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Suicide Squad; Review by Robin Franson Pruter

Originally released 5 Aug 2016
Written and directed by David Ayer

Starring Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto, Viola Davis, Joel Kinnaman, Jay Hernandez, Jai Courtney, Adawale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, and Cara Delevingne

My rating: ★★    ★1/2 stars

Not the epic disaster I expected, for what that’s worth.

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Hanky Panky; Review by Robin Franson Pruter

hanky-panky-posterOriginally released 4 Jun 1982
Written by Henry Rosenbaum and David Taylor

Directed by Sidney Poitier

Starring Gene Wilder, Gilda Radner, Richard Widmark, and Kathleen Quinlan

My rating: ★★ stars

Uneven comedy-thriller pairs Gene Wilder and Gilda Radner for the first time.

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Mom at Sixteen; Review by Robin Franson Pruter

Mom at SixteenOriginally aired 21 Mar 2005
Written by Nancey Silvers

Directed by Peter Werner

Starring Danielle Panabaker, Jane Krakowski, and Mercedes Ruehl

My rating: 1/2 star

Do not watch this message-heavy Lifetime movie about teenage motherhood without a full bottle of Maalox nearby.

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Making It; Review by Robin Franson Pruter

making-it-posterOriginally released 21 Mar 1971
Written by Peter Bart
Directed by John Erman

Starring Kristoffer Tabori, Bob Balaban, Joyce Van Patten, Dick Van Patten, and Lawrence Pressman

My rating: ★★★ stars

Character study of intelligent, callous high school Lothario.

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PCR’s Television Wish List for 2017

Let’s not look back on 2016. Sure, there were some good moments. I think. Maybe. The Cubs, for sure. That’s one. Game of Thrones gave us two episodes, “Battle of the Bastards” and “The Winds of Winter,” that changed the idea of what television could do, that elevated the medium. But thinking back over the past year hurts my brain and my heart.

Let’s look forward to 2017. Here are ten television wishes I have for the upcoming year. I want:

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Spiritual Darkness: A Tribute to Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen in 1988 by Gorupdebesanez CC BY-SA 3.0

Leonard Cohen in 1988
by Gorupdebesanez
CC BY-SA 3.0

Leonard Cohen 1934-2016

This week, I’ve felt despondent and inconsolable about the state of our country and the world. That the artist whose music best captured those moods died this week only adds to my desolation. In this mood, I would, in the past, turn to Leonard Cohen’s music to make sense of the sadness, for Cohen is the poet of pessimism. His music is not filled with false platitudes of inspiration but with the endless quest to find meaning in the darkness of existence.

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Tonight We Are All Cubs Fans

I confess to being uninterested in most sports. Actually, “contemptuous” would be a more accurate word. I crave narrative, not competition, when it comes to entertainment.

My mother is the true sports fan in the family, and she’s always supported the White Sox. So, due to her influence, I am nominally a White Sox fan (even though I find baseball deadly dull), and I celebrated along with my mom when the White Sox won the World Series in 2005. In Chicago, you can be a White Sox fan or a Cubs fan, but not both. Those who claim to be both are looked on with suspicion—they might be outsiders, aliens, or replicants, but they are not normal Chicagoans, that’s for sure.

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Thus, I’ve remained largely indifferent to the hullabaloo that’s been going on around me this fall. Everywhere I’ve gone, I’ve seen the “W” flag flying and people dressed in Cubs’ blue. My Facebook news feed has been filled with anxious, hopeful, and celebratory posts for weeks. But I’ve scrolled past it all…

…With a few notable exceptions. While my mother’s family is firmly in the Sox camp, my uncle on my dad’s side was the greatest Cubs fan ever. I’m sure many people try to assert that title, but my uncle has a legitimate claim on it. See, my uncle was Steve Goodman, the Chicago singer-songwriter who wrote “Go, Cubs, Go.” He died in 1984, shortly after the release of his anthem for his favorite team and just days before the Cubs clinched the National League Eastern Division title and earned the Cubs their first postseason appearance since 1945, three years before Steve was born. Since the Cubs entered the postseason this year, a few articles have paid tribute to Steve including a remembrance featuring interviews with his two surviving daughters in Sports Illustrated and this profile posted after the Cubs won Game 5 of the series. Although I didn’t know him well (I was young when he died), I was glad that my Uncle Steve was getting some attention, but I didn’t really care about the Cubs themselves.

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But as the Cubs came closer to achieving something that had eluded them for more than a century—108 years to be precise, a number that will be ubiquitous for the next few days—I noticed something touching. On social media, people started posting remembrances of their own. My Facebook news feed became filled not just with posts of support for baseball’s perpetual underdog team, but with comments like “My dad would have loved to see this” or “My grandparents are smiling down on the Cubs.” It wasn’t just a couple of comments. It seemed that, for every Cub fan, there was a legacy of forbearers in the afterlife cheering along with them. Even I, sports derider that I am, began to get a little misty.

The Cubs winning the World Series is something special. It’s more than just the outcome of a game. It’s more than just the underdog finally coming out on top. It is the culmination of 108 years of history, of fans waiting and hoping, faithfully following their lovable losing team, and passing on an inheritance of that hopeless, hapless, but doggedly loyal fandom down through generations. This championship highlights the significant role sports fandom plays in uniting people to their past and the memory of family and place. Along with my friends in Chicagoland, every Chicago expatriate is rejoicing tonight. And fans near and far and even non-fans like me are thinking back to those friends and family who trudged on through the dry years but who aren’t here to witness the celebration.

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So, tonight, I’ll put on a Cubs hat and share the joy of the Cubs fans all around, and I’ll raise my glass and sing a chorus of “Go, Cubs, Go” for Uncle Steve.