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HollywoodChicago.com Movie Reviews

Blissful Anarchy in ‘My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea’

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

CHICAGO – In animation, the real innovators who evolve the artform are the risk takers who stamp their own inspiration on those cartoon images. Director Dash Shaw is one of those breakthroughs, who creates a work of anarchistic art in “My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea.”

Chef Emerges in ‘Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent’

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

CHICAGO – The culture of food has never been more pervasive, from entire broadcast channels devoted to it, to new trends in eating being invented seemingly every day. Where did it all start? The new film ‘Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent’ documents the chef that opened the door.

'Free Fire' Knows That Happiness is a Warm Gun

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

CHICAGO – In a film that had a sassy, arbitrary perspective on its own flipped-out story, “Free Fire” sought to out-Quentin Tarantino in freaky funny characters and ammo-splurging gun battles. Director Ben Wheatley (“High-Rise”) took an ensemble cast to rarified heights of insult comedy, revenge dynamics and bullets that hit the bone.

Love Attempts to Infiltrate Horror in 'The Promise'

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

CHICAGO – So much of civilization’s story is lost in the mist of “winners write the history,” and even as recently as 100 years ago there are instances of world history that is not generally taught. “The Promise” is set during the World War I period, and has a love triangle in the midst of a little known genocide.

‘Their Finest’ is British Filmmaking at Its Finest

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

CHICAGO – In a combined BBC Films, Welsh Government and Pinewood (London) Pictures production, the British-based “Their Finest” pairs England’s history with authentic and passionate romance, to create a sly and funny riff on propaganda films and the British movie industry during the early days of World War II.

‘The Fate of the Furious’ is a Vehicle Running on Fumes

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

CHICAGO – Bigger, Dumber, and Duller…that’s the name of the game this time in this ongoing franchise which is now so ludicrous it makes Bond films seem like the epitome of realism. While it’s true this is the first time Oscar winners and a “Fast and the Furious” film have ever been associated together, there’s a dearth of inspiration in this eighth go around, as this series is now operating almost completely on autopilot.

‘Smurfs: The Lost Village’ Should Have Remained Undiscovered

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

CHICAGO – There are only a few times that I have left a film mentally shouting, “Won’t someone think of the children?” Not through some self-righteous religious fit, of course, but through a general concern for the animated films created for our young. “Smurfs: The Lost Village” is either made for a specific crowd in mind or made for a crowd without a mind.

Misguided Remake of ‘Going in Style’ is Just a Product

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

CHICAGO – In 1979, there was a beautifully understated film called “Going in Style,” taking on the issues of aging, loneliness and the forgotten senior citizens in society. Those issues have not altered in our modern society, but you wouldn’t be able to tell that with the 2017 remake of “Going in Style.”

‘T2 Trainspotting’ is a Nostalgic Trip That Stays on the Rails

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

CHICAGO – Sequels are the bane of film’s existence. They tend to end with unresolved plotlines in an attempt to promote the need for another film. Disappointing film franchises have been built this way, but Danny Boyle is the last person I would have expected this from. “T2 Trainspotting” is the sequel to “Trainspotting” that we never wanted but are surprisingly happy to have.

Jessica Chastain is Steadfast as ‘The Zookeeper’s Wife’

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

CHICAGO – Jessica Chastain is a memorable and glamorous actress, who continues to challenge herself with in-depth and complex roles. “The Zookeeper’s Wife” is her latest, and her performance outweighs the formulaic based-on-truth story, set during the Holocaust.

Alec Baldwin Puts the Funny in ‘The Boss Baby’

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

CHICAGO – The young Alec Baldwin (think “Prelude to a Kiss”) never seemed as prevalent as the today’s Alec Baldwin. Taking his “30 Rock” persona to a different level, he voices the title character of ‘The Boss Baby,” the latest from Dreamworks Animation and director Tom McGrath.

Suspenseful ‘Life’ is Tense, Compelling Science Fiction

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

CHICAGO – Combining the invasion elements of “Alien” with the life-raft-in-space morbidity of “Gravity,” the new film “Life” maintains a grip from the enlightened beginning to the twisted end. Mars is the origin, so the film joins “The Martian” and “The Space Between Us” in sourcing the red planet.

‘Power Rangers’ Reboot is a Stunning Bore

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

CHICAGO – The big budget “Power Rangers” reboot tests the limits of just how pedestrian a supposed $100 million dollar blockbuster can be. Part of that is due to the fact that superhero movies are a dime a dozen these days, and a movie has to have something more than just silver screen quality special effects to set it apart. But looking at the finished project – with its flat performances, sluggish pace, and ho-hum-yet-costly effects, it’s hard to see who was exactly asking for this anyway?

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  • Monica Raymund on set for 'Tanya'

    CHICAGOTV fans know Monica Raymund as paramedic Gabby Dawson on the long-running “Chicago Fire.” But the talented actor is expanding her range, debuting her first film as director, “Tanya,” at the Midwest Independent Film Festival on Tuesday, August 1st, 2017. The short film – written by Sam Forman – will be part of “Female Filmmakers Night” at the Midwest Indie, and is part of Raymund’s involvement with Hidden Tears Project, an organization dedicated to raising consciousness by creating media on gender inequality, sexual abuse and human trafficking.

  • They're Playing Our Song

    CHICAGO – During the late disco era of the 1970s, an unusual musical opened on Broadway. Essentially a two person stage play, “They’re Playing Our Song” involved a songwriter and a lyricist who develop a stronger connection than just writing partners. The always passionate Brown Paper Box Co. of Chicago has unearthed this chestnut with a bright and fun revival at the Rivendell Theatre through August 20th, 2017.

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