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Film News: 10th Year of Midwest Independent Film Festival Kicks Off Feb. 4, 2014

Midwest Independent Film Festival Logo

CHICAGO – One of the finest film fest gathering places in Chicago is the Midwest Independent Film Festival, a year-long event that meets every first Tuesday of the month. The festival’s 10th year kicks off on Tuesday, February 4th, with the comedy “Adventures in the Sin Bin.”

Film Review: Frustrating Distance Travelled by ‘Blue Caprice’

CHICAGO – Alexandre Moors’ “Blue Caprice” presents no easy answers to a situation that likely doesn’t have any. I get that. I don’t need a traditional, TV-movie dissection of the D.C. sniper.

Film Review: Whale of a Tale For Drew Barrymore in ‘Big Miracle’

CHICAGO – Whale of a tale (chuckle), no other headline writer has thought of that. “Big Miracle” is a family movie with Drew Barrymore, John Krasinski, Kristen Bell, Ted Danson and the voice of Ronald Reagan, that will not have adults seeking the emergency exits. It’s about whales.

Blu-ray Review: ‘Flypaper’ Falters With Paper-Thin Characterizations

Flypaper Thumb

CHICAGO – After the not-so-surprising success of the heavily marketed farce “The Hangover,” Jon Lucas and Scott Moore have quickly become Hollywood’s most overrated screenwriters. They specialize in injecting high concepts with frat-boy vulgarity, mean spirited gags and entirely superficial warmth. If Zach Galifianakis hadn’t bolstered “Hangover” with his deadpan genius, the film almost surely would’ve flopped.

Film Review: Owen Wilson, Steve Martin, Jack Black Flock Up in ‘The Big Year’

The Big Year

CHICAGO – “The Big Year” is advertised as a comedy. The subject is bird watching, or as the new film likes to express the proper term, “birding.” It stars comic legend Steve Martin, and funnymen Jack Black and Owen Wilson. It is both not funny and is ACTUALLY, seriously about birding. Time to fly away.

Blu-Ray Review: ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou?,’ ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’

O Brother BD

CHICAGO – Touchstone Pictures have reached into the vault and pulled out two of their modest hits, a pair of films with little in common other than studio and that they’re both around ten years old. For teenagers, these films will be new again and the fact is that both have been a bit forgotten by history. “The Count of Monte Cristo” certainly has been more so than the Coen brothers’ “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” but you may want to revisit both now that they’re available in HD.

TV Review: Freddy Rodriguez Stars in Quirky Spy Series ‘Chaos’

CHICAGO – The main problem with reviewing television is that we’re often sent only the premiere and asked to judge a show overall. And yet we’d all agree that programs regularly improve or slide in quality after week one.

DVD Review: Uneven ‘Leaves of Grass’ Delves Into High-Minded Farce

Leaves of Grass DVD

CHICAGO – As special effects technology continues to become more advanced, filmmakers have found increasingly convincing ways of allowing actors to give dual performances in the same movie, and often in the same frame. This can be achieved in a variety of ways, from the exquisite trick photography in “Moon” to the seamless digital creation of the Winklevi in “The Social Network.”

Interview: Writer Bill Haney, Regina Kelly on the Struggle, Uplift in ‘American Violet’

CHICAGO – In a previous interview, director Tim Disney of the new film ‘American Violet’ called his film one where “change begins, and change is possible, when individuals make choices and stand behind them.”

Interview: Director Tim Disney on Incarceration Laws in ‘American Violet’

CHICAGO – In his third film, “American Violet,” director Tim Disney tackles the subject of unfair incarceration laws involving a poor African-American housing project in a rural Texas town.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Knick, The

    CHICAGO – Cinemax’s ominous new series “The Knick” is a hospital drama that’s very much in the voice of its director, Steven Soderbergh. Set in New York City at the turn of the 20th century, the series presents the medical world as it inches closer and closer to modernity, while making contemporary parallels to the desperate hustle by surgery room clients and their doctors alike regarding treatment of the human body. What has changed in the politics of medicine? What hasn’t?

  • Transcendence

    CHICAGO – The Internet is for real in “Transcendence”, a B-movie with grade-A production quality, loaded with terabyte-size open-ended questions, so long as one can accept it lastly with a scientific mindset. It is a film that perceives technology to be more expansive than a box of wires and computer chips, and actualizes the expanse of the internet as limitless to the realm of spiritual.

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