CHICAGO – Mention the name Harry Lennix, and images of his many character roles are bound to emerge – Harold Cooper in the TV series “The Blacklist,” General Swanwick from “Batman v Superman” and Commissioner Blades from Spike Lee’s recent “Chi-Raq.” The deeply knowledgeable Lennix brings his years of dramatic expertise, as he directs the Congo Square Theatre Company’s world premiere stage play “A Small Oak Tree Runs Red.’
CHICAGO – Look. We all know sequels usually suck. And blockbuster films often get panned for overprioritizing special effects at the expense of a well-written story and character development. Even when a story in a big-budget film is redeeming, it’s practically impossible not to shoot holes through it.
CHICAGO – If the original is anything to applaud, the sequel usually isn’t. And even more rarely is the sequel actually better.
CHICAGO – You can all breathe easy. It’s not bad. Serious Marvel and Joss Whedon fans are probably having flashbacks after reading those two sentences. We were all incredibly nervous that one of the best writers in the history of television was going to get the biggest blockbuster in recent years and find a way to screw up “Marvel’s The Avengers.”
CHICAGO – While relaxing and catching his breath after the stressful task of filming “Marvel’s The Avengers,” writer/director Joss Whedon didn’t just drink wine, host parties, and take baths in his money. He decided to use his break to make another movie.
CHICAGO – Sometimes the best way for comics to find an ideal vehicle for their abilities is to direct it themselves. 2012 offered ample proof of that, with Louis C.K. and Lena Dunham setting a stupendously high bar for TV comedy with their respective self-made programs. Of course, “Louis” and “Girls” benefit greatly from the contributions of their first-rate ensembles, yet both are also driven by a singular vision.
CHICAGO – “Why do these bad things keep happening to these blonde girls?,” Joss Whedon. The producer/co-writer of “The Cabin in the Woods” admits that his great horror movie, recently released on Blu-ray and DVD, came about from that question which he and director Drew Goddard had explored on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” for years.
CHICAGO – If there’s one thing that Marvel superhero movies do well, it’s set up extremely-high expectations for the next Marvel superhero movie. “Iron Man 2” got us excited for “Thor.”
CHICAGO – When I was a kid, summer movies were an event. They weren’t just marketing tricks, young adult adaptations, or unnecessary sequels. They were blockbusters that you put on the calendar and counted the days until their arrival.
CHICAGO – Yes, this critic adores Joss Whedon. What a surprise, right? With the upcoming release of his highly-anticipated take on “The Avengers” and the recent critical love for “The Cabin in the Woods” (which he co-wrote with Drew Goddard), there seems to be a recent reappreciation of the man who gave the world “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Angel,” “Firefly,” “Dollhouse,” and much more.
CHICAGO – Drew Goddard’s “The Cabin in the Woods” is a brilliant dissection of not just the clichés of the horror film genre but how they have played a role in the darkest corners of our society for centuries. It’s also a damn blast, as fun a time as you’ll have in a movie theater this season (and probably next).