CHICAGO – If you can remember the 1990s outside of childhood, you are in the glow of middle age, so congratulations. The Brown Paper Box Co. theater ensemble takes us back to those thrilling days of yesteryear with “Spike Heels,” a relationship comedy centering on the co-mingling antics of two couples, with a slight nod toward George Bernard Shaw and the play “Pygmalion” (or its musical counterpart, “My Fair Lady”).
CHICAGO – Gritty, funky and quote-worthy, this re-imagining of “The Gambler” – from a 1970s source film – is one of Mark Wahlberg’s best performances. His addicted-to-gaming soul has roots in other frustrations, and the actor is willing to communicate the whole range of emotions.
CHICAGO – In the latest HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: Film, we have 100 pairs of advance-screening SUBURBAN CHICAGO movie passes up for grabs to the new film “The Gambler” starring Mark Wahlberg!
CHICAGO – I’ll say this for “Transformers: Age Of Extinction,” it’s the most tolerable Transformers movie Michael Bay has ever made. The substitution of Mark Wahlberg for Shia LaBeouf is a big part of that – and for its first two hours at least, Bay realizes less is more.
CHICAGO – In the latest HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: Film, we have 20 pairs of advance-screening IMAX movie passes up for grabs to the highly anticipated new film “Transformers: Age of Extinction” starring Mark Wahlberg and Nicola Peltz!
CHICAGO – “Inside Llewyn Davis” shows the strength of the Coen brothers’ authorship, and the vitality their vision gives to different time periods, locations, and life experiences. This freewheelin’ bildungsroman of destiny? coincidence? trails a scraggly singer/songwriter (Oscar Isaac as the title character), daring to spread olden tunes in a period of American artistry that is pre-Dylan.
George Clooney’s “The Monuments Men” is processed cheese. It is a film that has been rewritten, edited, and refined until it has lost all sense of purpose or identity. There’s no flavor left. It is a film that defies genre; not quirky enough to have a comedic personality despite a cast that almost always supplies edge and not engaging enough to work as drama or thriller.
Films about musicians are remarkably common. Artists from one medium have always loved to put themselves in the well-worn shoes of craftsmen from another. Most of them are stories of an underrated talent rising to the top of his profession, designed for both audience and filmmaker to live vicariously through the protagonist’s success.
CHICAGO – One of more memorable performances of 2013 is from an actor who has been a bit under the radar – Oscar Isaac. After character parts in several familiar films, like “The Nativity Story,” “Sucker Punch” and “The Bourne Legacy,” Isaac steps out as the lead in the new Coen Brothers film, “Inside Llewyn Davis.”
CHICAGO – In an incredibly weak time for feature animation (since the glory of 2010, it’s been pretty dark out there), Pixar’s “Monsters University” has enough personality and genuine humor to stand out from its generic competition. It also helps the film’s quest for another Pixar Oscar for Best Animated Film that the recently-released Blu-ray is a gem, loaded with special features and including a spectacula HD transfer. It falls between the amazing “Toy Story 3” and the awful “Cars 2” on the Pixar spectrum but it’s still a good time and will make a lovely holiday season gift.
CHICAGO – Let’s everybody say it together, “the key to great animation is a great story.” This has to be the motto for Pixar Animation – now part of Disney. Their latest, “Monsters University,” is a prequel with a heart, soul and attention to what makes this type of entertainment work.