Movie Review

Film Review: Vivacity and Simplicity Come Together in ‘Teen Spirit’

CHICAGO – For most of us, music literally becomes the soundtrack to our lives. They become a reflection of our mood, innermost thoughts, and even our fears. Sometimes they are just a pick me up, the same way Cardi B is currently soundtracking the writing of this review. Certain, well-placed songs can even tell our life story without us having to utter a single word, much like Teen Spirit.

Film Review: Disneynature’s ‘Penguins’ in Flight with the Flightless

CHICAGO – It is the tenth anniversary of Disneynature, the arm of Walt Disney Pictures that releases a new nature doc around every Earth Day. This year the naturally visual interest of “Penguins” are their subject, and the film does a nice job on the life cycle journey of these fascinating flightless birds.

Film Review: ‘The Chaperone’ is Excellent Lesson in 1920s Identity

The Chaperone

CHICAGO – Although mostly set in the early 1920s, “The Chaperone” has some pungent lessons regarding identity, and living life authentically. The story of former silent film star Louise Brooks and her first trip to New York City expresses both how we can live today and how they lived back then.

Film Review: ‘Little’ Squanders Its Comedic and Social Potential in an Attempt to Play It Safe

CHICAGO – After a typical late night, deep dive of the internet, I found something terrifying. Around the 60’s, creating dinners in Jello were popular for some reason. Although I liked every individual ingredient, seeing the way they fit together was a less than appetizing. Watching “Little” reminds me of this experience except after the film, I was left with a bland, spiceless taste in my mouth.

Film Review: ‘Hellboy’ Maintains Energy Just by Being Hellboy

CHICAGO – The latest film reboot is “Hellboy,” and it cruises based on the viability and popularity of its title character. David Harbour takes the reins from Ron Perlman in portraying the demon, and although it’s bogged down by the story, the latest iteration works because the character is so weirdly appealing.

Film Review: An Obsessive Couple’s Journey in ‘Ash is Purest White’

CHICAGO – Obsessive love is a movie story staple, and “Ash is Purest White” puts a Chinese point-of-view on this strange phenomenon. This is a coupling in the background of organized crime and a changing China, and their success and failure is based on the events surrounding them as much as their devotion to each other.

Film Review: Terrible Messaging in ‘The Best of Enemies’ Ruins an Otherwise Serviceable Film

CHICAGO - According to my YouTube history, unlikely animal friendships would likely be in my top 10 most watched videos, alongside DIY home projects and finding out if that sharp pain means I’m dying. Something as simple as a cat and dog being bffs is adorable, but unlike what “The Best of Enemies” would have you believe, two naturally opposing forces don’t always need to play nice.

Film Review: ‘Shazam!’ is a Paint by Numbers Superhero Movie

CHICAGO – The former Captain Marvel (story below) is now “Shazam!,” and has his own film in the DC Comics universe. Zachary Levi portrays the title character, now with a new origin to go along with his new name. Speaking of that, no new ground is broken in this pretty standard foster-kid-makes-good hero epic.

Podtalk: Chicago Co-Producer JoAnn Fakhouri on Digital Release of ‘Dreams I Never Had’

Dreams I Never Had

CHICAGO – Immigration is a hot-button topic in our current landscape, and director Iyad Hajjaj has pushed that button with his latest film, “Dreams I Never Had.” The spin in the story is based on truth, where a teenage girl – trafficked illegally into America – is attached to a family to essentially become their domestic laborer. Chicagoan JoAnn Fakhouri was the co-producer on the project, and brought in some Chicago talent to contribute to the production. “Dreams I Never Had” is now available for download on Amazon Prime Video and other digital outlets.

Film Review: Historical Drama is Fortified by Technique in 'Sunset'

CHICAGO – History is made when you’re often busy making other plans. That is ardently illustrated in “Sunset,” a drama set early in the second decade of the 20th Century in the on-the-brink-of-revolution capital of Budapest, Hungary. A retail store is the town’s centerpiece, plus there is a mysterious woman associated with that store, until she isn’t.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • It's NOT ALL About You John Michael

    CHICAGO – John Michael epitomizes the art of the monologue. The Chicago transplant, by way of Dallas, is moving on (he says temporarily) from the city that inspired his last show, “Meatball Seance,” after notorious and successful runs of his other one-man shows, “John Michael and the Order of the Penix” and “Dementia Me.” His farewell performance is his latest, another laugh riot, “It’s NOT ALL About You John Michael,” and will take place at Mary’s Attic in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood on March 1st, 2019. Click here for details, including ticket information.

  • Soccer Player in the Closet, The 2

    CHICAGO – Connecting to the theater collective Nothing Without a Company means a couple of things. One, you may visit parts of Chicago you’ve never seen before – in this case a plant store in an industrial area south of Humboldt Park – and two, you will see some daring and outside-the-box stagings. “The Soccer Player in the Closet” is their latest production – a World Premiere – and it provides what the title implies and beyond. The play runs through March 17th, 2019. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

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