Last year, my cousin Brian Hague declared that the movie "Captain America" was soft on Nazis.

He still thinks that's true, but finds its sequel, "The Avengers," to be both a worthy slice of summertime entertainment and a thought-provoking look at life.

Brian also suggests that despite its big stars, big sounds, big budget, big box office and 3-D, "The Avengers" works because of the small details that director Joss Whedon gets right. As Brian explains, these crucial details are what make or break any movie — in any genre or with any budget.

ChicagoScope feedback line: 312-683-5272. Send email to ChicagoScope@gmail.com.

Direct download: avengers.mp3
Category:Movies -- posted at: 4:03 PM

Scene from the latest Star Trek film with Spock and Kirk

During a recent trip to Colorado, I spoke with my cousin Brian Hague about the latest "Star Trek" movie -- which managed to upset one of our younger relatives.

Specifically, we discuss whether it was really necessary for director J.J. Abrams to kill off Spock's mother.

By the way, Brian proves to have a wealth of information about all things "Trek" -- including an interesting connection between the series and "M*A*S*H."

(Photo: startrekmovie.com)

ChicagoScope feedback line: 312-683-5272. Send e-mail to ChicagoScope@gmail.com.

Direct download: brian_trek.mp3
Category:Movies -- posted at: 6:55 AM




I don't always like Quentin Tarantino's movies, but I do like his taste in films and film music. His latest production, "Inglourious Basterds," uses a track of music from "Kelly's Heroes" called "Tiger Tank."

You can hear it in this clip starting at 1:17. I like this Lalo Schifrin music, although it's too contemporary and way too much like his "Mission: Impossible" background tracks.

ChicagoScope feedback line: 312-683-5272. Send e-mail to ChicagoScope@gmail.com.

Category:Movies -- posted at: 6:12 PM


I can't be the only who thinks that the Washington Post has found someone with a perfect byline for reviewing James Bond films.

ChicagoScope feedback line: 312-683-5272. Send e-mail to ChicagoScope@gmail.com.

Category:Movies -- posted at: 12:10 PM


Rainn Wilson stars in The RockerPop culture guy Brendan Shultz weighs in with his opinion about "The Rocker," a film that just opened across America.

Brendan also has a few things to say about families and how they behave at the movies. Basically, if your kid is still in diapers, the child doesn't belong at the theater, he says.

I agree completely. If you're going to encounter feces and noise in the cinema, these should be provided by the filmmakers.

ChicagoScope feedback line: 312-683-5272. Send e-mail to ChicagoScope@gmail.com.

Direct download: rocker.mp3
Category:Movies -- posted at: 1:42 AM


The famous woodchipper scene from the Coen Brothers' film FargoI guess I'm just a contrarian. I'm unable to stomach what the rest of the civilized world apparently considers one of the greatest movies of all time.

I'm talking about "Dirty Dancing," a 1987 coming-of-age picture starring Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey. I count "Citizen Kane" and "Amarcord" as among the best films ever made, but I'm sure there are people who can't get through either one without projectile vomiting and that's fine with me. Similarly, I'll be damned if I'm gonna watch "Dirty Dancing" more than once.

My recollection of the film is some dancing, some more dancing, still more dancing, Jerry Orbach determines yep, that's a botched abortion, and then a whole lot more dancing.

Well, color me twinkletoes!

It apparently wasn't enough that this chick-o-rama production spawned a sequel called "Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights" -- now every other Chicago Transit Authority bus has requisitely pink-colored ads for the stage version of the original film.

I could have saved the show's producers all the expense of mounting a live production. Look, it's clear that today's female moviegoers are seriously disturbed psychologically -- or simply don't mind grindhouse gore -- or else they wouldn't flock to and evidently enjoy the many movies in which folks are dismembered, tortured and otherwise dispatched in some of the most violent means ever put on film.

In my opinion, "Dirty Dancing" didn't need a stage version. It just needed another film sequel -- but this one directed by Wes Craven. And, in a nod to one of my favorite Coen brothers scenes, I've even got the guaranteed megahit title:

"Dirty Dancing III: Nobody Puts Baby in a Woodchipper"

Coming soon to a theater near you.

ChicagoScope feedback line: 312-683-5272. Send e-mail to ChicagoScope@gmail.com.

Category:Movies -- posted at: 2:10 AM


Noting the release of "Fred Claus," a film I saw being shot just up the street from where I work on North Michigan Avenue, got me to thinking about Christmas movies and which ones survive the test of time and become classics.

Detail of poster art featuring Bruce Willis holding a handgun in the first Die Hard movie It turns out that two of my favorite movies also are my favorite Christmas movies: "The Bishop's Wife" and "Die Hard." At first glance, these pictures separated by a span of more than four decades have nothing in common -- but both celebrate the power of faith and redemption in subtle and entertaining ways.

In 1947's "The Bishop's Wife," clergyman David Niven believes that heaven-sent angel Cary Grant is the answer to his prayers for help in squeezing millions from an obnoxious old matron to build a cathedral whose construction she's micromanaging. But Niven's marriage to Loretta Young is headed into stormy seas, and he gets more than he bargained for when Grant charms everyone from a comic-relief agnostic to the bishop's wife -- played by professional Catholic Loretta Young.

Their faith restored, the agnostic turns to religion, the matron gives her millions to the poor, and Niven realizes that his wife has the power to give him heaven on earth.

Another marriage is on the rocks in 1988's "Die Hard," in which New York cop Bruce Willis travels to Los Angeles to attend a Christmas party in the skyscraper headquarters of a Japanese multinational where his estranged wife Bonnie Bedelia is a top executive. When terrorists take over the building, several characters are forced to find faith in themselves.

A cop who has been afraid to fire his gun since accidently killing a kid becomes a hero, a desk-flying police chief learns to respect street cops and Willis and Bedelia symbolically reaffirm their marriage vows when they must snap open the clasp on a Rolex watch she's wearing to drop villain Alan Rickman to his death.

Cerebral use of Christmas music ranging from Run DMC to Beethoven to Sinatra adds greatly to the holiday spirit.

If you want "Peanuts" with that, check out "Bring Me the Head of Charlie Brown."

ChicagoScope feedback line: 312-683-5272. Send e-mail to ChicagoScope@gmail.com.

Direct download: xmasmovies.mp3
Category:Movies -- posted at: 6:32 AM


Scenes from movie Get Shorty

Last time ChicagoScope spoke with cohort Bob Koehler, he managed to thoroughly diss one of the greatest "Star Trek" episodes of all time. In that October 2006 podcast, Bob makes a very good point in asking why pacifist Edith Keeler must be sacrificed on the altar of history to restore the timeline that ultimately leads to both the stars and to humanity's salvation.

Photo of journalist and writer Robert C. KoehlerIn several recent columns distributed by Tribune Media Services and on his own website, Common Wonders, Bob's written about a movement to create a "Department of Peace" within U.S. government -- most recently in "A World That Works for Everybody."

That's why I was taken aback when Bob announced the other day that in his opinion 1995's "Get Shorty" qualifies as the best pacifist motion picture ever made. Again, Bob argues his case pretty well.

By the way, the audio in this podcast illustrates how different a room sounds when filled with dozens vs. occupied by just two. I had done a test recording in a conference room on our floor several months back and it sounded great. It never occurred to me that all of those bodies were absorbing reflected sound waves -- and that with just two people, there'd a be more than a little reverb. Ah, well.

ChicagoScope feedback line: 312-683-5272.


Technorati Profile

Direct download: getshorty.mp3
Category:Movies -- posted at: 2:29 AM


Contributing Editor Brendan Shultz takes time out from preparing himself for the start of high school in a couple of weeks to fill us in on "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest." Brendan tells us what he thinks of the film, as well as the theater in which he viewed it.

Photo of characters from Pirates of the CaribbeanBy the way, I think this guy's a pirate in the making. At one point in his review, he boasts of having availed himself of an opportunity to "shove it to The Man."

Official Disney websites:
"Dead Man's Chest" motion picture.

"The Curse of the Black Pearl" motion picture.

Attraction at Disneyland.

Fan site Keep to the Code.

Other related websites:
A review of the Disneyland attraction by Theme Park Insider includes a paragraph about how political correctness has infected the "Pirates of the Caribbean" attraction in that the "pirates now chase women for food, instead of the original concept of chasing the women to 'pillage' them."

Wikipedia article about the durability of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise.

RingSurf's hub for "piracy on the high seas and sites with related pirate or nautical topics."

WebRing's hub for "pirates and buccaneers of all types".

Tinselman provides a fascinating view back to 1976 with an actual Standard Operating Procedure used in running the attraction at Disneyland. Pretty neat stuff.

You Tube has a nifty clip in which Johnny Depp tours the revamped "Pirates of the Caribbean" attraction and meet his Audio-Animatronic double.

Top 10 Pickup Lines for use on International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Great barbecue joint:
Fat Willy's Rib Shack, right across the street from the theater.

ChicagoScope feedback line: 312-683-5272.

Direct download: pirates.mp3
Category:Movies -- posted at: 12:49 AM

 



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About Me
I'm Leigh Hanlon, a writer and photographer in Chicago. Before moving to the Windy City, I worked at daily and weekly newspapers in Arizona, Colorado and Wyoming. (Photo by Marty Larkin)



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