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Elizabeth Banks

Nichely Entertaining ‘Magic Mike XXL’ a Substanceless Soft Porn

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

CHICAGO – You know those amateur porns with no-name actors that use cheesy dialogue in between the sex scenes those viewers simply want? You never expect a real story or actually developed characters because it’s a collection of sex scenes. It’s not a real, you know, movie.

Brian Wilson Redeems His Soul in ‘Love & Mercy’

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

CHICAGO – Brian Wilson has been called one of the greatest songwriters in popular music history. His tonality and approach towards his best compositions have been studied like Mozart. In “Love & Mercy,” we see that the thing that made Wilson great also had the power to destroy him.

Sequel’s Tune is Off Key in ‘Pitch Perfect 2’

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

CHICAGO – “Pitch Perfect 2” wasn’t bad. There was the same off-kilter weirdness and funny lines of the first film, but in this sequel there were also stretches of boring, seemingly made-up stuff to slog through. I guess repeating a premise about college singing groups doesn’t offer much more to say.

‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1’ Shouldn’t Have Been Split in Two

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

CHICAGO – My issue with the “one movie split into two parts” debate isn’t even about money, which is clearly the main reason why we’ve seen blockbuster films do it like the two-part “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” and now the two-part “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay”.

Moving On in ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1’

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

CHICAGO – The über popular “The Hunger Games” series is back, splitting the final novel into two movie parts, Harry Potter style. Subtitled “Mockingjay - Part 1,” this is the beginning of the end of the story, setting up rather than knocking down.

Big Laughs Await in Sly, Fun ‘The LEGO Movie’

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

CHICAGO – The funniest movie in a long while features no human beings, just animated bland faces among interlocking plastic bricks, the toys which inspired the film. “The LEGO Movie” never takes itself seriously, which means huge laughs for the audience.

Entertaining, Complex ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’

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

CHICAGO – Second acts to incredibly popular and entertaining mainstream fare can be a tough prospect. For every “The Dark Knight,” there are too many films like “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” – works that essentially just repeat what audiences fell in love with instead of trying to expand on the world of their predecessors.

‘Pitch Perfect’ Succeeds By Making Fun of Itself

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

CHICAGO – When we last saw Anna Kendrick, she was the mid-twentysomething girlfriend of cop Jake Gyllenhaal in “End of Watch.” This week, she reverts back to freshman year in college, portraying a rebellious D.J. and songstress in the not-taking-themselves-seriously “Pitch Perfect.”

Chris Pine, Elizabeth Banks in Moving ‘People Like Us’

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

CHICAGO – “People Like Us” is an old-fashioned tearjerker with everything that phrase implies. It’s undeniably manipulative and sentimental but it’s also somewhat refreshing to see a drama that isn’t laced with irony, cynicism, or some form of postmodern commentary on the genre. “People Like Us” is a film that wants you to be moved; it wants you to cry; it wants you to feel something.

Boredom Awaits During ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting’

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

CHICAGO – “Battleship” is getting a lot of flack this week for having little to do with its alleged source. I would argue that the awful “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” is even more dishonest when it comes to its inspiration. Working from an instructional book that’s designed to prepare adults for impending parenthood, the film that steals its title turns truth into cliché.

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  • Punk Punk

    CHICAGO – For theater that is audaciously in-the-now and generates a sparkle of life, there are few better storefront (garage, gothic gathering place) groups than “Nothing Without a Company.” Their latest, eclectic kick-in-the-head production is the intensely diverting and weirdly fun “Punk Punk.”

  • Assassination Theater

    CHICAGO – There are two dates in modern American History that ring in the heads of certain generations. Of course, there is September 11th, 2001, but the granddaddy of that date is November 22nd, 1963. That is when an American president, John F. Kennedy, was shot point blank in the head and killed on the street of an American city. The official proclamation from the government is that a lone assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, fired those shots. In a new Chicago play, “Assassination Theater,” subtitled “Chicago’s Role in the Crime of the Century,” the jury is still decidedly out.


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