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Entries in Chicago (33)

Sunday
May172015

The Age of Mad Max's Perfect Pitch

"We're Back Pitches!"

Actually EVERYONE was back this weekend in the sequel-saturated landscape. The nice surprise is that it was totally infused with girl power. The real kind, not just the lip service kind with "Strong Female Characters" that the boys then rescue. OK, The Scarlet Witch is rescued by The Vision in Age of Ultron, but she brings it in the power department overall and the film just passed the one billion mark worldwide and became the top grosser of 2015 (in the US). But the top two this week were newer 'old' ones. Anna Kendrick and her harmonizing family The Barden Bellas returned to rescue themselves as they headed toward graduation and the world championships. Meanwhile Mad Max: Fury Road won the hearts of critics with its surprisingly feminist storyline and ambitous action setpieces. The film essentially has two title characters because the story may start with Mad Max but it's Imperator Furiosa in the driver's seat and she's taking this franchise down roads it's never been down before. Charlize Theron once again reminds the world that she's every bit as strong an action star as any man (and considering that Blunt, Jolie, and Johansson are also aces in this department, there are surely others who could carry an action picture if given the chance these actresses have had). 

And "They" say nobody will go see female superheroes. That's what all of these bitches are, you regressive studio execs! WAKE UP. Fund more female-driven movies. 

TOP TEN BOX OFFICE
May 15-17 Weekend
01 Pitch Perfect 2 $70.3 NEW
02 Mad Max: Fury Road $44.4 NEW Review
03 Avengers: Age of Ultron $38.8 (cum. $372)  Review & Marathon & Podcast
04 Hot Pursuit $5.7 (cum. $23.5) Review
05 Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 $3.6 (cum. $62.9)
06 Furious 7 $3.6 (cum. $343.8)  Review 
07 Age of Adaline $3.2 (cum. $37) 
08 Home $2.7 (cum. $165.6)
09 Ex Machina $2.1 (cum. $19.5)  Review
10 Far From the Madding Crowd $1.3 (cum. $2.6) 

NEW LIMITED RELEASES
May 15-17 Weekend
01 Where Hope Grows $490,000 (276 Theaters)
02 Good Kill $17,000 (2 Theaters)
03 I'll See You in My Dreams $16,000 (3 Theaters)
04 In the Name of My Daughter $14,000 (3 Theaters)
05 Animals $12,000 (10 Theaters)
06 The Connection $9,800 (2 Theaters)

In truly perplexing news, who is still buying tickets to Paul Blart Mall Cop 2 when there are this many good movies in theaters of pretty much all genres !?

In 'Less Likely To Be At a Theater Near You' news, Far From the Madding Crowd had a great weekend, vaulting into the top ten with an expansion despite still being in a few thousand less theaters than everything else in the top ten. 

Kim Shaw and David Dastmalchian in "Animals"

Of the other new releases, we hope y'all will go see ANIMALS. It's true we're biased in favor of the movie since the film's screenwriter/star David Dastmalchian guest blogged here just recently and I had the pleasure of moderating their Q&A here in NYC this weekend at the Village East cinema. But you don't have to take my word for it since it was a big hit at SXSW and also has the thumbs up from critics. It's currently available for download and playing theatrically in NYC, Atlanta, Kansas City, Detroit, Seattle, Phoenix, Miami, Columbus, and Los Angeles. Next week it adds Chicago, where it was filmed and where many of its actors are from, to the list so if you live in Chicago head to the Gene Siskel next weekend! I told Dastmalchian that it seems terribly fitting that I went to the movie specifically to see him work a rare leading role and I came out appreciating not just him but actors I wasn't yet familiar with in other much smaller roles, the kind he used to get noticed for.

Monday
May042015

David What?

Please join us in welcoming the fine actor David Dastmalchian, a busy actor we've been loving since we first spotted him in The Dark Knight (2008) and who you'll soon see this summer in both Ant-Man (2015) and Animals (2015). He's the first of our special guest blogging actors this summer!
- Editor. 

David Dastmalchian © Caleb Condit

Hi!  I’m thrilled to be guest blogging for Nathaniel this week.  I'll take over tomorrow for a day. I’ve been following the the site for a long time and was thrilled when he asked me to Guest Star in anticipation of the upcoming release of Animals (2015) on May 15th.  (Guest Starring is SO much better than Co-starring FYI)   

Let’s see – you may or may not recognize me from my roles in some pretty cool films, some TV shows, a few hamburger commercials… on stage???  I’ve definitely played my fair share of what some may describe as “bad guys” (my sister calls them “psychos”) though I prefer to think of them all as misunderstood innocents trapped in circumstances beyond their control.  

In Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight (2008)I was playing “Guard” and “Montano” in a production of ‘Othello’ at a wonderful regional theater in Chicago (Writer’s Theater) when I had a chance to audition for a bank-robbing clown in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight.  By a stroke of miraculous luck, I was cast as The Joker’s schizophrenic henchman, Thomas, and my journey as an actor changed – my dream of working in film began to materialize and I hit the road.  I was in NYC long enough to meet the love of my life and then moved to Los Angeles where I’ve lived since 2011. 

Tomorrow I’m gonna really open up and pour my soul all over these digital pages – or at least hopefully do fun posts and tell you more about Animals.

And most importantly – teach you how to properly pronounce my name.  David (Day-vid) Dastmalchian (Dast-mol-chin).  The phonetic trick for my last name is to imagine you’re saying “This small chin” but really fast.  Go ahead, try it…

On the set of Prisoners (2013) © Wilson Webb

Until tomorrow...

Wednesday
Mar182015

Link Block Tango

HAPPY HANGOVER DAY. I kid I kid. I never drink on St Patrick's Day because who wants to be a cliche? I was too caught up in The Quiet Man but I also got stuck on a subway for hours. Oy so I'm off to a very late start today and last night's roundup post didn't go as well and I missed a few. So make sure to check that out again for all the updates. Definitely check out I/fwp because we always love it when we get a newbie set of eyeballs to this series, so here's a loving cinephile husband on this movie that he wouldn't have seen if not for his wife.

THE LINKS
W Magazine Alicia Vikander photoshoot by Willy Vanderperre. I'm so anxious to see her in Ex-Machina. Loved her breakout parts in Anna Karenina, A Royal Affair. Can she keep it up?
Playbill a new TV sitcom for Megan Hilty in which she plays a former Tony-winning musical star adapting to life as a soccer mom. Ummm... unless she sings every episode this will make me crazy
BBC wonders if sexual fantasy can be filmed looking at 50 Shades of Grey, The Duke of Burgundy, Eyes Wide Shut and more
A Fistful of Films looks back for his birthday to his formative films in this epic post. I love personal blogging like this 

In Contention with Suffragette and The Danish Girl, will Focus Features on the forthcoming Oscar season?
Variety John Williams is not doing Steven Spielberg's Bridge of Spies due to a health issue "that's been resolved". But then why is he also not doing the new Star Wars (with Alexandre Desplat taking over). John Williams is 83 years old so this worries. Best wishes for a speedy recoveries.
The Dissolve looks at The Jinx and wonders why Andrew Jarecki's Robert Durst fascination worked so much better than it did back in All Good Things (2010). I didn't watch The Jinx because a) I'm not that into documentaries, b) I didn't like All Good Things and c) I'll miss Kirsten Dunst too much who was so excellent in Jarecki's first attempt at the story
Pajiba predicts the date of the end of the superhero craze. Ostensibly this post is about Jason Momoa and silly comic book wards
Variety on the Paley Center's celebration of the women in American Horror Story. Connie Britton and Kathy Bates quotes
Empire because Hollywood cannot leave the 80s alone we'll soon have a remake of that Roy Scheider helicopter movie Blue Thunder. This is not what that article is about but it's what we're always about: the one subsection of 80s hits that the studios don't seem to be mining for remakes are all the the actressy ones, you know the Goldie Hawn / Sally Field / Debra Winger / Kathleen Turner type blockbusters.
The Guardian on Disney's Princess franchise box office and the strong first weeks of The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
cinematically insane on The Smartest Girl in Town (1936) and Pre-Code love (though this one isn't) in general.

MNPP celebrates Jai Courtney. Confession: My favorite part of Jai Courtney (and there are a lot of good parts) is Jai Courtney's nose. I was sad that it lived to smell no more after the plane crash in Unbroken.
MNPP actually Jason celebrates Jai Courtney twice over. But in this second link it's Jai Courtney celebrating Jai Courtney but Jai Courtney isn't focused on his nose. How many times do you think I can type Jai Courtney in this post? Jai Courtney.

Speaky of hunky deliciousness.. two more takeaways. The first is a new quad teaser poster for 007's next outing Spectre. Craig's first three outing got him in a bathing suit at least once. (Or wait, did Quantum of Solace skip that? -- if so, no wonder it's the worst of the three) but will Spectre? 

Finally...
From the annual Broadway Backwards concert, which raised almost half a million dollars, an all male rendition of Chicago's classic "Cell Block Tango" -- Pop! Six! Squish! Uh uh, Cicero, Lipschitz!

My favorite is #17 the Spread Eagle but L-O-V-E the linguistic swish/switch-up to "uh uh" -hee!

 

Sunday
Dec212014

Stage Door: "Side Show" Brings Out the Auteur in Bill Condon

Jose here. Last week as I sat in the audience for Side Show on Broadway, I was suddenly struck by the fact that beyond the show’s obvious brilliance and many charms, I was also witnessing the apotheosis of Bill Condon as a true auteur of screen and stage. Now bear with me as I make my points...

Condon is perhaps best known for his work as a screenwriter, his adaptation of Chicago having earned him an Academy Award nomination, and his meticulous work in Gods and Monsters having won him an Oscar for the Best Adapted Screenplay of 1998. Some of his other notable projects have included writing and directing Kinsey, Dreamgirls and also the last two installments of The Twilight Saga. If you take all of his important works and analyze them, it’s clear that in bringing Side Show back to Broadway, he has finally found the one project where he finds all of his obsessions unified.

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Dec202014

Critical Consensus: Boyhood or Birdman?

Birdman and Boyhood continue to split regional trophies. This round tips in Birdman's favor for a change though. I'm becoming more and more curious to see who SAG selects as "Outstanding Cast". Will they opt for the heartfelt dedication of 4 actors who spent a few weeks each year for over a decade making the same intimate masterpiece, or will they go with a very exciting movie that's about acting to a significant degree with the lively interactions of movie stars pretending to be theater stars who are actually acting together in frame in a way you rarely see in the movies but see all the time in theater where this is no camera and editing to distract you.

It's a tough predictive call though my vote goes to Birdman because there's far more acting with each other (and more consistency in the quality of each performance) something that is pure pleasure if you're a lover of the art of acting as interacting.

Results and commentary from Florida, Las Vegas, Utah and St Louis after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Dec182014

Boyhood Trophies. Nightcrawler Sweeps. Plus: A Bunch of Oscar Chart Updates

Pro Boyhood. Meh on Gone GirlAs you have undoubtedly heard by now even President Barack Obama has boarded the Boyhood train, declaring it the best of the year... that he has seen (it might surprise you to hear that presidents don't have a lot of time for moviegoing). FLOTUS, who helped hand out the Oscar for Best Picture to Argo if you'll recall, offers up no "Best" opinion to People Magazine but randomly shares that she didn't think Gone Girl was all that and preferred the book.

Where were we? Oh yes. Regional critics groups are feeling a tiny bit friskier than usual. No, they really are. Oh sure there is a lot of hive mind action happening (Boyhood, Arquette, J.K., Citizen Four etcetera) but it's not quite as lockstep as it has been in recent years.

Since we last spoke a few more cities have weighed in and it's semi-interesting at least to see a range of Best Actress choices (Reese & Rosamund) and how about San Diego's total unblinking obsession with Nightcrawler?

Lou Bloom must have given them the hard sell. Lou Bloom got that job. [More...]

Click to read more ...

Monday
Nov242014

I didn't link it, but if i'd linked it, how could you tell me that i was wrong?

The New Yorker Anthony Lane on Mike Nichols
Playbill congratulations to Chicago which became the 2nd longest running Broadway show of all time tonight surpassing Cats
Screen Crush bitches about the long uneventful Part 1s of modern franchise culture as I've been bitching about forever. But as long as audiences keep buying tickets, why should Hollywood stop? They make double the money this way.
YouTube first TV spot for Jurassic World. It's mostly Chris Pratt & Bryce Dallas Howard's faces and you know what they look like. But a brief flash of dinosaurs, too.


Critic Wire the terrifying children's book in The Babadook (opening Friday!) is now a real book you can buy
Vanity Fair since I officially stopped watching How To Get Away With Murder I said goodbye by reading / enjoying / giggling through this post on the "who killed Sam" episode
Empire more new projects for Channing Tatum and his creative partner Reid Carolin (who you'll remember as the sister's date in Magic Mike)
Variety why did Mockingjay Part 1 perform below Hunger Games expectations (which were sky high)
Interview Michael Shannon interviews Amy Ryan (currently onscreen in Birdman)
THR is excited about those Lana Del Rey songs in Big Eyes but I only remember the title song (which is played somewhat inside the movie but not enough of it to have a firm opinion of it) I remember the lines being something like "Big Eyes.... and your Big Lies..."
Film School Rejects looks at connections between the documentary and best picture category this year
LA Times Jennifer Aniston on 'drunk singing' for Cake
In Contention The Fault in Our Stars finally does some campaigning for Shailene Woodley
Samuel L Jackson The Hateful Eight cast have met 
Deadline checks out the numerous very dark horses in the Best Actress race: shout-out to Sally Kirkland and Gena Rowlands from the veterans. An interviews with the former and possibly the latter coming up. Stay tuned...

Pic of the Moment
Jake Gyllenhaal submerged. I wish it were in Oscar buzz! [src] (I was horrified to get blank faces from Oscar voters when I brought up this movie at a recent luncheon. They weren't in the actor's branch but still. How had they not heard of his remarkable performance?)

Chart Updates?
Best Actress & Supporting Actor made minor adjustments following Into the Woods & Big Eyes screenings. Unbroken screenings just after Thanksgiving as we enter the final month of the film year. So exciting.

Whither Nicole Kidman?
I missed Before I Go To Sleep in theaters (it left town instantly) and despite wrapping her roles on five more films we don't have firm release dates on any of them! If you're keeping track they are: Queen of the Desert, Strangerland and Grace of Monaco (lead roles) and Paddington and Genius (supporting roles). Here's a teaser for Strangerland.

It's an Australian drama with Hugo Weaving and Joseph Fiennes in which a couple's daughter goes missing. They freak out, naturally. Looks intense. Might it actually be good? I have high hopes for Queen of the Desert, too, given that Werner Herzog is behind the camera but she probably needs one of these films to be at least a minor hit.