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Marion Cotillard

Preview: Mid-Week With the 50th Chicago International Film Festival

CHICAGO – The 50th Chicago International Film Festival of 2014 gets into gear this week, with a line-up of films from all over the world. The festival breaks down these films in several categories, including the Main Competition, New Directors, Docufest, Out-Look (LGBT), World Cinema, After Dark and Spotlight Scandinavia.

Film Review: Dark, Stunning Tale of American Dream in ‘The Immigrant’

CHICAGO – Just in time for a national holiday is the release of two films about surviving as “the outsider” in a tumultuous American society. “X-Men: Days of Future Past” isn’t the only movie that opines about how the outsider will survive in America.

Film Review: Unfocused ‘Rust and Bone’ Wastes Marion Cotillard

CHICAGO – It’s been three years since Jacques Audiard made a sizable splash in American art houses with “A Prophet,” a spellbinding picture that certainly ranks as one of the great crime films of the last decade. By following an Arab youth through his punishing sentence in a French prison, it provided audiences with an unforgettable portrait of corrupted innocence.

Film Review: French Film Has a Bigger Chill in ‘Little White Lies’

Little White Lies

CHICAGO – The landmark ensemble film “The Big Chill” (1983) featured seven former college friends reuniting for the funeral of one of their own. The French film “Little White Lies” takes that concept a step further, as friends go on a yearly retreat without one of their own, because he is in the hospital. Francois Cluzet, Marion Cotillard and Jean Dujardin co-star.

Film Review: ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ Gives Fans Epic Conclusion to Beloved Trilogy

CHICAGO – With “The Dark Knight Rises”, Christopher Nolan epically follows through on most of the themes he set up in “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight” with amazing technical skill and an ambitious sense of scope. No one can deny the effort and intensity of this closing chapter of the most acclaimed superhero saga in the history of film.

Film Review: ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ is Glorious Epic of Heroic Proportions

CHICAGO – Sound the gong for one of the best films of the summer, as “The Dark Knight Rises” delivers an awe-inspiring blockbuster on virtually every level of storytelling and performance. Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Gary Oldman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and director Christopher Nolan create grand, metaphoric and visionary cinema.

Blu-ray Review: Steven Soderbergh Delivers Again With Riveting ‘Contagion’

Contagion

CHICAGO – January 2012 is Steven Soderbergh month. The man’s newest film, “Haywire,” opens in theaters on January 20th (and we’ll have a review up shortly before it opens) while Criterion is upgrading his Oscar-winning “Traffic” to Blu-ray and re-releasing their DVD edition on the 17th of the month (you can, of course, also expect a review of that to run soon). The first wave of the Soderbergh trifecta is the Blu-ray and DVD release of “Contagion,” another expertly-made piece of filmmaking from a man who seems to know how to do nothing less.

Blu-ray Review: Woody Allen’s Exquisite, Romantic ‘Midnight in Paris’

Midnight in Paris

CHICAGO – At times, Woody Allen’s new film releases stink like an old glove, and thankfully there are times when they fit like an old glove. His latest is “Midnight in Paris,” just released on Blu-ray and DVD. This is classic romantic Woody, set in the City of Lights, and featuring Owen Wilson taking on the Allen persona. It’s also featured in my Top 10 Films of 2011.

Film News: New ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ Trailer Released

The Dark Knight Rises -- Bane

CHICAGO – Holy exploding football field Batman! The new trailer for “The Dark Knight Rises” has officially been released from Warner Bros., and let’s just say there is a lot to look at. Unlike the teaser trailer that premiered before Harry Potter last summer, this new trailer gives us a full look at the cast of characters and some of the unbelievable sequences Christopher Nolan has ready for us in his third and final Batman film.

Film Review: Steven Soderbergh’s Riveting ‘Contagion’ With Matt Damon

CHICAGO – A few weeks ago saw the release of the R-rated “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark,” a gore-free creature feature that was given the MPAA stamp of 17-plus due to “pervasive scariness.” This week sees the PG-13-rated “Contagion,” a film SO much more pervasively scary than the movie about goblins in a distant mansion because, well, it’s about the fact that the world is pervasively scary.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Drunk History Seasons 1 & 2, 2014

    CHICAGO – The awesomeness of history loses any of its stuffiness with the incredibly fun, indeed educational show “Drunk History” from Comedy Central, its two seasons now released on DVD. Hosted by its creator Derek Waters, the show is a celebration of various historic figures and their under-appreciated true tales, as expressed by funny people narrating in the universal language of inebriation; their recounts are then reenacted by famous actors working with their given dialogue, dressed with the comic cheapness of a bloated biopic.

  • Happy Christmas

    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.

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