HollywoodChicago.com Movie Reviews

‘Shazam!’ is a Paint by Numbers Superhero Movie

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.0/5.0
Rating: 3.0/5.0

CHICAGO – The former Captain Marvel (story below) is now “Shazam!,” and has his own film in the DC Comics universe. Zachary Levi portrays the title character, now with a new origin to go along with his new name. Speaking of that, no new ground is broken in this pretty standard foster-kid-makes-good hero epic.

Historical Drama is Fortified by Technique in 'Sunset'

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

CHICAGO – History is made when you’re often busy making other plans. That is ardently illustrated in “Sunset,” a drama set early in the second decade of the 20th Century in the on-the-brink-of-revolution capital of Budapest, Hungary. A retail store is the town’s centerpiece, plus there is a mysterious woman associated with that store, until she isn’t.

HollywoodChicago.com ESP, En Español: ‘The Beach Bum,’ ‘Dumbo’ y ‘Sunset’

CHICAGO – Cada semana, HollywoodChicago.com le traerá las criticas de las películas que hemos visto y que están saliendo esa semana, pero en español. HollywoodChicago.com ESP no sólo representa HollywoodChicago.com Espanol, sino también Esta Semana en Peliculas. Esta semana, tomamos un viaje lleno de drogas con “The Beach Bum”, luego veremos si el nuevo “Dumbo” alcanza nuevas alturas y cerramos el día con “Sunset”..

‘The Beach Bum’ is a Sharp Stick Satire by Harmony Korine

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

CHICAGO – The beach life is the paradise that most Americans aspire to, and either get it when they’re not ready or when they’re too old. The off-kilter director Harmony Korine (Spring Breakers) presupposes all of the life through Matthew McConaughey, in an incredible tour de farce called, appropriately, “The Beach Bum.”

Tim Burton’s Version of ‘Dumbo’ is Disappointingly Glum

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

CHICAGO – For reasons which remain unexplained, Walt Disney Studios and director Tim Burton have decided to weigh down the sweet story of a flying elephant with a whole pachyderm’s worth of pathos. The animated original clocked in as one of Disney’s shortest full length animated features. But the live action version drags us through nearly an extra hour’s worth of post-World War One misery.

‘The Aftermath’ is Strained & Illicit Romance During War

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

CHICAGO – One of the roots of the sexual revolution in America was World War II (as it was the roots of many social movements). The stakes of life and death in an instant motivates the softest of puppy love to passion. “The Aftermath” takes that time honored emotional intensity into a right-after-the-war romance.

Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’ Gets Bogged Down in Conventionality

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.0/5.0
Rating: 3.0/5.0

CHICAGO – Like his first film, “Get Out,” writer/director Jordan Peele creates a horror/thriller filled with symbolism and laughs. Unlike “Get Out,” “Us” is awash in overly concentrated plot points, a reliance on lesser references and an ending that can be seen from outer space. It’s not sophomore “jinx,” but more like the sophomore “over think.”

Tribal Side of Drug Trafficking in ‘Birds of Passage'

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

CHICAGO – One of the overriding characteristics in the movies, when it comes to drug traffickers, is the stereotypical image of a fat and corrupt cartel leader who usually have machine gun wielding henchmen and bikini clad groupies. “Birds of Passage” goes back to the business of the drug trade, but it is about the families that controlled the territorial borders during that key era, and the basis of that control in ancient tribalism.

‘Transit’ is an Absorbing Thriller with a Perplexing Conclusion

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

CHICAGO – What if a new fascism were to sweep the land, and affects Paris, as it did in World War 2? “Transit” postulates on that very theory and creates a paranoid atmosphere that is stunningly real, but brings that emotion to a conclusion that I believe is redundant, and pretends to be deeper than it is.

Imagination is the Key to Charming ‘Wonder Park’

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

CHICAGO – Most animated films depicting the “family” often includes a parallel lesson about togetherness or some such domestic symbolism. In “Wonder Park,” the lesson is how the spark of imagination can keep a childhood alive. When that spark is temporarily dosed, the destination of the title also suffers.

1970s Caper Film in Enjoyable ‘Finding Steve McQueen’

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

CHICAGO – The “caper” film, AKA the heist film, is one of the old reliable genres in the movies, and usually involves a gang of mismatched thieves. “Finding Steve McQueen” goes all the way back to the 1970s to spotlight a based-on-truth burglary that involves Tricky Dick himself, President Richard M. Nixon.

Julianne Moore is a Ringing Sensation in ‘Gloria Bell’

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

CHICAGO – The sheer ordinariness of life is not fodder for most dramatic films … the popcorn munchers generally turn out for something more high concept. But in Exhibit A, there is “Gloria Bell,” in which Julianne Moore portrays the title character in a series of ordinary extraordinary events.

Brie Larson as ‘Captain Marvel’ is Not as Marvel-ous

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

CHICAGO – Since the Marvel cinematic universe began over a decade ago with “Iron Man,” it’s shown an amazing talent for consistency. While only a few installments have surpassed their comic book origins to become great examples of the genre – and great stories in general – Marvel hasn’t had many out and out clunkers either (possible exception, the second Thor movie).

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  • Grace, Or the Art of Climbing

    CHICAGO – What is life but a constant climb? The Brown Paper Box Co., one of the most vital storefront theater groups in Chicago, asks that question and more in the significant “Grace, Or the Art of Climbing.” Using a woman’s journey through some difficult situations, the parallels of “the climb” become a artfully performed story that is all inspiration and uplift. The play runs through July 7th, 2019, at Stage 773 in the Belmont Avenue Theater District in Chicago. For more information and tickets, click here.

  • Elizabeth Laidlaw

    CHICAGO – The recent limited series “The Red Line” on CBS-TV was notable for a couple elements – it was set in Chicago and it featured Chicago actors in major roles. Creators Caitlin Parrish and Erica Weiss (from here), cast their Chi-town colleague Elizabeth Laidlaw, who portrayed police officer “Vic” Renna.

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