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Roadside Attractions

Strong Performance Makes ‘Lady Macbeth’ a Cogent Character Study

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

CHICAGO – Separating a performance from the rest of the film is usually an easy task. One may be stronger than the other, or vice versa, but either way, they can be judged individually and as a whole. “Lady Macbeth” proves to be that rare character study where a single performance (from breakout actress Florence Pugh) not only makes the film but essentially is the film.

Tom Hanks Delivers in ‘A Hologram for the King’

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

CHICAGO – Tom Hanks is using his golden years as a vehicle to stretch his performance skills, and his role as a sort of “Death of a Salesman” spin in “A Hologram for the King” gives him an opportunity to keep stretching. The stylish film floats within the focus on his character, and he delivers.

‘Touched With Fire’ Contains a Different Perspective

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

CHICAGO – How do you explain air? That is what our thoughts are, after all – carbon-based cells interacting with circumstantial environment, sending the “message.” What if those cells send the thought receiver something outside “normal”? This is the exploration in the new film ‘Touched With Fire.’

Elegy for a Different Superhero in ‘Mr. Holmes’

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

CHICAGO – Sherlock Holmes is the most famous fictional detective in literary history, and his character adaptation into movies, TV and other media shows no sign of slowing down. But what if Holmes were real, and lived as an old man past World War II? This scenario is explored in “Mr. Holmes.”

Brian Wilson Redeems His Soul in ‘Love & Mercy’

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

CHICAGO – Brian Wilson has been called one of the greatest songwriters in popular music history. His tonality and approach towards his best compositions have been studied like Mozart. In “Love & Mercy,” we see that the thing that made Wilson great also had the power to destroy him.

Son Can’t Rise Beyond His Fate in Emotional ‘Mommy’

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

CHICAGO – One of the odd unexplainable quirks of human existence is the shaping, variations and thoughts of our inner being. The physicality in the structure of the grey matter of the brain, with the slightest imperfection, can make the difference in a lifetime of behavior and perspective. Sometimes it can work out, and sometimes different consequences are created or destroyed, like the story of Diane Després in “Mommy.”

Parts Are Better Than the Whole in ‘The Skeleton Twins’

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

CHICAGO – Live from the movies, it’s Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig! The two “Saturday Night Live” veterans are “The Skeleton Twins,” and both have more to do than just be funny. There are moments that sink or swim, depending on the “Twins,” and those parts are greater than the narrative sum.

Stellar Actors Put ‘Words and Pictures’ Together

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

CHICAGO – “Words and Pictures” is a bit twee. In the film’s central debate between which medium has more influence, there was a drunken writer, prep students straight out of “Dead Poet’s Society” and cutesy romance. But there was also Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche at the top of their performance games, and they uplifted all these regular story elements.

Captivating Tale of Primal Manhood in David Gordon Green’s ‘Joe’

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

CHICAGO – This week in movies about men we have “Joe”, a wild drama about Texas males at their most primal. It is the newest film from director David Gordon Green, and features Nicolas Cage in some of his finest work.

Earnest ‘Gimme Shelter’ Needs More Truth

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

CHICAGO – The balancing act between reality and drama in based-on-truth narratives is as delicate as walking the high wire. Pour in too much drama, and a story can feel like a soap opera. “Gimme Shelter,” although earnestly and achingly performed, has that sudsy protocol.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • 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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