Jon Espino

Film Review: Visual Beauty Can't Cover Up Cultural Vagueness in 'Abominable'

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CHICAGO – The changing view on yetis goes to show just how different my childhood was from kids growing up today. Back in my day, yeti’s were elusive creatures meant to be feared, much like Big Foot or Loch Ness. Films like “Smallfoot” and “Abominable” are paving the way towards acceptance were we ever to encounter a yeti, but the latter is more of a step back than forwards.

Film Review: Zellweger's Star Power Single-Handedly Saves Stale 'Judy'

CHICAGO – Even before I figured out my own sexuality, Judy Garland’s status as a gay icon was known to me. I wouldn’t understand why until much later in my life, but sure as the sky was blue, the city was emerald, and the brick road was yellow, I knew I was a friend of Dorothy. Heartbreakingly, “Judy” paints a bleak portrait of the star, but never takes a look at the bigger picture.

Film Feature: HollywoodChicago.com Remembers Rutger Hauer

CHICAGO – Cult character actor Rutger Hauer passed away late last month, but the mark he made with his array of performances carried through two generation of admirers, even receiving the honor of Best Dutch Actor of the (20th) Century in 1999. He died on July 19th, 2019, in his native Netherlands. He was 75.

Film Review: ‘The Farewell’ Greets with Cultural, Emotional Exploration

CHICAGO – We all have those family stories that seem just so uniquely ours that it is hard to believe anyone could actually relate to them. Stories that, at the time, don’t seem like anyone else would even understand. Lulu Wang proves in “The Farewell” that all it takes is a little empathy, a skilled storyteller, and a group of talented people to bring any story to life.

Film Review: Horror is Worth a Visit in 'Annabelle Comes Home'

CHICAGO – There is such an unnerving quality to older dolls, which is why they lend themselves so perfectly to horror stories. There’s just an unsettling feeling when looking at their static expression, usually plastered with a permanent smile that gives me terrible flashbacks to when I worked retail.

Film Review: Less Black Magic, More Black Mirror Succeeds in 'Child's Play'

CHICAGO – There are some fears in this world that seem irrational to us. Like a fear of clowns or the fear of using an elevator. Horror films are at the core of some of these fears, with the truly great ones creating new things to fear. The “Child’s Play” franchise may have had its roots in psychopathic soul transfers, but the update focuses on the ghost in the machine.

Film Review: 'The Dead Don't Die' Offers Full-On Horror Homage But Little Else

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CHICAGO – Before Jordan Peele, before Mike Flanagan, before James Wan, and especially before all of Blumhouse, there were other masters of horror who paved the way for the filmmakers we know today. The Carpenters, the Cravens, and the Argentos of the world helped turn horror into the thriving genre it is today. Jim Jarmusch’s “The Dead Don’t Die” openly acknowledges this with their love letter approach to the genre itself.

Film Review: ‘The Secret Life of Pets 2’ Feels More Like a Cat Nap Than Catnip

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CHICAGO – As a pet owner, I know firsthand that I want an exciting life for my guinea pigs. When I’m off at work, I’d like to think that they throw parties or have some sort of hangouts with other guinea pigs or pets in the area. The alternative being the sad realization that they are stuck in their cage while I’m away, probably bored out of their little minds. “The Secret Life of Pets” franchise continues to brings the fantasy to life, even if the sequel feels too tame.

Film Review: ‘Poms’ Stumbles and Fumbles Through a Stale Routine

CHICAGO – There is an undeniable amount of skill and talent that goes into cheerleading. I happen to be rhythmically challenged so I am in awe of anyone, regardless of age, who can keep a beat while doing any sort of choreography. “Poms” promised to keep in step with a fresh premise, an all-star cast, and a new perspective on this tried-and-true genre but it tumbles along the way.

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