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Albert Brooks

‘The Secret Life of Pets’ Neuters Promising Cast

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

CHICAGO – A promising voice cast of comedy greats is effectively neutered in the blasé animated family film “The Secret Life Of Pets.” It doesn’t have the multi-layered story of the best Pixar movies – or even the “Despicable Me” films – to satisfy both kids and grownups. The bigger it tries to be, the more exhausted it seems.

‘Finding Dory’ Essentially Finds Its Sweet Spot

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

CHICAGO – Pixar’s sequel to its underwater animated tearjerker “Finding Nemo” isn’t quite in the same league, but “Finding Dory” is satisfying all the same. This time the story focuses on Marlin and Nemo’s forgetful friend Dory, as she searches for the family she can’t quite remember.

‘Concussion’ Can’t Quite Tackle its Difficult Subject

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

CHICAGO – “Concussion” suffers from what I call the “Moneyball” problem – it’s got an interesting subject matter, but it doesn’t seem to know what to do with it. It doesn’t have enough faith in its own material or its audience, so it stocks up on a lot of off-the-shelf melodrama in effort to avoid digging into what makes the story interesting in the first place. It’s also a movie that chickens out at the end and seems afraid to pick a fight.

Jessica Chastain, Oscar Isaac Endure ‘A Most Violent Year’

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

CHICAGO – The effect of violence, centering on the roughest statistical year for it (1981) in New York City history, becomes a flashpoint for the way business has always been done. If someone isn’t intimidating their competitor with lawyers or shady marketing practices, a few hired goons can do the trick. Oscar Isaac takes the beating, both real and metaphorical, in writer/director J.C. Chandor’s “A Most Violent Year.”

Judd Apatow’s ‘This is 40’ Clutters Truth with Cliché

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

CHICAGO – Judd Apatow’s “This is 40” is a true disappointment, a comedy that purports to say something honest and insightful about approaching middle age in the ‘10s but blurs truth by smothering it in contrivance and cliché. Strong work from Leslie Mann and Albert Brooks rescue the project from complete disaster but the largely-unfunny and almost entirely disingenuous script mark this as the talented Apatow’s most notable misfire.

Ryan Gosling Stars in Instant Classic ‘Drive’

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

CHICAGO – Nicholas Winding Refn’s “Drive” is an amazing thriller, a modern examination of heroism filtered through the fairy tale culture of the underbelly of the movie machine that is easily one of the most memorable and effective films of not just this year but the last several.

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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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