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Orson Welles

Interview: Victor Skrebneski Unveils 2014 Portrait For the 50th Chicago International Film Festival

CHICAGO – Opening Night for the 50th Chicago International Film Festival is October 9th, and their official portrait on the poster this year was again photographed by the iconic lensman Victor Skrebneski.

Blu-ray Review: Charles Chaplin’s Dark, Riveting ‘Monsieur Verdoux’

Monsieur Verdoux

CHICAGO – Charles Chaplin’s “Monsieur Verdoux,” recently released in a lavish Criterion Blu-ray set with new special features and a glorious 2K digital restoration, is such a unique film that it has kind of gone under the radar when the career of its beloved star/director is discussed. His first post-WWII film, “Verdoux” doesn’t feature his iconic Tramp character, contains a ridiculously dark anti-hero, and is more socially demented than most films of its era. While it can be easy to look at the satire of films like “The Great Dictator” and “Modern Times” and apply them not just to today but Chaplin’s era, “Verdoux” can be a more difficult film to dissect. Which is not to imply that you shouldn’t. You really, really should.

Interview: Vincent D’Onofrio on Directorial Debut of ‘Don’t Go in the Woods’

Vincent D'Onofrio, photo by Patrick McDonald

CHICAGO – Vincent D’Onofrio has had a career that is rich and diverse. He has worked with directors as distinct as Stanley Kubrick (”Full Metal Jacket”) and Tim Burton (”Ed Wood”), and has starred in the legendary TV franchise “Law & Order: Criminal Intent.” He presents his directorial debut, “Don’t Go in the Woods,” on November 12th in Chicago at the “Tribeca Film Festival on the Road.”

Blu-Ray Review: ‘Citizen Kane’ Continues to Stun 70 Years Later

Citizen Kane

CHICAGO – I have written about thousands of movies and yet I still feel daunted by addressing “Citizen Kane,” recently released in a stunning Ultimate Collector’s Edition Blu-ray for the 70th anniversary of what many still consider to be the best film of all time. What could I possibly add to the conversation? Pulitzer Prize winners have dissected the film down to every decision made by Orson Welles during its production. All I can tell you is that the movie has lost none of its power. It is still one of the most striking cinematic achievements of all time and the impressive Blu-ray box set does the film the justice it has long-deserved.

Blu-Ray Review: StudioCanal Editions of ‘Delicatessen,’ ‘The Third Man’

Delicatessen

CHICAGO – What do Carol Reed’s beloved “The Third Man” and Jean-Pierre Jeunet & Marc Caro’s “Delicatessen” have in common? Almost nothing and yet I kind of love that they’re now linked in Lionsgate’s StudioCanal Collection because it illustrates the diversity of this increasingly-interesting wave of releases. They’ll never top The Criterion Collection, but it’s nice to have another series of timeless and modern classics making the Blu-ray market that much richer.

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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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