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James Franco

‘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.

Danny McBride, James Franco Falter With Dreadful ‘Your Highness’

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

CHICAGO – “Your Highness” just makes me sad. Rarely have so many talented people been sucked into such an unfunny disaster as what will surely be one of the biggest disappointments of the year.

James Franco, Danny Boyle Elevate Harrowing Saga of ‘127 Hours’

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

CHICAGO – What separates us during extreme danger? Why do some people collapse under the weight of likely death while others push forward and make it out alive? What fuels the will to survive to the point that it can do the unimaginable? Aron Ralston has surely thought about his personal answers to these questions and Danny Boyle’s riveting film about his defining incident, “127 Hours,” now brings them to millions of captivated fans in theaters around the world.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • 47 Ronin with Keanu Reeves

    CHICAGO – If you’ve ever wondered what the difference is between a director and a producer, let “47 Ronin” explain how the hierarchy of creativity hinders the evolution of even the most straightforward-sounding pitches. “47 Ronin” is the type of samurai movie set in Japan that features native actors speaking only English, while Keanu Reeves stars as an outsider clearly plunked into the picture for stateside star power.

  • A Field in England (teaser)

    CHICAGO – I can’t recommend this more. “A Field in England” is a flashback and a flash forward all at once. It’s impossible to watch without thinking of great counter culture cinema. In fact when I saw it at Fantastic Fest 2013 it played as part of a double bill with Ken Russell’s “The Devils” (1971). They made perfect cinematic companion pieces. Russell’s film concerned a wayward priest desperate to protect his 17th century city from corruption in the Church only to fall victim to group hysteria when he is, ironically, accused of witchcraft by a jealous nun.

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