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Film Review: Engrossing ‘Cheap Thrills’ Bets on Men’s Desperation

Cheap Thrills

CHICAGO – “Cheap Thrills” is a case study in human desperation and depravity. It’s a sick and twisted film, but it goes about it in a most absorbing albeit uncomfortable way. It’s one of those films that forces the viewer to place themselves in the protagonist’s unpredictable position, asking a question like, “What would you do for money?” Once you do it, what else are you willing to do for more and then, “How far is too far?” 

Film Review: ‘The Raid 2’ is Must-See for Martial Arts Action Fans

CHICAGO – Two years ago, the Indonesian film, “The Raid: Redemption”, smacked action movie fans upside the head. To briefly sum it up, it was nuts. The straight-forward plot took a backseat to some amazing stunt work, an insane amount of creative choreography and in-your-face violence. There’s no need to worry about the sequel, “The Raid 2,” not living up to the original.

Interview: Director Gareth Evans, Actor Iko Uwais of ‘The Raid 2’

Raid 2, The

CHICAGO – In 2011, a new kind of martial arts film hit the screens, and wowed audiences with outrageous fight scenes, stunts and violence. “The Raid: Redemption” put Welsh filmmaker Gareth Evans – working from Indonesia – on the map, and he is back with fight choreographer and lead actor Iko Uwais in “The Raid 2.”

Film Review: A Sci-Fi Dream is Celebrated in ‘Jodorowsky’s Dune’

Jodorowsky's Dune

CHICAGO – Should Alejandro Jodorowsky have been able to direct his psychedelic adaptation of Frank Herbert’s “Dune”, the results would’ve been less of our planet compared to films like “Blade Runner” or “Star Wars”. Prismatic spacecrafts and golden landscapes would have filled Jodorowsky’s mad canvas, as created by stargazing designers like Jean Giraud and H.R. Giger.

Film Review: ‘Tim’s Vermeer’ is a Lovingly Rendered Obsession

Tim's Vermeer

CHICAGO – One of the fabulous subsets of human success is the person who evolves beyond collecting material goods and uses the bounty for pursuits of utter usefulness, which cannot be mastered unless that wealth buys the time and resources. Case in point, the subject of “Tim’s Vermeer.”

Film Review: ‘The Armstrong Lie’ Relies Mostly on Overkill

Armstrong Lie, The

CHICAGO – Lance Armstrong lied, we get it. He was busted in that lie, and he went to the nations confession facilitator – Oprah – and looked appropriately concerned when he did confess that he was dishonest. Alex Gibney’s further indictment, “The Armstrong Lie,” has the feeling of piling it on.

Interview: Director Alex Gibney Reveals ‘The Armstrong Lie’

CHICAGO – The long goodbye of tainted cycling athlete Lance Armstrong continues – after all the victories, “Live Strong,” the multiple denials of cheating and finally the confession that he lied. Oscar winning documentary maker Alex Gibney is the latest to take on this legacy of dishonesty, in “The Armstrong Lie.”

Film Review: Daniel Radcliffe Finds a Beat in ‘Kill Your Darlings’

CHICAGO – The movies has been berry berry good to 1950s Beat Generation poet Allen Ginsburg. For the sixth time since 2009, his persona is actualized on celluloid – this time by Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe – in the coming-of-age part of the poet’s story, “Kill Your Darlings.”

Film Review: ‘The Patience Stone’ Reveals Eternal Truths

CHICAGO – Despite any manmade restrictions through governments, religion, commerce or trumped-up morality, the truth has a way of mightily conquering all. “The Patience Stone” is a perfect example of that luxurious truth, and it is an important contemporary fairy tale.

Film Review: Jane Rolls Over Again for Wretched ‘Austenland’

CHICAGO – One of the most incorrect assumptions in literature iconography is the focus on Jane Austen as a purely romantic writer – skipping the depth of character, humor and cynicism in her work, for the sake of mooning over “Mr. Darcy.” The new film “Austenland” continues this trend.

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  • Ride Along with Ice Cube

    CHICAGO – Few figures have had less of an exciting domination of the world than Kevin Hart. In the past few years, the comedian has skyrocketed to leading fixture in the comedy scene, creating hit scripts out of films like “Think Like A Man” and “About Last Night,” while taking victory laps in his lacking stand-up features like “Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain”. The big problem is that these projects don’t justify his comic potential.

  • The King of Comedy

    Something always felt a bit out of place for me in Martin Scorsese’s brilliant “The King of Comedy”, just released on Blu-ray for the first time. I couldn’t put my finger on it but chalked it up to it being thematically ahead of its time in its investigation of the cult of personality that defines modern entertainment.

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