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Ben Foster

Film Review: Peter Berg’s Brutal ‘Lone Survivor’ Lacks Context

Imagine a version of “Saving Private Ryan” that takes place entirely on the beaches of Normandy. It would have a visceral power purely through the horror of the recreation of war. However, it would lack the context of the rest of the narrative and lead one to question why the cinematic trip was worth taking.

Film Review: Mesmerizing, Romantic Power of ‘Ain’t Them Bodies Saints’

CHICAGO – Is a film automatically flawed if we can see its influences? We don’t do it as quickly in music, in which it’s often incredibly easy to determine a new artist’s favorite bands as a kid. Authors that pull from a notable and recognizable literary history are often lauded for doing so.

Interview: Director David Lowery Dazzles With ‘Ain’t Them Bodies Saints’

CHICAGO – Even if “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” hadn’t premiered this year, snagging two Sundance awards in the process, 2013 would still be considered a landmark year for David Lowery.

2013 Sundance Diary, Day 3: Let’s Run Away From it All

PARK CITY, Utah – Film festivals naturally encourage those who write about them to look for themes. A few years ago it was the end of the world. This year, it seems to be the coming-of-age story (“Kill Your Darlings,” “The Spectacular Now,” “Mud,” “Emanuel and the Truth About Fishes,” “The Way, Way Back”) on the surface and the journey from home a little deeper.

Blu-ray Review: Mark Wahlberg, Ben Foster in Generic ‘Contraband’

Contraband with Mark Wahlberg (review)

CHICAGO – “Contraband” has some action movie elements that work but too much of it is overly familiar, especially the parts played by leads Mark Wahlberg and supporting actors J.K. Simmons, Ben Foster & Giovanni Ribisi, strong actors who resort to their basic tricks here and just don’t deliver. I like all four guys but this is lazy work in a relatively lazy film overall. All in all, “Contraband” is a mediocre movie that moves quickly enough to barely fit the bill on a rainy Saturday night but isn’t the best work by anyone involved.

HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: 5 ‘Contraband’ Blu-rays With Mark Wahlberg, Kate Beckinsale

Contraband Blu-ray with Mark Wahlberg

CHICAGO – In our latest action/crime edition of HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: Blu-ray, we have 5 Blu-rays up for grabs for the highly anticipated home entertainment release of “Contraband” starring Mark Wahlberg and Kate Beckinsale!

Film Review: Mark Wahlberg’s ‘Contraband’ Steals Half Justice From Icelandic Conquest

CHICAGO – One way to craft an unforgettable, undeniably adept film is to make a new one. Hollywood views that as financially risky, though, and it often doesn’t happen without being based on a book with a built-in audience or a film that’s already an international box-office success.

Blu-Ray Review: Jason Statham, Ben Foster Keep ‘The Mechanic’ From Breaking Down

The Mechanic

CHICAGO – We have seen dozens of movies about hit men caught in dangerous situations. There is something that fascinates us about men who take the assignment to kill someone and just pack up and wait for the next job. Inevitably, the movies tell us that these men will pay the price, whether it be a job gone horribly wrong or an attempt to leave a profession that doesn’t come with a pension plan. The latest entry in the subgenre is the Jason Statham vehicle “The Mechanic,” a film that works reasonably well as a rental but falls a bit flat with a disappointing final act.

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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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