CHICAGO – About ten minutes into “John Dies at the End,” a doorknob suddenly transforms into a large flaccid penis. It earns a laugh of sheer incredulity from an audience delighted by writer/director Don Coscarelli’s willingness to do literally anything for a laugh. Not since the ZAZ team tackled “Airplane” and “The Naked Gun” has a film been packed wall-to-wall with so many absurdist gags.
CHICAGO – You’re at a party. It’s getting late. Chemicals have been ingested, booze has been imbibed, and conversation has been exhausted. You spot an interesting looking fella in the corner and he says he has a story to tell you. Maybe it’s the rush of something different, but the first half hour of that story is fascinating, filled with potential and creative in so many ways.
CHICAGO – Some writing sounds better on the page than it does when read aloud. That’s certainly the case with Don DeLillo’s 2003 novel, “Cosmopolis,” a spectacularly unsettling social commentary largely confined within the limo of billionaire asset manager, Eric Packer. He claims that he’s 28, but looks as if he’s been strolling the streets for centuries, while displaying all the decadent beauty of Dorian Gray.
CHICAGO – How can the same man who made one of the most lovable movie musicals of the last decade go on to make one of the most hatable? Adam Shankman’s bouncy, broad approach was a splendid fit for the playful “Hairspray,” but it is all wrong for Chris D’Arienzo’s raunchy, melodramatic ode to ’80s rock. His show, “Rock of Ages,” may have been a hit on Broadway, but it was a complete flop with moviegoers and critics alike.
CHICAGO – One of our best living filmmakers, one of our best working authors, and a teen heartthrob who has largely been known for looks over skill get into a slow-moving limousine in David Cronenberg’s adaptation of Don DeLillo’s “Cosmopolis” starring Robert Pattinson in almost exclusively one-on-one scenes with some great supporting actors and actresses.
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CHICAGO – Sometimes a film is so good that it casts a shadow over all the other pictures that have the misfortune of sharing striking similarities. HBO’s star-studded adaptation of Andrew Ross Sorkin’s book, “Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System—and Themselves” does its titular subject matter justice—but not nearly as well as J.C. Chandor’s “Margin Call.”
CHICAGO – Although the jukebox musical needs an available pasture to be put out onto, the new film “Rock of Ages” – based on the Broadway stage play – improves on that genre by having a little fun and lots of tongue-in-cheek. Tom Cruise, Julianne Hough, Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand rock the cashbox.
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CHICAGO – A select few HollywoodChicago.com winners were blown away by an early screening of “Inception” plus a cocktail reception and in-theatre dinner – all for free!
CHICAGO – One of the more surprising choices this week by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences was to cite the Adapted Screenplay for George Clooney’s “The Ides of March,” recently released on DVD and Blu-ray. The Ryan Gosling-led drama has some strengths, but it’s script is the weakest element of the film. The sheer force of talent of the people who bring it to life may have led some to believe it’s better than it actually is. See for yourself.