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HollywoodChicago.com Movie Reviews

Frank Langella, Michael Sheen, Ensemble Save ‘Frost/Nixon’ From Soulless Direction

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

CHICAGO – Peter Morgan’s play “Frost/Nixon” was a searing portrait of two men trying their best to change their image and their future. It was a head-to-head battle between a celebrity interviewer whose reputation was on a steady decline and the man credited with bringing shame to the White House.

‘Nothing Like the Holidays’ Does Nothing to Stand Out From Christmas Movie Crowd

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

CHICAGO – When it was still called “Humboldt Park” and was probably more closely related to Chicago’s thriving Hispanic neighborhood, Alfredo De Villa’s “Nothing Like the Holidays” was probably a lot more interesting than the cookie-cutter dramedy that ended up on the big screen.

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.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Jesus Christ Superstar, Lyric Opera

    CHICAGO – As a wee lad, I would often go into my parent’s record collection. One day, out of the blue, that brown double album with the gold embossed angels appeared, like a gift from the divine. “Jesus Christ Superstar” began as a record album “rock opera” in 1970, evolved to a Broadway show and film, and then was interpreted through a myriad of stage revivals over the years. The latest is an exciting piece of stagecraft at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. The show has a various evening/matinee run through May 20th, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

  • Cornerstone, Nothing Without a Company

    CHICAGO – We all need some help. The stage play group Nothing Without a Company realizes that, and has collaborated with the organization “Cornerstone” to provide that assistance. Cornerstone is a seminar and a happening in downtown Chicago, facilitated by “experts” to generate your potential. The presentation has a Thursday-Sunday run at Michigan Avenue’s Artspace 8 through May 6th, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

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