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Film Review: Sandra Bullock & Heist Crew Con Us in ‘Ocean’s 8’

CHICAGO – In “Ocean’s 8,” a diamond necklace at the Met Gala isn’t the only thing getting ripped off. This all female knock off provides a reasonable facsimile of a facsimile of the original’s suave swagger, but doesn’t have anything else to go on. “Oceans 11” is a movie that never should have gotten a sequel, much less become some kind of a franchise.

Interview: Director Todd Haynes Plays the Right Notes in ‘Carol’

Todd Haynes, photo by Joe Arce

CHICAGO – One of the best films of 2015 is the atmospheric and kinetically performed “Carol.” The film, set in the early 1950s, depicts a love that dares not speak its name, and also showcases the breathtaking presence of actress Cate Blanchett as the title character. The director of the film is the veteran Todd Haynes, known for another set-in-the-1950s classic, “Far from Heaven,” as well as “Velvet Goldmine,” “I’m Not There” and the recent HBO miniseries “Mildred Pierce.”

Film Review: Relentless Artistry of ‘12 Years a Slave’

CHICAGO – A man is chained to the floor in a dark, barren room. He has been ripped from his family and his freedom, and we watch as he’s whipped with amazing brutality. It goes on well past the point that most films with similar human suffering would have cut to a less stressful image.

TV Review: ‘American Horror Story: Coven’ Casts a Spell

CHICAGO – Take this with a giant grain of salt but FX’s “American Horror Story: Coven” shows incredible promise in its premiere episode tonight, setting a number of creative plates spinning in directions that could be fascinating. Why the salt? Well, “American Horror Story: Asylum” started with similar promise and quickly became cluttered and unfocused.

HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: 50 Pairs of Passes to ‘Mud’ With Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon

CHICAGO – In the latest HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: Film with our unique social giveaway technology, we have 50 pairs of movie passes up for grabs to the advance screening of the highly anticipated “Mud” with Matthew McConaughey!

TV Review: Take Harrowing Trip to ‘American Horror Story: Asylum’

CHICAGO – When we got to the end of FX’s excellent “American Horror Story” and nearly all of the characters were dead, a natural question arose — what the Hell do they do for season two? Welcome to “American Horror Story: Asylum,” a completely new tale with some of the same ensemble from the first season but a new setting, new characters, and new story but the same goal — to rattle your senses and put you on edge in the middle of the week.

TV Review: Stunning Performances Drive HBO’s Fantastic ‘Game Change’

CHICAGO – You may be surprised by the angle taken by HBO’s controversial “Game Change,” a film already being summarily dismissed by conservative pundits who probably haven’t even seen the piece and merely assume that it’s another liberal Hollywood hatchet job. It’s not that at all.

Blu-ray Review: Striking, Haunting ‘Martha Marcy May Marlene’

Martha Marcy May Marlene

CHICAGO – You’d never know it from the Academy Awards this past weekend but Sean Durkin’s “Martha Marcy May Marlene,” recently released on Blu-ray and DVD, was one of the best movies of 2011, a better overall film than at least half of this year’s Oscar winners. It features my choice for the best actress performance of 2011 and won the CFCA Award for Most Promising Filmmaker and Most Promising Performer. It’s absolutely a must-see.

Film Review: Brilliant ‘Martha Marcy May Marlene’ Offers No Easy Answers

CHICAGO – With a striking lead performance and assured direction from a debut filmmaker, “Martha Marcy May Marlene” has been one of the most acclaimed films of 2011 since its debut at Sundance many months ago.

Blu-Ray Review: ‘The Spirit’ Deserves Another Chance at Life in HD

The Spirit
HollywoodChicago.com Blu-Ray Rating: 3.5/5.0
Blu-Ray Rating: 3.5/5.0

CHICAGO – Frank Miller’s “The Spirit” is far-from-perfect. The attempts at goofy humor fall flat, the script is wildly uneven, and Gabriel Macht is deadly dull in the title role, but there’s way more to like here than I expected after missing it in theaters and hearing all the horrendous buzz from its initial release. It may not be great, but “The Spirit” could surprise you too. It’s a mess, but it’s kind of a beautiful mess, especially in HD.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Cher Show, The

    CHICAGO – Cherilyn Sarkisian… yes, that is her birth name… is the redoubtable Cher, and it’s perfect timing for her to have a jukebox musical tribute. “The Cher Show,” covering three eras/songs of the six-decade career of Cher, opens for a Chicago preview before its Broadway run, from June 12th through July 25th, 2018.

  • ThroatPunch

    CHICAGO – The provocative title of Sharon Krome’s new stage play, “ThroatPunch,” does not contain that particular fight technique. But it does have standout performances by the three person cast, as they make their way in Chicago, circa 1983, amid their emerging twentysomething punk rock attitude. The World Premiere of the show has a Thursday-Sunday run at the Chicago Mosaic School through June 3rd, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

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