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HollywoodChicago.com Movie Reviews

‘Monster Trucks’ May Be One of the Weirdest Films Ever

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

CHICAGO – A four year old walks into a room with a great idea for a movie, and unfortunately his father is president of a “motion picture group.” Millions of dollars and four years later, this child’s idea became “Monster Trucks,” one of the strangest movies ever conceived.

Boston is Strong Again in Reliable ‘Patriots Day’

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

CHICAGO – In the context of history, and the way information is consumed these days, the Boston Marathon Bombing in 2013 seems both like yesterday and a long time ago. Director Peter Berg’s “Patriots Day” is the first film account of that horrid week, and features Mark Wahlberg.

Ben Affleck Shoots Nothing But Blanks in ‘Live by Night’

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

CHICAGO – Movies released in the first weeks of January are invariably either awards hopefuls trying to gain momentum or studio dreck being buried in the dead of winter, and quickly forgotten by Valentine’s Day. “Live By Night” aspires to be the former, but ends up being the latter.

‘Silence’ is an Overwrought View of Religious Faith

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

CHICAGO – For gosh sakes, someone call the Vatican and make Marty Scorsese an honorary priest. He is overtly fascinated – in this work and his other films – with the notion of religious faith, particular within his Catholic roots. He approaches the subject again in the intense “Silence.”

Fantasy & Feelings Comingle in ‘A Monster Calls’

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

CHICAGO – The nature of dying, especially in process with a close loved one, is a testing ground for unwieldy and alien emotions. When, why and how we’re challenged does not have a timetable, nor a convenience. All of this is played out as fantasy in the vital “A Monster Calls.”

‘Neruda’ Turns the Biography Film Into Fine Art

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

CHICAGO – “In me nothing is extinguished or forgotten…” is a single line from a poem by Pablo Neruda (“If You Forget Me”), and succinctly describes the film tribute to him, written by Neruda’s fellow Chilean countryman Guillermo Calderón, and directed with grace by another Chilean, Pablo Larrain.

‘Lion’ Can’t Quite Tame Audience’s Hearts

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

CHICAGO – “Lion” is the kind of inspirational-triumph-over-insurmountable-odds and adversity stories that’s bound to appeal to grandmothers and Academy voters, and it does offer plenty of material to tug at the heartstrings. But it’s a movie that only gets the job half done, and unfortunately loses its way once Nicole Kidman comes into the picture.

‘Assassin’s Creed’ Has Odd Breeding for a Movie

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

CHICAGO – I’m not a gamer, but of course I’ve heard about “Assassin’s Creed.” The film based on the video game is a wild and undisciplined attempt to expand that particular universe, but does succeed in creating an oddball science fiction that has implications in geo-religious power and control.

Brainiac Fulfillment is the Key to ‘Hidden Figures’

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

CHICAGO – In America, there is the history we have, and the history that we want to have happened. “Hidden Figures” falls into the second category, but it’s presented in such a way that it fulfills the goal – tell an amazing story about a group of African American women who helped launch men into space.

Story Can’t Match Eye-Popping Visuals of ‘Passengers’

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

CHICAGO – The use of science fiction for all kind of stories is one of the hottest go-to genres for Hollywood today. “Passengers” is a love story, and adds the visual glory of modern special effects…but the soapy tale of a star-crossed (literally) couple is problematic and cliché ridden, and breaks at the end with heroics that are shoehorned into the rest of the scenario.

Denzel Washington & Viola Davis Swing for the ‘Fences’

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

CHICAGO – Viola Davis and Denzel Washington are actors who are likely to give plays adapted for the screen a good name. Their commitment to the material shines through in the new film “Fences.” Davis and Washington have a well worn familiarity with the characters –having portrayed them on Broadway in the 2010 revival of August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize winning play.

Despite Cast, ‘Sing’ Fails to Strike a Chord

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

CHICAGO – Singing is something that everyone can do. I tend to do it while in the shower or sitting in traffic. I’ve been told I have the singing voice of an angel… of death. Okay, I’m exaggerating, but the point is that while everyone can sing, not everyone should. The same extends to creating films like “Sing,” which is loud but seldom harmonious.

There is Little Beauty to Be Found in ‘Collateral Beauty’

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

CHICAGO – Charles Dickens once said, “Reflect upon your present blessings — of which every man has many — not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” Seeing the trailer for “Collateral Beauty,” it’s obvious this is the theme of the film, but it is also the theme of this review. My “blessing” to you is the foresight not to waste your time with this film.

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  • Positively Present: An Uplifting Cabaret

    CHICAGO – When faced with adversity, the best way around it is to somehow break into song. That is the feeling behind the Brown Paper Box Co.’s “Positively Present: An Uplifting Cabaret,” running April 7th and 8th at Mary’s Attic in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood. The event features company member Kristi Szczepanek as host, and presents song stylings by other company members, including Anna Schutz, plus some special guests. For details and ticket information, click here.

  • 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.

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