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Film Review: ‘The First Purge’ is Nothing But Tedious Trash

CHICAGO – I saw the original “The Purge” five years ago, but missed the other two installments. Let me say that nothing in the new prequel “The First Purge” makes me want to make up for lost time and catch up. The setup is the same… one night of legalized violence each year where the citizens are allowed to do whatever they want without the fear of prosecution.

Podtalk: Anuradha Rana of DePaul University on Their Student Film Festival & Chicago Cinema

Anuratha Rana, DePaul

CHICAGO – One of the growth areas in the Chicago film scene has been in academia, as traditional liberal arts universities in the area have been expanding their teaching programs and becoming more influential, in concert with the overall growth of the film industry in the Windy City. One such academic leader is DePaul University, an institution that has become one of the Top 25 film schools in the nation, through their Cinematic Arts program and innovations like their new Big Shoulders International Student Film Festival. Assistant Professor Anuradha Rana is part of that success.

Theater Review: Overstuffed But Entertaining ‘The Cher Show’

CHICAGO – Has anybody in show business had more “comebacks” than Cher… or if you added her many last names Cher Sarkisian La Piere Bono Allman? All of the triumphs and downturns are shoehorned into “The Cher Show,” now in Chicago in a pre-Broadway run through July 15, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

Film Review: 'Sicario: Day of the Soldado' Ripped From Headlines

CHICAGO – We don’t really know what is going on at the Mexican border, nor if we’re lucky understand the desperation in crossing over. “Sicario: Day of the Soldado” is a cynical and sad film, but gives a bit of perspective on the this ongoing situation, especially as it deflates the current presidential administration.

Podtalk: Co-Directors David & Nathan Zellner Rescues the Western in ‘Damsel’

Damsel

CHICAGO – The familiar archetypes of the Hollywood Western… the dusty town, the swinging saloon doors and the cowboys looking the part… are all present and accounted for in “Damsel,” written and directed by David and Nathan Zellner (“Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter”). The twist comes in the action of the characters, portrayed by Robert Pattinson (“Twilight”), Mia Wasikowska (“Alice in Wonderland”) and the Zellners themselves.

Film Review: ‘Uncle Drew’ Scores Points as a Feel Good Film

CHICAGO – Sometimes, you just want to escape to the surreal “Land of The Feel Good,” where all relationships work themselves out and all results are victorious. “Uncle Drew” is that film for this pre-holiday weekend, and although this basketball comedy is not a slam dunk, it certainly hits several heart-and-soul points.

Podtalk: Director Shana Feste & Actor Lewis MacDougall Establish Their ‘Boundaries’

Boundaries

CHICAGO – Combining an intimate, personal story with a superstar cast, writer/director Shana Feste realized a semi-autobiographical journey in her new film “Boundaries.” The cast includes Oscar winners Christopher Plummer and Vera Farmiga, as well as Lewis MacDougall (“A Monster Calls”), Kristen Schaal, Bobby Cannavale, Christopher Lloyd AND Peter Fonda in a road trip picture that reunites ne’er do well Dad Jack (Plummer) with his desperate-to-connect-with-him daughter Laura (Farmiga).

Film News: Cinepocalypse Closing Night with ‘Killer Klowns from Outer Space’ on June 28, 2018

Killer Klowns from Outer Space

CHICAGO – The end is near for the 2nd Annual Cinepocalypse Film Fest at the historic Music Box Theatre in Chicago, as they present “Killer Klowns from Outer Space” for their Closing Night Film on Thursday, June 28th (8:30p), with cult writer/directors (and brothers) Stephen and Charles Chiodo making an appearance on behalf of the film. For ticket information, click here.

Podtalk: Actor Lee Perkins Hammers it Home in ‘The Domestics’

Lee Perkins

CHICAGO – The horror of a post apocalyptic world is ripe for exploration, and the new film “The Domestics” is the latest to take us down that road. Tyler Hoechlin and Kate Bosworth portray a married couple seeking her parents, as they road trip through what is left of Wisconsin after a societal collapse, and a series of murderous gangs have marked their territory. One of the gang leaders is Dean The Nailer, a foreboding presence who is portrayed with a ferocious intensity and precise eeriness by actor Lee Perkins.

Podtalk: Comedian Lil Rel Howery Got Game in ‘Uncle Drew’

CHICAGO – The born-in-Chicago comedian and now actor, Lil Rel Howery, is on a hot streak. Besides practically stealing the classic film of last year, “Get Out,” Howery was just seen in “Tag,” and is taking on a lead role in “Uncle Drew.” The new film is a basketball comedy featuring NBA/WNBA players taking on different roles.

Podtalk: Director Eugene Jarecki Crowns Elvis ‘The King’

CHICAGO – Elvis Presley, besides being one of the most famous entertainers of the 20th Century, does symbolize to an extent what can happen to icons when they turn towards certain directions in a career. Director Eugene Jarecki has created an amazing documentary about Elvis called “The King,” that uses his rise and decline as a symbol for the American Dream.

Film News: Lana Wachowski to Present ‘Bound’ at 2018 Cinepocalypse on June 27

Lana Wachowski, photo by Joe Arce

CHICAGO – The roots of the Chicago-born Wachowski Siblings (“The Matrix,” “Cloud Atlas”) is in the 1990s, with their unforgettable directorial debut “Bound” (1996). To celebrate that landmark, the Cinepocalypse Film Fest invited Lana Wachowski to present the film at the historic Music Box Theatre on Wednesday, June 27th, 2018 (7pm). To purchase tickets, click here.

Exclusive Photo: TV Icon Carol Burnett at the Chicago Theatre

CHICAGO – She’s so glad we had this time together. Carol Burnett, who practically is the history of show business in one career, recently appeared at the Chicago Theatre with her show “An Evening of Laughter and Reflection,” which was a career overview and audience Q&A… just like she had done on her classic TV show.

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