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As Comedy, ‘Table 19’ Only Serves Hor d’Oeuvres

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 2.5/5.0
Rating: 2.5/5.0

CHICAGO – “Table 19” is an example of a movie that doesn’t try to do too much. It simply takes its little idea and lets it play out, without the forced subplots and desperate stabs of fake urgency so many studio comedies resort to – it’s one part aimless hang out comedy, one part rom-com. It is an amusing-if-forgettable 87 minutes with a group of funny people who get more laughs than they probably should have from such thin material.

Charming ‘The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ Bucks Botched Sequel Trend

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4.0/5.0
Rating: 4.0/5.0

CHICAGO – Motivated by financial necessity, sequels often mitigate business risk and satisfy studio executives by riding on the coattails of a previous fan base with brand equity. But business aside, to moviegoers the follow-up product so often feels like it “wasn’t nearly as good as the first” or didn’t need to return at all.

Reese Witherspoon Takes a Tedious Trip Into the ‘Wild’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 2.0/5.0
Rating: 2.0/5.0

CHICAGO – At times “Wild” resembles the hallucinatory fever dream of a dehydrated and delirious hiker (played by Reese Witherspoon), alone in the world. I only wish her fever dreams were more interesting for the rest of us.

Michael Fassbender Stars in Riveting, Daring ‘Shame’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 5.0/5.0
Rating: 5.0/5.0

CHICAGO – Steve McQueen’s “Shame” is a daring examination of isolation and addiction with the best performance of the year courtesy of Michael Fassbender and one that nearly matches it from the always-stellar Carey Mulligan. This is dark, confrontational material of the kind that too few major filmmakers are willing to tackle and it will haunt you for days after you see it. Don’t miss it.

‘Snow Flower and the Secret Fan’ Could Be Cure For Insomnia

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 1.0/5.0
Rating: 1.0/5.0

CHICAGO – Wayne Wang’s “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan” is such a stunningly inert film that it’s almost worth seeing to watch a movie with no thrust whatsoever. Probably due to a language barrier, the film features two of the least effective lead performances of the year, which keeps the audience from engaging in the story emotionally and just leaves them wondering how this book became a bestseller.

Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan Rock in Fantastic ‘Win Win’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 5.0/5.0
Rating: 5.0/5.0

CHICAGO – Writer/Director Thomas McCarthy makes films with that very unique attribute in which the characters completely feel like they exist before the opening scene and after the credits roll. As he did in “The Station Agent” and “The Visitor,” he has told another unique story that is both moving and also believable at the same time, an increasingly-rare combination. “Win Win” is the first great film of 2011.

James Franco, Danny Boyle Elevate Harrowing Saga of ‘127 Hours’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4.5/5.0
Rating: 4.5/5.0

CHICAGO – What separates us during extreme danger? Why do some people collapse under the weight of likely death while others push forward and make it out alive? What fuels the will to survive to the point that it can do the unimaginable? Aron Ralston has surely thought about his personal answers to these questions and Danny Boyle’s riveting film about his defining incident, “127 Hours,” now brings them to millions of captivated fans in theaters around the world.

For ‘Once,’ Carney Casts Musicians – Not Actors – in Masterful Musical

Rating: 4.5/5CHICAGO – To purely document the life of a street-singing busker, “Once” director John Carney didn’t engage actors. He married musicians.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Positively Present: An Uplifting Cabaret

    CHICAGO – When faced with adversity, the best way around it is to somehow break into song. That is the feeling behind the Brown Paper Box Co.’s “Positively Present: An Uplifting Cabaret,” running April 7th and 8th at Mary’s Attic in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood. The event features company member Kristi Szczepanek as host, and presents song stylings by other company members, including Anna Schutz, plus some special guests. For details and ticket information, click here.

  • Kid Thing, The

    CHICAGO – Like the awesome Engine Who Could, the mighty Nothing Without a Company stage crafters have constructed another triumph at their new home in Berger Mansion on Chicago’s north side. “The Kid Thing” – written by Sarah Gubbins – is a terse, convincing and emotional play about fear, identity and breeding, and it is performed by its cast of five with utter authenticity. The show has a Thursday-Sunday run at the Berger North Mansion through April 15th, 2017. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

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