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Kicking the Tweets
Tuesday
Jun172014

Lionsgate Debuts Official THE EXPENDABLES 3 Trailer!

The thrilling conclusion to Sylvester Stallone's The Expendables trilogy hits theatres August 15th! Packed with more action (and action stars) than should be permitted by law, The Expendables 3 promises to close out the summer with a bang!

Check Lionsgate's official trailer below, and be sure to enter IMdB's sweepstakes by July 15th for a chance to blow up your home video library with movies, Amazon cash, and an XBox One!

Tuesday
Jun172014

Morgan Freeman Event Raises More Than $350,000 for GSFC

Morgan Freeman enjoys himself at Siskel gala. Photo: Bob Carl

(Chicago, IL) Star power filled The Ritz-Carlton Chicago on June 7 when Hollywood legend Morgan Freeman was honored with the Gene Siskel Film Center (GSFC) Renaissance Award at “A Candid Conversation with Morgan Freeman.” The Academy Award-winning actor was celebrated for his poignant roles and stunning breadth of work and also treated more than 350 guests to an intimate discussion led by director and producer Jon Turteltaub, who recently directed Freeman in the comedy “Last Vegas.” Co-chaired by GSFC Advisory Board members Eda Davidman and Melissa Sage Fadim, the event raised more than $350,000 to benefit the Film Center's eclectic programming.
 
Led by Davidman and Sage Fadim the Benefit Host Committee included Michelle Cucchiaro, David Hundley, Marlene Iglitzen, Averill Leviton, Anita Liskey, Margaret B. MacLean, Bill Marcus, Susanna Negovan, Ellen Sandor and Roopa P. Weber. Gala sponsors included The Richard and Ellen Sandor Family Foundation, Sage Foundation, MacLean-Fogg, SPLASH - A Wrapports Publication, Sun-Times Foundation/The Chicago Community Trust, Marlene Iglitzen/Gene Siskel Charitable Fund, Nordstrom, The Ritz-Carlton Chicago and Averill and Bernard Leviton.
 
The festivities began at 6 p.m. with a lovely cocktail reception in the lobby of The Ritz-Carlton during which time Turteltaub and Freeman walked the red carpet regaling the media with their fondness for Chicago, the importance of film and education as well as the privilege and honor of being celebrated by the GSFC.
 
As guests took their seats in the Grand Ballroom, they were welcomed by GSFC Executive Director Jean De StAubin who then introduced Governor Pat Quinn declaring June 7 as "Morgan Freeman Day" in Chicago. Co-chairs Davidman and Sage Fadim greeted the crowd as well prior to introducing School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) President Dr. Walter E. Massey. Dr. Massey acknowledged the incredible work of the Film Center and the collaboration with SAIC before introducing one of the main driving forces behind the Film Center, Chair of the GSFC Advisory Board Ellen Sandor
Guests enjoyed an elegant four-course dinner inspired by some of Freeman's most memorable films, beginning with bourbon glazed ahi tuna on a wonton or "Along Came a...Tuna." The first course salad, appropriately named “The Glory of Beets and Tomatoes,” was followed by the main course, the “Clarksdale Blues Duo,” consisting of an herb crusted petit filet and slow roasted halibut. "Southern Sweets of Miss Daisy,” a trio of delectable desserts, concluded the meal paying homage to the actor's Oscar-nominated role in "Driving Miss Daisy."
Immediately following dinner, GSFC Director of Programming Barbara Scharres eloquently spoke of the actor who has contributed so much to the cinema and whose voice has become a character of its own. Freeman took the stage alongside Turteltaub for a lively conversation about Freeman’s career, most meaningful roles and more. Clips of the actor’s films were interspersed throughout the conversation showing the extraordinary scope of his work and diverse roles that he has portrayed throughout his life. When asked if there was one role he was still hoping to play, without hesitation he answered, Satan. "I have already played God....why not," said Freeman. Turteltaub's humor and Freeman's thoughtful, poignant responses proved to be a stimulating conversation that could have gone on for hours.
 
Dr. Massey and Sandor concluded the evening by presenting Freeman with the Gene Siskel Film Center Renaissance Award. Freeman humbly thanked the Gene Siskel Film Center for the incredible honor and commented on how important institutions such as the Film Center were for their contribution and continued support of true filmmaking.
 
About the Gene Siskel Film Center
The Gene Siskel Film Center of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago celebrates 42 years of presenting cutting edge programs, independent and international cinema, premieres, retrospectives, and classic films. Internationally recognized for its original film programming, the Film Center is a vibrant cultural destination in Chicago that attracts a diverse and creative annual audience of over 70,000.www.siskelfilmcenter.org
 
About the School of the Art Institute of Chicago
A leader in educating artists, designers, and scholars since 1866, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) offers nationally accredited undergraduate and graduate degrees and post-baccalaureate programs to nearly 3,200 students from around the globe. SAIC also enables adults, high school students, middle school students, and children to flourish in a variety of courses, workshops, certificate programs, and camps through its Continuing Studies program. Located in the heart of Chicago, SAIC has an educational philosophy built upon an interdisciplinary approach to art and design, giving students unparalleled opportunities to develop their creative and critical abilities, while working with renowned faculty who include many of the leading practitioners in their fields. SAIC's resources include the Art Institute of Chicago and its new Modern Wing; numerous special collections and programming venues provide students with exceptional exhibitions, screenings, lectures, and performances.  For more information, please visit saic.edu.

Sunday
Jun082014

Morgan Freeman Receives GSFC Renaissance Award

Actor Morgan Freeman was in Chicago last night to accept the Gene Siskel Film Center and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago's annual Renaissance Award,* and to participate in a career-retrospective conversation with his Last Vegas director, Jon Turteltaub. "A Candid Conversation with Morgan Freeman" took place at the Ritz-Carlton, and was one of those swank affairs that humble-means bloggers like me read about, but rarely dream of actually attending. Despite feeling a bit like The O.C.'s Ryan Atwood, I'm happy to report that everyone I met couldn't have been friendlier and more excited to share an intimate evening with a Hollywood legend.

GSFC Director of Programming Barbara Scharres introduced Freeman as having "played the President of the United States, the Speaker of the House, and Batman's genius inventor. He's also played God--twice." Indeed, as Turteltaub introduced clips spanning nearly forty years of film, television, and stage, it became apparent to everyone in the room that a discussion of modern cinema is, inherently, a discussion of Morgan Freeman to some degree. In projects as varied as The Electric Company and Lean on Me to The Shawshank Redemption and The Lego Movie, the actor has collaborated with the biggest names in the business, and realized indelible characters who rule the pop culture landscape.

But even cooler than revisiting these grand performances was Freeman's telling of the small and surprising behind-the-scenes moments that shaped them. He won his breakout role as a pimp in Street Smarts by playing against the loud and over-the-top actors in the waiting room of the audition--instead, recalling the quiet terror of having seen a real-life pimp intimidate a prostitute in his New York neighborhood. Incidentally, this was the last film for which Freeman would ever audition.

Despite all the fame and accolades, the actor still seemed in awe of having learned that Sidney Poitier passed on the part of Hoke Colburn in Driving Miss Daisy. Freeman defined the character in its original off-Broadway run, but was sure that Hollywood would seek out a brand-name screen actor for the big-screen adaptation. Poitier caught the show and refused to touch it, insisting that Freeman be the one to see it through.

Turteltaub also touched on Freeman's very early career, unearthing the only role that ever truly challenged him, and some sage advice he received from a stage legend. The former story found the actor taking on Othello in a theatre in Texas. Though he sought advice from greats such as James Earl Jones and Christopher Plummer, his unexpected nemesis turned out to be the wardrobe department: his outfit was a bit too close to that of Jimi Hendrix, and an audience member shouted at him on opening night, demanding that he play "Purple Haze".

One of the best tips Freeman received on acting came from Jose Ferrer during rehearsals for their two-man show in 1978. Freeman's idolization of Ferrer (who called to pitch him the play after seeing him in a one-week-run show--which wound up netting Freeman a Tony nomination) got in the way of their preparations. He scolded the starry eyed actor, admonishing him with, "You've gotta get over this adoration bullshit!" Freeman came to his senses, and never forgot to keep himself--and future awe-struck co-stars--in check.

In one of many funny, ribbing exchanges with Turteltaub, Freeman talked a bit about his present-day process. Contrary to Last Vegas co-star Robert DeNiro, who enjoys exploring scenes through multiple takes, Freeman said, "I enjoy the process until about take eight." Turteltaub also remarked that many of his contemporaries (such as David Fincher and Christopher Nolan) tend to set aside their pinball-camera antics when it comes to Freeman, giving both audience and artist breathing room to appreciate the performance: "When you have Morgan Freeman talking, you stop and take a picture, and let him do his thing."

At the end of the evening, Dr. Walter E. Massey, the President of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, presented Freeman with the 2014 Renaissance Award, which honors filmmakers who advance the art of cinema (past recipients include George Lucas, Michael Mann, and Nicole Kidman). During his acceptance speech, Freeman referred to influential film critic Gene Siskel as "a friend", and credited him and fellow titan Roger Ebert with having helped his career with praise and publicity early on.

As the evening wound down, and Freeman and Turteltaub left the venue in a frenzy of flashbulbs, applause, and general good will, I was left feeling profoundly elated. Especially in blockbuster season, where weekend numbers define a film's quality as much as the screenplay in the public consciousness--and smaller, personal films struggle to even get released--it's easy to think of movies as gaudy, disposable products. But nights like this serve as a warm reminder that film is an art form in which talented creators are sometimes celebrated for their intellect, insight, and commitment to making unforgettable entertainment.

*This annual fundraiser is the primary event that ensures that the GSFC can continue to present the highest quality films and film-related events in Chicago. All proceeds support the The Gene Siskel Film Center's eclectic film programming as well as lecture series and discussions with visiting scholars and filmmakers. The Gene Siskel Film Center and SAIC are part of The Art Institute of Chicago. For more information about the Art Institute, please visit www.artic.edu.

Sunday
May182014

FLETCH at Studio Movie Grill Wheaton!

Paging Dr. Rosen! On Wednesday, May 28th at 7:30pm, Hollywood Snitch's Matthew Sheehan will host a screening of Fletch at Studio Movie Grill in Wheaton, IL! Afterwards, stick around for a fun and funny discussion of the Chevy Chase comedy classic!

You can order your $2 tickets here,* or purchase them at the SMG box office. Special thanks to Studio Movie Grill and the Chicago Film Critics Association for sponsoring the monthly "Film with a View" series!

*Scroll down the page and click the mini Fletch poster.

Wednesday
Apr302014

Tumbleweeds and Cobwebs

Fear not, gang! Kicking the Seat is still very much alive and...um...kicking!

"How can that be, Ian, when the last review I read on this site was a week ago?"

The answer's simple: I've been crazy-busy (emphasis on the crazy). Between the KtS podcast; my first forray into radio (8am on Chicago's WDCB 90.9fm); co-designing the program for the second annual Chicago Critics Film Festival (May 9-15); and even watching movies, I've had many irons in the fire, which I'm pulling out gradually (is that how that metaphor works?).

This has left no time to write reviews--but I can feel a lightning charge in my fingertips, and you shall soon read my thoughts on The Other Woman, Teenage, and Nymphomaniac: Volume II.

As always, thanks for your patience, and take care!