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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

  • Book of Merman, The

    CHICAGO – One potential theater-goer loves the “The Book of Mormon.” The other would rather stay home and watch old Ethel Merman YouTube videos. Pride Films & Theater offers the ultimate solution by combining both in a campy musical, “The Book of Merman.” Yep, two Elder characters from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints meets foghorn singer Ethel Merman.

  • Men, Women & Children with Kaitlyn Dever

    CHICAGO – In “Men, Women & Children,” director Jason Reitman not-so-audaciously reflects onto viewers their world of silent screens and awkward impersonal interactions. As many stories (“Don Jon,” “Disconnect”) have taken on the torch of showing how we are, gasp! — connected to the world yet disconnected from those close to us — Reitman’s tale is just another one for the batch.

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