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‘Beirut’ is a Superbly Tense Geopolitical Thriller

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

CHICAGO – The psychological desperation of life-or-death decisions are in play within “Beirut,” the new geopolitical thriller featuring Jon Hamm (“Mad Men”). The various mazes within the story, set during the Lebanon civil war of the 1980s, is comparative to “Casablanca,” especially through the world-weary expression of Hamm’s character.

‘7 Days in Entebbe’ is Surprisingly Effective

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

CHICAGO – What would you expect from an event subject that has been already rendered four times on film, and deals with terrorism, hijacking and government negotiation? “7 Days in Entebbe” contained all of this, and yet still maintained a separate energy and cinematic artistry. In many ways, it’s one of the most surprising films of the young year.

‘Hostiles’ with Christian Bale is a Big Bad Bore

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

CHICAGO – “Hostiles” is an exercise in prestige western boredom. It’s competently made, but its as lifeless as a scalped corpse on the prairie. It’s long on pretty western locales and impressive facial hair, but short on story, characters, or much of anything else to help keep your eyelids from closing.

High-Level Acting, Broad Themes in ‘Gone Girl’

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

CHICAGO – How can a sudsy, Lifetime TV Movie-type plot capture the resonance of our current information age? By twisting it by the ears and having gutsy, high-level performances. “Gone Girl” is a marvelous invention of media satire, celebrity culture and the perfect casting of Ben Affleck.

Werner Herzog Towers Over Miscast ‘Jack Reacher’ Star Tom Cruise in Five Mere Scenes

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

CHICAGO – While normally I’d never think the date I screened a film was newsworthy, being subjected to “Jack Reacher” on Dec. 13, 2012 turned out to put even a therapist into therapy. The very next day, well, just two words: Sandy Hook.

Loud, Boring ‘Wrath of the Titans’ Deserves Godly Vengeance

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 1.5/5.0
Rating: 1.5/5.0

CHICAGO – 2010’s “Clash of the Titans” was a surprising box office smash, making almost $500 million worldwide. That kind of money demands a sequel, but what to call it? “Clash of the Titans 2” wouldn’t be exciting enough but it should sound similar. How about “Smash of the Titans”? “Flash of the Titans”? “Bash of the Titans”? They ultimately settled on “Wrath of the Titans,” although “Trash of the Titans” or “Crap of the Titans” would have been more accurate.

Sally Hawkins Gives Another Strong Performance in ‘Made in Dagenham’

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

CHICAGO – Nigel Cole’s “Made in Dagenham” works because of the strong, believable performances of its ensemble, even if it doesn’t quite resonate with the same strength as other tales of ordinary people who became revolutionary role models.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Orange is the New Black

    CHICAGO – Orange Day is Friday (July 27, 2018)… as in “Orange is the New Black.” That’s when Season Six will be available for download from Netflix, as the online series continues to showcase the women inmates at Litchfield Penitentiary, three of whom are played by Taylor Schilling (Piper), Kate Mulgrew (Red) and Dascha Polanco (Daya).

  • Everybody, Brown Paper Box Co

    CHICAGO – When is the last time a stage play, based in an intimate setting, made you think about your life, death, and the destiny inherent in both? “Everybody,” staged by Brown Paper Box Co. (BPBCo), is such a play, and the energetic aura and sense of surprise that the show contains is soul soothing wonder. The show has various evening/matinee performances at the Pride Arts Center in Chicago run through August 12, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

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