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Film Review: Sandra Bullock & Heist Crew Con Us in ‘Ocean’s 8’

CHICAGO – In “Ocean’s 8,” a diamond necklace at the Met Gala isn’t the only thing getting ripped off. This all female knock off provides a reasonable facsimile of a facsimile of the original’s suave swagger, but doesn’t have anything else to go on. “Oceans 11” is a movie that never should have gotten a sequel, much less become some kind of a franchise.

Film Review: Melissa McCarthy is the Charming ‘Life of the Party’

CHICAGO – Melissa McCarthy is a comedic force to be reckoned with, able to wring laughs improbably out of the stingiest of material. She always manages to find the funny, which helps elevate everyone around her, and so she slips easily in the durable friendly constructs of the campus comedy in “Life Of The Party.”

Film Review: There Are Just Enough Reasons to Go Ape Over ‘Rampage’

CHICAGO - As a whole, we have a fascination with watching destruction in front of us. It provides a catharsis from our heavily stressed lives, especially in the Trump era. It provides a necessary release of aggression, the same way video games do for people. “Rampage” scratches that itch, but only if you aren’t also looking to be intellectually stimulated or care about plot coherence.

Film Review: For Better or Worse, ‘Ready Player One’ is Nostalgia at its Purest

CHICAGO – Just in time for Easter, there’s a film filled with enough Easter eggs to drown a small country. “Ready Player One” is a “Where’s Waldo” of mostly 80’s pop culture references that are meant to trigger our (and especially filmmaker Steven Spielberg’s) sentimental, nostalgic cores by bombarding us with reminders of our childhood. These trips down memory lane are fun until they’re not.

Film Review: ‘Everything, Everything’ Offers Close to Nothing, Nothing

CHICAGO – I’ll be the first to admit that I am not the target audience for these stock young adult romance novels. Aside from the odd fascination and romanticization of teenage death and terminal illness, these stories feel trite and much closer to fantasy than anything real or plausible. This is what the film “Everything, Everything” brings to the table, which essentially translates to Nothing, Nothing.

Film Review: ‘King Arthur: Legend of the Sword’ is a Dull, Magicless Bore

CHICAGO – Have you ever had such a bad case of déjà vu while watching a film that trying to remember where the familiar elements are from turns into a more enjoyable experience than actually seeing the film itself? If you haven’t, your quest for that kind of film is fulfilled by the incredibly forgettable “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.”

Film Review: There is Little Beauty to Be Found in ‘Collateral Beauty’

CHICAGO – Charles Dickens once said, “Reflect upon your present blessings — of which every man has many — not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” Seeing the trailer for “Collateral Beauty,” it’s obvious this is the theme of the film, but it is also the theme of this review. My “blessing” to you is the foresight not to waste your time with this film.

Film Review: It is Best to Steer Clear of This ‘Entourage’

CHICAGO – I actually did watch the HBO show this big-screen iteration is based on, and I looked back in surprise to find the show actually lasted for 8 years. That’s a long time for a show that peaked in season two, and petered out into irrelevance somewhere around season four or so.

Blu-Ray Review: Timeless ‘King Kong’ Given Gorgeous HD Treatment

King Kong

CHICAGO – Is there any better metaphor in the history of film for technology taking over nature than the planes that shoot down King Kong at the end of Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack’s 1933 classic? At the height of the depression, when 25% of the workforce was unemployed, the two adventure-seekers and his team took that metaphor and spun it around an amazingly slice of entertainment that would become one of the most influential and enjoyable films ever made, now available on Blu-ray.

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  • Stephanie Buxbaum

    CHICAGO – In the history of “Reality TV” there has been periods of up-and-down popularity, shows that have been around seemingly forever (“Big Brother,” “Amazing Race”) and spinoffs to new styles like “documentary series” as networks like the National Geographic Channel emerged. In all those permutations, producer Stephanie Buxbaum has experienced it all, and has the career and stories to prove it.

  • Deadbeat2

    CHICAGO – Not many web series start out as music videos, but the new online (YouTube) drama “Deadbeat 2” was just that. Created, written and directed by Danny Froze, the made-in-Chicago story recently premiered episodes five and six in the series, which features actor Kiwaun Stoutmire in the lead role of Ronnie.

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