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HollywoodChicago.com Movie Reviews

Brazillian Indie ‘The Year My Parents Went on Vacation’ a Tender Window to the World

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4/5CHICAGO – Film is often at its best when it offers a “window to the world” or surprising and personal stories about other countries and cultures dealing with issues that life in the U.S. never imagines. “The Year My Parents Went on Vacation” is a meticulous, fascinating and tender story of Brazil in 1970 when revolution was in the air and the World Cup was the hope of bringing a country back together.

‘Snow Angels’ an Essential Examination of Yin, Yang in Our Vulnerable Lives

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4/5CHICAGO – Staying sane is truly an edge-of-the-knife proposition. We are all the sum of our past environments, our present circumstances and our future worries. The sludge that is generated by such a mixture becomes the psyche that’s ready to interact with other psyches we deem important or are forced to be around through family or commerce.

The Wizard of Oz is America in Immigration Film ‘Under the Same Moon’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.5/5CHICAGO – The immigrant “crisis” in the United States is discussed mostly in political generalities as if those seeking a better life are subhuman. “Under the Same Moon” focuses on the real faces of these people through a 10-year-old Mexican boy who risks everything in a journey to reunite with his mother in Los Angeles.

Israeli Directorial Debut ‘The Band’s Visit’ Built on Series of Bittersweet, Exquisite Moments

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 5/5CHICAGO – When we speak of conflicts between people or ideologies, there’s a tendency for broad categorization. Who are the liberals or the conservatives? What type of people make up the Israelis or Palestinians? Who are the people of color and who are white?

‘Wild Ocean 3-D’ in IMAX Offers Breathtaking Cinematography, Profound Message

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4/5CHICAGO – “Wild Ocean 3-D” – an unforgettable nature documentary playing now in IMAX at Chicago’s Navy Pier – dives to the depths of the ocean and through the vastness of the sea with breathtaking 3-D cinematography and a profound message for all mankind.

Skater Boy Culture Takes Center Stage in Cult Director Van Sant’s ‘Paranoid Park’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.5/5CHICAGO – For “Paranoid Park,” cult director Gus Van Sant returns to high school, which is the setting of his previous chilling look into the Columbine incident in 2003’s “Elephant”. Though not as successful as “Elephant,” “Paranoid Park” evokes a dream-like meditation on the trials and extreme tribulations of a skateboarding teenage boy trying to find his way.

With Surreal Madness, Strange Boys Play ‘Funny Games’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4.5/5CHICAGO – Imagine a film with no redeeming or uplifting emotional qualities with evil that tortures the soul, squirm-inducing narrative elements and a relentless anxiety that practically has us – like the characters in the film – screaming for mercy. Imagine also that this film is excellent.

‘Sleepwalking’ Has Exactly That Potential Effect on Moviegoers

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 0.5/5CHICAGO – When done improperly, there’s nothing more embarrassing than actors playing against their type or social class. There is a subtlety to channeling the lower middle or the working class beyond dressing down or developing a bad hairstyle. “Sleepwalking” is the type of film that gets it wrong and just gets worse as it tries harder.

Dr. Seuss’ ‘Horton Hears a Who!’ Heard Loudly Into Instant Children’s Classic

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4/5CHICAGO – One of Dr. Seuss’ most famous storybooks has finally been granted life with its self-titled animated feature “Horton Hears a Who!,” which involves a morally righteous elephant, philosophical timbre and Dr. Seuss’ ingenious lyrical rhymes.

Filled With Political Blackmail, ‘The Bank Job’ Pays Dividends

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4/5CHICAGO – Done properly, the classic heist or caper film is a welcomed genre of suspense-filled locations, stereotyped experts and the big cash payoff. Based in speculative part on the true story of a robbery in a vital London safety deposit vault, “The Bank Job” adds the spice of political intrigue as an underlying factor to the actual crime.

‘Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day’ as Rare as Boobs Without Silicone in Hollywood

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4/5CHICAGO – Character comedies that actually have some depth and fun are as rare as boobs without silicone in Hollywood. “Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day” reaches these heights with a sensibility of an old studio picture with stylized glamour, lovable rogues and at the center the great Frances McDormand as the title character taking a chance in 24 sparkling and event-filled hours.

Despite Potty Humor, ‘CJ7’ Crosses Into Cliché to Reveal Alien Lassie

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 2.5/5CHICAGO – Stephen Chow, who directed “Shaolin Soccer” and “Kung Fu Hustle,” brings us his latest eccentricity in the form of the kid-oriented film “CJ7”. Slapstick antics, sarcastic humor and excessively absurd characters are simply a few of Chow’s cinematic trademarks and “CJ7” is no exception to his design.

Oscar-Winning ‘The Counterfeiters’ a Bravely Told Gem From Depths of Nazi Germany

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4/5CHICAGO – “The Counterfeiters” is a historical gem bravely told from the depths of Nazi Germany. An opening scene of a dismal sea sets the tone of Stefan Ruzowitzky’s historical jewel with a sense of despair that raises curiosity to the physical level.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Transformers 5 front

    CHICAGO – Knock me over with a feather kids, but I enjoyed “Transformers: The Last Knight.” Maybe it was in comparison to the others or maybe director Michael Bay has beaten me into submission, but this one had the right story elements and casting to make it work, with exceptions of course. It’s goofiness is its charm, and it was released on Blu-Ray/DVD on September 26th, 2017 (Digital HD already available).

  • Wonder Woman

    CHICAGO – There are few films in 2017 that are as historically important as they are cinematically well-crafted. Of those, there is only one I saw three times in theaters. That honor comes in the form of the revolutionary “Wonder Woman,” which not only shows huge promise for the future of DC Comics films but for comic book-based films as a whole.

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