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Anna Kendrick

As Comedy, ‘Table 19’ Only Serves Hor d’Oeuvres

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

CHICAGO – “Table 19” is an example of a movie that doesn’t try to do too much. It simply takes its little idea and lets it play out, without the forced subplots and desperate stabs of fake urgency so many studio comedies resort to – it’s one part aimless hang out comedy, one part rom-com. It is an amusing-if-forgettable 87 minutes with a group of funny people who get more laughs than they probably should have from such thin material.

‘Trolls’ is Catchier Than it Has a Right to Be

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

CHICAGO – “Trolls” isn’t the type of confection that I would normally subject myself to, but at least it didn’t make me want to stick knitting needles in my ears. That’s because “Trolls” aspires to be this season’s “Frozen,” a full blown animated musical jam packed with songs you can’t get out of your head as much as you might try.

‘The Accountant’ is a Strange Indulgence for Ben Affleck

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

CHICAGO – Remember the hilarious video of Ben Affleck during the “Batman v Superman” promotions, his blank stare synched up to the song “The Sound of Silence”? Well, he’s decided to take that expression to a mainstream role, as he blankly applies that manner to “The Accountant.”

‘Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates’ is Hilarious Joy

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

CHICAGO – In these difficult times, we flat out need a belly laugh. The timing of “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates” couldn’t be better, because this group of comic actors and this movie provides a respite of hilarious joy. By simply exploiting the truth of the based-on-a-real-story premise, “Mike and Dave” is the type of farce that anybody can relate to, and laugh at gratefully.

Sequel’s Tune is Off Key in ‘Pitch Perfect 2’

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

CHICAGO – “Pitch Perfect 2” wasn’t bad. There was the same off-kilter weirdness and funny lines of the first film, but in this sequel there were also stretches of boring, seemingly made-up stuff to slog through. I guess repeating a premise about college singing groups doesn’t offer much more to say.

Hidden Gem ‘The Last Five Years’ Launches Anna Kendrick as a Serious Singer

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

CHICAGO – Perhaps you’ve heard Anna Kendrick dabble in that thing called “singing” with her cutesy “Cups” on the radio, her runaway princess role in “Into the Woods” or “Pitch Perfect”. But apparently it takes an under-the-radar indie film that adapts a commercially failed off-Broadway play for her to shine as a dramatic actress and especially carry the tune as a powerful, spine-chilling singer.

‘Cake’ Serves Emotionally Honest, Career-Growing Dramatic Role for Jennifer Aniston

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

CHICAGO – It’s been a while since I walked out of a screening so affected and feeling that I just experienced a truly honest, important film.

Sure, other ones have since, but back in 2007, “Once” especially made me feel that way long before the Oscars.

Four Fairy Tales Charmingly Unite in Hollywood, Broadway Merger of ‘Into the Woods’

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

CHICAGO – Neither Hollywood nor purely Broadway, Disney’s big-screen adaptation of the Stephen Sondheim musical “Into the Woods” finds a charming home on Hollyway. Even if you’re not a “musical kind of person,” I challenge you not to want to sing along to the catchy tunes or laugh at the intentionally overdramatic comedy.

‘Happy Christmas’ is Au Naturale for Good or for Bland

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

CHICAGO – One thing that struck me about writer/director Joe Swanberg’s previous “Drinking Buddies,” and made it one of my more celebrated from 2013 despite not really loving it as a film, was its importance to those good ol’ independent movies. Here were big flashy stars like Olivia Wilde and Anna Kendrick, not just acting in a movie of a lower budget, but creating a wider appeal out of a previously very niche aspect, without the film form itself changing much.

Olivia Wilde Shines in Joe Swanberg’s Excellent ‘Drinking Buddies’

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

CHICAGO – Joe Swanberg’s “Drinking Buddies” has been billed as the Chicago writer/director’s breakthrough largely due to the star power on display in the cast list but the film works not merely because of the notable talents of its cast but a new maturity and wisdom displayed by its creator.

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  • Monica Raymund on set for 'Tanya'

    CHICAGOTV fans know Monica Raymund as paramedic Gabby Dawson on the long-running “Chicago Fire.” But the talented actor is expanding her range, debuting her first film as director, “Tanya,” at the Midwest Independent Film Festival on Tuesday, August 1st, 2017. The short film – written by Sam Forman – will be part of “Female Filmmakers Night” at the Midwest Indie, and is part of Raymund’s involvement with Hidden Tears Project, an organization dedicated to raising consciousness by creating media on gender inequality, sexual abuse and human trafficking.

  • They're Playing Our Song

    CHICAGO – During the late disco era of the 1970s, an unusual musical opened on Broadway. Essentially a two person stage play, “They’re Playing Our Song” involved a songwriter and a lyricist who develop a stronger connection than just writing partners. The always passionate Brown Paper Box Co. of Chicago has unearthed this chestnut with a bright and fun revival at the Rivendell Theatre through August 20th, 2017.

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