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Ethereal ‘The Shape of Water’ Forms Cinema Magic

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

CHICAGO – This breathtaking morality and love story, set in a backward age, takes all of its major themes – passion, tolerance, symbolism and thrills – to the highest level. Writer/director Guillermo del Toro has created a masterwork that is part fairy tale, part adult desperation and all cinema magic.

‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ Examines Our Violence

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

CHICAGO – Film is often an expression of our society, either as a depiction of how it really is or how it should be. Few films are as daring as Martin McDonagh’s “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” which isn’t afraid to show us the state of our society and offer a realistic solution through a grim drama that is as humorous as it is devastating.

Natalie Portman Embodies a Magnificent ‘Jackie’

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

CHICAGO – Capturing one of the most familiar woman of the last fifty years would seem impossible, except when focusing on one of the defining moments of her life. “Jackie” reveals Jacqueline Kennedy during the time of her husband John’s assassination, and when the nation lost a president.

‘The Birth of a Nation’ Depends on its Own Piety

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

CHICAGO – “The Birth of a Nation” has been making news since it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival early this year. Taking place before the American Civil War, this incendiary look at a real slave rebellion in the deep South does pack a punch, but its approach isn’t completely successful.

‘Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie’ Too Thin to be Completely Winning

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

CHICAGO – As far as TV shows that fans wish could be movies, the cult hit “Absolutely Fabulous” was high on the list. The adventures of Patsy and Edina, two middle age Brits with an appetite for self medication, has had a dedicated following since it premiered in 1992. Even though there were six full TV seasons, and various reunions, “Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie” has emerged.

‘Demolition’ Describes the Way They Treated the Story

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

CHICAGO – The attempt to make a European-style “journey of emotional morality” between four characters in New York City kept getting flatter and flatter as the tale emerged. It’s amusing that they called it “Demolition,” because as cinema, it’s basically a teardown.

Elegant, Delicate Emotions Are Forged in ‘Youth’

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

CHICAGO – When a film tries to be philosophical, it easily can devolve into heavy handedness. But the exception is the latest from writer/director Paolo Sorrentino, the richly presented “Youth.” It treads upon many definitions of the title, and lands upon all of them, because that’s life.

‘Mistress America’ Ultimately Wears Out Her Welcome

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

CHICAGO – Mistress America is a movie that works best in small doses. The film is chock full of special moments, lines, and fragments of scenes, but it never really comes together as a cohesive film. I could see it easily taking on a second life once it hits streaming and YouTube.

Ever-Present Passion in ‘Me and Earl and the Dying Girl’

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

CHICAGO – There are feelings encoded in a film, imparted by the creators, which sometimes takes a while to become apparent. “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” is an example, with a deceptive surface story that contains an ocean of feelings and emotions within its passionate core.

‘True Story’ Just Leaves a False Impression

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

CHICAGO – Sometimes, just casting a film with “names” is not enough to make it work. Jonah Hill and James Franco play cat-and-mouse for 100 minutes in “True Story,” but the narrative, the structure and their own inability to communicate their characters conspired against the overall experience.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Bobby Pin Girls

    CHICAGO – The “breeder years” are difficult on everyone, as the biological imperative becomes overwhelming and the couplings that result yield both discovery and misadventure. Nothing Without a Company’s new play “Bobby Pin Girls” highlight two such Millennial women, roommates who are having man trouble, although the argument can be made that it’s eternally “boy trouble.” The show has a Thursday-Sunday run at the Chicago Mosaic School through December 10th, 2017. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

  • Transformers 5 front

    CHICAGO – Knock me over with a feather kids, but I enjoyed “Transformers: The Last Knight.” Maybe it was in comparison to the others or maybe director Michael Bay has beaten me into submission, but this one had the right story elements and casting to make it work, with exceptions of course. It’s goofiness is its charm, and it was released on Blu-Ray/DVD on September 26th, 2017 (Digital HD already available).

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