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Interview: Stephan James Portrays Olympian Jesse Owens in ‘Race’

Stephan James as Jesse Owens in Race

CHICAGO – In the history of America, there are moments when champions rose above their societal status and circumstance. And so it came to pass that African American Jesse Owens – during one of most difficult times in America for blacks – won medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, representing America and striking a blow against Adolf Hitler, four years before WWII. Owen’s story is told in the new film, “Race,” and he is portrayed by actor Stephan James.

Blu-ray Review: Strong Ensemble Propels Surprisingly Entertaining ‘Beautiful Creatures’

Beautiful Creatures

CHICAGO – It may not be a beautiful film but the latest attempt at cashing in on the “Twilight” craze, Richard LaGravenese’s “Beautiful Creatures,” recently released on Blu-ray and DVD, is surprisingly good-looking. The young leads show a lot more life than typical YA fare, the supporting cast is truly stellar, and the script from the author of “The Fisher King” and this weekend’s “Behind the Candleabra” has some interesting ideas about religion, fate, and maturity. It’s too long by some stretch and too many of the same ideas are hit repeatedly but when the supporting cast, including three Oscar winners, is allowed to do what they do best, it’s damn pretty to watch.

Film Review: Uneven ‘Beautiful Creatures’ Still Casts Spells

CHICAGO – The young adult horror/romance genre is running out of themes, could somebody please come up with a hunky Frankenstein monster? “Beautiful Creatures” uses witches as it’s premise, and features newcomers Alice Englert and Aiden Ehrenreich as the spell-crossed lovers.

Interview: Alice Englert, Aiden Ehrenreich of ‘Beautiful Creatures’

CHICAGO – The peculiar genre of young adult supernatural fiction has produced collections that define popularity. The new film “Beautiful Creatures” is the latest adaptation that feature young lovers among the mystic spells. Newcomers Alice Englert and Aiden Ehrenreich portray that couple.

Blu-ray Review: Unsatisfying ‘The Words’ Desperately Needed a Rewrite

The Words Blu-ray

CHICAGO – What sins can a man commit and manage to live with for the rest of his days? Can he enjoy the rewards of unearned praise and adoration? These provocative questions could easily serve as the basis for a compelling thriller, as proven by a multitude of titles including Woody Allen’s “Crimes and Misdemeanors” and “Match Point.”

Film Review: Deadly Dull ‘The Words’ Has Nothing to Say

CHICAGO – It may seem like easy bait for a critic but the quote whores supplied a dozen or so words for the mysterious ads for the new drama “The Words” and so I’d like to play their little game. I have a few words of my own – “Dull.” “Inert.” “Pretentious.” “Uninteresting.” “Inconsistent.” “Craptastic.” Put those on your ad.

HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: 40 Pairs of Passes to ‘The Words’ With Bradley Cooper, Zoe Saldana

CHICAGO – In the latest HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: Film with our unique social giveaway technology, we have 40 pairs of movie passes up for grabs to the advance screening of “The Words” with an all-star cast including Bradley Cooper, Zoe Saldana, Olivia Wilde, Dennis Quaid and J.K. Simmons!

Interview: Dominique Swain, ‘Lolita’ Star in 1997 Remake

Dominque Swain, photo by Joe Arce

CHICAGO – About 15 years ago, a controversy erupted over a new film version of Vladimir Nabokov’s classic novel, “Lolita.” The version was to be closer in spirit to the original novel, and therefore more open about a older man’s obsession with an underage teenage girl. Taking on the young girl role of Dolores Haze, AKA “Lolita,” was the actress Dominque Swain.

TV on Blu-ray Round-Up: ‘The Borgias,’ ‘Archer,’ ‘Jersey Shore’

The Borgias

CHICAGO – A number of recent TV seasons hit DVD and Blu-ray right after Christmas, hoping to get a share of that gift card balance burning a hole in your wallet. If you have any left, we thought you might want to know the details so you can plan your assault of the local Best Buy or fill your Amazon cart. This is a Round-up feature that serves mostly as information, letting you know the synopsis, tech specs, special features, etc., but if we had to pick favorites, FX’s “Archer” rules. It’s the best of the bunch, but, honestly, all four should satisfy fans (even if “The Borgias” is annoyingly light on special features). Yes, even “Jersey Shore.”

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Harry Lennix, photo by Joe Arce

    CHICAGO – The stage play that Harry Lennix is in town to direct – “A Small Oak Tree Runs Red” – is in its last weekend, and is giving the actor/director the best notices of the theater part in his long and successful career. For more information about the play, and ticket availability, click here.

  • Harry Lennix, photo by Joe Arce

    CHICAGO – Mention the name Harry Lennix, and images of his many character roles are bound to emerge – Harold Cooper in the TV series “The Blacklist,” General Swanwick from “Batman v Superman” and Commissioner Blades from Spike Lee’s recent “Chi-Raq.” The deeply knowledgeable Lennix brings his years of dramatic expertise, as he directs the Congo Square Theatre Company’s world premiere stage play “A Small Oak Tree Runs Red.’

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