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HollywoodChicago.com Movie Reviews

Despite Smothered Direction, ‘Doubt’ Brings Out Best in Performers

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

CHICAGO – The inherit drama of a Catholic priest accused of molesting an African American boy during the 1960s would be enough to make for an interesting film on its own. In “Doubt,” this is one of the less-explored themes writer and director John Patrick Shanley examines.

Sean Penn’s Oscar-Possible Harvey Milk Puts Face to Gay Rights in ‘Milk’

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

CHICAGO – Just as Tom Hanks put a face to AIDS in 1993’s “Philadelphia,” Sean Penn has now put a face to gay rights as Harvey Milk in the new Gus Van Sant true-story film “Milk”.

‘Australia’ With Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman Gets Lost in Own Cinematic Outback

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

CHICAGO – Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman and newcomer Brandon Walters star in Baz Luhrmann’s “Australia”: a sweeping, grand epic in the tradition of “Gone With the Wind” that gets away from its talented director, the writers he worked with and the team he hired to film his passion project.

Robert De Niro, Director Barry Levinson Wade Through Hollywood’s Mud in ‘What Just Happened?’

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

CHICAGO – In his long and distinguished career, Robert De Niro has probably seen it all when it comes to Hollywood excesses and quagmires. Given that experience, he seems the perfect choice to portray an aging film producer and power broker whose influence is on the decline.

Like a Bad ‘Law & Order,’ ‘Righteous Kill’ With Al Pacino, Robert De Niro Lacks ‘Heat’

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

CHICAGO – Last fall, Francis Ford Coppola made the comment that Al Pacino and Robert De Niro (along with Jack Nicholson) had lost their ambition. Coppola essentially said they have been phoning in their performances and picking safer movies. “Righteous Kill” could be the case study to that argument.

In Purely Exploiting Gratuitous Violence, Paul W.S. Anderson’s ‘Death Race’ Remake Kills All Comedic Value

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

CHICAGO – While 2008’s “Death Race” makes no secret about being a remake of 1975’s “Death Race 2000” with David Carradine as the title character Frankenstein and Sylvester Stallone as his archrival Machine Gun Joe Viterbo, what’s perhaps less obvious but still clear is how the film steals from others.

Death-Defying Audacity Walks Between the Twin Towers in New Documentary ‘Man on Wire’

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

CHICAGO – Where have all the true eccentrics gone? Where are all those people who achieve a Zen purpose just because the challenge is there?

“Man on Wire” is a documentary that tells of such a challenge 34 years ago in another place and time.

Hit-or-Miss Mastermind Woody Allen Recaptures Genius With Eccentric ‘Vicky Cristina Barcelona’

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

CHICAGO – While legendary writer and director Woody Allen can’t always be equated with sheer genius these days and is more accurately described as a hit-or-miss proposition, the sorely undermarketed and film-festival touring “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” serves as unquestionable retribution for his recently questionable work.

‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars’ Boldly Goes Animated With Potent Story, Mediocre Animation, Anemic Acting

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

CHICAGO – “Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” which is the inaugural animated “Star Wars” project from Lucasfilm Animation and “Star Wars” architect George Lucas, feels and looks every bit as introductory as a foundational attempt could be.

God’s Vajoojoo Tastes Like Semi-Glorious ‘Pineapple Express’ in Judd Apatow, Seth Rogen Stoner Film

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

CHICAGO – If god had a vajoojoo, Judd Apatow and company think it’d taste something like smoking “Pineapple Express”. There’s no question “Pineapple Express” is ultimately a stoner film, but is it the ultimate stoner film of our decade?

Always the most difficult proposition in a comedy is maintaining its comedic pacing with consistency.

Despite Jet Li’s Would-Be Resurrection, ‘The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor’ Still Flops

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

CHICAGO – The threequel that culminates with “The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor” is so hackneyed that even the main star of the previous two films – Brendan Fraser – wasn’t enough to sell audiences on a third return. Universal Studios needed to enlist co-star Jet Li to stand a fighting chance and take the mood the Asian way.

Neil Young’s ‘CSNY Déjà Vu’ a Concert Film That Mixes Message With Music

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

CHICAGO – David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash and Neil Young (collectively CSNY) have long established their credibility as a rock/folk group of the highest order.

No Matter How Hard You Believe Otherwise, ‘The X-Files: I Want to Believe’ Most Anemic Story Yet

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

CHICAGO – Following an addictive TV series that spanned from 1992 to 2002, I wanted to believe “The X-Files: I Want to Believe” would more dynamically pay homage to its television success than Chris Carter’s first film attempt in 1998. In take two, though, it didn’t happen.

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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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