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Film Review: ‘Whiplash’ Finds a Big Rhythm, Gives it a Backbeat

CHICAGO – When is the last time you had a bit of sweat after coming out of a movie? “Whiplash” will do that, and it contains not one action sequence or superhero, unless you consider J.K. Simmons as a sociopathic music guru a hero (he is in a way), and drumming as action (it is).

Interview: Director Damien Chazelle Cracks the ‘Whiplash’

CHICAGO – Simply one of the best movies of 2014, “Whiplash” has a tone, energy and sensibility all its own. Damien Chazelle wrote and directed the story of a jazz drummer prodigy at a prestigious New York City music college, tortured by his tyrannical instructor. The drama is scintillating, in rhythm with the natural story flow.

Film Review: Celebrating the Ordinary Couple in ‘Love is Strange’

CHICAGO – It is a time, and the time is now. Leave it to filmmaker Ira Sachs to break a barrier simply by having the right timing. Exploring a long time gay couple, right at the cusp of their now-legal marriage, opens the door to an odd series of ordinary circumstances in “Love is Strange.”

Interview: Director Ira Sachs Reminds Us ‘Love is Strange’

CHICAGO – One of the notable films to kick off the autumn film season is writer/director Ira Sach’s “Love is Strange.” The story of two men in a longtime gay relationship, who finally can marry – but whose lives go off track unexpectedly – features brilliant performances from veterans John LIthgow and Alfred Molina.

Film Review: ‘Land Ho!’ a Funny Film Driven by Memorable Characters

Land Ho!

CHICAGO – The pure, character-driven film is as rare as a comic book movie with a bad opening weekend. “Land Ho!” is one of those celluloid treats, the simple story of “Odd Couple” senior citizens – portrayed unforgettably by Earl Lynn Wilson and Paul Eenhoorn – who take a trip to the country of Iceland, and learn how to, and how not to, get along.

Interview: Director Aaron Katz Gives a Shout Out to ‘Land Ho!’

CHICAGO – There might not be a more unusual movie this year than “Land Ho!” The film follows two “golden boys,” sixtysomethings Mitch (Earl Lynn Nelson) and Colin (Paul Eenhoorn), as they take an Odd Couple-type trip to Iceland. Writer/director Aaron Katz (“Dance Party, USA”) breaks that ice between the two men.

Film Review: ‘Magic in the Moonlight’ is Woody Allen By the Book

CHICAGO – After last year’s powerful “Blue Jasmine,” writer/director Woody Allen’s trajectory seemed destined toward another film masterpiece, but “Magic in the Moonlight” isn’t it. Colin Firth and Emma Stone are an unlikely pairing in this seen-it-before-Woody film trifle.

Film Review: ‘Third Person’ an Intriguing Yet Foreseeable Labyrinth

Third Person

CHICAGO – Don’t you hate it when you figure out where a film is going long before it gets there? That could be a problem with “Third Person,” but writer/director Paul Haggis (“Crash”) also adds enough secrets to chew on and enough multiple pathways to explore. Enter at your own risk.

Interview: Writer/Director Paul Haggis Creates ‘Third Person’

CHICAGO – Not many Oscar winning screeenwriters change the course of their professional lives because of a dream (story below), but Paul Haggis is an exceptionally brilliant writer whose credits include “Crash” (2005) and “Million Dollar Baby” (2004) – which both won Best Picture – and his new film, “Third Person.”

Film Review: Artist Ralph Steadman Profiled in ‘For No Good Reason’

For No Good Reason

CHICAGO – In the deluge of images that pierce our cerebral cortex on a daily basis, it’s refreshing to go back to the days when images had more influence, sought through publications or word of mouth. Artist Ralph Steadman was a mover and shaker – along with his writing partner Hunter S. Thompson – in the age-old notion that the pen can be mightier than the sword.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Kingpin Blu-ray

    CHICAGO – Before 1998’s “The Big Lebowski” there was 1996’s “Kingpin”, the Farrelly brothers bowling comedy that didn’t have the narrative intricacies of the Coen brothers’ classic, but had plenty of jokes about middle-aged men playing the sport. Today finds the release of “Kingpin” to Blu-ray for the first time, coming with only one new special feature.

  • Star Trek Into Darkness

    CHICAGO – With J.J. Abrams not involved with the creation of a third “Star Trek” movie, a compendium of his work within the franchise only seems fitting. Loaded with special features but only a few new ones, this disc set is a strong choice for those who don’t already have both entertaining blockbusters in their collection.

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