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Willem Dafoe

Odd Times at the Cinema with ‘The Great Wall’

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

CHICAGO – Taking a concept higher than the Wall that inspired it, and mostly succeeding, “The Great Wall” gets a nod as one of the oddest stories in a long time. Pre-supposedly based on a “legend,” it brings Matt Damon into ancient China to help battle lizard monsters at the Great Wall. Book it.

Keanu Reeves in Ludicrous Premise as ‘John Wick’

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

CHICAGO – Keanu Reeves has been in a lot of dogs over the years, but rarely has he left such a high body count while avenging one of them. “John Wick” is a brutal revenge thriller where Reeves is a ex-mob enforcer who goes on a murderous rampage leaving blood on every doorstep to avenge the death of his dog. Despite that chuckle-inducing premise, “John Wick” isn’t the dog I expected, but then again that’s not saying much.

Tearjerking ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ is ‘The Notebook’ of This Decade

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

CHICAGO – Sure, I’ll admit it. With so many new films to screen and review, I’ll choose the sci-fi action/thriller from the man behind the Bourne flicks over a movie that’s being called “the greatest romance story of this decade”.

Brutal Next Chapter Defines ‘Nymphomaniac: Vol. 2’

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

CHICAGO – The exploration of sexuality is a stark breakthrough in the “Nymphomaniac” film series by writer/director Lars von Trier. In the story of a woman interacting with her nature, there are shades of all physically active individuals. “Nymphomaniac: Vol. 1” covered the younger days of the main character of Joe. Vol. 2 takes her to the next, and more brutal phase – challenging her life and her disposition.

‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ is Built by Wes Anderson

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

CHICAGO – The distinct and strangely-alluring style of director Wes Anderson is on opulent display in “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” In what is an eccentric, European style fairy tale, Anderson creates a legend that is forged in his signature, along with the performances of a brilliant cast.

Great Cast Can’t Find Truth in False Plotting of ‘Out of the Furnace’

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

One overriding thought dominated my time with Scott Cooper’s stunningly disappointing “Out of the Furnace” – I just don’t care. When I wasn’t picking apart the gigantic plot holes in the narrative, I was marveling at the overheated characters who have been crafted from cliché instead of the real world.

Mesmerizing Performance From Willem Dafoe Carries ‘The Hunter’

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

CHICAGO – “The Hunter” is an uniquely mesmerizing film about a man on a complex journey. While the film threatens to fall into cliché (and sometimes hangs on by its fingernails on the precipice of doing so), excellent cinematography and another mesmerizing performance by Willem Dafoe keep it engaging enough to the point that it develops a fascinating rhythm of its own. There’s a lot to like here in this tale of a lonely man, his elusive prey, and the family he meets that gets caught in the middle.

‘John Carter’ is Poor Man’s ‘Star Wars,’ ‘Avatar’ With Kitschy Taylor Kitsch, Soft-Porn Lynn Collins

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

CHICAGO – Usually it’s critics critically flogging a film when we say it weakly lacks originality and borrows too heavily from others. Disney’s “John Carter” attacks that classic grumble by promotionally comparing itself to “Star Wars” and “Avatar” before critics even had a chance to deduct points for it.

Ryan Reynolds, Julia Roberts Trapped in Dull ‘Fireflies in the Garden’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 1.0/5.0
Rating: 1.0/5.0

CHICAGO – It’s always risky for a screenwriter to craft a film about a family of writers in that when the result is a script so generically awful as that for “Fireflies in the Garden” it’s going to stick out even more prominently. After sitting on the shelf for years (it played festivals in 2008 and was supposed to be released that year) and reportedly undergoing some reshoots, this stale drama is finally getting a limited release and will prove just how limited it is to the poor saps who pay to see it.

‘My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done’ Inspires Genuine Head-Scratching

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

CHICAGO – When David Lynch came to Chicago for an “Inland Empire” screening back in 2007, he offered memorable advice to a moviegoer baffled by his work. He said that his audience should meditate not on the “intellectual experience” provided by his films, but the emotional ideas that they conjure.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Kid Thing, The

    CHICAGO – Like the awesome Engine Who Could, the mighty Nothing Without a Company stage crafters have constructed another triumph at their new home in Berger Mansion on Chicago’s north side. “The Kid Thing” – written by Sarah Gubbins – is a terse, convincing and emotional play about fear, identity and breeding, and it is performed by its cast of five with utter authenticity. The show has a Thursday-Sunday run at the Berger North Mansion through April 15th, 2017. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

  • Wiz, The

    CHICAGO – When stage theater can cause outbreaks of elation, celebration and joy, then it must be due to Kokandy Productions’ revival of “The Wiz.” The urban reinterpretation of “The Wizard of Oz” story – told through tuneful euphoria and jubilant dance – is ecstatically produced, in every morsel of its stagecraft.

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