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TV Review: Michael Douglas, Matt Damon in ‘Behind the Candleabra’

CHICAGO – It could have been so awful. Liberace was such an over-the-top character that capturing his most extreme behavior in the form of a TV movie could have been the kind of campy thing that deserves comparison to “Showgirls.”

Film Review: ‘I Melt With You’ Succumbs to Shallow Pretensions

I Melt with You Film Review

CHICAGO – Mark Pellington’s “I Melt with You” is one of the worst movies of 2011, but has the benefit of also being among the weirdest. Students of rotten cinema will surely flock to this disaster simply to watch it in morbid, mouth-gaping awe. Yet without a scenery chewing wild card like Nicolas Cage in the ensemble, this mournful mess is far from an enjoyable guilty pleasure.

TV Review: ‘Parks and Recreation’ Makes Case For Best Comedy

Parks and Recreation

CHICAGO – “Modern Family” may have just won the Emmy and “Louie” & “Curb Your Enthusiasm” both had very strong summer outings, but the fourth-season premiere of NBC’s “Parks and Recreation” (and the equally-hysterical episode that follows it) makes the case that the Amy Poehler vehicle is the best comedy on television right now. With incredibly smart writing and increasingly impressive performances from the entire ensemble, “Parks and Rec” just keeps getting funnier.

DVD Review: NBC’s ‘Parks and Recreation’ is Best Comedy of 2011

Parks and Recreation

CHICAGO – There’s quite a race for the best comedy of the year and I suspect that “Modern Family” will take the Emmy at Sunday’s awards (which we’ll get into more in-depth with a predictions feature later in the week), but the winner by a nose for this critic is NBC’s “Parks and Recreation,” a show that just got better episode by episode as its brilliant third season progressed. See for yourself with the recently-released DVD from Universal.

TV Review: Save This Show! ‘Parks and Recreation’ Seeks a Second Chance

Parks and Recreation

CHICAGO – The midseason premiere of season three of “Parks & Recreation” starts by catching us up on what we’ve missed. It details the arrivals of auditors, the “black hats,” played by the non-descript Adam Scott and a goofily-exuberant Rob Lowe, and features a tongue-and-cheek detailing of the budget crisis facing the parks department.

DVD Review: ‘Parks and Recreation: Season Two’ Tries to Keep NBC Sitcom Alive

Parks and Recreation

CHICAGO – Amy Poehler’s “Parks and Recreation” had the serious problem of trying to find an audience on NBC during the destruction of the network by “The Jay Leno Show.” Debuting in April of 2009, it struggled to find a following and then barely hung around through the disastrous times at NBC during the 2009-10 season. To everyone’s surprise, it was renewed and will return on a revamped Thursday night lineup in January. To try and ignite interest in the show one more time, Universal has released the second season of this better-than-average show.

Blu-Ray Review: ‘The Invention of Lying’ Has Killer Concept

The Invention of Lying

CHICAGO – There are so many concepts and clever ideas in “The Invention of Lying,” now available on Blu-ray and DVD, thanks to Ricky Gervais’ skills as a writer that his abilities as an actor and director don’t really know what to do with them. The script for this witty comedy is interesting enough to make it worth a rental but it sometimes moves at an awkward pace and never builds like it might have with a more experienced director.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • The King of Comedy

    Something always felt a bit out of place for me in Martin Scorsese’s brilliant “The King of Comedy”, just released on Blu-ray for the first time. I couldn’t put my finger on it but chalked it up to it being thematically ahead of its time in its investigation of the cult of personality that defines modern entertainment.

  • 47 Ronin with Keanu Reeves

    CHICAGO – If you’ve ever wondered what the difference is between a director and a producer, let “47 Ronin” explain how the hierarchy of creativity hinders the evolution of even the most straightforward-sounding pitches. “47 Ronin” is the type of samurai movie set in Japan that features native actors speaking only English, while Keanu Reeves stars as an outsider clearly plunked into the picture for stateside star power.

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