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Patricia Clarkson

Oscar Week Feature: Top 20 Interviews of 2015, by Patrick McDonald

CHICAGO –The movers, the shakers, the prominent filmmakers – they’ve all gone through the interview filter by Patrick McDonald of HollywoodChicago.com. What better way to celebrate Oscar week than to review the TOP 20 talks of the 2015, with many 2016 Oscar favorites among the celebrated.

Film Review: ‘Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials’ is Dystopian Rambling

CHICAGO – Movie pundits are falling all over themselves to point out there is no maze running in “Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials,” so buyer beware! What began in the first film as a new take in the dystopian Young Adult movie genre, has become a scattered, uninteresting mess.

Interview: Patricia Clarkson Takes the Wheel in ‘Learning to Drive’

Learning to Drive, Patricia Clarkson

CHICAGO – The anchoring presence of actress Patricia Clarkson has been familiar to movie audiences for the last three decades. From her debut role as Elliott Ness’s wife in “The Untouchables,” to her role currently as a just-divorced New Yorker in “Learning to Drive,” Clarkson brings depth and character to all of her roles.

Interview: Sir Ben Kingsley Always Steering in ‘Learning to Drive’

CHICAGO – The presence of Sir Ben Kingsley – yes, he was knighted in his native Britain – is the first thing that commands a room. The regal and precise actor, who was awarded an Best Actor Oscar for his definitive performance in “Gandhi,” is back portraying a native of India in his latest film, “Learning to Drive.”

Film Review: ‘The Maze Runner’ a Cut Above Teenage Dystopia Genre

CHICAGO – Yes, the future world of teenage bleakness, so popular in “The Hunger Games” and “Divergent,” now has its own genre. “The Maze Runner” is an excellent entry, and gets over its stilted dialogue and scary monsters by adding in surprises and atmospheric mystery.

Interview: Young Actors Seek Their Reward in ‘The Maze Runner’

CHICAGO – What is wrong with our future? The Young Adult category of future fiction seems to think we’re all doomed, what with “The Hunger Games,” “Divergent” and now “The Maze Runner” film adaptations. The latest “Maze” take is pretty darn good, though, thanks to actors Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario and Will Poulter.

Film Review: Opportunity For Insight Wasted in ‘The East’

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

CHICAGO – Brit Marling is an undeniably smart, forward-thinking writer/actress in that she refuses to succumb to gender stereotypes and tries to chart her own way through the independent film movement. If this is true, and I still believe it is, why did “The East,” in which she stars and which she co-wrote, end up so frustratingly melodramatic? Why was the opportunity for true commentary or even character development within this fascinating world discarded in favor of an awkwardly-staged and poorly-written love story laden with genre tropes? I so wanted to like “The East,” but it never pointed me in the direction where I could do so.

Blu-ray Review: Justin Timberlake, Mila Kunis Elevate ‘Friends With Benefits’

Friends with Benefits

CHICAGO – There’s a spirit and energy in Will Gluck’s “Friends With Benefits” that’s infectious enough to get it over some of its screenwriting humps. It’s a film that features two beautiful people dancing to a Michael Buble flash mob in the middle of Times Square. If those beautiful people were Josh Duhamel and Katherine Heigl, most critics would have audibly retched. But Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis are so remarkably charismatic that they make the cliches of “Friends With Benefits,” recently released on Blu-ray and DVD, much easier to take.

Blu-ray Review: Anne Hathaway, Jim Sturgess Lend Humanity to ‘One Day’

One Day Blu-ray

CHICAGO – Director Lone Scherfig has a keen eye for observation when charting the coming-of-age and disillusionment of characters awakening to life’s injustices. Her superb 2009 film, “An Education,” followed the painful yet vital journey of a young woman who discovers what she truly wants out of life. “One Day” is a more pessimistic film, since it focuses on the various obstacles preventing one from living the life they desire until it’s too late.

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