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

    CHICAGO – As race issues continue in the news, in the wake of Ferguson and “I Can’t Breathe,” the movies exhibit an extraordinary piece of timing with the new film “Black or White.” Oscar winners Kevin Costner and Octavia Spencer participate in a story of family and healing.

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

    CHICAGO – It’s been a while since I walked out of a screening so affected and feeling that I just experienced a truly honest, important film.

    Sure, other ones have since, but back in 2007, “Once” especially made me feel that way long before the Oscars.

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

    CHICAGO – I have to say while watching Johnny Depp in “Mortdecai,” I found myself amused. I rarely elicited anything more than a slight chuckle, but its indomitable spirit of silliness made it a not entirely unpleasant evening out. This feather-weight trifle of a caper is only slightly more than the funny mustache movie its posters and trailer make it out to be.

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

    CHICAGO – There was a different kind of vibe coming from the thriller “The Boy Next Door,” different than what is expected when hearing “Jennifer Lopez as teacher caught in a scandal with a student.” But for every piece of original thinking, there was a fear of making it too different.

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

    CHICAGO – I understand why they did it. But that doesn’t make it right to do.

    In order to earn sign-off from Chris Kyle’s family and the U.S. Navy – and to appease the patriotic American public – “American Sniper” needed to make the U.S. military’s most lethal sniper nicer than he actually was and generalize a people as people you should hate.

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

    CHICAGO – The effect of violence, centering on the roughest statistical year for it (1981) in New York City history, becomes a flashpoint for the way business has always been done. If someone isn’t intimidating their competitor with lawyers or shady marketing practices, a few hired goons can do the trick. Oscar Isaac takes the beating, both real and metaphorical, in writer/director J.C. Chandor’s “A Most Violent Year.”

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

    CHICAGO – A speedy film project can take about a year from conception to final cut; director Michael Mann’s wired-in thriller “Blackhat” might as well have been written, shot, and cut last month. Not just because of its epilogue to the rise and defeat of the Guardians of Peace, but for its modernity. This is a tale of headline action specifically for January 16, 2015 and onward, in our new period of cyber terror.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Book of Merman, The

    CHICAGO – One potential theater-goer loves the “The Book of Mormon.” The other would rather stay home and watch old Ethel Merman YouTube videos. Pride Films & Theater offers the ultimate solution by combining both in a campy musical, “The Book of Merman.” Yep, two Elder characters from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints meets foghorn singer Ethel Merman.

  • Men, Women & Children with Kaitlyn Dever

    CHICAGO – In “Men, Women & Children,” director Jason Reitman not-so-audaciously reflects onto viewers their world of silent screens and awkward impersonal interactions. As many stories (“Don Jon,” “Disconnect”) have taken on the torch of showing how we are, gasp! — connected to the world yet disconnected from those close to us — Reitman’s tale is just another one for the batch.

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