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James Franco

‘True Story’ Just Leaves a False Impression

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

CHICAGO – Sometimes, just casting a film with “names” is not enough to make it work. Jonah Hill and James Franco play cat-and-mouse for 100 minutes in “True Story,” but the narrative, the structure and their own inability to communicate their characters conspired against the overall experience.

‘Third Person’ an Intriguing Yet Foreseeable Labyrinth

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

CHICAGO – Don’t you hate it when you figure out where a film is going long before it gets there? That could be a problem with “Third Person,” but writer/director Paul Haggis (“Crash”) also adds enough secrets to chew on and enough multiple pathways to explore. Enter at your own risk.

‘Veronica Mars’ Wishes it Was Still on TV

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

CHICAGO – A TV movie for the silver screen, “Veronica Mars” is a historical film that was Kickstarted into existence by the will of 91,585 backers. Now, it stands like a crossroads in the intersection between TV and film, showing that what may work in TV doesn’t necessarily make for a great film.

Dull ‘Homefront’ Can’t Get Action into an Action Movie

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

CHICAGO – Sylvester Stallone is a difficult man to comprehend, unless if doing a thesis on male menopause. The one time screenwriter of gritty soul pictures like “Rocky,” “Paradise Alley” and “First Blood” is spending his later years pumping out undistinguished boom-boom pictures like “Homefront.”

Notoriety Triggers the Breaking Point in ‘Lovelace’

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

CHICAGO – It was one of the strangest star-is-born stories in show business history. One porn film – “Deep Throat” – permeates the American consciousness at precisely the right time. The “lead” actress in the film becomes a household name – and then becomes a victim of it – in ‘Lovelace.’

‘This is the End’ Turns Stoner Fantasy Into Comedy

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

CHICAGO – When David Gordon Green’s “Your Highness” hit fans of its writer/director and talented stars like a really bad pot hangover, its creators admitted that the project began life as a stoned what-if scenario. “Hey, let’s make a pot-laced fantasy movie, dude.” Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg’s “This is the End” clearly had similar origins.

Bikini Girls with Machine Guns in Mesmerizing ‘Spring Breakers’

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

CHICAGO – Already hailed as this generation’s “Fight Club,” Harmony Korine’s “Spring Breakers” is a mesmerizing piece of satire, a journey into the dark side of teenage excess. And what’s a better symbol of excess than the ritual of spring break? But lest you think this is like MTV’s watered-down version of pop bands and bikini girls, Korine has something much more intense in store for you.

Story Dims Visionary ‘Oz the Great and Powerful’

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

CHICAGO – “Oz the Great and Powerful” is a great and powerful visual and 3D experience. It expands the landscape of what cinema can produce in a visceral and evolutionary way. But a great film also needs a great story, and this Land of Oz tale is not equivalent to the awe-inspiring imagery.

‘About Cherry’ is Little More Than a Pretty Face

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

CHICAGO – Stephen Elliott’s “About Cherry” takes what could have been an interesting journey into the porn industry and turns it into what is essentially a TV-Movie-of-the-Week without the rating restrictions of the Lifetime Channel. Newcomer Ashley Hinshaw makes an impression and the supporting cast of Elliott’s drama is strong but the film never finds its focus, refusing to get under the beautiful surface of its lead character and present her as anything more than a sexy plot device.

Thrilling, Marvelous ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’

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

CHICAGO – “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” is spectacular entertainment, a perfect capper to the blockbuster season that is arguably the most purely enjoyable film of the warmer months of 2011. Rupert Wyatt’s highly-anticipated prequel is an old-fashioned piece of sci-fi escapism made with some of the revolutionary new toys available to special effects artists.

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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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