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Lake Bell

Film Review: ‘The Secret Life of Pets’ Neuters Promising Cast

CHICAGO – A promising voice cast of comedy greats is effectively neutered in the blasé animated family film “The Secret Life Of Pets.” It doesn’t have the multi-layered story of the best Pixar movies – or even the “Despicable Me” films – to satisfy both kids and grownups. The bigger it tries to be, the more exhausted it seems.

Interview: Filmmaker Brothers John Erick & Drew Dowdle of ‘No Escape’

No Escapte, Dowdle Brothers

CHICAGO – Filmmakers brothers are ubiquitous, as siblings grow up with the love of the movies and turn it into a career when adults. Director John Erick Dowdle and his writing partner, brother Drew, has had a successful run with films like “Devil” and last year’s “As Above, So Below.” Their latest film, “No Escape,” explores geopolitics and the increasing potential for government breakdown.

Film Review: Probable Events is the Situation in Tense ‘No Escape’

No Escape front

CHICAGO – In a very unstable world, and in a sense that these problems are international, we all can be stuck in war at any time – there is no way to get away from it. “No Escape” takes this notion to the extreme, with an American family – led by Owen Wilson – caught in a war zone.

HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: 40 Pairs of Passes to ‘No Escape’ With Owen Wilson, Pierce Brosnan

CHICAGO – In the latest HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: Film, we have 40 pairs of advance-screening movie passes up for grabs to the new action/thrillerNo Escape” starring Owen Wilson and Pierce Brosnan!

Film Review: ‘Million Dollar Arm’ Misses the Strike Zone

CHICAGO – “Million Dollar Arm” harkens back to a period of shameless family friendly schmaltz that used to play to families in theaters and then run in perpetuity on “The Wonderful World Of Disney” on television. But this treacly baseball drama throws nothing but balls.

Film Review: ‘Mr. Peabody & Sherman’ Hindered by Extra Sidekick

CHICAGO – Talking dogs have been around for decades in animated movies and television shows, especially the anthropomorphized kind. From the superhero antics of Underdog to the biting sarcasm from the likes of Brian from “Family Guy” - take your pick and you can find a dog to your liking. I always took a shine to Mr. Peabody, the intelligent and resourceful beagle with a penchant for puns.

Film Review: ‘In a World...’ Reveals a Voiceover of Heart, Hilarity

In a World...Lake Bell

CHICAGO – One the most familiar movie clichés is the sonorous voice that intones “In a world…” to begin a movie trailer, and then extols the virtues of that upcoming feature. Lake Bell, who wrote, directed and stars in the new movie, “In a World…,’ creates a delightful and gentle satire of voiceover artists and their journeys.

Interview: Actress Lake Bell Writes, Directs ‘In a World...’

CHICAGO – Lake Bell is a recognizable and successful character actress, having prominence in television (“Boston Legal”) and films (“It’s Complicated”). For her latest film, she wrote, directed and starred in a gentle parody of the voiceover profession, especially the intoned voices that narrate movie trailers, “In a World…”

Film Review: Trip to Katie Aselton’s ‘Black Rock’ Lacks Purpose

Black Rock
HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 2.5/5.0
Rating: 2.5/5.0

CHICAGO – I really admire the girl power approach to the thriller genre in Katie Aselton’s surprising genre effort, “Black Rock,” but the admirable effort doesn’t change the fact that the movie just doesn’t feel fully fleshed out nor does it play to the strengths of its filmmaker. The what-if scenario that incites the action of “Black Rock” is captivating but Aselton and co-writer/husband Mark Duplass don’t build on that scenario enough to make the venture successful overall.

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  • [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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