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Scarlett Johansson

Scarlett Johansson Packs a Blockbuster Punch in ‘Lucy’

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

CHICAGO – “Lucy” is a piece of high-minded cinematic junk food that manages to be outlandishly weird while still satisfying the lizard brain desires of its audience. It’s a film that knows what’ll get the behinds in the seats, and that appeal can effectively be summed up in one shot. It shows Scarlett Johansson in a tight-fitting white t-shirt walking in slow motion with her bosoms bouncing in unison, carrying two guns and ready to kick some serious ass.

Jon Favreau’s Anti-Popcorn Project ‘Chef’ Still Mild

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

CHICAGO – By the time of his 2011 box office blitzkrieg otherwise known as “Cowboys & Aliens,” the product that indie director-turned-Hollywood habitue Jon Favreau had been hocking as a “popcorn salesman” had gone stale – to use a showbiz term from Nicholas Ray’s” In A Lonely Place.”

Thought-Illuminating, Mind-Blowing ‘Under the Skin’

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

CHICAGO – Imagine a stranger taking a journey around the landscape of their destiny. That only begins to describe the audacity and power of director Jonathan Glazer’s “Under the Skin.” Scarlett Johansson creates a character of undeniable mystery and truth, a stranger in a strange land.

Near-Perfect ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ Defies Common Sequel Disappointment

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

CHICAGO – If the original is anything to applaud, the sequel usually isn’t. And even more rarely is the sequel actually better.

While it’s aggressive to market “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” as one of the “best superhero movies of all time” and more realistic to pitch it as “better than ‘The Avengers,’” it most certainly is 2014’s best action flick yet and it definitely defies common sequel disappointment.

‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ Pledges Allegiance to Strong Action, Twists

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

CHICAGO – In record-breaking time, even for Marvel, a comic book character has had their existence (basically) rebooted. The arc may be continued from the previous film, and some of the actors may reappear, but this take on Captain America is bonafide divergent. It’s not the hollow nostalgic relic seen in his debut “Captain America: The First Avenger”, nor is this the goofy time alien/boy scout he was made in to be in the ensemble film “The Avengers”. This version of Captain America, and the world he lives in, is leaner and meaner.

‘Hitchcock’ at its Heart is a Relationship Film

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

CHICAGO – The great director Alfred Hitchcock had morphed to legend rather than a man, so it’s interesting that two films have recently been released about his all-too-human foibles. The feature film, starring Sir Anthony Hopkins as the director, gets inside the man’s relationships in “Hitchcock.”

Summer Movie Season Explodes with ‘The Avengers’

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

CHICAGO – When I was a kid, summer movies were an event. They weren’t just marketing tricks, young adult adaptations, or unnecessary sequels. They were blockbusters that you put on the calendar and counted the days until their arrival. Something of that summer movie magic has been lost in recent years – the sense that you weren’t just seeing a movie, you were experiencing something special.

Matt Damon Closes Deal in ‘We Bought a Zoo’

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

CHICAGO – Cameron Crowe’s “We Bought a Zoo” is an undeniably manipulative crowd-pleaser but there’s something about being manipulated in such an expert manner that makes the tugging on the heartstrings easier to take. We know what we’re in for when we buy a ticket for a movie about children grieving the loss of their mother, endangered animals, and the healing process through talking to tigers. Most movie goers are smart enough not to expect a deep dose of subtlety.

Ryan Reynolds Gets Beneath it in Tense Thriller ‘Buried’

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

CHICAGO – In one of the most unusual settings for a film, actor Ryan Reynolds performs as a one-man tour de force as the only on-screen character in the new film “Buried.” Set in a coffin buried beneath the sands of Iraq, Reynolds conveys the panic, hope and inevitable outcome of a man buried alive and fighting for his very existence.

Despite Some Superfluous Story, ‘Iron Man 2’ Delivers Hollywood Oomph

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

CHICAGO – “Iron Man 2” with returner Robert Downey Jr. and newcomer Scarlett Johansson does what it can within the confines of what it has to do. The Hollywood machine has trained us to have certain expectations for blockbuster sequels and “Iron Man 2” neither deviates nor blazes new territory.

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  • 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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