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Joaquin Phoenix

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.

Trailer Tracking: ‘Skyfall,’ ‘Gangster Squad,’ ‘The Campaign,’ ’The Master’

CHICAGO – Thanks to the internet, movie trailers are having a bit of a golden age recently. They’ve never had a wider reach and, as a result, they’ve never had a bigger cultural impact.

Film Feature: Top 5 Oscar Nominations We’re Glad Didn’t Happen

CHICAGO – Oscar. The holy day of the film industry. While other film pundits are scrambling for perspective – who made it and who didn’t – we’re giving thanks for the five 2010 films and personalities that didn’t get a nomination for Oscar night.

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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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