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Blu-ray Review: Riveting ‘Prisoners’ Connects Even on Repeat Viewing

Prisoners

Denis Villeneuve’s “Prisoners” seems to have been lost in the awards season conversation and that’s a shame. Not only is Richard Deakins’ cinematography some of the best in his career but Jake Gyllenhaal and Hugh Jackman’s emotional work here deserves more credit than it’s been getting. Newly released on a gorgeous Blu-ray (with, sadly, scant special features), “Prisoners” is the kind of adult drama that seems certain to pick up more fans on the home market. It’s really worth your time.

Film Review: ‘Ender’s Game’ Loses Personality in Journey From Book to Film

CHICAGO – Gavin Hood’s “Ender’s Game” may be the best example of a current problem with science fiction: From “Oblivion” to “After Earth” to most of “Star Trek Into Darkness” and now this adaptation of the Orson Scott Card book, modern science fiction has become so depressingly sterile as to drain the genre of most of its joy.

HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: 40 Pairs of IMAX Tix to ‘Ender’s Game’ with Harrison Ford, Asa Butterfield

CHICAGO – In the latest HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: Film with our unique social giveaway technology, we have 40 pairs of advance-screening movie passes up for grabs to the highly anticipated new sci-fi “Ender’s Game” starring Harrison Ford and Asa Butterfield!

Film Review: Jake Gyllenhaal, Hugh Jackman Enter Darkness of ‘Prisoners’

CHICAGO – What would you do if your child was in jeopardy? We all love to answer quickly and instinctually that we would do absolutely anything but the fact is that we’re incredibly lucky to never be put in that situation. Would you torture someone else? What if you weren’t sure they were responsible?

Blu-ray Review: Strong Ensemble Propels Surprisingly Entertaining ‘Beautiful Creatures’

Beautiful Creatures

CHICAGO – It may not be a beautiful film but the latest attempt at cashing in on the “Twilight” craze, Richard LaGravenese’s “Beautiful Creatures,” recently released on Blu-ray and DVD, is surprisingly good-looking. The young leads show a lot more life than typical YA fare, the supporting cast is truly stellar, and the script from the author of “The Fisher King” and this weekend’s “Behind the Candleabra” has some interesting ideas about religion, fate, and maturity. It’s too long by some stretch and too many of the same ideas are hit repeatedly but when the supporting cast, including three Oscar winners, is allowed to do what they do best, it’s damn pretty to watch.

Film Review: Uneven ‘Beautiful Creatures’ Still Casts Spells

CHICAGO – The young adult horror/romance genre is running out of themes, could somebody please come up with a hunky Frankenstein monster? “Beautiful Creatures” uses witches as it’s premise, and features newcomers Alice Englert and Aiden Ehrenreich as the spell-crossed lovers.

Interview: Alice Englert, Aiden Ehrenreich of ‘Beautiful Creatures’

CHICAGO – The peculiar genre of young adult supernatural fiction has produced collections that define popularity. The new film “Beautiful Creatures” is the latest adaptation that feature young lovers among the mystic spells. Newcomers Alice Englert and Aiden Ehrenreich portray that couple.

Blu-ray Review: Disingenuous ‘Won’t Back Down’ Oversimplifies Vital Issues

Won't Back Down Blu-ray

CHICAGO – If a film were meant to be judged purely on the basis of its final shot, then Daniel Barnz’s “Won’t Back Down” would be an unqualified success. The image of a little girl finally learning to pronounce the word “hope” could’ve easily been a cheesy contrivance straight out of a Feldco commercial. Even on paper, the shot sounds downright silly.

Interview: Viola Davis Red Carpet at Chicago International Film Festival

Viola Davis, photo by Joe Arce.

CHICAGO – Consummate – in both performance style and manner – is a perfect descriptive for actor Viola Davis. The Oscar nominee for “Doubt” and “The Help” is in the hottest period of her career right now, and the Chicago International Film Festival honored her on October 22nd with their Career Achievement Award at the Black Perspectives Tribute.

Film Review: ‘Won’t Back Down’ is an Agenda Disguised as a Film

CHICAGO – There is an interesting trend in the financing of films, actual partisan organizations are fostering their points-of-view through the movies. This is nothing new in documentaries, but now it appears in a fictional film called “Won’t Back Down,” featuring Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • 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.

  • A Field in England (teaser)

    CHICAGO – I can’t recommend this more. “A Field in England” is a flashback and a flash forward all at once. It’s impossible to watch without thinking of great counter culture cinema. In fact when I saw it at Fantastic Fest 2013 it played as part of a double bill with Ken Russell’s “The Devils” (1971). They made perfect cinematic companion pieces. Russell’s film concerned a wayward priest desperate to protect his 17th century city from corruption in the Church only to fall victim to group hysteria when he is, ironically, accused of witchcraft by a jealous nun.

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