HollywoodChicago.com Movie Reviews

Unsettling View of Evil in Lars von Trier’s ‘The House That Jack Built’

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

CHICAGO – With director Lars von Trier, who is a mad f**king genius of a filmmaker, it’s always make or break (or both). He breaks in his latest, “The House That Jack Built” which is all too much of evil everything, until it morphs into a last act that has an intriguing and unsettling sense of weird purpose. The story of a serial killer and the meticulous realizations of his killings is like a sound meter that is constantly going into the red zone, until the damn thing shatters.

‘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.

De-Glamorizing Nicole Kidman Can’t Save ‘Destroyer’

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

CHICAGO – If you are in a particular frame of mind you can kinda see why someone thought “Destroyer” would be a good idea. It’s got an Academy Award winner, doing a physical transformation, and has a hard-boiled detective story. All of these elements in the right hands could have added up to awards show adulation.

‘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.

‘Vice’ Proves It’s Okay to Laugh at Dick Cheney

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

CHICAGO – “Vice” is an occasionally very funny attempt to demystify the life and legacy of former Vice President of the United States, Dick Cheney. Using some of the same gimmicks and narrative trickery he employed to great effect in “The Big Short,” writer/director Adam McKay goes deep into the weeds to try to explain how Cheney made it to the second highest office in the land.

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.

Multi-Dimensional ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’

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

CHICAGO – This animated take on Spider-Man gets a little stuck in a web entirely of its own making. Digging deeper into the weeds of the extended mythology of the comics, “Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse” presents not one but at least seven different versions of the character.

‘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.

‘Anna and The Apocalypse’ is UnDead on Arrival

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 1.5/5.0
Rating: 1.5/5.0

CHICAGO – Arriving a few years too late after the great movie mashup craze, “Anna and The Apocalypse” is a zombie Christmas musical. The signature (and only) joke is that teens are dancing and singing amid the blood, guts, and gore spurting in gushers around them. But it’s less a feature film and more akin to a late run episode of “Glee,” when its creators had clearly run out of any ideas.

‘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.”

A Hilarious Combination of Crass and Class in ‘The Favourite’

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

CHICAGO – Looking through auteur Yorgos Lanthimos’ filmography, you’ll recognize a style that combines both visual beauty and narrative absurdism. The Lanthimos effect, or Lanthimo-nium as I like to call it, elevates any piece of work to such a high degree that often times the meanings go over our heads. In his most mainstream effort to date, “The Favourite” will likely become your favorite of his works.

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  • 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.

  • Bill Daily, photo by Joe Arce

    CHICAGO – He was America’s sidekick in TV’s golden decades of the 1960s and ‘70s, and was a proud Chicago-born-and-bred performer. Bill Daily, better known as Major Roger Healey (“I Dream of Jeannie”) and the wacky neighbor Howard Borden (“The Bob Newhart Show”) died at his New Mexico home at the age of 91 on September 4th, 2018.

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