiere is finely tuned and wonderfully acted, and runs through March 4th, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

  • We're Gonna Be Okay

    CHICAGO – The 1960s were a time of historical social transition. The movements – civil rights, feminist, gay rights – all had roots in that tumultuous decade. The Chicago premiere of Basil Kreimendahl’s “We’re Gonna Be Okay” echoes all of those movements in its characters, and collides them against the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. The show has a Thursday-Sunday run at the American Theater Company through March 4th, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

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