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Interview: Adam McKay Comes Up Large in ‘The Big Short’

Adam McKay The Big Short

CHICAGO – When HollywoodChicago.com last spoke to writer/director Adam McKay in 2013, he was about to release “Anchorman 2,” and wasn’t really known for anything but his wacky comedy films. That all changed this month, with the release of “The Big Short,” a brilliant indictment of the financial meltdown of 2007 and ’08, and an impressively creative and serious effort from the comic director.

Film Review: Exposé of ‘The Big Short’ is an American Masterwork

CHICAGO – This is a rare film that will fill you with anger, while making you laugh at the absurdity of 21st Century life. “The Big Short” is an inside look at the mortgage meltdown that began in 2007, that cost eight million jobs and an untold amount of foreclosures, and the men who knew it was coming.

DVD Review: Historical Figures Cheersed in Brilliant ‘Drunk History: Seasons 1 & 2’

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.

Blu-ray Review: Wasteful Style of Boring ‘Only God Forgives’

Only God Forgives

CHICAGO – Nicholas Winding Refn’s “Drive” made perfect use of its director’s ultra-stylized, hyper-violent aesthetic in that it became a commentary on the superficial world of moviemaking and crime and the place that they often intersect. It’s a great film. On the other end of the spectrum is Refn’s follow-up, a film that’s practically a quasi-sequel in that it again features Ryan Gosling as a stolid, nearly-silent hero. However, the end result couldn’t be different in terms of quality. Not only does “OGF” get buried in its style but it loses all semblance of anything worth giving a damn about at all. I don’t mind movies that are overly stylish. In fact, I often defend them. But there’s no defending something this boring.

Blu-ray Review: Star-Studded ‘Gangster Squad’ Bores with Recycled Tropes

Gangster Squad Blu-ray

CHICAGO – Ruben Fleischer’s “Gangster Squad” is a steak devoid of juice. It has all the trappings of an effortlessly enjoyable genre exercise, but it doesn’t bring a single fresh idea to the table. It goes through the usual motions of a standard gangster picture while giving each overqualified member of its ensemble exactly one note to play. And they’re all exceedingly familiar notes, conveying a tune so familiar even Sam would refuse to play it again.

Film Review: Crime, Fatherhood Intersect in ‘The Place Beyond the Pines’

CHICAGO – Derek Cianfrance’s masterful “The Place Beyond the Pines” is a complex, epic piece of storytelling about the ripple effect of crime through families and across generations. Drastic action does not exist in a vacuum. It influences generations below and those impacted by their parent’s decisions.

HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: 30 Pairs of Passes to ‘The Place Beyond the Pines’ With Ryan Gosling

CHICAGO – In the latest HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: Film with our unique social giveaway technology, we have 30 pairs of movie passes up for grabs to the advance screening of the highly recommended “The Place Beyond the Pines”!

Interview: Derek Cianfrance Sheds Light on ‘The Place Beyond the Pines’

CHICAGO – The first image that surfaced of Derek Cianfrance’s “The Place Beyond the Pines,” was that of a bleached blonde, tattooed Ryan Gosling seated on a motorcycle. For many viewers, that would be enough to earn their ticket, yet Cianfrance’s brooding epic is bound to give them far more than they bargained for. Some may feel betrayed, others will be hooked.

Film Review: Josh Brolin, Sean Penn Sleep Through Dull ‘Gangster Squad’

CHICAGO – I know it’s only January but Ruben Fleischer’s “Gangster Squad” is sure to be one of the most disappointing films of 2013. Look at that cast! Look at them playing caricatures and doing absolutely nothing of interest! “Gangster Squad” is a total mess and absolutely none of it has to do with notorious reshoots after the shooting in Aurora that pushed the flick back four months.

Blu-ray Review: Brilliant ‘Drive’ Deserves Better Home Release

Drive

CHICAGO – “Drive” will surely be one of the most remembered and beloved films of 2011, no matter what Academy members (who notoriously snubbed the film except for one lone tech nod) may think. And so it is disappointing that the Blu-ray edition from Film District and Sony is surprisingly light on special features. The film itself looks (and especially sounds) incredible and, considering it was my #2 for 2011, is well worth a pick-up, but you can presume that this is a placeholder for a Special/Ultimate/Collector’s Edition inevitably down the road.

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  • New Country

    CHICAGO – The Country Music industry has become as huge as any category of music entertainment. So Mark Roberts, the creator of the TV sitcom “Mike & Molly,” has fashioned a boisterous new play about the machinations of that genre of music industry, and gave it the plaintive title of “New Country.”

  • Romeo and Juliet, Lyric Opera of Chicago

    CHICAGO – The familiar story of the “star crossed lovers” by William Shakespeare, “Romeo and Juliet,” has been given as many interpretations over the years as there are stars in the sky. The Lyric Opera of Chicago presents the operatic French version, with a bright and venerate staging.

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