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Jeff Daniels

TV Review: HBO’s ‘The Newsroom’ Adjusts Its Broadcast Style

CHICAGO – There’s no television program that can be more simultaneously brilliant and frustrating as Aaron Sorkin’s “The Newsroom,” returning tonight, July 14, 2013, to start an already-tumultuous second season.

Blu-ray Review: HBO’s ‘The Newsroom’ Rivets, Frustrates at Same Time

The Newsroom

CHICAGO – Aaron Sorkin’s “The Newsroom,” recently released on Blu-ray and DVD, drives me crazy. The HBO drama can be so thematically dense and brings up subjects too often missing from the national conversation but it can also be so frustratingly self-important and deluded in its vision of the way real people operate. Do you give it credit for the topics it raises or smash it for the heavy hand with which they’re delivered? I have high hopes that season two will iron out some of the problems (stories of reshot episodes indicate that Sorkin heard his critics) but I’m still torn on how to feel about season one.

Blu-ray Review: Fantastic ‘Looper’ Gets Great Blu-ray Release

Looper

CHICAGO – I clearly loved “Looper” as evidenced by my initial review, interview with Rian Johnson, placement of Emily Blunt on my Best Supporting Performances of 2012 piece, and putting it #9 on my Best of 2012. Watching it again in glorious HD, I had a surprising thought given all of the above — I may have underrated it.

Film Review: Stunning, Creative Vision of ‘Looper’

CHICAGO – It’s so refreshing to see a talented filmmaker that has been allowed to bring his unique vision to the screen without compromise. You know the feeling when you’re watching a product of a marketing focus group or producer interference and when you’re seeing something fresh, new, and personal.

DVD Review: Jonathan Demme’s Brilliant ‘Something Wild’ Joins Criterion

Something Wild

CHICAGO – I love Jonathan Demme’s “Something Wild” with such passion that I can recommend the new Criterion Collection edition of the underrated ’80s classic and yet still realize that it’s something of a disappointment. Criterion leads the way in Blu-ray and DVD in every way, but even they can release editions that seem a bit lackluster, and such is the case with “Something Wild.” Pick it up because the movie rules, but don’t get your hopes too high.

Blu-Ray Review: James Franco Rocks in Intriguing if Flawed ‘Howl’

Howl

CHICAGO – James Franco gave a riveting performance in Danny Boyle’s “127 Hours” that is likely to earn one of the best actors of his generation an Academy Award nomination in a few weeks, but it wasn’t his only stellar turn in 2010. He also thoroughly delivered as the legendary poet Allen Ginsberg in the hybrid “Howl,” a film that’s part poem, part courtroom drama, and part history lesson. It doesn’t always come together but it’s worth seeing just for Franco’s work and the strength of the source material alone.

HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: Signed Poster By ‘Barry Munday’ Star Patrick Wilson, Two Magnolia DVDs

Barry Munday with Patrick Wilson and Judy Greer

CHICAGO – In this edition of the HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: DVD, two lucky winners will clean up with two DVDs from Magnolia Pictures for the movies “The Great Buck Howard” and “The Answer Man” plus a full-size poster for “Barry Munday” signed by Patrick Wilson, Judy Greer and director Chris D’Arienzo!

HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: Free ‘I Am Love’ Signed Poster, Magnolia DVDs to ‘Julia,’ ‘Two Lovers,’ ‘The Answer Man’

CHICAGO – In this edition of the HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: DVD, two lucky winners will clean up with three DVDs from Magnolia Pictures for “Julia,” “Two Lovers” and “The Answer Man” plus a full-size poster for “I Am Love” signed by Oscar-winning star Tilda Swinton and an “I Am Love” soundtrack!

Blu-Ray Review: Annoying ‘The Answer Man’ Full of Hot Air

Answer Man

CHICAGO – “Hell is other people!” declares reclusive author Arlen Faber. That’s nothing compared to the hell of fake people, who permeate so many subpar pictures marketed as “indie” entertainment. There’s not a single character in “The Answer Man” that feels the least bit realistic.

Blu-Ray Review: ‘Away We Go’ Proves Impossible to Resist

Away We Go

CHICAGO – Filmmaker Sam Mendes has always been drawn to telling stories set in a dysfunctional America where the sanctity of marriage is anything but “sanct.” For the past decade, he has specialized in brutally frank social satires about the deterioration of the American family. His work is nearly always riveting, but could never be described as “feel good”…until now.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Emmy Awards, Bryan Cranston

    LOS ANGELES – It was one more lap around the victory track for the AMC-TV show ‘Breakling Bad,’ as the gritty drama about a teacher turned meth dealer took home six Primetime Emmy Awards at the 66th ceremony on August 25th. ‘Modern Family’ took home the statue for Outstanding Comedy Series for a a fifth straight year.

  • Knick, The

    CHICAGO – Cinemax’s ominous new series “The Knick” is a hospital drama that’s very much in the voice of its director, Steven Soderbergh. Set in New York City at the turn of the 20th century, the series presents the medical world as it inches closer and closer to modernity, while making contemporary parallels to the desperate hustle by surgery room clients and their doctors alike regarding treatment of the human body. What has changed in the politics of medicine? What hasn’t?

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