Oscilloscope Laboratories

On-Air Film Review: Everything Must Converge in Ethan Hawke’s ‘Wildcat’

Wildcat

CHICAGO – Patrick McDonald of HollywoodChicago.com audio film review for the “Wildcat,” co-written and directed by Ethan Hawke and featuring his daughter Maya as 20th Century writer Flannery O’Connor. Currently in select theaters since May 17th. See local listings.

On-Air Film Review: Clarity Found! ‘Indigo Girls: It’s Only Life After All’

CHICAGO – Patrick McDonald of HollywoodChicago.com audio film review for the newly released “Indigo Girls: It’s Only Life After All,” the rise and evolution of the singer/songwriter duo Amy Ray and Emily Saliers, also know as The Indigo Girls. In select theaters and through digital download since April 10th.

DVD Review: Matteo Garrone Experiments with Surrealism in ‘Reality’

Reality DVD

CHICAGO – Like Sebastián Silva’s equally mesmerizing and maddening “Magic Magic,” Matteo Garrone’s “Reality” explores a psyche as it slowly unravels, obscuring the line between truth and fiction until it becomes hopelessly blurred. In fact, both filmmakers utilize a similar technique in portraying their heros’ delusions by occupying their peripheral vision with eerie apparitions.

Film Review: ‘A Teacher’ Explores Torrid Student Obsession with Unexplained Adult Regression

CHICAGO – We often go to the movies to suspend real life and explore what we think about doing but won’t or would do but can’t. Have you ever fallen for a much younger man or woman? Have you ever had a secret affair with someone at work? Have you ever obsessed over someone you shouldn’t?

DVD Review: ‘It’s a Disaster’ Sadly Lives Up to Its Name

It's a Disaster DVD

CHICAGO – The summer movie season has barely begun, and I’m already sick to death of the apocalypse. It seems to have pervaded every mainstream genre, from action-packed thrillers to raunchy comedies. I’ll take a hilarious mess like “This Is the End” over grim sci-fi junk like “Oblivion” and “After Earth” any day, simply because it delivers its cautionary message with tongue-in-cheek exuberance.

Film Review: Lauren Ambrose Shines in Heartbreaking Indie ‘About Sunny’

About Sunny Film Review

CHICAGO – In the annals of bad parenting portrayed on film, the heroine of Bryan Wizemann’s 2011 indie drama is a special case indeed. Though we watch helplessly as she makes countless bad decisions guaranteed to send her young daughter to intensive therapy, we don’t regard her a sinister figure on the order of Monique’s monstrous matriarch in “Precious.” Our gaze is one of empathy.

DVD Review: ‘Only the Young’ and ‘Tchoupitoulas’ Form Nostalgic Double Bill

Only the Young DVD

CHICAGO – With an intelligence typical of its brand, Oscilloscope Laboratories has released two cinema vérité gems on an impeccably matched double bill. One wishes more microbudget features barely clocking in at the feature length mark would receive similar releases. Here’s hoping Joe Swanberg’s “Marriage Material” and Todd Looby’s “Be Good” will one day be available on their own two-disc set.

DVD Review: Andrea Arnold’s ‘Wuthering Heights’ Puts ‘The Great Gatsby’ to Shame

Wuthering Heights DVD

CHICAGO – First Joe Wright sucked the life out of “Anna Karenina” with his meticulously choreographed, self-conscious pageantry. Then Baz Luhrmann proved that while heavy-handed spectacle may have appealed to Jay Gatsby himself, it was a recipe for disaster when applied to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s prose. Nothing kills off the power of a metaphor more than a large neon sign erected to underline its significance.

DVD Review: Strong Acting Bolsters Meandering ‘28 Hotel Rooms’

28 Hotel Rooms DVD

CHICAGO – It’s taken quite a few movies for me to warm up to Chris Messina. Perhaps it wasn’t his fault that he kept getting typecast as oafish, self-absorbed jerks. In my review of Dana Adam Shapiro’s flawed Oscilloscope release, “Monogamy,” I confessed that every time Messina’s face showed up onscreen, I was “suddenly filled with the intense desire to punch it.”

DVD Review: Delightful Score Bolsters ‘Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best’

Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best DVD

CHICAGO – Amiable charm compensates for scattershot laughs in Ryan O’Nan’s directorial debut, “Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best.” There’s an undercurrent of tangible warmth that reverberates beneath O’Nan’s awkward assemblage of quirky gags and self-consciously clever dialogue. Though I spent much of the film on the fence, it eventually won me over.

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  • Prodigal Daughter, The

    CHICAGO – One of the open secrets of Chicago is its horrible racist past, which remains like an echo. Playwright Joshua Allen has been exploring this theme in his Grand Boulevard Trilogy – the last chapter talking place during the infamous 1919 race riots – in Raven Theatre’s “The Prodigal Daughter.” For tickets and info, click TPD.

  • Michael Shannon and Travis A. Knight, Red Orchid's TURRET

    CHICAGO – When in the presence of a powerful acting force like Michael Shannon, the depth of performance is emotional and passionately essential. He co-leads with Travis A. Knight in Red Orchid Theatre’s World Premiere of Levi Holloway’s “Turret,” just extended to June 22nd at the Chopin Theatre.

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