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DVD Review: Frustrating USA Mini-Series ‘Political Animals’

Political Animals

CHICAGOUSA’s mini-series “Political Animals” should have been one of the TV events of 2012. Instead it was just one of its biggest disappointments. That cast! That subject! In a political, election season! Zzzzzzz. Sadly, the creators of “Political Animals” delivered a program more like “Dallas” than “The West Wing” and viewers tuned out to the degree that the potential second season was canned. Now we can see what went wrong in one lackluster DVD set.

Blu-ray Review: Vanessa Redgrave, Brian Cox Elevate Stirring ‘Coriolanus’

Coriolanus Blu-ray

CHICAGO – I’ll never forget the moment I became a fan of Ralph Fiennes. It was while watching the behind-the-scenes documentary on the “Prince of Egypt” DVD. He was voicing the scene where his character, Ramses, shouts at Moses across the Red Sea. As he stood next to the mic, Fiennes’ entire body underwent a transformation, as if he were summoning a storm that coursed through his veins. He then let out the sort of howl that could easily part water.

Blu-ray Review: Richard Harris, Vanessa Redgrave in Classic Musical ‘Camelot’

Camelot

CHICAGO – I’ve never been a huge fan of “Camelot” but I love musicals of this era (including a few Lerner & Loewe hits like “Brigadoon” and “My Fair Lady”) and I adore both Richard Harris and Vanessa Redgrave. So I approached the recent Blu-ray release hoping that the many years since I had last seen “Camelot” would improve the film. Sadly, it’s still not one of my favorites even if this is a strong HD release.

DVD Review: Rachel Weisz Delivers Oscar-Caliber Work in ‘The Whistleblower’

The Whistleblower DVD Review

CHICAGO – I have a sneaking suspicion that if The Weinstein Company had acquired this film and released it during the 2011 awards season, Rachel Weisz would currently be an Oscar nominee. After playing an assortment of vulnerable, photogenic damsels throughout her career, Weisz delivers her most potent and compelling work to date in Larysa Kondracki’s fact-based thriller.

Film Review: Ralph Fiennes Modernizes Shakespeare in ‘Coriolanus’

Coriolanus

CHICAGO – The plays of William Shakespeare, influencing culture and morality for over 400 years, continue to open themselves up to new interpretations and settings. Ralph Fiennes directs and stars in a film version adaptation of “Coriolanus,” set against the modern day machinations of politics and war.

Film Feature: The Best Supporting Performances of 2011

CHICAGO – Kicking off our annual series of year-end film features, we begin with the ensemble players, the supporting cast members who provided the necessary dramatic support to allow their leading men and women to shine.

Film Review: ‘Anonymous’ Such Stuff as Bad Movies Are Made On

Anonymous
HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 1.0/5.0
Rating: 1.0/5.0

CHICAGO – Roland Emmerich has been commonly mocked for his larger-than-life blockbusters that include “Godzilla,” “The Day After Tomorrow,” and “2012.” I would rather sit through a marathon of all three of those works back-to-back-to-back than suffer through “Anonymous” one more time. While those movies have undeniable flaws, they do so on a grand scale common with the words guilty pleasure. There’s absolutely nothing pleasurable about this self-serious and remarkably stupid drama.

Preview: 47th Chicago International Film Festival, Part Two

CHICAGO – Some of the most wonderful diversity within the 47th Annual Chicago International Film Festival can be found in the mid-section of this year’s line-up as virtually-guaranteed Oscar nominees screen next to much-smaller films from around the world. Hopefully, you made it out to see one of our recommendations from the opening act of the fest and are eager for more.

Film Review: Rachel Weisz Anchors Melodrama of ‘The Whistleblower’

The Whistleblower
HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.5/5.0
Rating: 3.5/5.0

CHICAGO – Rachel Weisz elevates the harrowing true story of “The Whistleblower,” a pull-no-punches drama about a disturbing international conspiracy to cover up a sex trafficking ring involving the men tasked with protecting the innocent who turned to exploiting them. This is a graphic, dark, violent piece of drama, as it should be given its subject matter, but it’s the work of one of our best working actresses that truly makes it worth venturing into the darkness.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • 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.

  • 47 Ronin with Keanu Reeves

    CHICAGO – If you’ve ever wondered what the difference is between a director and a producer, let “47 Ronin” explain how the hierarchy of creativity hinders the evolution of even the most straightforward-sounding pitches. “47 Ronin” is the type of samurai movie set in Japan that features native actors speaking only English, while Keanu Reeves stars as an outsider clearly plunked into the picture for stateside star power.

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