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Patrick McDonald

‘Beirut’ is a Superbly Tense Geopolitical Thriller

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

CHICAGO – The psychological desperation of life-or-death decisions are in play within “Beirut,” the new geopolitical thriller featuring Jon Hamm (“Mad Men”). The various mazes within the story, set during the Lebanon civil war of the 1980s, is comparative to “Casablanca,” especially through the world-weary expression of Hamm’s character.

Bottom Line is ‘Blockers’ Has Some Decent Laughs

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

CHICAGO – Comedy is purely subjective, and the new film ‘Blockers’ sets out to prove it, by expectorating joke after joke in all categories of sophistication. Physical pratfalls, witty asides, gross-out, sex, nudity, drugs, surrealism and more are all on the humor buffet, so pick, choose and laugh, as they pile it on.

Armie Hammer Sits for Geoffrey Rush in ‘Final Portrait’

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

CHICAGO – Paris in the 1960s seems to be a place where anything was possible. “Final Portrait” is an indication of this, as Armie Hammer portrays a Mad Men style American critic (what!) in 1964, who sits for a portrait painting by eccentric artist Alberto Giacometti, portrayed with relish by Geoffrey Rush.

‘Leaning Into the Wind - Andy Goldsworthy’ Profiles the Artist and His Muse

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

CHICAGO – The British artist Andy Goldsworthy is a true “outsider” artist, because many of his works are rooted in the grown-and-death cycles of the great outdoors. He is described as a sculptor, photographer and environmentalist, but many of his art creations use materials available in any wooded area, based on a connection to nature combined with a creative soul. This is profiled in the second film about him from the same director, “Leaning Into the Wind - Andy Goldsworthy.”

More Action, Less Enjoyment in ‘Pacific Rim Uprising’

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

CHICAGO – The giant robot film genre is in trouble. It wasn’t enough that “Transformers” has ground it to dust, but now the “Pacific Rim” sequel is going the same direction. There is action-a-plenty in the followup to Guillermo Del Toro’s fun and light first film, that lightness is missing in “Pacific Rim Uprising.”

Chaos of Power in Hilarious ‘The Death of Stalin’

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

CHICAGO – If you want a film to take your mind off the current American power structure, that at the same time provides some truth to the situation, you won’t do better than “The Death of Stalin.” A monster comedic cast – including Steve Buscemi and Jeffrey Tambor – is assembled for this hilarious farce.

‘7 Days in Entebbe’ is Surprisingly Effective

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

CHICAGO – What would you expect from an event subject that has been already rendered four times on film, and deals with terrorism, hijacking and government negotiation? “7 Days in Entebbe” contained all of this, and yet still maintained a separate energy and cinematic artistry. In many ways, it’s one of the most surprising films of the young year.

Helen Mirren Takes Another Ride in ‘The Leisure Seeker’

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

CHICAGO – Helen Mirren keeps establishing herself as an international treasure with each new role. She is the prime motivator in the new film “The Leisure Seeker,” about a retired couple taking one last spin in their RV, which takes its nickname from the title of the film. Along the way secrets are revealed and the devastation of dementia is exposed, but the story never gets too serious or heavy handed.

‘A Wrinkle in Time’ Can’t Smooth Its Bizarre Fabric

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

CHICAGO – Although I am an admirer of Oprah Winfrey, it’s unfortunate that the best way to describe “A Wrinkle in Time” – with her role as goddess problem solver – is Worst. Episode. of. Oprah. Ever. The film, based on a novel from 1962, caves into effects over cohesiveness or story.

Keep Your Eye on Jennifer Lawrence in ‘Red Sparrow’

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

CHICAGO – It is movie star time for JLaw (Jennifer Lawrence) in ‘Red Sparrow,’ because her performance transcends the muddy plot, and her charisma – even with the lowest of low key characters – creates an interest in her thought process, even as she muddles through the story.

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