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Chris Messina

‘Cake’ Serves Emotionally Honest, Career-Growing Dramatic Role for Jennifer Aniston

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.

Ben Affleck Reaches Career Peak with Tense, Masterful ‘Argo’

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

CHICAGO – Ben Affleck has reached the apex of his already impressive directorial career with the stunning “Argo,” a tight, tense machine of a film, a masterwork that delivers as comedy, action, drama, and more. Critics see movies all the time that we understand may produce a divided response. We get that many acclaimed films won’t make a dent with the populous.

Rashida Jones, Andy Samberg in ‘Celeste and Jesse Forever’

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

CHICAGO – Rashida Jones has been a reliable co-star for years in films like “I Love You, Man” and TV shows like “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation” but she gets her most notable role to date in a film she co-wrote, the romantic dramedy “Celeste and Jesse Forever,” opening this weekend in Chicago.

Zoe Kazan Illuminates Fascinating Fable of ‘Ruby Sparks’

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

CHICAGO – Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris return to the spotlight this week with their first film since the award-winning “Little Miss Sunshine” and they completely defy the sophomore slump, delivering a smart, fascinating, fun gem in the spectacular “Ruby Sparks.” Buoyed by one of the best screenplays of the year courtesy of one of our most interesting young actresses, “Ruby Sparks” is a clever romantic fantasy that works on nearly every level.

Jenna Fischer Stars in Sweet ‘The Giant Mechanical Man’

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

CHICAGO – Don’t let the awful title fool you — “The Giant Mechanical Man” is not sci-fi. This cute dramedy tackles well-trod ground in the world of indie film but Lee Kirk conveys enough honest affection for his well-crafted characters that the piece works.

Awful Execution Fails Clever Concept of ‘Devil’

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

CHICAGO – Being a hardcore fan of anthology series like “The Twilight Zone” and “Tales From the Crypt,” the simple set-up of “Devil,” the new horror film based on a story by and produced by M. Night Shyamalan, intrigued me — five people are stuck in an elevator and one turns out to be the devil. Sadly, the concept is the only interesting thing about this horribly-executed tale from the dull side of the genre.

‘Julie & Julia’ Misses Some Ingredients But Still Goes Down Smoothly

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

CHICAGO – Like a long meal at a good restaurant where no one can agree on the best course of the evening, Nora Ephron’s “Julie & Julia” with Amy Adams and Meryl Streep will have different highlights for different viewers.

‘Away We Go’ From Sam Mendes a Slightly Bumpy Trip Worth Taking

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

CHICAGO – Has life always been this difficult? Doesn’t anybody ever stay together anymore? Have the pressures of modern times turned the majority of us into screw-ups?

“Away We Go” is a chronicle of couple – Burt and Verona (John Krasinski of NBC’s “The Office” and Maya Rudolph of “Saturday Night Live”) – attempting to resolve just that.

Hit-or-Miss Mastermind Woody Allen Recaptures Genius With Eccentric ‘Vicky Cristina Barcelona’

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

CHICAGO – While legendary writer and director Woody Allen can’t always be equated with sheer genius these days and is more accurately described as a hit-or-miss proposition, the sorely undermarketed and film-festival touring “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” serves as unquestionable retribution for his recently questionable work.

Wily ‘Ira & Abby’ Averts Predictable Hollywood Boy Meets Girl Trap

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4/5CHICAGO – Groucho Marx once said: “Marriage is a wonderful institution … but who wants to live in an institution?” For the romantic and humorously charged “Ira & Abby,” holy matrimony seems a stressful but hilarious adventure.

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  • The Projects

    CHICAGO – The legacy of public housing is one of the strangest forces of karma in the City of Chicago. For example, sites that were once some of the roughest and most neglected housing for the poor now contain luxury condos. It is the people of those former hellholes that still remember the sorrowful history of what they once called home. The American Theater Company (ATC) have gathered these stories for the poignant and extraordinary “The Projects.”

  • Gambler, The 2

    CHICAGO – Browsing Dostoyevsky titles with consideration for proper roles for Mark Wahlberg, one might expect the Beantown hero to take on an adaptation of “The Idiot” before anything like “The Gambler.” After all, while Wahlberg has proven to be a diverse screen force - one who has well-grown past his Funky Bunch days - he often leans towards goofy men, or at least goofy men in goofy movies.

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