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Joaquin Phoenix

Film Review: Beyond Being Trippy, ‘Inherent Vice’ is a Difficult Trip

CHICAGO – Interpreting the ambling and sonic prose of author Thomas Pynchon has eluded filmmakers until now. Director Paul Thomas Anderson takes a whack at “Inherent Vice,” and although much of the film has his usual eminent vision, as a whole it makes for difficult sledding.

Film Review: Dark, Stunning Tale of American Dream in ‘The Immigrant’

CHICAGO – Just in time for a national holiday is the release of two films about surviving as “the outsider” in a tumultuous American society. “X-Men: Days of Future Past” isn’t the only movie that opines about how the outsider will survive in America.

Blu-ray Review: Spike Jonze’s ‘Her’ Only Gets Better with Repeat Viewing

Her

As a full-time film/TV/game critic and father of three, I very rarely have time to watch something more than once, even if it’s my favorite of the year. And yet I’ve revisited Spike Jonze’s “Her” twice now (for a total of three viewings) and it’s that very rare film that gets richer and more emotionally engaging with each subsequent viewing. I think by the end of the year, it might be my favorite film of 2013.

Film Review: Spike Jonze’s ‘Her’ is Masterful Commentary on Connection

How do we connect with other people? Why do we often push away those we need and stay with those we don’t? Why do we hold on to relationships long after they have stopped working? Is a physical relationship with no intellectual or emotional component somehow more valuable than one that can never be person-to-person but engages on a deeper level? And how do the ways we deal with love and loss impact the way we look at the rest of the world? And why aren’t more movies as good as “Her”?

Film Feature: The Best Lead Performances of 2013

A fictional folk singer who feels real, a real moneymaker who feels fictional, a young woman dealing with her own wounds by helping to heal those of others, and a student discovering her sexuality through the first passionate relationship of her life — 2013 was one of the best years for lead performances in decades.

Blu-ray Review: P.T. Anderson’s Divisive ‘The Master’ Continues to Mesmerize

The Master

CHICAGO – I’m always stunned when anyone calls P.T. Anderson’s very divisive “The Master” boring. There are a number of totally valid criticisms that can be thrown at the film but it’s never boring.

Film Feature: The Best Lead Performances of 2012

CHICAGO – I worked my way through the best supporting performances of 2012 earlier today and I’m back with the much-stronger array of actors and actresses who challenged themselves with great leading performances in film this year.

Film Review: Meandering ‘The Master’ Serves Up Powerful After Effects

CHICAGO – ‘The Master’ is the type of film that invites days of contemplation. It is a film about America, but only a certain type of American. It is a film about the need to belong, but in the end it separates all its characters away from each other. Lead actors Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix radicalize writer/director P.T. Anderson’s strange alchemy.

Film Review: Stunning Ambition Drives P.T. Anderson’s ‘The Master’

CHICAGO – Paul Thomas Anderson’s “The Master” screened publicly last week in Chicago for only the second time in the world. It was shown in glorious 70mm, the format in which the film was shot, but in which most people will never get the chance to see it. While much of the conversation surrounding the screening seemed to hinge around the technical specifications, the increasing dearth of actual film projectors in the city, or the aspects of the plot related to Scientology, those aren’t the elements of the film that have been rolling around my head for the last four days.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • The Projects

    CHICAGO – The legacy of public housing is one of the strangest forces of karma in the City of Chicago. For example, sites that were once some of the roughest and most neglected housing for the poor now contain luxury condos. It is the people of those former hellholes that still remember the sorrowful history of what they once called home. The American Theater Company (ATC) have gathered these stories for the poignant and extraordinary “The Projects.”

  • Gambler, The 2

    CHICAGO – Browsing Dostoyevsky titles with consideration for proper roles for Mark Wahlberg, one might expect the Beantown hero to take on an adaptation of “The Idiot” before anything like “The Gambler.” After all, while Wahlberg has proven to be a diverse screen force - one who has well-grown past his Funky Bunch days - he often leans towards goofy men, or at least goofy men in goofy movies.

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