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Science Fiction

Film Review: Consider the Meaning of Life Force in ‘Annihilation’

CHICAGO – Alex Garland, the standout creator/director of “Ex Machina,” is back with “Annihilation,” another science fiction story. And like the previous film, it explores implications of a sci-fi event, in this case an outer space incident that restructures a cellular code, that ends up destructive.

Film Review: Matt Damon in ‘Downsizing’ Offers Few Small Pleasures

CHICAGO – “Downsizing” is an interesting premise that doesn’t ultimately go anywhere interesting. Part of the problem is that writer/director Alexander Payne doesn’t seem to know what kind of a movie he wants it to be… it’s part cerebral Woody Allen futuristic comedy, part sci-fi social satire about Midwestern malaise, and winds up failing at both.

Film Review: Short Film ‘The Replacement’ at 53rd Chicago International Film Festival

Replacement, The

CHICAGO – The science fiction that we once knew, that we thought was impossible, is fast becoming everyday life. One short film that premiered at the 53rd Chicago International Film Festival – “The Replacement” – takes the concept of cloning, applying a chilling and symbolic twist to a science fiction that can also be interpreted in our current times as reality. “The Replacement” screens one more time as part of the “City & State” slate of shorts on Wednesday, October 25th, 2017 (details below).

Film Review: Suspenseful ‘Life’ is Tense, Compelling Science Fiction

CHICAGO – Combining the invasion elements of “Alien” with the life-raft-in-space morbidity of “Gravity,” the new film “Life” maintains a grip from the enlightened beginning to the twisted end. Mars is the origin, so the film joins “The Martian” and “The Space Between Us” in sourcing the red planet.

Film Review: Story Can’t Match Eye-Popping Visuals of ‘Passengers’


CHICAGO – The use of science fiction for all kind of stories is one of the hottest go-to genres for Hollywood today. “Passengers” is a love story, and adds the visual glory of modern special effects…but the soapy tale of a star-crossed (literally) couple is problematic and cliché ridden, and breaks at the end with heroics that are shoehorned into the rest of the scenario.

Interview: Director Rujanee Mahakanjana Takes a Different Route to ‘Lab 99’

Rujanee by Patrick McDonald

CHICAGO – Director Rujanee Mahakanjana has created some atypical and artistic statements in her film career. Her studio Nebula Creatives represents that work, which includes the short films “Random Seating” and “Out of Sight,” and feature films “Man and His Erections” and “Parallel Universe.” She is taking a different route to her next film, “Lab 99,” with a creative process that utilizes the comic book format.

Film Review: Science of the Human Condition Makes an ‘Arrival’

CHICAGO – The film genre of aliens from other planets is as old as the movies. But it hasn’t been told as boldly and humanely as the new film “Arrival.” Its theme is communication, and how this interaction relates to the concept of the life cycle. Yes, it’s lofty, but it is also edge-of-the-seat engaging.

Film Review: ‘Morgan’ Takes Out Intelligence in Artificial Intelligence

CHICAGO – There is nothing like the feeling of watching a completely immersive sci-fi film that delivers the complexity of technology in a modest package, and uses elements of nature to create a beautiful contrast. Unfortunately, “Morgan” doesn’t deliver on the enlightenment it promises.

Film Review: There are Future Consequences in ‘Ex Machina’

CHICAGO – The title “Ex Machina” is a play on Deus ex machina, the stage/scenario term meaning god from the machine, or the basic happy ending. By cutting out the “Deus” in the phrase, the film is left with just the machine, and the humans.

Interview: Director Alex Garland Seeks Humanity in ‘Ex Machina’

CHICAGO – Who are we anyway, when as inventors of artificial intelligence, we can create a new wave of thought process? That is what writer – and now director – Alex Garland (“28 Days Later…,” “Sunshine”) has been grappling with his entire career. His directorial debut is the stunning and prescient “Ex Machina.”

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  • Speech & Debate (stage play)

    CHICAGO – “Speech & Debate,” the latest production from the mighty Brown Paper Box Company, continues their tradition of thinking outside that “box” in presenting storefront theater that makes a statement and a difference. “Speech” goes inside America by showcasing the outsiders… those who create art because they can’t get it right in real life. This non-equity Chicago stage play premiere is finely tuned and wonderfully acted, and runs through March 4th, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

  • We're Gonna Be Okay

    CHICAGO – The 1960s were a time of historical social transition. The movements – civil rights, feminist, gay rights – all had roots in that tumultuous decade. The Chicago premiere of Basil Kreimendahl’s “We’re Gonna Be Okay” echoes all of those movements in its characters, and collides them against the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. The show has a Thursday-Sunday run at the American Theater Company through March 4th, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.


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