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HollywoodChicago.com Movie Reviews

‘LBJ’ is Important American History Brought to Light

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

CHICAGO – The circumstances surrounding the John F. Kennedy assassination on November 22nd, 1963, put a man into the presidential spotlight who never thought he would get there… Lyndon Baines Johnson. The story of that strange time and the man who “would be king” is told in ‘LBJ.’

‘Thor: Ragnarok’ Shatters the Hammer, But Maintains the Mold

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

CHICAGO – Any blacksmith will tell you that their job is much more than the brute action of slamming a hammer onto steel. There is some finessing and an attention to detail that needs to take place in order to make something truly notable. With Taika Waititi manning the hammer, he takes the “Thor” franchise out from the Dark Ages and into the technicolor light.

Energy of Visual Cinema is the Power of ‘Wonderstruck’

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

CHICAGO – In one of the coolest visual films of the Fall Season thus far, “Wonderstruck” is another winner from director Todd Haynes (“Carol”), who adapts a Young Adult graphic novel by Brian Selznick (who also wrote the screenplay). The wonder of it all, baby.

‘Suburbicon’ is the Cinematic Equivalent of a Soccer Mom

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

CHICAGO – Having lived in both the suburbs and in major cities throughout my lifetime, I can say without hesitation that the suburbs tend to be dull, boring and bereft of creativity. To be fair, it’s not their fault since they’re built for efficiency and with placidity in mind. “Surburbicon” is made in much the same way, becoming the one thing a film shouldn’t be: boring.

Stellar Cast & Director Fail to Build ‘The Snowman’

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

CHICAGO – The biggest mystery in “The Snowman” is what in the world talented actors like Michael Fassbender, Chloe Sevigny, Toby Jones, and Val Kilmer are doing here in the first place. Fassbender’s character’s name alone should have sent off alarm bells. This is based on a series of detective novels featuring detective Harry Hole, and characters have voluminous opportunities to repeat it, although with nary a snigger.

Dull Origins in ‘Professor Marston & the Wonder Women’

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

CHICAGO – For a film that has free love, lie detection, bondage, the origin of a great comic superhero and 3-way carnality, “Professor Marston & the Wonder Women” still comes out rather flat… quite a achievement. Wonder Woman is the comic hero, and this is the rest of her story.

No New Frights in Store for ‘Happy Death Day’

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

CHICAGO – “Happy Death Day” has a “Groundhog Day” gimmick, but that’s about it, offering essentially an ‘80’s style slasher flick with the hope that with a little cosmetic window dressing will help it appeal to an audience in 2017… Live, Die, Repeat. That’s all this film offers with precious few improvements to justify its existence.

Cautionary ‘Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House’

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

CHICAGO – Everything old is new again, in the 1970s story of the infamous “Deep Throat” – the source in the FBI who tipped off the Washington Post about the issues surrounding Watergate scandal – who revealed himself in 2005. He is now the subject of a new film, and is portrayed by Liam Neeson, in “Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House.”

Thin Story a Contrast to Visuals in ‘Blade Runner 2049’

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

CHICAGO – It comes down to compelling an audience with a story riff that’s a hook. “Blade Runner 2049” doesn’t possess either the riff or the hook, but what it does do is create a dystopian world that is beautiful in its bleakness, and unsettlingly weird in its twists and turns.

History by Rote in Formulaic ‘Victoria and Abdul’

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

CHICAGO – There have been 155 TV/Movie depictions of Queen Victoria, who ruled England from 1837 to 1901. The “Victorian Era” continues to fascinate filmmakers, and who is perfect to portray Queen V. towards the end of her life? Get me Dame Judi Dench on the Skype!

Tom Cruise in ‘American Made’ Never Gets Off the Ground

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

CHICAGO – Tom Cruise was once a Top Gun, but his newest film “American Made” never really takes off. It wants to be a truth-is-stranger-than-fiction kind of satire where commercial airline pilot Barry Seal (Tom Cruise) winds up getting involved in the Iran Contra Affair and the Medellín drug cartel, but it never creates an enthralling place or story.

Ben Stiller in Character For Thoughtful ‘Brad’s Status’

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

CHICAGO – Everyone comes to the point when they question their choices, their life and their truth. This concept is filtered through Ben Stiller in Brad’s Status, portraying a Dad taking his son for college visits, analyzing his life through the boy, his friends, plus his own angst and fears.

Jake Gyllenhaal Turns Up His Power in ‘Stronger’

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

CHICAGO – The second major film about the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing (after last year’s “Patriots Day”) is “Stronger,” and it wisely focuses on one individual rather than the bigger event. Jake Gyllenhaal portrays Jeff Bauman, a spectator near the explosion that lost both his legs.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Orange is the New Black

    CHICAGO – Orange Day is Friday (July 27, 2018)… as in “Orange is the New Black.” That’s when Season Six will be available for download from Netflix, as the online series continues to showcase the women inmates at Litchfield Penitentiary, three of whom are played by Taylor Schilling (Piper), Kate Mulgrew (Red) and Dascha Polanco (Daya).

  • Everybody, Brown Paper Box Co

    CHICAGO – When is the last time a stage play, based in an intimate setting, made you think about your life, death, and the destiny inherent in both? “Everybody,” staged by Brown Paper Box Co. (BPBCo), is such a play, and the energetic aura and sense of surprise that the show contains is soul soothing wonder. The show has various evening/matinee performances at the Pride Arts Center in Chicago run through August 12, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

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