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‘John Wick: Chapter 2’ Adds Artistry to Mass Murder

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

CHICAGO – It takes a special kind of film that enthralls the audience so much that they stop caring about the body count and are more concerned with the main character running out of bullets. “John Wick: Chapter 2” offers the same cathartic effect as watching a Nazi get punched but in an infinitely more picturesque package.

‘La La Land’ Will Create Love for Musicals Again

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

CHICAGO – “La La Land” has the spirit of an old time “Singin’ In The Rain”-type Hollywood musical, but this is no throwback or revival. It brings that spirit into the modern age and gets it to live, breathe, and thrive once again. It’s a beautiful technicolor spectacle that celebrates the whimsy of musicals, while finding a way to translate it credibly and wonderfully to the modern age.

‘American Pastoral’ Should Have Been Put to Pasture

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

CHICAGO – Change can be a frightening part of life and the human experience. It is an unavoidable but often necessary transition for progress. If you fight change or innovation, the stagnation alone will weigh you down and hold you back. “American Pastoral” may deal with the themes of revolution, but that’s about all that is revolutionary or unique about this film.

‘Blair Witch’ Takes a Familiar Trail to a Dead End

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

CHICAGO – The forest is an elusive environment that can hold hope for one person or isolation for another. You can enter the forest for some Thoreauvian wisdom, but end up being engulfed by its overwhelming monotony. As we revisit the world of “Blair Witch”, we are reminded that the found footage genre has come a long way from its humble origins, but perhaps some footage is better off not “found.”

Inventive ‘Chi-raq’ is an Authentic Plea for Sanity

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

CHICAGO – A spotlight on Chicago, in the context of guns and violence, is never a good thing for the overall community. But using Chicago as a metaphor for all violent insanity, and making a plea for peace, is the purpose of director Spike Lee’s new film, “Chi-raq.”

Grim Conclusion for ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2’

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

CHICAGO – This has to be what the filmmakers intended when they split the final book of the “Hunger Games” series into two films. While “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1” was all set up, Part 2 doesn’t just lead up to a huge climax.

Benicio Del Toro is Never Better in Standout 2015 Thriller ‘Sicario’

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

CHICAGO – Seeing the man behind the curtains in “The Wizard of Oz” really was when so many of us truly understood what “behind the scenes” means. Today, we’re fascinated by FBI and CIA stories because they grant us top-secret security clearance we’ll otherwise never have.

Intoxicating ‘The Age of Adaline’ a Featherweight Fantasy

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

CHICAGO – “The Age of Adaline” is a beautifully shot featherweight fantasy that remains charming as long as you don’t think about it too hard, or at all.  At one point one character asks another why he loves Adaline, and he replies “because she makes no sense.” The same could be said for this movie.

Shortage of Spark Makes ‘The Divergent Series: Insurgent’ a Second-String Effort

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

CHICAGO – “The Divergent Series: Insurgent” does nothing to change the “Divergent” series status as an off brand Young Adult epic. As we’ve seen with “The Hunger Games,” these Young Adult franchises can be lots of fun and be faithful to their source material. But “Insurgent” has the same problem as the first two “Harry Potter” films – it’s too faithful, coupled with a dearth of inspiration behind the camera.

Supremely Silly ‘Mortdecai’ is a Pleasant Surprise

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

CHICAGO – I have to say while watching Johnny Depp in “Mortdecai,” I found myself amused. I rarely elicited anything more than a slight chuckle, but its indomitable spirit of silliness made it a not entirely unpleasant evening out. This feather-weight trifle of a caper is only slightly more than the funny mustache movie its posters and trailer make it out to be.

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  • Asylum, The Logo

    CHICAGO – Put in a dash of crazy, add a dash of funny and you are defining “The Asylum,” a catch-all name for a couple of show events in Chicago, playing at The Apollo Theater Studio through February 23rd, 2017. Behind the scenes of these showcases is producer Michael Sanow, a Chicago theater veteran. For “The Asylum” information regarding the “Atypical Musical Comedy Show” (Tuesdays) and “Access Comedy” (Thursdays), click here.

  • Baltimore Waltz, The

    CHICAGO – During the scourge of the AIDS epidemic, at its height in the late 1980s, a playwright lost her brother to the condition. Inspired by him, Paula Vogel wrote “The Baltimore Waltz,” a story about her and her brother’s travels through Europe – and filtered through the prism of fantasy and the movies. The Brown Paper Box Company presents a re-staging of the play in Chicago through February 19th, 2017.

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