Today we hear from you, the unassailable and cherished readers. Hello, by the way. Hope you're well.
"Mr. Phillips," writes Brandon McNeill, who had me at mister, "as a longtime Tribune subscriber and life-long movie fan, I find your film reviews and weekly Talking Pictures column absolutely indispensable!" Nice of you to say so, Mr. McNeill. And per your question, Jason Reitman's "Labor Day" won't open in Chicago until Jan. 31, 2014.
With every spoonful of sugar, there's a fork in the eye waiting to happen. Regarding the recent film "Museum Hours," John Bird writes: "FOUR STARS! Are you kidding?? I'm sorry to tell you that you are responsible for a most disappointing movie experience. We cut out your review in the Tribune, put it on our refrigerator door and arranged to attend with another Vienna museum lover at Northwestern's Block Cinema (first time there for us). So, the big night ... dark, freezing cold, we drove over there to the lake, trudged up to the theater with 150 other fools. What were we thinking? What did I miss? Every pejorative adjective might apply here: dumb, dreary, depressing, boring, inexplicable, on and on and on." Well, John, some like it, some don't. It's a funny old world.
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Regarding the death of actor Christopher Evan Welch, whose screen and stage work was the subject of last week's column, Ted Balcom writes: "I appreciated your tribute in Friday's edition (very well written, as usual). I didn't know that he died or even that he'd been sick for several years, so I was saddened by the news. I became a fan when I listened to him as the narrator of the audio version of Tom Rachman's clever and entertaining novel, 'The Imperfectionists.' I also enjoyed his performance on the AMC series 'Rubicon.' Thank you for celebrating his accomplishments and calling attention to the loss of a very talented actor."
From James Palmer, one of Welch's artistic colleagues: "Just wanted to thank you for your appreciation on my dear friend and Ottoman Bigwigs bandmate, Chris. Yours is the most complete picture of him as an artist and a person to date. I truly hope that Mike Judge's TV series 'Silicon Valley' figures out how to keep him in all the episodes (he was two scenes away from completing the first season of shooting) so people can see how crazy funny he was. Chris was very charged up about this role; then again, he brought great spark to everything in which he was involved."
Finally: A lot of mail poured in on "Nebraska," both pro and con, tied to the review and to the follow-up column, which also ran in the Los Angeles Times. Speculating on the casting, and on how Gene Hackman might've played the role eventually taken by Bruce Dern, to great acclaim, I managed to anger half of the acting community in greater LA.
Elsewhere, closer to Chicago, a more mixed reaction. From Lynn Brezina: "Mr. Phillips, I agree with everything you said about Gene Hackman, yesterday. I am sorry he has retired. I have loved him. I also loved 'Scarecrow,' and feel like I was the only person who ever saw the darn film. But I have loved Bruce Dern as well. I always enjoy your reviews."
From Mac Brachman: "Thank you for your review of 'Nebraska' and your sensitive accompanying piece on Gene Hackman. Dern and Hackman: I love 'em both, and hope Gene reconsiders his decision to retire. I feel the same way about Peter O'Toole and, in a different artistic pursuit, Philip Roth."
And from the golden west, Frances O'Neill Zimmerman of San Diego does not use the adjective "sensitive." "What did Bruce Dern do to you that caused this mean-spirited, pointless and admittedly 'ungracious' speculation on why the retired Gene Hackman would have been better in 'Nebraska'? Jerks like you belong at the Chicago Tribune, not in the Times."
And to all a good night.