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Mark Duplass

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.

Olivia Wilde Resurrects Horror in ‘The Lazarus Effect’

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

CHICAGO – Psychological horror films are the best tweaks, because they remind us of our fears, and where are fears are rooted. The strange combination of science, religion and a blockbuster performance by Olivia Wilde creates an atmosphere of dread and weirdness in “The Lazarus Effect.”

Unfunny ‘Tammy’ is a Melissa McCarthy Misfire

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

CHICAGO – Melissa McCarthy has jumped the shark. Or if she hasn’t, she’s strapped on the skis and is contemplating the ramp. Going once more to the same character well – this time with a script co-written with her husband Ben Falcone and directed by him – McCarthy shows little originality or gumption as the title character in “Tammy..”

Trip to Katie Aselton’s ‘Black Rock’ Lacks Purpose

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

CHICAGO – I really admire the girl power approach to the thriller genre in Katie Aselton’s surprising genre effort, “Black Rock,” but the admirable effort doesn’t change the fact that the movie just doesn’t feel fully fleshed out nor does it play to the strengths of its filmmaker. The what-if scenario that incites the action of “Black Rock” is captivating but Aselton and co-writer/husband Mark Duplass don’t build on that scenario enough to make the venture successful overall.

Jingoistic ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Highlights the Mission

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

CHICAGO – Despite an obsession for killing a single man to represent a foggy revenge, “Zero Dark Thirty” is an effective thriller in the actual re-creation of that Navy Seal operation. Directed by Kathryn Bigelow (“The Hurt Locker”), the all-star cast is led by a miscast Jessica Chastain.

‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Turns CIA Procedural Into Riveting Thriller

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

CHICAGO – Kathryn Bigelow opens her stunning “Zero Dark Thirty” with a date and a series of voice mail recordings. The date is, of course, September 11, 2001 and the recordings are the ghosts of the people who died that day, perfectly setting the stakes for the story to come – the hunt for and capture of Osama Bin Laden.

Chris Pine, Elizabeth Banks in Moving ‘People Like Us’

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

CHICAGO – “People Like Us” is an old-fashioned tearjerker with everything that phrase implies. It’s undeniably manipulative and sentimental but it’s also somewhat refreshing to see a drama that isn’t laced with irony, cynicism, or some form of postmodern commentary on the genre. “People Like Us” is a film that wants you to be moved; it wants you to cry; it wants you to feel something.

‘Safety Not Guaranteed’ with Aubrey Plaza is Delightful Journey

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

CHICAGO – I love “Safety Not Guaranteed.” It reminds me of films of my youth – the sci-fi/dramedy hits of directors like Robert Zemeckis, Richard Donner, and Steven Spielberg – that gifted viewers with wonderful characters with which we could identify. The set-up may be ridiculous but as long as we feel grounded with the people within it, we’ll go along with anything. This is something that’s been lost over the years and writer Derek Connolly and director Colin Trevorrow have found in their delicate, lovely film.

Great Trio Elevates Lynn Shelton’s ‘Your Sister’s Sister’

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

CHICAGO – Lynn Shelton’s “Your Sister’s Sister” is a character-driven piece about hidden feelings and complex relationships. Like her work on “Humpday,” Shelton has a keen ear for the way people alter their behavior as their dynamics with other people continue to shift, often in a sexual direction. When a close friend suddenly looks like something more, when a long-term relationship seems to be falling apart, when a sibling may have betrayed you – Shelton’s gift as a filmmaker is how she can traverse these emotional minefields while still staying true to her characters.

The Dog Days of Diane Keaton in ‘Darling Companion’

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

CHICAGO – “If you want a friend in Washington,” Harry S Truman once said, “get a dog.” The same can be said for the film industry, as they keep producing canine quandaries. Diane Keaton, Kevin Kline, Sam Shepard and Elisabeth Moss cozy up to their own ‘Darling Companion.’

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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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