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Maria Bello

Film Review: New Twist to Inspiring Sports Story in ‘McFarland, USA’

McFarland, USA

CHICAGO – Sports stories are made for the underdog, and it is the conduit for many immigrants and minorities to break through to the American Dream. “McFarland, USA” takes that idea and runs with it, as a high school cross country team of Mexican immigrants head towards the finish line.

Film Review: ‘Third Person’ an Intriguing Yet Foreseeable Labyrinth

Third Person

CHICAGO – Don’t you hate it when you figure out where a film is going long before it gets there? That could be a problem with “Third Person,” but writer/director Paul Haggis (“Crash”) also adds enough secrets to chew on and enough multiple pathways to explore. Enter at your own risk.

Interview: Writer/Director Paul Haggis Creates ‘Third Person’

CHICAGO – Not many Oscar winning screeenwriters change the course of their professional lives because of a dream (story below), but Paul Haggis is an exceptionally brilliant writer whose credits include “Crash” (2005) and “Million Dollar Baby” (2004) – which both won Best Picture – and his new film, “Third Person.”

Blu-ray Review: Riveting ‘Prisoners’ Connects Even on Repeat Viewing

Prisoners

Denis Villeneuve’s “Prisoners” seems to have been lost in the awards season conversation and that’s a shame. Not only is Richard Deakins’ cinematography some of the best in his career but Jake Gyllenhaal and Hugh Jackman’s emotional work here deserves more credit than it’s been getting. Newly released on a gorgeous Blu-ray (with, sadly, scant special features), “Prisoners” is the kind of adult drama that seems certain to pick up more fans on the home market. It’s really worth your time.

Film Review: Jake Gyllenhaal, Hugh Jackman Enter Darkness of ‘Prisoners’

CHICAGO – What would you do if your child was in jeopardy? We all love to answer quickly and instinctually that we would do absolutely anything but the fact is that we’re incredibly lucky to never be put in that situation. Would you torture someone else? What if you weren’t sure they were responsible?

Blu-Ray Review: Fine Performances Bolster Shawn Ku’s ‘Beautiful Boy’

Beautiful Boy Blu-Ray

CHICAGO – While Lynne Ramsay’s “We Need to Talk About Kevin” meticulously chronicles the troubled upbringing that leads a kid to shoot up his school, Shawn Ku’s “Beautiful Boy” centers on the days following the senseless slaughter, as the shooter’s devastated parents are left to pick up the pieces. Though both pictures share similar themes, the latter takes a more familiar and less unsettling approach to the material.

Film Review: Taylor Lautner Stars in Silly, Ineffective ‘Abduction’

CHICAGO – After the success of “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” and “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse,” Taylor Lautner could have taken any number of paths to breakout with his own star vehicle. He chose to try and fashion himself into an action star, appearing in this weekend’s “Abduction” as a young man discovering he has a very special past.

TV Review: Maria Bello is Best Reason to Interrogate ‘Prime Suspect’

CHICAGO – Watching the premiere of NBC’s “Prime Suspect” again, I was struck by something undeniable — this feels like a TNT show. Yes, we’ve officially reached the point where basic cable is influencing network TV more than the other way around.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Orange is the New Black

    CHICAGO – Orange Day is Friday (July 27, 2018)… as in “Orange is the New Black.” That’s when Season Six will be available for download from Netflix, as the online series continues to showcase the women inmates at Litchfield Penitentiary, three of whom are played by Taylor Schilling (Piper), Kate Mulgrew (Red) and Dascha Polanco (Daya).

  • Everybody, Brown Paper Box Co

    CHICAGO – When is the last time a stage play, based in an intimate setting, made you think about your life, death, and the destiny inherent in both? “Everybody,” staged by Brown Paper Box Co. (BPBCo), is such a play, and the energetic aura and sense of surprise that the show contains is soul soothing wonder. The show has various evening/matinee performances at the Pride Arts Center in Chicago run through August 12, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

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