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Film Review: ‘The LEGO Batman Movie’ Delivers the Usual Laughs

LEGO Batman Movie, The

CHICAGO – “The LEGO Batman Movie” is more of a parody than the laugh-out-loud hijinks of the surprising “The LEGO Movie,” but the legend of The Bats is ripe for a good skewering, and the movie has a lot of fun doing it. Will Arnett reprises the voice as the title character, with Zach Galifianakis taking on the antics of The Joker.

Film Review: Surprisingly Weird, Wacky ‘Puerto Ricans in Paris’

Puerto Ricans in Paris

CHICAGO – Occasionally, a film breaks through the miasma of images, and proclaims its uniqueness by just being weird. Case in point, the strange and wacky “Puerto Ricans in Paris,” which may have been created after two rich film producers made a one dollar bet (ala “Trading Places”) that they could come up with a movie simply based on the title.

Blu-ray Review: Chris Rock’s ‘Top Five’ is Pretty Interesting

Top Five

CHICAGO – Chris Rock isn’t a huge writer/director, but when he does make a film, it’s an event to consider. For example, he made black president tale “Head of State” long before then-senator Barack Obama was even considered for the real-life role, and whether behind the stand-up mic or in an interview, he’s a voice to be reckoned with.

Film Review: Schizophrenic ‘Top Five’ is Evolution for Chris Rock

CHICAGO – Chris Rock wants you to take him seriously, so he has made a comedy with inconsistent laughs, and a nod towards the weird fishbowl lives that today’s celebrities endure. It’s a rare film where the last part is stronger than the first few acts, a mishmash that is “Top Five.”

Film Review: ‘Sin City: A Dame to Kill For’ Breaks No New Ground

CHICAGO – When the first “Sin City” (2005) was released – based on the graphic novels by Frank Miller – the conversion of a film to a noir-like comic book atmosphere was pioneering. The sequel “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” has heightened that look, but this time has much less to say.

Film Review: ‘Cesar Chavez’ is Stiff History of a Heroic Man

CHICAGO – How can one man bring down a ruthless industry? By building a union that never backs down, because he never backed down. ‘Cesar Chavez’ depicts the United Farm Workers union organizer in the 1960s who sought justice against virtual slave conditions for immigrant labor, assuring his place in history.

Film Review: Earnest ‘Gimme Shelter’ Needs More Truth

CHICAGO – The balancing act between reality and drama in based-on-truth narratives is as delicate as walking the high wire. Pour in too much drama, and a story can feel like a soap opera. “Gimme Shelter,” although earnestly and achingly performed, has that sudsy protocol.

Interview: Director Ron Krauss, Kathy DiFiore for ‘Gimme Shelter’

Gimme Shelter 2013, Ron Krauss

CHICAGO – The opportunity for a new film to also take up a cause is one of the advantages of the movies as mass art. “Gimme Shelter” is the based-on-truth story of a runaway pregnant teen named Apple (Vanessa Hudgens) who needs the titular sanctuary to give birth. Director Ron Krauss leads an all-star cast, including Ann Dowd (“Compliance”), who portrayed the real-life facilitator of the shelter for single mothers, Kathy DiFiore.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Downward Dog

    CHICAGO – From “Mr. Ed” to “Dog with a Blog,” talking animals have had their place on TV. The latest has origins as a web series, with the clever title “Downward Dog.” The show premieres on Wednesday, May 17th, 2017 (9:30pEST/8:30pCST), on ABC TV, and features Ned the Dog as Martin, and human companions portrayed by Allison Tolman and Lucas Neff.

  • Positively Present: An Uplifting Cabaret

    CHICAGO – When faced with adversity, the best way around it is to somehow break into song. That is the feeling behind the Brown Paper Box Co.’s “Positively Present: An Uplifting Cabaret,” running April 7th and 8th at Mary’s Attic in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood. The event features company member Kristi Szczepanek as host, and presents song stylings by other company members, including Anna Schutz, plus some special guests. For details and ticket information, click here.

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