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Sean Penn

Film Review: Lack of Cohesiveness, Intrigue Stymies ‘The Gunman’

CHICAGO – If you’re going to see a Sean Penn action movie, I guess “The Gunman” would be appropriate. As he and the filmmakers inject some reality in the usual motivations, the puzzle pieces don’t connect well and in the end are not that interesting. That is not to say that the film is bad.

Interview: Director Pierre Morel on Sean Penn, Liam Neeson & His Latest ‘The Gunman’

Pierre Morel of 'The Gunman,' photo by Patrick McDonald

CHICAGO – There were basically two careers for Pierre Morel, before he directed the mega-hit “Taken,” starring Liam Neeson, and afterward. The French-born cinematographer, camera operator and now director is releasing “The Gunman,” an action film that stars Sean Penn. Like “Taken,” the motivations for the action are based in the real world, and “The Gunman” travels to Africa, London and Barcelona on his way to redeeming his soul.

Film Review: Back to Haiti, Finding Identity in Emotional ‘Lakay’

CHICAGO – Understanding identity is a lifelong pursuit. When two U.S. immigrant brothers – and filmmakers – go back to to their native Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, they find much more than expected. Tirf Alexius and Remoh Romeo documented their journey in the new film “Lakay.”

Interview: Tirf Alexius, Remoh Romeo Go Home in ‘Lakay’

CHICAGO – In America, we all came from somewhere, and there is always that other “home.” Brothers/filmmakers Tirf Alexius and Remoh Romeo – twenty-plus years removed from their native Haiti after moving to Chicago – go back to their homeland after the 2010 earthquake, and captured that journey in the new film, “Lakay.”

Film Review: Frustrating Journey Into ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’

I so want to love Ben Stiller’s “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.” Stiller’s directorial work on films like “The Cable Guy” and “Tropic Thunder” was underrated, the source material is great, the message of living in the moment has more value in an increasingly cluttered world, and the time seems right for an imaginative journey into the mind of a likable protagonist like Mr. Mitty.

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: 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.

Film Review: Strange, Beguiling Sean Penn in ‘This Must Be the Place’

CHICAGO – Sean Penn picks his roles carefully, and famously said he didn’t know what the story meant in “Tree of Life.” His attachment to “This Must Be the Place” continues the vague journey through movieland, as he plays a bizarre and aging rock star whose life is about to get interesting.

Blu-ray Review: David Fincher’s ‘The Game’ Joins Criterion Collection

The Game

CHICAGO – In many ways, it’s easier to draw a direct line from 1997’s “The Game” to the work that David Fincher is doing today than it would be from “bigger hits” like “Fight Club” and “Seven.” Not only does “The Game” look strikingly similar to “Social Network” and “Girl with a Dragon Tattoo” in terms of the way Fincher and his amazing d.p. Harris Savides shoot board rooms and bad behavior but the film shares themes that still interest Fincher like obsession, ego, and deception. The Criterion edition of Fincher’s film makes the argument crystal clear that is one of the most underrated thrillers of the ’90s.

Blu-Ray Review: Poetic Vision of Terrence Malick’s Beautiful ‘The Tree of Life’

The Tree of Life

CHICAGO – Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life” has stirred up a bit of controversy since its debut early in the Summer of 2011. You almost certainly saw the stories (or Facebook posts or tweets) about the audience walk-outs and signs at theaters that warned ticket buyers that they were about to see something unique.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • The Projects

    CHICAGO – The legacy of public housing is one of the strangest forces of karma in the City of Chicago. For example, sites that were once some of the roughest and most neglected housing for the poor now contain luxury condos. It is the people of those former hellholes that still remember the sorrowful history of what they once called home. The American Theater Company (ATC) have gathered these stories for the poignant and extraordinary “The Projects.”

  • Gambler, The 2

    CHICAGO – Browsing Dostoyevsky titles with consideration for proper roles for Mark Wahlberg, one might expect the Beantown hero to take on an adaptation of “The Idiot” before anything like “The Gambler.” After all, while Wahlberg has proven to be a diverse screen force - one who has well-grown past his Funky Bunch days - he often leans towards goofy men, or at least goofy men in goofy movies.

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