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Kristen Stewart is Hauntingly Captivating in ‘Personal Shopper’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.0/5.0
Rating: 3.0/5.0

CHICAGO – I’ve had a deep fascination with ghost stories since I was a kid. There is something both interesting and terrifying knowing that there are often unseen forces we could be encountering in our everyday life. Olivier Assayas creates an unexplainable phantasm thriller in “Personal Shopper” that remains completely captivating throughout even if you don’t understand what you just experienced.

Elisabeth Moss Reigns Supreme in ‘Queen of Earth’

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

CHICAGO – Elisabeth Moss is the ‘Actor of Her Generation.’ She is a true chameleon, and can anchor a lead role while still expressing a twitch of consequence. The subject is depression in “Queen of Earth,” and writer/director Alex Ross Perry is able to honestly portray it through Moss.

Circumstances of Life, Truth Exist in ‘Boyhood’

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

CHICAGO – Life is made up of moments, as the philosophy of the new Richard Linklater film wants to convey. What formulates a person’s ideals and soul, born in a certain place and time? Over 12 years, the writer and director created a fictional family using the same actors in “Boyhood.”

Vacant, Sad Sexual Journey in ‘Young & Beautiful’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.5/5.0
Rating: 3.5/5.0

CHICAGO – “Young & Beautiful” may have people rethinking the phrase, “oh, to be young and beautiful again.” Well, maybe the “young” part, since we seldom don’t hear lamentations of the loss of beauty. Here’s a film that reminds us that wisdom not only comes with age, but also with mistakes.

Philip Seymour Hoffman Lives Again in ‘God’s Pocket’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.0/5.0
Rating: 3.0/5.0

CHICAGO – Watching Philip Seymour Hoffman perform, now that he has passed on, is a bittersweet reminder of his ability and power to embody his deeply felt characters. He does it again in one of his last roles, adding his special brand of acting to the messy story within the gritty noir drama, “God’s Pocket.”

Jeff Garlin Directs Inconsistent ‘Dealin’ with Idiots’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.0/5.0
Rating: 3.0/5.0

CHICAGO – Jeff Garlin has created a good “character” in TV and films – a gruff but affable schlemiel that ambles through life as if distracted. He amplifies that role in his latest comedy, “Dealin’ with Idiots,’ but the loose improvisation style has too many unfunny stretches and an unpleasant spirit.

America Waist Deep in Endless ‘Dirty Wars’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.5/5.0
Rating: 3.5/5.0

CHICAGO – Jeremy Scahill is a relentless investigative reporter, a rare species in an age of increasing corporate control of the media. He goes to terror zones that others fear to tread, and has uncovered stories that comprise his new documentary, “Dirty Wars,” which uncovers dangerous U.S. foreign policy.

Greta Gerwig Lights Up the Life of ‘Frances Ha’

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

CHICAGO – Greta Gerwig is a gift to the type of film acting that dominates the screen. This beautiful, versatile actor gives poignant energy to her latest title character, “Frances Ha,” a collaboration with indie director Noah Baumbach (“Greenberg”).

Profiling Transforms ‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.5/5.0
Rating: 3.5/5.0

CHICAGO – Given the recent media coverage of the Boston bombings, the issue of profiling – judging a individual as suspect based on religion or appearances – is an ongoing problem. Director Mira Nair explores profiling in the context of September 11th in “The Reluctant Fundamentalist.”

‘Beyond the Hills’ Entraps Audience in Claustrophobic Nightmare

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.5/5.0
Rating: 3.5/5.0

CHICAGO – There is an excellent 90-minute film hidden somewhere within the two-and-a-half-hour ordeal that is Cristian Mungiu’s “Beyond the Hills.” It’s far from a bad film, and offers many sequences of entrancing power, but simply doesn’t have enough material to justify its sprawling running time. Instead of probing deeper, the picture merely becomes repetitive.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Speech & Debate (stage play)

    CHICAGO – “Speech & Debate,” the latest production from the mighty Brown Paper Box Company, continues their tradition of thinking outside that “box” in presenting storefront theater that makes a statement and a difference. “Speech” goes inside America by showcasing the outsiders… those who create art because they can’t get it right in real life. This non-equity Chicago stage play premiere is finely tuned and wonderfully acted, and runs through March 4th, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

  • We're Gonna Be Okay

    CHICAGO – The 1960s were a time of historical social transition. The movements – civil rights, feminist, gay rights – all had roots in that tumultuous decade. The Chicago premiere of Basil Kreimendahl’s “We’re Gonna Be Okay” echoes all of those movements in its characters, and collides them against the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. The show has a Thursday-Sunday run at the American Theater Company through March 4th, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

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