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Shirley MacLaine

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.

DVD Review: Some True Classics in ‘The Robert Mitchum Film Collection’

Robert Mitchum

CHICAGO – They don’t make ‘em like Robert Mitchum any more. Every few years, there’s a DVD collection of classic movies that rises above the others for the holiday season. One of this year’s most star-packed entries includes not only Mitchum but John Wayne, Deborah Kerr, Kirk Douglas, Shirley MacLaine, Richard Widmark, Gene Kelly, Paul Newman, Shelley Winters, Marilyn Monroe, and many more. Mitchum may be the face on the cover but the set is a trip through the golden era of Hollywood through more than just one star.

Blu-ray Review: Jack Black in Richard Linklater’s Clever ‘Bernie’

Bernie

CHICAGO – Richard Linklater’s “Bernie” is one of those unusual stories that is so bizarre that it has to be true. It is the saga of Bernie Tiede (Jack Black), a closeted, affable mortician who befriended an irascible, cranky woman named Majorie Nugent (Shirley MacLaine). After years of psychological abuse, he shot her in the back and stored her in the freezer in their garage. As he does with all of his projects, Linklater approaches this true story from a unique, entertaining angle. He’s simply one of our best living filmmakers and “Bernie” is merely further proof.

Film Review: Tour de Force for Jack Black in Fact-Based ‘Bernie’

CHICAGO – Jack Black is a smart and interesting actor. Not content to ride on the modern day John Belushi-type roles that might have pigeonholed him, Black portrays “Bernie,” a convincing conniver in Texas, based on a true story. Veterans Matthew McConaughhey and Shirley MacLaine add spice to the brew.

Blu-ray Review: Classic Alfred Hitchcock, Billy Wilder, Woody Allen Finally in HD

Manhattan

CHICAGO – I’ve long said that one of the main reasons that Blu-ray didn’t take off as quickly as people thought it would is because too many of movie lover’s favorite movies weren’t available on the format. It took years to get “Alien,” “Star Wars,” and even “Back to the Future.” “Jaws” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark” still aren’t in HD. Well, a wave of catalog releases last week that included some of my personal favorite films ever made should help the format overall. With several Oscar winners and some of the most influential filmmaking of all time, this is an amazing catalog wave. Buy all six.

Blu-Ray Review: Chance the Gardener Makes it to Blu-Ray in ‘Being There’

Being There
HollywoodChicago.com Blu-Ray Rating: 3.5/5.0
Blu-Ray Rating: 3.5/5.0

CHICAGO – Chance the Gardener (Peter Sellers), a character who notoriously said “I like to watch,” would probably be mesmerized by the 30th anniversary Blu-Ray release of “Being There” from Warner Brothers. Sadly, fans of the film that are more accustomed to the modern world may be a little underwhelmed.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • 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.

  • Happy Christmas

    CHICAGO – “Drinking Buddies” director Joe Swanberg’s latest release of the same star wattage is “Happy Christmas,” an even lower-fi story than the Olivia Wilde beer comedy, steered even more by the casting that it was able to assemble. However, with this movie Swanberg doesn’t so much worry about having a story that could be confused with a more mainstream romantic comedy if it were to have a bigger budget.

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