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Michael Smiley

'Free Fire' Knows That Happiness is a Warm Gun

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

CHICAGO – In a film that had a sassy, arbitrary perspective on its own flipped-out story, “Free Fire” sought to out-Quentin Tarantino in freaky funny characters and ammo-splurging gun battles. Director Ben Wheatley (“High-Rise”) took an ensemble cast to rarified heights of insult comedy, revenge dynamics and bullets that hit the bone.

Jude Law Submarines a Passable But Unspectacular ‘Black Sea’

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

CHICAGO – I’m on board with Jude Law leading a film and neutral about submarine movies as a genre. My primary pre-screening interest in the quietly marketed thriller “Black Sea” was what Oscar-winning director Kevin Macdonald would do with this material following his hit with the hard-hitting drama “The Last King of Scotland”.

Stylish, Bizarre ‘Kill List’ Challenges Genre Preconceptions

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

CHICAGO – Ben Wheatley’s “Kill List” comes to U.S. shores on a tidal wave of hype and controversy. Is it the work of a genre-defying genius or an inconsistent jerk? Are the film’s jarring tonal shifts effective or idiotic? Honestly, and I know critics aren’t supposed to say this, I can see both sides of the argument. On one hand, Wheatley take some serious risks here and some of them are to be admired. On the other, “Kill List” often feels disjointed and weird just for the sake of weird. It just barely works for me by virtue of its audacity but I wouldn’t be surprised if it doesn’t do the same for you.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Speech & Debate (stage play)

    CHICAGO – “Speech & Debate,” the latest production from the mighty Brown Paper Box Company, continues their tradition of thinking outside that “box” in presenting storefront theater that makes a statement and a difference. “Speech” goes inside America by showcasing the outsiders… those who create art because they can’t get it right in real life. This non-equity Chicago stage play premiere is finely tuned and wonderfully acted, and runs through March 4th, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

  • We're Gonna Be Okay

    CHICAGO – The 1960s were a time of historical social transition. The movements – civil rights, feminist, gay rights – all had roots in that tumultuous decade. The Chicago premiere of Basil Kreimendahl’s “We’re Gonna Be Okay” echoes all of those movements in its characters, and collides them against the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. The show has a Thursday-Sunday run at the American Theater Company through March 4th, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

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