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Michael Keaton is a Man with a Brand in ‘The Founder’

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

CHICAGO – Michael Keaton is the real reason to see “The Founder” – it’s a movie that probably wouldn’t work at all without him. Keaton portrays Ray Kroc, the man who turned McDonald’s into a multinational fast food behemoth. But “The Founder” is an origin story of both the man and the brand…and Kroc is not the genius of American business he’s been made out to be.

‘Lion’ Can’t Quite Tame Audience’s Hearts

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

CHICAGO – “Lion” is the kind of inspirational-triumph-over-insurmountable-odds and adversity stories that’s bound to appeal to grandmothers and Academy voters, and it does offer plenty of material to tug at the heartstrings. But it’s a movie that only gets the job half done, and unfortunately loses its way once Nicole Kidman comes into the picture.

Quentin Tarantino Stays Familiar in ‘The Hateful Eight’

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

CHICAGO – Story-wise, there is not much difference in “The Hateful Eight” – regarding themes and violence – that writer/director Quentin Tarantino hasn’t explored before. But it is also an outrageous and big western tale, and it’s presented in some theaters in a huge 70mm screen format.

Probable Events is the Situation in Tense ‘No Escape’

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

CHICAGO – In a very unstable world, and in a sense that these problems are international, we all can be stuck in war at any time – there is no way to get away from it. “No Escape” takes this notion to the extreme, with an American family – led by Owen Wilson – caught in a war zone.

Trite ‘Woman in Gold’ Lacks a Compelling Story

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

CHICAGO – The horrors of the Holocaust have been expressed in cinematic art through many angles. “Woman in Gold” takes another track, that of restoring a work of art that was stolen from a Jewish family in Austria. The legal maneuverings, however, lacks a sense that this is victorious.

‘Big Eyes’ Too Conventional to Generate Any Interest

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

CHICAGO – What’s up with Tim Burton? His style is hardly present in the straightforward story of artists Margaret and Walter Keane, locked in a battle of creation over “Big Eyes” child paintings. There is nothing revelatory or even interesting in the process of their struggle of who-painted-what, maybe perhaps Burton – a collector of the art – wants to increase their value?

Lives Interact in ‘The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them’

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

CHICAGO – There was something blank within “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them,” although it dealt with the issues of loss, family and reconciliation. The all star cast, including Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy and William Hurt, add their performing spins to the story.

A Fashionable Man is Captured in ‘Yves Saint Laurent’

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

CHICAGO – Fashion is art, and the canvas is provided by the wearer of that fashion. The designer biography depicted in “Yves Saint Laurent” is one of tortured genius, as Saint Laurent influenced and commodified the world of clothing and accessory creation for over 50 years.

‘Sin City: A Dame to Kill For’ Breaks No New Ground

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

CHICAGO – When the first “Sin City” (2005) was released – based on the graphic novels by Frank Miller – the conversion of a film to a noir-like comic book atmosphere was pioneering. The sequel “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” has heightened that look, but this time has much less to say.

‘The Giver’ Takes Too Much From Young Adult Formula

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

CHICAGO – “The Giver” must have seemed a lot newer back when it was written than it does now. The Newberry Medal winning, middle school staple predates many other Young Adult series about oppressive big brother-ish societies. But its filmed adaptation, coming on the heels of “Divergent” and “The Hunger Games,” can’t help but feel like it’s riding their coattails.

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  • 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.

  • Wiz, The

    CHICAGO – When stage theater can cause outbreaks of elation, celebration and joy, then it must be due to Kokandy Productions’ revival of “The Wiz.” The urban reinterpretation of “The Wizard of Oz” story – told through tuneful euphoria and jubilant dance – is ecstatically produced, in every morsel of its stagecraft.

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