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Film Review: Human Emotions Transcend Wealth in ‘Foxcatcher’

CHICAGO – In the memorable film “Barton Fink,” the title character is asked to write a wrestling movie for Wallace Beery. If Fink had isolated himself long enough, he might have come up with “Foxcatcher,” demonstrating once again that a true story is much stranger than fiction.

Interview: Director Bennett Miller is the Hound in ‘Foxcatcher’

CHICAGO – There are many categories of film director types – facilitators, tacticians, framers, to name a few – but there are few real artists. Bennett Miller has guided three films in his career, “Capote,” “Moneyball” and his latest “Foxcatcher.” All three have a purposeful artistry, and explore the soul within the humanity it portrays.

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.

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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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