Category: Entertainment: Film and TV

"A Star is Born" shines brightly

Movies about show business are as old as the medium itself. From Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney in the 1930’s telling their teenage friends, “Let’s put on a show, guys!,” to the Broadway dancers of “A Chorus Line” (1985), there’s something inherently entertaining about watching performers perform as performers. In its fourth Hollywood version over... Read more »

Chicago-made short film "Tranheist" will aim to show personal side of being transgender

“She told me what it was like being a trans woman.” Filmmaker Maureen Maundu, 32, was talking to me the other day about Lila Star, the lead actress in Maundu’s upcoming short film, “Tranheist.” “Lila’s great.” Maundu said. “She completely understood who Morgan was.” Morgan is the film’s lead character, a transexual woman desperate for reassignment... Read more »

"Stepping Out," starring Liza Minnelli, is a song-and-dance delight from 1991

“Stepping Out,” starring Liza Minnelli, may be the kind of movie you’re a bit ashamed of for loving. It’s an old-fashioned “let’s-put-on-a-show” musical, including plenty of singing and dancing. Here’s the story: Mavis Turner, played by Minnelli, is a dancer who once appeared on Broadway, mostly in choruses. Several years before the film’s opening, in... Read more »
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Woody Allen's new film, "Wonder Wheel," is a thoughtful, dramatic delight

The new film written and directed by Woody Allen, “Wonder Wheel,” is a  delight. It’s filled with full-bodied, real characters, and great themes. Colorful and creative,  it perks along with the kind of syncopated rhythm (and jazz music) that seems just right for its Coney Island, New York, setting in the 1950’s. The 82-year old Allen was... Read more »

Chicago independent film "Lakeshore Drive" gives a short, haunting ride along the iconic roadway

On Saturday afternoon, Sept. 23, a new, short independent film called “Lakeshore Drive” premiered at Chicago’s venerable 400 Theater, 6746 N. Sheridan Rd., in the city’s Rogers Park neighborhood. Directed by 33-year old Peter Bowse — who lives just a few blocks north of the 400 — the film, described as “neo-noir” in a press... Read more »

Jerry Lewis's last film, "Max Rose," is a quiet work worth checking out on-line

Jerry Lewis, the incomparable comic actor, who died on August 20, was best known for loud antics and crazy voices. However, his final film, “Max Rose” (2013), is a quiet, restrained work about an elderly man whose wife and soul mate of 65 years has just died. “Max Rose” was released in the U.S. in... Read more »
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"Fences," now available on-line, is a powerful film about family and responsibility

“Fences,” the 2016 film about an African-American family in 1950s Pittsburgh, is now available on-line. For those who have not yet seen the film, and who enjoy substantive drama, with excellent writing and top-notch acting, I heartily recommend this movie. Fire up the old laptop, desktop or smart TV, pour yourself a glass of wine,... Read more »

"La La Land" is a joy

“La La Land” is a feel-good movie with an idea. The idea is this: Creativity, and a creative approach to life, can help us get through life. The movie is such a rush to watch, though, that this theme never seems overbearing. It’s swept up in all the music, dance and visual energy that’s delighting... Read more »

"Sully" lands safely in American theatres, a solid piece of Hollywood filmmaking

On January 15, 2009, a U.S. Airways pilot named Chesley “Sully” Sullenburger lifted off from New York’s LaGuardia Airport with 155 passengers and crew members aboard his airplane, Flight 1549. Soon after takeoff, over the skies of Manhattan, the airliner was hit by a large group of birds, which caused both of its main engines... Read more »
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"Hell or High Water," the new modern Western starring Jeff Bridges, is a helluva good movie

Some movies pull you in at first, but may leave you roaming the recesses of your mind halfway through. Not a film like “Hell or High Water,” the high-voltage, excellent new modern Western starring Jeff Bridges and directed by the 50-year old Englishman David Mackenzie. From the very first frame — you’re inside a fast-moving car,... Read more »