“Danny Collins,” starring Al Pacino, is a great little movie

“Danny Collins,” the newest Al Pacino flick, is a great little movie. Can those words, “great” and “little,” co-exist in the same sentence? Yes, in this instance, they can. Like the kind of old Warner Brothers dramas you used to find on late-night television, “Danny Collins” is a well-crafted character study that reaches beyond even... Read more »

Danielle's Chicago

As is often the case, Chicago is having a hard time moving into spring this year. Since the official start of the season on March 20, we’ve seen snow and plenty of cold, grey days that feel more like winter than spring. However … we’ve also had glorious, warm, sunny days, tempting us and teasing... Read more »

These "Maps to the Stars" lead to a stirring film

Some movies stay with me for awhile after I’ve seen them, their images lighting up the darkened theater of my mind. David Cronenberg’s new film, “Maps to the Stars,” is one of these kinds of films. I couldn’t quite shake off some of its images when I left the movie theater. The film, directed by... Read more »

Go see "Yankee Tavern" at Greenhouse Theater Center

There’s a strange little play in Chicago running at the Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave., through March 22. The play, staged by American Blues Theater, is called “Yankee Tavern,” and it’s set in an old bar in New York City in 2006. There’s only four characters: a young man and a woman, twenty-somethings,... Read more »

Chicago-filmed "Empire" brings classy melodrama to the music business

There’s nothing subtle about the new Fox TV hit “Empire.” Airing on Wednesday nights at 9 Eastern/8 Central, the show is a classy melodrama about the music business. The patriarch of a rich label – much like Detroit’s “Motown” – is slowly dying of ALS, and his three sons and ex-wife and current wife and... Read more »

Actress Nsenga Wilson discusses making "The Love Betrayal"

In mid-January, I had the good fortune to attend a script-reading for a new independent movie being made in Chicago. The movie, “The Love Betrayal,” deals with the effects of domestic violence on one Brandi Wilson, who has just been released from prison after serving time for the involuntary manslaughter of her abusive husband. The... Read more »

Writing for the Devil: Tips

I always wanted to be a writer. Make up stories for a living, I thought, like one of my favorites, John Steinbeck. And reap the rewards: money; fame; and in Steinbeck’s case, no less than the Nobel Prize in Literature. But something happened to me on my way to literary stardom. Like a good reader,... Read more »

Watching a movie take shape on the South Side of Chicago

Most of us, to varying degrees, enjoy watching movies. And I am certainly part of that group. So it was a special thrill recently when I took a trip to the South Side of Chicago and attended a  script-reading for a new movie being made in our city. The reading was on the second floor... Read more »

Jean-Luc Godard's latest film, "Goodbye to Language," has a language all its own

Frenchman Jean-Luc Godard’s latest film, “Goodbye to Language” (“Adieu au langage”) is a wild ride. Bright-colored, 3D images fill the screen in a succession of conventional narrative and off-beat rhythms. People leisurely look through and then discard books at a kiosk in a public square. A dog with a mournful look in his eyes peers... Read more »

Now Playing on YouTube: "Sayonara," Starring Marlon Brando

“Sayonara,” a Warner Brothers movie from 1957 about love, war, and the American military, certainly feels dated. It’s Big Hollywood telling a story set in Japan, but the movie contains hardly any of the Japanese language, and at least a good part of it was actually filmed on studio lots in Burbank, California. Nevertheless, “Sayonara” is a worthwhile... Read more »