Patrick McDonald

‘The Upside’ Works Because of Kevin Hart & Bryan Cranston

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

CHICAGO – In 2011, there was a notable French film called “The Intouchables,” based on the true story of quadriplegic Phillippe Pozzo di Borgo and the relationship with his caregiver. Leave it to the U.S. film industry to get its sticky fingers on the story, and seven years later Bryan Cranston portrays “Phillip” and his caretaker is portrayed by Kevin Hart. Instead of story, this version relies on its lead actors.

‘Bathtubs Over Broadway’ Revives a Forgotten Art Form

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

CHICAGO – There are cultural heroes, and then there is comedy writer Steve Young. Through sheer happenstance, he began a journey that ended up with a rediscovery of an art form that without Young’s intervention would have died. The U.S. corporation Broadway-style “industrial musical,” which highlighted products or sales meetings in a song and dance presentation, were at its peak popularity from the 1950s through the ‘70s. “Bathtubs Over Broadway” is Young’s documentary of appreciation for those shows and and his intervention to revive them.

A Heroic Ruth Bader Ginsburg in ‘On the Basis of Sex’

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

CHICAGO – Many heroes of America toiled long behind the scenes to break the chains of oppression. For every Susan Anthony or Martin Luther King Jr. there were the activists, legal experts and volunteers who sought the justice denied to them by the archaic patriarchal society. One such hero is Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the film “On the Basis of Sex.”

‘Aquaman’ is a Watery Sleep with the Fishes

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

CHICAGO – The dripping sound of water you will hear this upcoming weekend will be the tears of DC Comics fans, as they cry from frustration over the latest cinema hit job on one of the Super-Friends. The tepid and overlong “Aquaman” is another hero movie that tries to combine origin story and “first case” adventure, and fails at both.

You’ll Be Wild About Magical ‘Mary Poppins Returns’

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

CHICAGO – They did it. Walt Disney Studios took one of their most beloved live action/animated films and rebooted it for a new millennium. “Mary Poppins Returns” is a song-filled, emotional and magical celebration of all things Mary P, combining the elements that made it great the first time with the modern movie strengths of today.

‘Vox Lux’ is a Visually Stark Metaphor for a Lost Cause

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

CHICAGO – In the frozen emotional landscape of America, where mass shootings have become as regular as the sunrise, what better symbol for this madness is there than a pop star? Natalie Portman is that singer in “Vox Lux,” a victim and a perpetrator in the sin of mass death, and the soundtrack of gunfire.

‘Roma’ is a Celebration of Human Courage & Spirit

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

CHICAGO – In one of the most arresting and beautiful films of the year, writer/director Alfonso Cuarón transports us back to 1970s Mexico City, to his childhood and his appreciation of memory. He also creates a human story around all the nostalgia, that all takes place in the neighborhood of “Roma.”

‘Robin Hood’ is a By-the-Book Waste of Cinema Energy

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

CHICAGO – No one in the movie-going universe was pining for another Robin Hood remake. No. One. Yet, with the story in public domain and some overseas cash to spend, here we are. Taron Egerton (“Kingsman” series) takes on the title role, with support from Jamie Foxx.

Fight for Redemption in the Rocky Universe of ‘Creed II’

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

CHICAGO – In the EIGHTH exploration (wow) for the story of boxer Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) – that began way back in 1976 – the son of his first opponent, Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan), must settle an old score and seek redemption for himself and those around him in “Creed II.”

The Friendship Page of Black & White in ‘Green Book’

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

CHICAGO – In the original sin of racism in America, structured in the societal relationship between whites and African Americans, there had to be small steps before there were larger ones. In 1962, a black piano virtuoso and his white Italian New Yorker driver toured through the Deep South and developed a friendship, in the new film “Green Book.”

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