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Film Review: ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ Relies on Second-Hand Wonder

CHICAGO – It’s been five years since the last Harry Potter film, and for fans eager to scratch that itch for a dreamworld of magic again “Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them” will probably suffice. It’s this story’s tangential connection to the Harry Potter universe that is its biggest asset – but the film unfortunately can’t muster up much wonder on its own.

Film Review: Ethan Hawke, Selena Gomez in Numbing, Awful ‘Getaway’

CHICAGO – You know a car chase movie is poorly made when you’re longing for more dialogue scenes between Selena Gomez & Ethan Hawke just to break up the tedium of the neverending, personality-free vehicular nonsense.

TV Review: Showtime’s ‘Ray Donovan’ is Next Great Drama

Ray Donovan

CHICAGO – “I like you. You say what you mean.” Showtime’s brilliant new show, “Ray Donovan,” is titled after a straightshooter in a town where no one is honest; a problem solver in a place built on mountains of problems. Ann Biderman’s stunning drama (directed and produced by “Sopranos” vet Allen Coulter) is the kind of dense patchwork quilt of character and theme that separate great shows from merely good ones.

Blu-ray Review: ‘Deliverance’ Still Resonates Four Decades After Its Release

Deliverance

CHICAGO – The new digibook Blu-ray for John Boorman’s incredibly influential and timeless “Deliverance” features one of the best special features of the year as stars Burt Reynolds, Jon Voight, Ronny Cox, and Ned Beatty sit for half an hour at the Burt Reynolds Museum in Florida and just reminisce about the movie that changed their lives. It alone makes this a great purchase for true movie historians. The stellar HD transfer and imported special features don’t hurt.

TV Review: FOX’s ‘Lone Star’ Features Charismatic Cast, Intriguing Premise

CHICAGO – In a world where it’s becoming increasingly difficult for many people to hold one job or keep together one family, it’s not hard to see audiences entertained by watching a man try to juggle two of each.

Blu-Ray Review: Tiresome ‘Four Christmases’ is Four Too Many

Four Christmases

CHICAGO – How has Vince Vaughn become one of the most boring actors in America? It has little to do with his performances and everything to do with his career choices. Sure, Vaughn has pretty much made a habit out of playing the exact same guy since “Wedding Crashers”: a fast-talking, self-absorbed, overgrown adolescent whose funniest quips are delivered under the breath and between punch-lines.

Blu-Ray Review: Michael Mann’s ‘Heat’ a Modern Masterpiece

Heat

CHICAGO – Michael Mann might first seem the ideal fit for Blu-Ray. He’s a notorious perfectionist, apparent in every frame of his remarkable output of films that includes such great modern classics as “Manhunter,” “The Insider,” “Collateral,” and “Public Enemies”.

Blu-Ray Review: Kiefer Sutherland, ‘24’ Continue to Set the Bar

24

CHICAGO – The standard DVD season sets for “24” have long been setting the bar for what TV on DVD “should be”. Winning awards for their technical transfers and detailed, copious special features, the producers of “24“‘s home releases took it a step further this year by changing the game yet again with the Blu-Ray release of “24: Season Seven”.

Blu-Ray Review: ‘Pride and Glory’ Wastes Two Talented Stars in Generic Drama

Pride and Glory
HollywoodChicago.com Blu-Ray Rating: 2.0/5.0
Blu-Ray Rating: 2.0/5.0

CHICAGO – The Blu-Ray package for Gavin O’Connor’s “Pride and Glory” features shots of stars Edward Norton and Colin Farrell wielding guns on both the front and back of the case. The artistic intention is clear - Try and sell this generic, dull cop drama as an action film, as that’s the genre that takes off on the home market. Don’t buy it.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • [Trans]formation

    CHICAGO – The issue of gender identity, especially for those who are born with a vagueness as to what to call themselves between/beyond boy and girl, has come front and center in the U.S., both with the legalization of gay marriage and the callous repudiation of identity by trying to pass laws dismissing it (the North Carolina “bathroom” laws). The performance companies of The Living Canvas and Nothing Without a Company is currently staging “[Trans]formation,” which presents gender identity art by six performers, who perform most of the play in the nude.

  • Life Sucks

    CHICAGO – Let’s face it, life does suck. But what can we do about that? How do we survive? Lookingglass Theatre Company’s latest stage presentation tries to answer those thorny questions through a group of fellow travelers, flung together at a cabin retreat, trying to figure out why (indeed) “Life Sucks.”

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