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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.

Interview: New Role for Vanessa Hudgens in ‘Gimme Shelter’

CHICAGO – Vanessa Hudgens, the former teen actor from the “High School Musical” franchise, has a brand new bag. Besides shocking movie audiences with her memorable performance in last year’s “Spring Breakers,” Hudgens deconstructs her glam image in the new film, “Gimme Shelter.”

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • [Trans]formation

    CHICAGO – The issue of gender identity, especially for those who are born with a vagueness as to what to call themselves between/beyond boy and girl, has come front and center in the U.S., both with the legalization of gay marriage and the callous repudiation of identity by trying to pass laws dismissing it (the North Carolina “bathroom” laws). The performance companies of The Living Canvas and Nothing Without a Company is currently staging “[Trans]formation,” which presents gender identity art by six performers, who perform most of the play in the nude.

  • Life Sucks

    CHICAGO – Let’s face it, life does suck. But what can we do about that? How do we survive? Lookingglass Theatre Company’s latest stage presentation tries to answer those thorny questions through a group of fellow travelers, flung together at a cabin retreat, trying to figure out why (indeed) “Life Sucks.”

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