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Film Review: Fulfilling Emotion & Sumptuous Animation Awaits in ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’

CHICAGO – In our short lives, what do we most need? It’s a hard question to answer sometimes, but the new animated film “Kubo and the Two Strings” does a memorable job of answering the query. The journey of Kubo, like Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz,” leads to a place where he needs to go.

Interview: Director Travis Knight Strums ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’

CHICAGO – One of the great benefits of the new Golden Age of Animation has been the emergence of other studios…like Laika Entertainment, which has released “Coraline,” “ParaNorman” and “The Boxtrolls,” all nominated for Oscars. Travis Knight directs their latest stop-motion style animated film, “Kubo and the Two Strings.”

Film Review: Social History is Revitalized in ‘Free State of Jones’

CHICAGO – The United States is still fighting the Civil War, which ended in 1865. The rebellious South has never completely given away its anger and sorrow for the changes the war has wrought on them. These larger themes are examined historically in the new film, “Free State of Jones.”

Blu-ray Review: Christopher Nolan’s Wondrous Space Odyssey ‘Interstellar’


CHICAGO – Far more marvelous than imperfect, “Interstellar” is the answer for moviegoers who have lost the zeal for massive films, citing a lack of ideas, heart, or general passion for filmmaking. Director Christopher Nolan’s 2014 space odyssey is an event of beauty, with the rare experience of showing viewers something they haven’t seen before.

Film Review: ‘Interstellar’ is Supposed to Mean Something, But What?

Interstellar 2

CHICAGO – It is most likely that movie goers were asking the same question of Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” in 1968, but Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar” belongs to its own category of what-is-the-meaning, because it tries to combine pseudo-science with psycho-babble, which clashes into meaninglessness. But the visuals are stunning, and there are moments of fulfillment, especially in a big screen IMAX format.

Film Review: Miscast Crew Spoils Christopher Nolan’s ‘Interstellar’ 

CHICAGO – “Interstellar” is easily director Christopher Nolan’s worst film. It contains much of the ambition and striking visuals that have endeared him to audiences, but for large chunks of the movie his own worst tendencies towards bombast, self-importance, and hippy dippy dialogue threaten to overwhelm his dandy space sequences entirely.

Blu-ray Review: Steven Spielberg’s Progressive Slave Drama ‘Amistad’


CHICAGO – Before Hollywood grappled with the unforgiving intensity of “12 Years a Slave,” they championed Steven Spielberg’s powerful film “Amistad,” years earlier, now available for the first time on Blu-ray. Densely comparing the movies is a difficult task considering their different perspectives, but they do stand as interesting bookends with how Hollywood has dealt with the American atrocity of slavery in their films.

Film News: ‘12 Years a Slave’ is Best Picture at 2014 Oscars

CHICAGO – Hollywood celebrated its big night at the 86th Academy Awards, and the biggest news was the selfie photo that apparently broke Twitter. The stark film “12 Years a Slave” won Best Picture, and Ellen DeGeneres took the celebrity group selfie that immediately was Tweeted around the world, overloading the popular website.

What to Watch: Feb. 4-10, 2014

Dallas Buyers Club

While there is a likely Oscar-winner, a massive box set from HBO, and some true crowd-pleasers in this week’s What to Watch, it’s a bit of a downer compared to some more recent jam-packed weeks of Blu-ray and streaming greatness. We also couldn’t find an On Demand title this week worth mentioning, although Denis Villeneuve’s “Enemy,” starring Jake Gyllenhaal, hits DirecTV On Demand this Thursday and you can bet we’ll be there to check it out before a March theatrical release. Until then, rent or buy something below.

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  • Life Sucks

    CHICAGO – Let’s face it, life does suck. But what can we do about that? How do we survive? Lookingglass Theatre Company’s latest stage presentation tries to answer those thorny questions through a group of fellow travelers, flung together at a cabin retreat, trying to figure out why (indeed) “Life Sucks.”

  • Abbie Hoffman Died for Our Sins Fest

    CHICAGO – It’s 3am on Saturday night/Sunday morning on August 20th, and you’re just not ready to quit. How about indulging in the 2016 “Abbie Hoffman Died for Our Sins” Theater Festival? The three-day theater marathon is in its 28th edition, and will be sponsored for the final time by the Mary-Arrchie Theatre Company, and hosted by the “Godfather of Storefront Theater,” Rich Cotovsky. It all takes place at the Den Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee in Chicago (details below).


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