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Roger Allam

Film Review: ‘The Book Thief’ Fails to Find Tone of Familiar Story

CHICAGO – Brian Percival’s “The Book Thief,” from the hit book by Markus Zusak, is a well-intentioned piece of work that nonetheless fails, sometimes spectacularly, to connect in the ways that its creators intend.

TV Review: Star-Studded ‘Parade’s End’ is True Accomplishment

CHICAGOHBO brings BBC2’s “Parade’s End,” based on the highly-acclaimed novels by Ford Madox Ford, stateside and the star-studded mini-series with a breathtakingly good script from the legendary Sir Tom Stoppard is a must-see for anyone interested in historical drama, quality acting, or the kind of stunning production values usually reserved for big-screen adaptations with Oscar aspirations.

TV Review: Brilliant, Razor-Sharp ‘The Thick of It’ Returns to Hulu

CHICAGO – Should this even be called a “TV Review”? Will we one day write “Hulu Reviews”? Or “Streaming Reviews”? Technically, “The Thick of It” is still a TV show as it premieres in the U.K. on the old-fashioned platform. It’s just in the United States that Armando Iannucci’s brilliant political comedy is premiering exclusively on Hulu and Hulu Plus.

Film Review: Gemma Arterton Displays Luminosity as ‘Tamara Drewe’

Tamara Drewe, Gemma Arterton

CHICAGO – There are some movies that are gut level great because of plot, atmosphere and pacing, and then there are movies like “Tamara Drewe,” which rely on the elusive star power of the performer to drive its engine. Gemma Arterton portrays the title character and lights up the screen with a vivid presence in this simple story of a woman’s homecoming.

Interview: Director Stephen Frears on His Vision For ‘Tamara Drewe’

CHICAGO – Director Stephen Frears is a storytelling legend who sneaks up on us. Besides his new film “Tamara Drewe,” which played at this year’s Chicago International Film Festival, Frears has a filmography that includes “The Queen,” “Mrs. Henderson Presents,” “High Fidelity,” “The Snapper,” “Hero,” “Prick Up Your Ears” and “My Beautiful Laundrette.”

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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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