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Mark Strong

‘Miss Sloane’ Thrills Politically, But Drags Narratively

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

CHICAGO – Nothing says the holiday season like a film about lobbying and politics. If you read that sarcastically, you’d be wrong. “Miss Sloane” offers a female spin for an otherwise male dominated political landscape. Most of you are trying to tune out politics after the elections, but this film builds off of that momentum by reminding us how we arrived to that point.

‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’ is Fun, Very Odd

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

CHICAGO – Part James Bond, part absurdist adventure, “Kingsman: The Secret Service” is nonetheless a romp, with Colin Firth handling the Brit spy role with a natural aplomb. If the notion of a super secret rogue spy agency under a London tailor shop is something that sounds intriguing, that doesn’t even begin to tell the tale.

A Lost WWII Hero Remembered in Slick Thriller ‘The Imitation Game’

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

CHICAGO – The heroism of World War II codebreaker Alan Turing has been lost in time. Partly due to the secrecy of his mission within the British military in World War II, but also because of the intolerance that erased him soon after his incredible accomplishments. The story of Turing, a man who helped the Allies win the war but was then persecuted for his closeted homosexuality, is given a long-overdue major feature treatment.

‘Before I Go to Sleep’ Not Worth Remembering

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

CHICAGO – “Before I Go To Sleep” is a lobotomized amnesiac thriller that sure hopes its audience can’t remember “Memento.” It presents its promising concept as a slow, poorly paced potboiler that is packed with unpleasantness.

‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Turns CIA Procedural Into Riveting Thriller

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

CHICAGO – Kathryn Bigelow opens her stunning “Zero Dark Thirty” with a date and a series of voice mail recordings. The date is, of course, September 11, 2001 and the recordings are the ghosts of the people who died that day, perfectly setting the stakes for the story to come – the hunt for and capture of Osama Bin Laden.

‘John Carter’ is Poor Man’s ‘Star Wars,’ ‘Avatar’ With Kitschy Taylor Kitsch, Soft-Porn Lynn Collins

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

CHICAGO – Usually it’s critics critically flogging a film when we say it weakly lacks originality and borrows too heavily from others. Disney’s “John Carter” attacks that classic grumble by promotionally comparing itself to “Star Wars” and “Avatar” before critics even had a chance to deduct points for it.

Stoic Gary Oldman Uncovers ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy’

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

CHICAGO – Espionage sure isn’t like it used to be. The new film “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” is set during the Cold War period of the early 1970s, when lines were drawn by their proximity in front of and behind the Iron Curtain. Gary Oldman plays an old British spook in this thriller adapted from the famous John le Carré novel.

Brendan Gleeson Finds Caustic Charm of ‘The Guard’

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

CHICAGO – Brendan Gleeson pushes forward John Michael McDonagh’s strong “The Guard” through the sheer power of his incredible personality. The lovable-but-irascible actor delivers one of the most enjoyable performances of the year and he’s amply assisted by the great Don Cheadle and a clever, unapologetic script from his writer, making a strong directorial debut.

Ryan Reynolds in ‘Green Lantern’ is Spectacle Over Story

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

CHICAGO – The tipping point is close approaching in the super hero movie aura, especially as the B-list get their moment in the projection machine. “Green Lantern,” featuring Ryan Reynolds, stays true to its comic book roots, but lacks any cohesive passion within the main story.

Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett Forge an Epic Adventure in ‘Robin Hood’

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

CHICAGO – “T’wang!” is the the sound of an archer’s arrow going right into the center of the summer movie kick-off season. Director Ridley Scott, Cate Blanchett, Max Von Sydow, William Hurt, Mark Strong, Oscar Isaac and Russell Crowe – in the title role of “Robin Hood” – offer a compelling story, plenty of action and an epic quality to the oft-told legend.

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  • Stephanie Buxbaum

    CHICAGO – In the history of “Reality TV” there has been periods of up-and-down popularity, shows that have been around seemingly forever (“Big Brother,” “Amazing Race”) and spinoffs to new styles like “documentary series” as networks like the National Geographic Channel emerged. In all those permutations, producer Stephanie Buxbaum has experienced it all, and has the career and stories to prove it.

  • Deadbeat2

    CHICAGO – Not many web series start out as music videos, but the new online (YouTube) drama “Deadbeat 2” was just that. Created, written and directed by Danny Froze, the made-in-Chicago story recently premiered episodes five and six in the series, which features actor Kiwaun Stoutmire in the lead role of Ronnie.

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