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Joanne Whalley

Blu-ray Review: Ron Howard’s Beloved ‘Willow’ Hits 25 Years


CHICAGO – I’m dating myself but I was a young, fantasy-obsessed teen when I first saw Ron Howard’s “Willow.” Revisiting it 25 years later in the newly-released Blu-ray, I was instantly stunned by how old the film looked. A lot of the physical effects, the general tone, the dialogue — it feels more like a ’70s movie than some ’80s fantasies that predate it (“Legend” and “Ladyhawke” come to mind). And a sinking feeling entered my bones. “Willow” isn’t great. Yes, it has some nostalgic charm and hardcore fans will dig the HD release but I hope you don’t have the same realization that I do that my 13-year-old self may have overrated it.

TV Review: Jeremy Irons Carries Saga of Corruption in ‘The Borgias’

CHICAGO – Power, royalty, sex, corruption — Is this “Camelot,” “The Kennedys,” or “The Borgias”? There’s an odd number of tales of royal families on TV this weekend and the best belongs to Showtime with an instantly-striking performance from the Oscar-winning Jeremy Irons.

DVD Review: Catch Up With Original ‘Edge of Darkness’ Mini-Series

Edge of Darkness BBC

CHICAGO – Mel Gibson’s return to the big screen in the thriller “Edge of Darkness” was relatively disappointing at the box office this weekend (opening with Gibson’s lowest first weekend box office since 1995) but not only is that film worth your time but you should definitely take a look at the award-winning 1985 BBC mini-series that inspired it, directed by the same filmmaker, Martin Campbell (“Casino Royale”).

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  • Merry Widow, The

    CHICAGO – Standing up at the Lyric Opera house in Chicago is unusual before a show. But in this case, it was the night after a tragedy, and the operetta “The Merry Widow” – set in Paris, France, in 1905 – was about to unfold. The orchestra struck up La Marseillaise, a reminder that we’ll always have Paris.

  • Black White Love Play

    CHICAGO – The love story of a prominent Chicago celebrity couple becomes the basis for a metaphoric and tuneful celebration about courage and coming together. “The Black White Love Play: The Story of Chaz & Roger Ebert” – written and directed by Black Ensemble Theater’s Jackie Taylor – portrays the film critic and the civil rights lawyer in their time, but also creates an atmosphere of emotion through song, sorrow and jubilation.


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