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.
CHICAGO – In the memorable film “Barton Fink,” the title character is asked to write a wrestling movie for Wallace Beery. If Fink had isolated himself long enough, he might have come up with “Foxcatcher,” demonstrating once again that a true story is much stranger than fiction.
CHICAGO – The über popular “The Hunger Games” series is back, splitting the final novel into two movie parts, Harry Potter style. Subtitled “Mockingjay - Part 1,” this is the beginning of the end of the story, setting up rather than knocking down.
NEW YORK CITY – He was an immigrant kid from Germany who directed the most American of stage plays and films. Mike Nichols uplifted the culture with his art, and along the way won the famed EGOT – Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony. Nichols passed away suddenly at his home. He was 83.
CHICAGO – Filmmaker Darryl Roberts has been on an eight-year journey to chronicle the influence of corporations, advertising and images on today’s teenagers. After releasing the first two “America the Beautiful” documentaries, his latest – and potentially most controversial – is “America the Beautiful 3: The Sexualization of Our Youth.”
CHICAGO – Sometimes it take awhile to be an overnight sensation, but Bob Odenkirk will be on the precipice of that kingdom when the “Breaking Bad” spin-off show, “Better Call Saul” premieres in February of next year on the AMC Network. Odenkirk was recently in Chicago to promote his new book, “A Load of Hooey.” in an appearance that took place at the Up Comedy Club on Wells Street in the city.
CHICAGO – There are many categories of film director types – facilitators, tacticians, framers, to name a few – but there are few real artists. Bennett Miller has guided three films in his career, “Capote,” “Moneyball” and his latest “Foxcatcher.” All three have a purposeful artistry, and explore the soul within the humanity it portrays.
CHICAGO – Writer/Director Gina Prince-Bythewood, the creator of the cult favorite “Love & Basketball,” is back with another original story that she created, an intimate and romantic perspective on a singer on the path to nowhere, despite superstar-level fame. Gugu Mbatha-Raw stars as that singer in “Beyond the Lights.”
CHICAGO – Journalists are under fire, both in the hot zones of the world’s conflicts, and within the economics of the shrinking news business. One journalist – Maziar Bahari – became part of the drama in the 2009 Iranian presidential elections, and that story is told in writer/director Jon Stewart’s new film, “Rosewater.”
CHICAGO – Portraying Stephen Hawking, as Eddie Redmayne did in “The Theory of Everything,” required an intense physicality and emotionalism that was projected from different angles, much more challenging than a usual biographical role. In this instance, Redmayne projects the feeling of Hawking’s time and space.
CHICAGO – The show business life is ripe for drama, and the new film “Beyond the Lights” explores the difficulties of the the superstar reaches of the music business, through a Beyoncé-type singer. Actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw plays Noni, and the film’s director is Gina Prince-Bythewood (“Love & Basketball”).