CHICAGO – “Drinking Buddies” director Joe Swanberg’s latest release of the same star wattage is “Happy Christmas,” an even lower-fi story than the Olivia Wilde beer comedy, steered even more by the casting that it was able to assemble. However, with this movie Swanberg doesn’t so much worry about having a story that could be confused with a more mainstream romantic comedy if it were to have a bigger budget.
CHICAGO – Hollywood stuntwoman Zoë Bell is best known for an acting bit she did in Quentin Tarantino’s “Death Proof,” playing “herself.” Otherwise she has had a prolific career doubling on stunts for Lucy Lawless, Sharon Stone and Uma Thurman, among others. She attended the 49th Chicago International Film Festival last weekend to premiere her new film, with director Josh C. Waller, called “Raze.”
CHICAGO – Starz’s hit “Spartacus: Vengeance” was designed for Blu-ray collectors. With the program’s emphasis on striking visuals, watching it in a quality any lesser than 1080p would be a crime. And Anchor Bay understands the cable hit they have on their hands and have given the show one of the most impressive HD transfers of the crowded TV-on-Blu-ray season and loaded it down with special features. There’s only one season of “Spartacus” left on Starz. Catch up with this 3-disc set before it premieres.
CHICAGO – “Let us split darkness with the cries of Romans.” Boobs, blood, and betrayal — “Spartacus” must be back. Following up on the action of the beloved “Spartacus: Blood and Sand” and coming on the heels of the most critical acclaim in the history of the network (“Boss”), Starz hopes to keep momentum going with the well-made if ridiculous “Spartacus: Vengeance.”
CHICAGO – One of the most popular opinions among modern audiences is the notion that television shows have become consistently better than films. This is partly because many of the year’s best movies are relegated to urban art houses, while shows like “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad” are available on small screens nationwide. Yet I’d argue that there’s just as much derivative dreck on TV as there is in mainstream multiplexes.
CHICAGO – “Spartacus: Blood and Sand” star Andy Whitfield passed away yesterday morning after battling non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma since March 2010. Whitfield was 39 years old.
CHICAGO – It’s mere minutes into “Spartacus: Gods the Arena” before men are being decapitated and women are flashing their breasts. With all the self-serious junk on right now, it’s nice to have Starz’s biggest hit back.
CHICAGO – “Spartacus: Blood and Sand” is a ridiculous program, a mix of pretentious dialogue that thinks its more important than it is, elaborate battle sequences shot in slo-mo to hide the show’s budget, and historical inaccuracies on an epic scale. And yet it’s also remarkably enjoyable. It’s a guilty pleasure program that has developed a rabid following on Starz and should put the network on the map when it comes to original series with the help of an excellent Blu-ray release for the first season.
Blu-Ray Rating: 3.5/5.0
CHICAGO – Adam Shankman’s “Bedtime Stories” is far from perfect but it also was undeservedly lambasted by critics. Is this great family fare? Heck no, but I’d still take this variation of Sandler’s persona over his cartoonish characters in most of his silly comedies and the movie has an easy-going likability that’s hard to deny. The Blu-Ray leaves a lot to be desired but the movie itself is probably better than you think.
CHICAGO – This 16-image slideshow contains official press images for Disney’s “Bedtime Stories,” which stars Adam Sandler, Keri Russell, Guy Pearce, Teresa Palmer, Richard Griffiths, Lucy Lawless, and Courtney Cox from writers Matt Lopez and Tim Herlihy and directed by Adam Shankman. The film opens on Dec. 25, 2008.