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Jeremy Irons

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.”

Blu-ray Review: Underappreciated ‘Margin Call’ Deserves Larger Audience

Margin Call

CHICAGOJ.C. Chandor’s CFCA-nominated “Margin Call” is the kind of film that makes me concerned about the lack of mainstream audience for adult drama. There’s no reason at all that this excellent drama with several major actors shouldn’t have found a much-larger audience. Lionsgate needs to go back to the drawing board and figure out what’s going on with their marketing and promotions since it’s total nonsense that a critically-acclaimed work like this and their even-better “Warrior” both flopped at the box office. “Warrior” was at least given a chance. “Margin Call” never went beyond 199 screens. So you probably haven’t seen it. You should.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with Megan Fox

    CHICAGO - Look past the cheesy carbs and b-boy poses, this shiny mo-cap reboot of cartoon juggernaut “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” offers slick entertainment that makes for a welcome surprise for middle school fare. Proving that executive producer Michael Bay has both grown up but it still frightfully in tune with what jazzes teens, this surprise box office hit is indeed a nice slice of a blockbuster spectacle, whether or not a viewer cares about the turtles or not.

  • HoliDaze Front

    CHICAGO – Need a break from the noise of the holidays? Step Up Productions, – in residence at Chicago Dramatists Theater – present “HoliDaze,” a collection of six one-act plays, all dealing with the nature and nurture of the season. The showcase runs through December 21st, 2014.

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