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Film Review: Strange Story of ‘Disobedience’ is Constant Distraction

CHICAGO – The director Sebastían Lelio is no stranger to oddball human stories. His 2017 film, “A Fantastic Woman” – the Oscar winner for Best Foreign Language Film – was a one-of-a-kind but amazingly poignant story of identity. His latest, “Disobedience,” mines the same human territory with lesser results.

Podtalk: Megan Marie Connolly on ‘Straight 8 Says Hello Chicago!’ on Jan. 26, 2018

Straight 8 Says Hello to Chicago!

CHICAGO – A very unique film event will take place on Friday, January 26th, 2018. The “Straight 8 Says Hello Chicago!” presentation is designed to introduce Chicago filmmakers and other interested participants to the Straight 8 film competition. The program will be an exhibition of films from that global contest, including one (“Bedhead”) from Chicagoan Megan Marie Connolly, who went to London as a finalist. Connolly is producing “Straight 8 Says Hello Chicago!” with Eliaz Rodriguez, in association with Straight 8 and IFP Chicago.

Film Review: ‘Phantom Thread’ is Both Beautiful and Muddled

CHICAGO – There is a certain beauty in human creation, and the fashion industry allows that we can be individual in the sense of our clothing choices. The perfection that those creators attend to is nicely defined in “Phantom Thread,” but as an exploration of their personal life, it is frustrating.

Film Review: Un-Buddy-Like Violence in ‘The Hitman’s Bodyguard’

CHICAGO – One day I would like to meet a professional assassin. Are they as quippy and biblical as Samuel L. Jackson? This tired movie occupation is trotted out again, this time pairing Jackson with Ryan Reynolds, in an overwrought and ultra-violent buddy comedy, “The Hitman’s Bodyguard.”

Film Review: Lack of Cohesiveness, Intrigue Stymies ‘The Gunman’

CHICAGO – If you’re going to see a Sean Penn action movie, I guess “The Gunman” would be appropriate. As he and the filmmakers inject some reality in the usual motivations, the puzzle pieces don’t connect well and in the end are not that interesting. That is not to say that the film is bad.

Interview: Director Pierre Morel on Sean Penn, Liam Neeson & His Latest ‘The Gunman’

Pierre Morel of 'The Gunman,' photo by Patrick McDonald

CHICAGO – There were basically two careers for Pierre Morel, before he directed the mega-hit “Taken,” starring Liam Neeson, and afterward. The French-born cinematographer, camera operator and now director is releasing “The Gunman,” an action film that stars Sean Penn. Like “Taken,” the motivations for the action are based in the real world, and “The Gunman” travels to Africa, London and Barcelona on his way to redeeming his soul.

Exclusive Portrait: Birthday Photo of Olympic Gold Medalist Gabby Douglas

Gabby Douglas, photo by Joe Arce.

CHICAGO – Happy 18th Birthday to Gabrielle “Gabby” Douglas, who made history at the 2012 London Olympic Games by becoming the first U.S. Olympian to win gold in both the individual and team competitions at the same Olympics, and the first African American U.S. gymnast to become individual all-around champion.

Film Review: ‘Closed Circuit’ is a Tense Reminder of Our Times

CHICAGO – The threat of terrorist acts defies security. That is a fundamental truth. With 7 billion people on the planet – and an infinite number of motivations within them – all the security cameras, techniques and agencies cannot stop a determined group or individual, as depicted in “Closed Circuit.”

Film Review: Romantic Coupling of ‘One Day’ Rises Above Average

CHICAGO – In the sure hands of director Lone Scherfig, the underrated film “An Education” brought Carey Mulligan to full light. Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess generate similar radiance in Scherfig’s new film, “One Day.”

Interview: Lone Scherfig Directs Anne Hathaway in ‘One Day’

CHICAGO – Director Lone Scherfig has a rare delicate touch when it comes to portraying the subtlety of human relationships in films. After a triumph in 2009 directing Carey Mulligan in “An Education,” Scherfig returns with Anne Hathaway in the new film “One Day.”

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Jesus Christ Superstar, Lyric Opera

    CHICAGO – As a wee lad, I would often go into my parent’s record collection. One day, out of the blue, that brown double album with the gold embossed angels appeared, like a gift from the divine. “Jesus Christ Superstar” began as a record album “rock opera” in 1970, evolved to a Broadway show and film, and then was interpreted through a myriad of stage revivals over the years. The latest is an exciting piece of stagecraft at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. The show has a various evening/matinee run through May 20th, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

  • Cornerstone, Nothing Without a Company

    CHICAGO – We all need some help. The stage play group Nothing Without a Company realizes that, and has collaborated with the organization “Cornerstone” to provide that assistance. Cornerstone is a seminar and a happening in downtown Chicago, facilitated by “experts” to generate your potential. The presentation has a Thursday-Sunday run at Michigan Avenue’s Artspace 8 through May 6th, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

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