Chicago Sun-Times Latest news from the Chicago Sun-Times Online en-us (Editor) Newspapers Chicago Sun-Times 84 34 30 Copyright 2014 <![CDATA[ ‘Transcendence’: Johnny Depp in a bold, beautiful flight of futuristic speculation ]]> Lead story image

RICHARD ROEPER: In one of his most interesting performances, Depp plays a scientific visionary whose thoughts and personality are uploaded before he dies. It’s a stunning piece of work. ]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 02:28:58 -0500 <![CDATA[ It’s a big screen debut for Alaska’s young ‘Bears’ ]]> Lead story image

Hollywood’s legendary casting nightmares can’t hold a candle to those in Alaska, where finding just the right screen stars is a matter of life and death. Just ask the crew behind the Disneynature film “Bears,” now in theaters in advance of Earth Day on Tuesday. Directors Keith Scholey and Alastair Fothergill worked on the project, shot in southern Alaska’s Katmai National Park and Preserve, for two years. But a tough winter and poor salmon population during the first year meant that few brown bear cubs survived. “Fortunately, there was a baby boom the next year, and we have lived happily … ]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 19:28:16 -0500 <![CDATA[ ‘Bears’: A documentary enhanced by great cinematography, funny narration ]]>

One of the best bits in Disney’s “Bears,” as in other recent animal documentaries, is the closing credits, featuring shots that dispense with the illusion of undisturbed nature and reveal the filmmakers at work: flying over the Alaskan wilderness to capture panoramic landscapes, scuba diving with salmon in chilly waters, hunched behind their cameras as furry critters nose toward them curiously -- or ignore them altogether. The glimpse behind the metaphorical curtain is a welcome reminder that the documentary genre, particularly as practiced by the Disneynature division, is still a form of fiction. “Bears,” which follows a mother and two … ]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 19:36:00 -0500 <![CDATA[ ‘The Unknown Known’: Smiles and denials from Donald Rumsfeld ]]> Lead story image

Errol Morris interviews his second U.S. Secretary of Defense about the logic of an undeclared war. In “The Fog of War” (2003), the filmmaker got regrets from Robert McNamara. From Donald Rumsfeld, he gets grins in “The Unknown Known.” Morris titles this scary inquiry after a permutation of things “known” and “unknown” that Rumsfeld outlined in a 2001 memo, a 2002 press conference and a 2004 memo. Evanston native and New Trier grad Rumsfeld went to Congress in 1962 and later served under Republican presidents Nixon, Ford and Bush. Focusing on Rumsfeld’s 2001-06 stint at the Pentagon, Morris scrutinizes his … ]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 02:29:45 -0500 <![CDATA[ ‘Only Lovers Left Alive’: Jim Jarmusch’s vampires drink up culture ]]> Lead story image

Jim Jarmusch stocks his latest low-key indie with more than his usual characters in low-velocity drift. The Akron-born auteur infuses the title couple of “Only Lovers Left Alive” with his taste for culture, if not cuisine. Adam (Tom Hiddleston) and Eve (Tilda Swinton) favor Type O-negative blood. They wear big sunglasses at night just like Jarmusch. Lovers for centuries, they must book night flights between Detroit, where Adam makes downer drone music identical to Jarmusch’s, and Tangier, where Eve reads voraciously with her doddering pal Christopher Marlowe (John Hurt). “Vampire” is not in their vocabulary. “Zombies” is Adam’s ironic slur … ]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 02:30:07 -0500 <![CDATA[ ‘Life Itself’: A great life makes a great movie, just as Roger Ebert wanted it ]]> Lead story image

Far more than just a tribute to the career of the world’s most famous and influential film critic, the often revelatory “Life Itself” is also a remarkably intimate portrait of a life well lived — right up to the very last moment. Work on “Life Itself” (which borrows its title from Roger Ebert’s 2011 autobiography) was well underway when Ebert was hospitalized in December 2012 for treatment of a hairline hip fracture. At the time, it seemed a temporary setback after his long, grueling battle with thyroid cancer. Then came the news that his tumors had re-metastasized and he had … ]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 02:29:56 -0500 <![CDATA[ ‘Hateship Loveship’: Kristen Wiig as an oddball who’s pretty awesome ]]> Lead story image

Kristen Wiig’s performance in the unfortunately titled “Hateship Loveship” is so beautifully muted it takes a while to appreciate the loveliness of the notes she’s hitting. I can’t remember the last time someone made eavesdropping or scrubbing a bathtub so interesting. I know. Kinda weird, right? But that’s the kind of movie we’re talking about here — a quirky, deliberately understated film that has the literate, smart feel of something based on a short story by a renowned author. (Indeed that’s what is. It’s is based on an Alice Munro story titled “Hateship Friendship Loveship Courtship Marriage.” Munro’s story was … ]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 02:29:31 -0500 <![CDATA[ ‘The Railway Man’: Colin Firth, Nicole Kidman in harsh, heartrending history lesson ]]> Lead story image

Even as “12 Years a Slave” was garnering four-star reviews and winning numerous awards on its way to the Oscar for Best Picture, many film fans told me they were sure it was a fine and important picture, but they just couldn’t bring themselves to sit through such a story. Too painful. My standard response is I’d much rather go through an admittedly tough viewing experience with a “Schindler’s List” or a “12 Years a Slave” than sit through another mindless comedy or cynical action film. But it’s a legitimate reluctance. I understand where people are coming from. Jonathan Teplitzky’s … ]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 02:30:19 -0500 <![CDATA[ Marlon Wayans takes the offense on being inappropriately funny ]]> Lead story image

Marlon Wayans could’ve used some extra beef to handle a boisterous situation at an open air question and answer session at the culmination of his “A Haunted House 2” premiere in Chicago. ]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 15:29:05 -0500 <![CDATA[ ‘Heaven Is for Real’: Pedestrian script saved by diving acting ]]> Lead story image

Spring 2014 has been a strong season for faith-inspired films to hit the multiplexes. On the heels of “Son of God,” “Noah” and “God’s Not Dead,” we now get “Heaven Is for Real.” Based on the bestselling book about the real-life story of Todd Burpo, whose 4-year-old son experienced a near-death experience in 2003, this film is another example of first-rate actors outshining their TV-movie-level screenplay. Engaging newcomer Connor Corum brings genuine wholesomeness and non-child-actor charm to the part of young Colton Burpo. Frankly, without him and the fine acting by Greg Kinnear (as Todd Burpo), Kelly Reilly (as mother … ]]> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 21:52:00 -0500 <![CDATA[ ‘Under the Skin’: Brilliant mood piece about a fascinating femme fatale ]]> Lead story image

RICHARD ROEPER: Scarlett Johansson plays some kind of alien in a beautiful woman’s body, seducing Scottish chaps in the year’s most memorable movie so far. ]]> Fri, 11 Apr 2014 02:27:56 -0500 <![CDATA[ ‘Hunger Games’ top winner at MTV Movie Awards ]]> Lead story image

“Hunger Games” stars also took home some of the night’s biggest awards. Jennifer Lawrence won best female performance and Josh Hutcherson was voted best male performer. ]]> Mon, 14 Apr 2014 02:14:01 -0500 <![CDATA[ ‘Draft Day’: A cast of pros executing great plays ]]> Lead story image

Sometimes my Pop Culture Radar doesn’t work for spit. When I first heard about a TV show in which secondary celebrities would team up with professional instructors for a dancing competition, I thought that show would last about as long as “Cop Rock.” And when I learned Hollywood was going to turn the old “Transformers” cartoon/toy franchise into a movie, well, that seemed like a recipe for disaster. Same thing with the NFL draft. I never understood the mentality of superfans who would don jerseys and face paint and spend hours in a cavernous arena, cheering or booing when the … ]]> Fri, 11 Apr 2014 02:27:31 -0500 <![CDATA[ ‘Oculus’: A carefully paced, great-looking psychological thriller ]]> Lead story image

Here is a horror movie that will reach out and grab that spot on your spine that produces all the chills. It takes a high level of confidence, maybe even audacity, to set out to make yet another haunted-mirror movie — but thanks to the wonderfully twisted style of director Mike Flanagan and four terrific young actors playing two characters some 11 years apart, “Oculus” is one of the more elegant scary movies in recent memory. Expanding his 2006 short film to feature length (and, not surprisingly, leaving plenty of room for an “Oculus 2” et al.), director, co-writer and … ]]> Fri, 11 Apr 2014 02:28:07 -0500 <![CDATA[ ‘Dom Hemingway’: A boorish Jude Law character wears out his welcome ]]> Lead story image

The Jude Law of “Dom Hemingway” looks like he swallowed the Jude Law of “The Talented Mr. Ripley.” The 41-year-old Law plays a character at least a decade older than that in “Dom Hemingway.” With a tiny peninsula of hair clinging to his balding forehead, a rugby player’s neck, a thick midsection, bad teeth and crooked nose, the title character is a formidable brute of a man who has just done 12 years hard time rather than rat out his mates and his boss. It’s a startling physical transformation; wasn’t it just the other day Law was playing pretty-boy leading-man … ]]> Fri, 11 Apr 2014 02:28:54 -0500 <![CDATA[ ‘Cuban Fury’: All the usual moves in Nick Frost’s salsa comedy ]]>

A little more fury might have been a whole lot better. One of the most interesting things about Nick Frost (Simon Pegg’s sidekick in “Shaun of the Dead,” “Hot Fuzz” and “The World’s End”) as a comic actor is the suggestion that, deep down inside that amiable, plus-sized exterior, an out-of-control beast is just waiting for the chance to get crazy. Unfortunately, in the mild, strictly formulaic (not to be confused with “Strictly Ballroom”) dance romance “Cuban Fury,” Frost plays a repressed and apologetic type who more or less stays that way. And timidity doesn’t suit him. Frost plays Bruce, … ]]> Thu, 10 Apr 2014 17:32:01 -0500