By Lynn Venhaus

Local Spotlight: Legends and Lanterns

A fun weekend can be had on Main Street in St. Charles.

Legends & Lanterns® is a “spirited” journey through Halloween History is an annual event that finds its inspiration from the past.

“From the vintage charm of Halloween in the 1910s-1930s, to the historical rituals and customs brought to the holiday by the Druids and Victorians, to the ethereal atmosphere depicted in American ghost stories and Brothers Grimm fairy tales; this event will offer treats and tricks for guests of all ages. A little bit silly. A little bit macabre. But all in fun,” so it states on the website.

Dates and Times
Sat, 10/22:     11am to 6pm

Sun, 10/23:    Noon to 5pm

Fri, 10/28:      5pm to 8pm

Sat, 10/29:     11am to 8pm

Sun, 10/30:    Noon to 5pm

Stage: Personal Transformation and Triumph

The Black Mirror Theatre Company presents “Roll With It!” at Kranzberg Arts Center black box theater

Katie Rodriguez Banister

Katie Rodriguez Bannister was paralyzed from the chest down in an SUV rollover accident in 1990. She was 25. This is her story. Only three more performances left – Friday at 7 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday at 3 p.m.

Here’s my review:

For more about Katie, read the Webster-Kirkwood Times article by Julie Brown Patton:

Movie: Julia and George Together Again

Megastars Julia Roberts and George Clooney, who’ve made five movies together, reunite in “Ticket to Paradise,” for a formulaic rom-com that is pure escapism, the kind of “Mom movie” that women of a certain age will enjoy. Here’s my review:

New Year’s Eve Plans: Nikki Glaser tickets on sale

Tickets went on sale this morning, Oct. 21, at 10 a.m. via Ticketmaster for Nikki Glaser: One Night with Nikki Glaser at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 31, at the Stifel Theatre.

Ticket Link:

Spooktacular Movies at the Drive-In

“Jamie Lee Curtis is Laurie Strode in “Halloween Ends

Drive-In Time: Slashfest is Oct. 28-29 at the Skyview Drive-In in Belleville, officially ending the season. However, this weekend, you can enjoy Pre-Slashfest with a combo of new and old movies.

Here is the schedule for, October 21 & 22…

Screen 1 – Halloween Ends R 8:00 and Frankenstein 1931 NR 10:00

Screen 2 – Poltergeist PG 8:00 and The Lost Boys R 10:10

The box office opens at 6:30 p.m. Ads and previews start at 7:50. Good idea to arrive early.

If you want to request a reserved spot for an additional $10, send an email to Tell us which movie you want to see, which night you want to attend, and the year/make/model of your vehicle. Be sure to include all information or your request will be returned to you.

Trailer: The Crown Season 5

Season 5 will drop on Nov. 9 on Netflix, with Elizabeth Debecki as Princess Diana, Dominic West as Prince Charles, Imelda Staunton as Queen Elizabeth and Jonathan Pryce as Prince Philip.


Taylor Swift Dropped “Midnights” — here’s a tract:

By Lynn Venhaus
With their mega-watt star power and effortless charm, George Clooney and Julia Roberts are just so darn cute together that they make the high-concept rom-com “Ticket to Paradise” go down as easy as a fruity tropical drink while watching an island sunset.

“Ticket to Paradise” follows the formula of many personality-driven light-hearted escapes set in an exotic locale and depend on thorny romantic complications with an easy-going cast having fun with each other.

As a bitterly divorced couple, they team up and travel to Bali to stop their only daughter (Kaitlyn Devers) from making the same mistake they think they made 25 years ago.

In their fifth film together, Clooney and Roberts appear to be having a ball, even while pretending they hate each other’s guts. That fine line between love and hate, you know. They were college sweethearts and married for five years. Their house burnt down, and their relationship flamed out.

But they had a daughter, Lily, whom they dote on, and are forced to be together for those kind of family rituals like graduations and weddings. The ever-reliable Kaitlyn Dever plays recent law school graduate Lily, who is on a long holiday with her roommate and best friend Wren in Bali before embarking on real-world careers.

Party girl Wren is given some oomph by Billie Lourd, the late Carrie Fisher’s daughter. She’s mainly around to be supportive of her buddy, but it would have been nice for her to have a storyline too. She and Dever were both in “Booksmart,” and work well together here.

Roberts’ character, Georgia, an art gallery owner, is engaged to a handsome younger pilot, endearingly played by French actor Lucas Bravo (a delight in “Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris” this past summer and on “Emily in Paris.”) He’s a good sport, even as the butt of some jokes.

The lovestruck Lily throws everything into chaos when she breaks the news that she is engaged to an Indonesian seaweed farmer, Gede (Maxime Bouttier), a sweet and sincere islander she fell head over heels for – and is ready to build a life faraway from what she’s known. They make a cute, believable couple.

Bali is a stunning location with gorgeous sunsets, warm hospitality and a relaxed way of life. What’s not to love?

The parents are determined to sabotage the wedding, and unite to carry it out, but as expected, things aren’t going according to plan in the story by Ol Parker and script co-writer Daniel Pipski.

The parents have time for reflection and look back at their tattered relationship, which the two Oscar winners carry out well.

Maxime Bouttier, Kaitlyn Dever

It seems like a predictable patchwork of other rom-coms – a dash of “Crazy Rich Asians,” a touch of “Mamma Mia!”, a sprinkle of “Gidget Goes Hawaiian,” and a smidge of “My Best Friend’s Wedding, as well as a litany of Hallmark movies involving matrimony, but that doesn’t make it less palatable.

When you sign on for a romantic comedy, you know what’s ahead. This is a Mom movie – one you can take your mother too and not worry about salacious content. If it appeals to a certain demographic, so be it.

The pleasures here are enjoying the shimmering panoramic vistas in the south Pacific and two charismatic movie stars who are adorable when lighting up the screen. Their chemistry is so smooth that you’d watch them just sitting and talking to each other (at least I would).

The last movie they made, “Money Monster,” was a middling crime drama-thriller in 2016.  Clooney was a financial TV host and Roberts played his producer who are in an extreme situation when an irate investor takes over the studio.

But their casting as Danny and Tess Ocean in the “Ocean’s” movies – 11, 12 and 13 — caught fire in that entertaining caper franchise. They first appeared in “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind,” which Clooney directed in 2002, an adaptation of game show impresario Chuck Barris’ cult memoir about being a CIA hitman.

Although capable of crafting fine characters in their legendary careers, they are well-suited for romantic comedies. After all, that’s where Roberts broke through (“Pretty Woman”) and had considerable box office power (“Notting Hill,” “My Best Friend’s Wedding, “Runaway Bride,” among them.) They have their dramatic cred – and Oscars to prove it, too.

The outtakes shown during the end credits seem unnecessary and rather silly, but other than that, it’s not a waste o’ time.

Ol Parker, best known for “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” in 2018 and “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” in 2011, directed “Ticket to Paradise” with a light touch, careful to not make the proceedings too slapstick-y (but not above some goofy moments, like a dolphin attack and a snake bite).

He knows and respects his audience, and so do the lovable movie stars. If you are looking for a pleasant trifle to wile away a couple hours, “Ticket to Paradise” will amuse. It isn’t destined to become a classic but will stay in fans’ rotations.

“Ticket to Paradise” is a 2022 romantic comedy directed by Ol Parker and starring George Clooney, Julia Roberts and Kaitlyn Dever. Rated PG-13 for some strong language and brief suggestive material, it runs 1 hour, 44 minutes. Opens in theatres on Oct. 21. Lynn’s Grade: B-.

By Lynn Venhaus
Regret and redemption are threads running through this bleak post-apocalyptic tale that wants to have both a human touch and a big picture narrative with its duel storylines.

The year is 2049. On Earth, some mysterious catastrophe has wreaked havoc. Instead of bailing like his fellow scientists, Augustine (George Clooney) stays at the research station in the Arctic Circle. Dying of cancer, he assumes he is alone. But finds that a young girl was left behind.

When he realizes the U.S. spaceship Aether, whose work on Jupiter is over, is heading home, he tries to message them not to return or they will be in danger. It is a race against the clock.

The trouble with “The Midnight Sky” is that both journeys – in space and on land – have gaping plot holes. I tend to overthink when I’m watching science fiction, but this is hard to connect the dots at times because information – and backstory – is dispensed so stingily or not at all.

For instance, the ship’s captain, Adewole (David Oyelowo) and assistant Sully (Felicity Jones) are having a baby together but they don’t show any evidence of themselves as a couple.

In flashback, George Clooney’s character Augustine is played by Ethan Peck, the grandson of legendary actor Gregory Peck. A clip of the elder Peck’s 1959 post-nuclear bomb film, “On the Beach,” is watched by pilot Mitchell (Kyle Chandler).

Based on Lily Brooks-Dalton’s novel, “Good Morning, Midnight,” this was meant to be a cautionary tale on climate change, but then a global pandemic hit, so the theme of regret at a time of great peril – and reflecting over life’s choices – struck a timely chord.

Screenwriter Mark L. Smith, who co-wrote “The Revenant,” adapted the 2016 book, and some characters have been altered. You do get a “Gravity Meets the Revenant” vibe, but it is also reminiscent of elements in “Ad Astra,” “Interstellar” and “The Martian.”

Clooney, a magnetic actor, hasn’t been in a film since 2016 “Money Monster,” and when you first see him on screen, as this dying, haggard 70-year-old loner, you may gasp. He goes all in as a guy driven by science that had little time for a personal life. He brings an emotional depth to the taciturn character.

His poignant scenes with newcomer Caoilinn Springall as the young girl left behind have an unexpected tenderness. 

As a director, Clooney’s efforts have been hit and miss, but he’s a sharp observer and takes on dramas that have something to say (“Good Night, Good Luck”). This film, with its grand space vistas and its harsh Arctic conditions, is more technically challenging, and Clooney is overwhelmed by its scope.

The visual effects are outstanding and cinematographer Martin Ruhe has done fine work here under grueling conditions. Alexander DeSplat’s score excels in both heavenly and earthly depictions.

However, Clooney is at his best with other good actors, and this is an ace ensemble.

For all its noble intentions, after a long slog, the film leaves us wanting more. Nevertheless, we are left with a glimmer of hope, and I’ll take it.

“The Midnight Sky” is a science fiction-fantasy drama directed by George Clooney. Starring Clooney, Felicity Jones, David Oyelowo, Kyle Chandler, Damian Bechir, Tiffany Boone and Caoilinn Springall, the film runs 1 hour, 58 minutes and is rated PG-13 for some bloody images and brief strong language. Lynn’s Grade: C+. It is available on Netflix beginning Dec. 23.