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?
CHICAGO – “The Big Wedding” begins with Robert De Niro performing a particular love making maneuver on Susan Sarandon, and is caught in the act by Diane Keaton. What could have happened in a cutting-edge indie feature in 1981 is the basis of a lame bit in 2013, and so it goes for the rest of the film.
CHICAGO – Don’t let the awful title fool you — “The Giant Mechanical Man” is not sci-fi. This cute dramedy tackles well-trod ground in the world of indie film but Lee Kirk conveys enough honest affection for his well-crafted characters that the piece works.
CHICAGO – Avid moviegoers like to pride themselves on their ability to predict twists and turns prior to their occurrence in a script. This is often the result of formulaic writing and creaky clichés, but in the case of Michael Brandt’s “The Double,” no exemplary knowledge of cinema is necessary to foretell every last plot point. Only functional eyesight and an IQ above zero are required.
CHICAGO – As his excellent “Haywire” plays in theaters and his even-better “Contagion” was recently released on Blu-ray and DVD, one is reminded of the incredible talent of Steven Soderbergh, one of the best living directors. But “Contagion” and “Haywire,” while enjoyable, don’t hold a candle to this incredible filmmaker’s best films, which include “Sex, Lies, and Videotape,” “Out of Sight,” “Che,” and, recently released on Criterion Blu-ray and DVD, the Oscar-winning “Traffic.” This is one of Criterion’s best releases for one of the ‘00’s best films.
CHICAGO – It’s ironic that a film called “The Double,” starring Richard Gere & Topher Grace, would remind one of so many superior thrillers. It is in itself a double, a carbon copy of better films that focuses on all of the wrong elements, thinking that audiences are still dumb enough that just throwing twist after twist at them will keep their head spinning enough to not realize that what they just saw not only makes no sense at all but wasn’t even remotely entertaining.
CHICAGO – Most comedies feature a few key decisions or even just a few moments where you, the viewer, know someone made the wrong choice. Whether it’s something as small as thinking that a punchline works when it doesn’t or something major like the wrong casting decision, modern movie goers are smart enough to tell when they’re watching something dumb. “Take Me Home Tonight,” recently released on Blu-ray and DVD is very, VERY dumb.
CHICAGO – Nostalgia films need a couple of elements to make them work. First, instant recognition with the era, and second, a reason to go there. “Take Me Home Tonight” lacks both characteristics, and lead actor Topher Grace can’t seem to light a fire under the rest of it.
CHICAGO – Reliving the 1980s is what Topher Grace, ironically known for “That ‘70s Show,” set out to do with the story line for his new film, “Take Me Home Tonight.” Comedian Demetri Martin has a supporting role in that film.
CHICAGO – Perhaps it’s because it is so clearly inspired by a retro style of action but Nimrod Antal’s “Predators,” now available on Blu-ray and DVD, plays better at home than it did at the disappointing theatrical screening in the middle of summer 2010. It’s still a bit of a disappointment, but it’s one of those films that’s nowhere near as bad as it could have been and features a few strong set pieces, especially in HD.
CHICAGO – The gamer world is abuzz about the upcoming release of the popular title “Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit.” On Saturday, August 7th, Chicago felt the heat at the premiere party for the game, with a special appearance by DJ Mom Jeans, also known as Danny Masterson, who portrayed Steven Hyde on “That ‘70s Show.”