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HollywoodChicago.com Movie Reviews

‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ Relies on Second-Hand Wonder

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

CHICAGO – It’s been five years since the last Harry Potter film, and for fans eager to scratch that itch for a dreamworld of magic again “Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them” will probably suffice. It’s this story’s tangential connection to the Harry Potter universe that is its biggest asset – but the film unfortunately can’t muster up much wonder on its own.

Edge Ebbs & Flows in ‘The Edge of Seventeen’

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

CHICAGO – “The Edge of Seventeen” does attempt to do some different things with the growing-up-too-soon teenager soap opera – it throws in a authentic parent, contemporary sex issues and truthful awkwardness. But it can’t help being too heroic, and too “everything’s all right.”

‘Loving’ Reminds Us That Love Conquers All

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

CHICAGO – This is a difficult review to write. Not for any sort of technical standpoint, but one of moral outrage. Seeing “Loving”, the relevance in today’s society was clear, but that was before the election of our new president. The hatred of the past still echoes to this day, but now more than ever the message of hope and perseverance is needed.

Science of the Human Condition Makes an ‘Arrival’

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

CHICAGO – The film genre of aliens from other planets is as old as the movies. But it hasn’t been told as boldly and humanely as the new film “Arrival.” Its theme is communication, and how this interaction relates to the concept of the life cycle. Yes, it’s lofty, but it is also edge-of-the-seat engaging.

‘Doctor Strange’ is Odd Enough to be Enchanting

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

CHICAGO – We’ve reached a point where comic book films are no longer a scarcity, but an eventuality. With several coming out every year, each one competes for our attention even though the originality behind their approach has the opposite effect. A great cinematic fatigue is almost upon us, but “Doctor Strange” shows a promising deviation that could possibly alter the franchise’s fate.

‘Trolls’ is Catchier Than it Has a Right to Be

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

CHICAGO – “Trolls” isn’t the type of confection that I would normally subject myself to, but at least it didn’t make me want to stick knitting needles in my ears. That’s because “Trolls” aspires to be this season’s “Frozen,” a full blown animated musical jam packed with songs you can’t get out of your head as much as you might try.

Surprising Fun in Revenge Tale of ‘The Handmaiden’

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

CHICAGO – Although “The Handmaiden” is based in deceit, fetishes, thievery and subservience, director Park Chan-Wook (“Stoker”) keeps it light by the addition of some subversive humor, and weaves a mystery with a pitch that is like the “The Sting” meets “In the Realm of the Senses.”

Redemptive & Emotional Journey Dances in ‘Moonlight’

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

CHICAGO – We are all victims of our own circumstances. How we interact with this circumstance, given our DNA, social nurturing, family and relationship ties are thrown in the air like organic confetti, landing here and there, and often in smaller and smaller pieces. “Moonlight” is a film full of this absolution.

‘Inferno’ Was Damned From The Start

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

CHICAGO – You can’t keep a good conspiracy down. Tom Hanks returns to a role we thought had joined the pages of history his character was so eager to uncover. Like the previous films in the franchise, “Inferno” promises to deliver a new problem to solve even though they never attempt to fix any of the cinematic and narrative flaws from its past.

No Need to Bother ‘Keeping Up with the Joneses’

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

CHICAGO – “Keeping Up With The Joneses” illustrates how hard it really is to make a funny action comedy. After watching this, I have begun to think that the ones that work are something of anomaly – more often than not they’re like this. An amiable but aimless project that can’t quite grasp what it wants to be and doesn’t have the vision or the laughs to sustain itself.

Familiar Spirits Gives New Life to ‘Ouija: Origin of Evil’

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

CHICAGO – Like many of the creatures or villains it inspires, the horror genre has been slowly decaying for years now. In a time of reboots and tired sequels, 2016 has shown us glimpses of future promise by revisiting elements of the past. Flanagan continues this hot streak, one he helped create with “Hush” earlier this year, with the prequel “Ouija: Origin of Evil”.

Take the Title Advice in ‘Jack Reacher: Never Go Back’

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

CHICAGO – The title of Tom Cruise’s second Jack Reacher adventure has almost prophetic ring to it – but we all would have been better off if the writers, and director and star of Jack Reacher: Never Go Back” had heeded the advice. This film seems more like one of those bargain-bin-just-barely-released thrillers than a major studio action movie.

‘American Pastoral’ Should Have Been Put to Pasture

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

CHICAGO – Change can be a frightening part of life and the human experience. It is an unavoidable but often necessary transition for progress. If you fight change or innovation, the stagnation alone will weigh you down and hold you back. “American Pastoral” may deal with the themes of revolution, but that’s about all that is revolutionary or unique about this film.

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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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