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Matt Fagerholm

Film News: Ry Russo-Young, Frank V. Ross Chat with Indie Outlook

Tiger Tail in Blue at Siskel

CHICAGO – New York filmmaker Ry Russo-Young gave an exclusive interview to Indie Outlook, the independent film blog and podcast created by HollywoodChicago.com writer Matt Fagerholm. The conversation, published this week, details Russo-Young’s fascinating work, from her experimental shorts to her star-studded feature, “Nobody Walks,” which she co-wrote with “Girls” creator Lena Dunham.

Blu-ray Review: Disingenuous ‘Won’t Back Down’ Oversimplifies Vital Issues

Won't Back Down Blu-ray

CHICAGO – If a film were meant to be judged purely on the basis of its final shot, then Daniel Barnz’s “Won’t Back Down” would be an unqualified success. The image of a little girl finally learning to pronounce the word “hope” could’ve easily been a cheesy contrivance straight out of a Feldco commercial. Even on paper, the shot sounds downright silly.

DVD Review: Delightful Score Bolsters ‘Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best’

Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best DVD

CHICAGO – Amiable charm compensates for scattershot laughs in Ryan O’Nan’s directorial debut, “Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best.” There’s an undercurrent of tangible warmth that reverberates beneath O’Nan’s awkward assemblage of quirky gags and self-consciously clever dialogue. Though I spent much of the film on the fence, it eventually won me over.

Blu-ray Review: Awful ‘Hit and Run’ Mistakes Shrill Pratfalls for Humor

Hit and Run Blu-ray

CHICAGO – Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell are an awfully cute couple. Their effortless puppy-dog chemistry is sweet without being cloying and endearing without verging into treacle. Resembling a more stretched-out and irreverent Zach Braff, Shepard makes Bell appear more at ease than she ever has before on film. I can’t imagine a better pairing for a romantic comedy.

Film Review: Common Delivers Best Work to Date in Problematic ‘LUV’

LUV Film Review

CHICAGO – Assigned the role of World’s Worst Father Figure, Common delivers a performance so compelling that it nearly makes Sheldon Candis’ blood-soaked odyssey worth the trip. Nearly, however, is the key word. For all of it merits, this picture derails into a ditch of heavy-handed implausibility at the precise moment when it should be soaring.

Blu-ray Review: Dazzling Visuals Overpower Muddled Messages in ‘Samsara’

Samsara Blu-ray

CHICAGO – Blending the spiritual majesty of 1992’s “Baraka” with ominous overtones suggesting a world out of balance (so memorably portrayed in 1982’s “Koyaanisqatsi”), master cinematographer Ron Fricke’s “Samsara” is the sort of rapturous visual feast that his fans have come to expect from him. The key difference here is the spectacular level of clarity brought to each image.

DVD Review: Masterful ‘The Wise Kids’ Avoids Stereotypes, Opts for Honesty

The Wise Kids DVD

CHICAGO – There was no film in 2012 that moved me more deeply or left me feeling more exhilarated than Stephen Cone’s achingly personal masterpiece, “The Wise Kids.” It’s the sort of film that I’ve been hoping to see get made for quite some time. Whereas so many films about people of faith rely on condescending stereotypes to push a contrived agenda, Cone’s picture is humanistic in every sense of the word.

Blu-ray Review: Horrendous ‘House at the End of the Street’ Rips Off ‘Psycho’

House at the End of the Street Blu-ray

CHICAGO – Mark Tonderai’s “House at the End of the Street” is not to be confused with this year’s “The House Across the Street” or either version of “Last House on the Left.” What Tonderai hopes you mistake it for is a classy Hitchcockian homage evocative of the Master’s most shocking and immortal picture, 1960’s “Psycho.”

Blu-ray Review: HBO’s ‘Game Change’ Triumphs with Brilliant Performances

Game Change Blu-ray

CHICAGO – When the HBO film, “Game Change,” was first announced, it sounded rather unnecessary. Why would Alaska governor-turned-vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s overinflated celebrity deserve such a prestigious biopic? Wasn’t her TLC program, not to mention Tina Fey’s brilliant SNL parody, more than enough small-screen exposure for the oft-embarrassing politician?

Blu-ray Review: David Cronenberg’s Densely Talky ‘Cosmopolis’ Confounds

Cosmopolis Blu-ray

CHICAGO – Some writing sounds better on the page than it does when read aloud. That’s certainly the case with Don DeLillo’s 2003 novel, “Cosmopolis,” a spectacularly unsettling social commentary largely confined within the limo of billionaire asset manager, Eric Packer. He claims that he’s 28, but looks as if he’s been strolling the streets for centuries, while displaying all the decadent beauty of Dorian Gray.

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