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.
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.
CHICAGO – HBO 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.
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.
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.
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.”