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Naomi Watts

Michael Keaton Soars in Mesmerizing ‘Birdman’

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

CHICAGO – There are parts of “Birdman” that are absolutely breathtaking, in dialogue, performance and visual acumen. Even its subtitle, “The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance” has a wonderful payoff. Michael Keaton provides an Oscar worthy performance as the title character.

Phony ‘St. Vincent’ is Bill Murray’s Worst Choice Since ‘Garfield’

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

CHICAGO – “Garfield, maybe” was the sole utterance of regret that iconic actor/prolific movie-golfer Bill Murray expressed in 2009’s “Zombieland” before he died. Should the adoration for this cameo resurrect him for that film’s announced sequel, Murray will hopefully denounce “St. Vincent,” his most needless and perverse career choice since vocally birthing “Garfield” (and yes, that includes getting a handjob as Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 2012’s also terrible “Hyde Park on Hudson”).

Naomi Watts, Robin Wright Fake It in ‘Adore’

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

CHICAGO – For a movie that should be about passion, sex, and scandal, “Adore” is surprisingly and depressingly tame. Two great lead actresses are left floating on a dock by a script that doesn’t treat them like real characters and a team that cast two inferior actors opposite them. For “Adore” to work, this tale of forbidden love needs to have an equal playing field.

Shattering Power of True Story of ‘The Impossible’

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

CHICAGO – Juan Antonio Bayona’s “The Impossible” captures what its title implies. It transports us to an unimaginable situation, into an absolute nightmare in which air is replaced by rushing water, families are ripped apart, and people’s lives hang in the balance. It is a remarkable achievement in filmmaking, a film that is at times devastating, at times emotional, at times inspirational, and always riveting. It’s one of the best films of 2012.

Leonardo DiCaprio Embodies the G-Man in ‘J. Edgar’

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

CHICAGO – Much of history is determined by the petty quirks and strange psychosis of “great leaders.” J. Edgar Hoover, FBI director for 48 years, worked hard to hide his very nature by squelching the nature of others – enemies, friends and perceived enemies. Leonardo DiCaprio is Hoover in “J. Edgar.”

Not Much to Build Upon in Vague ‘Dream House’

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

CHICAGO – Mixing three actors with great reputations – Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz and Naomi Watts – with Jim Sheridan, a six time Oscar nominated director, would assume to yield some fruitful results. But with “Dream House,” the artifice is indistinct and ill-defined, ultimately much ado about nothing.

Sean Penn, Naomi Watts Revive Valerie Plame in ‘Fair Game’

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

CHICAGO – The key line in “Fair Game,” a distillation of Valerie Plame’s outing as a CIA operative in 2003, is intoned by character actor Bruce McGill, in a scene reminiscent of the “Mr. X” moment in the “JFK” movie. Pointing to the White House and the Bush Administration, he simply says, “there are the most powerful men in the history of the world.”

Annette Bening, Naomi Watts Lack the Connection in ‘Mother and Child’

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

CHICAGO – “Mother and Child,” with an all star cast of Annette Bening, Naomi Watts, Samuel L. Jackson, Jimmy Smits and Kerry Washington, is mindful of its subject matter, that rare and elusive connection between a mother and their offspring. However, the film has difficulties when the characters become inconsistent with their past backgrounds after that connection is introduced.

Clive Owen, Naomi Watts Fail to Save Deadly Dull ‘The International’

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

CHICAGOTom Tykwer’s “The International,” an alleged thriller starring Clive Owen and Naomi Watts, is one of the most surprisingly inert films so far this year, an awfully written conspiracy flick that never gets out of neutral and is only remotely worth someday seeing for one fantastic action sequence.

With Surreal Madness, Strange Boys Play ‘Funny Games’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4.5/5CHICAGO – Imagine a film with no redeeming or uplifting emotional qualities with evil that tortures the soul, squirm-inducing narrative elements and a relentless anxiety that practically has us – like the characters in the film – screaming for mercy. Imagine also that this film is excellent.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Drunk History Seasons 1 & 2, 2014

    CHICAGO – The awesomeness of history loses any of its stuffiness with the incredibly fun, indeed educational show “Drunk History” from Comedy Central, its two seasons now released on DVD. Hosted by its creator Derek Waters, the show is a celebration of various historic figures and their under-appreciated true tales, as expressed by funny people narrating in the universal language of inebriation; their recounts are then reenacted by famous actors working with their given dialogue, dressed with the comic cheapness of a bloated biopic.

  • Happy Christmas

    CHICAGO – “Drinking Buddies” director Joe Swanberg’s latest release of the same star wattage is “Happy Christmas,” an even lower-fi story than the Olivia Wilde beer comedy, steered even more by the casting that it was able to assemble. However, with this movie Swanberg doesn’t so much worry about having a story that could be confused with a more mainstream romantic comedy if it were to have a bigger budget.

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