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Naomi Watts

Film Review: Michael Keaton Soars in Mesmerizing ‘Birdman’

CHICAGO – There are parts of “Birdman” that are absolutely breathtaking, in dialogue, performance and visual acumen. Even its subtitle, “The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance” has a wonderful payoff. Michael Keaton provides an Oscar worthy performance as the title character.

Film Review: Phony ‘St. Vincent’ is Bill Murray’s Worst Choice Since ‘Garfield’

CHICAGO – “Garfield, maybe” was the sole utterance of regret that iconic actor/prolific movie-golfer Bill Murray expressed in 2009’s “Zombieland” before he died. Should the adoration for this cameo resurrect him for that film’s announced sequel, Murray will hopefully denounce “St. Vincent,” his most needless and perverse career choice since vocally birthing “Garfield” (and yes, that includes getting a handjob as Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 2012’s also terrible “Hyde Park on Hudson”).

Interview: Ted Melfi Directs Bill Murray in ‘St. Vincent’

CHICAGO – There are few better opportunities for a filmmaker than directing Bill Murray in a character role. Theodore “Ted” Melfi got that assignment, after pursuing Murray with his screenplay for the new film, “St. Vincent.” The effort to convince the veteran comic actor to take the title role paid off, and other notable actors joined in.

What to Watch: Feb. 11-17, 2014

The Returned

We’re a little light on quantity at What to Watch this week but not on quality. And our newest contributor, Dave Canfield, has already handled today’s release of “All is Lost,” a film you really should add to whatever queue allows you to see quality films. When you’re done with that, pick one of these five. OK, four. Ignore “Diana.” Please.

Film Review: Naomi Watts, Robin Wright Fake It in ‘Adore’

CHICAGO – For a movie that should be about passion, sex, and scandal, “Adore” is surprisingly and depressingly tame. Two great lead actresses are left floating on a dock by a script that doesn’t treat them like real characters and a team that cast two inferior actors opposite them.

Film Review: Shattering Power of True Story of ‘The Impossible’

CHICAGO – Juan Antonio Bayona’s “The Impossible” captures what its title implies. It transports us to an unimaginable situation, into an absolute nightmare in which air is replaced by rushing water, families are ripped apart, and people’s lives hang in the balance. It is a remarkable achievement in filmmaking, a film that is at times devastating, at times emotional, at times inspirational, and always riveting. It’s one of the best films of 2012.

Interview: Director Juan Antonio Bayona Recreates ‘The Impossible’

CHICAGO – Juan Antonio Bayona’s “The Impossible,” starring Tom Holland, Naomi Watts, and Ewan McGregor, is one of the most emotionally wrenching films in years (and my #7 film of 2012). The movie recreates the devastating 2004 tsunami through the true story of a family that was there when it happened.

Film Feature: The Best Lead Performances of 2012

CHICAGO – I worked my way through the best supporting performances of 2012 earlier today and I’m back with the much-stronger array of actors and actresses who challenged themselves with great leading performances in film this year.

Blu-ray Review: ‘The Ring’ Remake Initially Frightens Before Going in Circles

The Ring Blu-ray

CHICAGO – I have a certain begrudging affection for Gore Verbinski’s 2002 remake of Hideo Nakata’s 1998 thriller, “Ringu,” despite the fact that I know in my heart of hearts that it doesn’t really work. Verbinski’s film falters precisely when it should be at its scariest, and yet it still has enough memorably eerie moments to inspire at least a couple sleepless nights.

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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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