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Film Review: High-Level Acting, Broad Themes in ‘Gone Girl’

CHICAGO – How can a sudsy, Lifetime TV Movie-type plot capture the resonance of our current information age? By twisting it by the ears and having gutsy, high-level performances. “Gone Girl” is a marvelous invention of media satire, celebrity culture and the perfect casting of Ben Affleck.

HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: 15 Pairs of Passes to ‘Gone Girl’ With Ben Affleck

CHICAGO – In the latest HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: Film, we have 15 pairs of advance-screening movie passes up for grabs to the highly anticipated mysteryGone Girl” starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike from director David Fincher!

Blu-ray Review: ‘Jack Reacher’ Delivers Goods For Noir Fans

Jack Reacher with Tom Cruise

CHICAGO – “Jack Reacher” doesn’t work as an action movie. However, if you approach the mannered dialogue and dark storytelling as a noir, which is what I believe the writer and director (if not the marketing team at Paramount) intended, then there’s a lot to like here. It’s a stylized, slick, well-made ride with some crackling dialogue, charismatic performances, and heavy doses of style.

Film Review: Werner Herzog Towers Over Miscast ‘Jack Reacher’ Star Tom Cruise in Five Mere Scenes

CHICAGO – While normally I’d never think the date I screened a film was newsworthy, being subjected to “Jack Reacher” on Dec. 13, 2012 turned out to put even a therapist into therapy. The very next day, well, just two words: Sandy Hook.

Film Review: Loud, Boring ‘Wrath of the Titans’ Deserves Godly Vengeance

CHICAGO – 2010’s “Clash of the Titans” was a surprising box office smash, making almost $500 million worldwide. That kind of money demands a sequel, but what to call it? “Clash of the Titans 2” wouldn’t be exciting enough but it should sound similar.

Blu-ray Review: ‘Johnny English Reborn’ Fails to Realize Comic Potential

Johnny English Reborn Blu-ray

CHICAGO – Just as every country desires to have its own take on “The Office,” every country needs its own Clouseau. The sheer number of bumbling detectives in cinema are too vast to count, though a few deserve to stand out, such as Jean Dujardin’s suavely clueless OSS 117. Johnny English, on the other hand, deserves to be placed at the back of the crowd, in between Steve Martin and Roberto Benigni.

Blu-ray Review: Remarkably Talented Ensemble Gets Small in ‘The Big Year’

The Big Year

CHICAGO – Given the wacky nature of Owen Wilson, Jack Black, and Steve Martin in their family comedies and the tendency of all three talented actors to over-act, people will probably be surprised at how generally-subdued their collaboration on “The Big Year” ended up. In fact, while the movie is genial and good-natured, it’s also surprisingly dull. The characters never resonate beyond their descriptions - rookie, veteran, and the jerk in between. So, while the filmmakers deserve credit for not injecting the proceedings with gross-out humor, they needed to inject it with something to bring it to life.

HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: 40 Pairs of Chicago Passes to ‘The Big Year’ With Jack Black, Steve Martin

CHICAGO – In our latest comedy edition of HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: Film, we have 40 admit-two movie passes up for grabs to the advance Chicago screening of “The Big Year” with Jack Black, Steve Martin and Owen Wilson from “The Devil Wears Prada” director!

Interview: Director Richard J. Lewis on His Side of ‘Barney’s Version’

CHICAGO – Working with high level actors such as Paul Giamatti and Dustin Hoffman didn’t faze director Richard J. Lewis. He had pursued the film version of the Mordecai Richler’s novel “Barney’s Version” for several years, and it was his direction that recently got Giamatti (as Barney) the Golden Globe Award.

Film Review: Sally Hawkins Gives Another Strong Performance in ‘Made in Dagenham’

Made in Dagenham
HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.5/5.0
Rating: 3.5/5.0

CHICAGO – Nigel Cole’s “Made in Dagenham” works because of the strong, believable performances of its ensemble, even if it doesn’t quite resonate with the same strength as other tales of ordinary people who became revolutionary role models. Sally Hawkins, Miranda Richardson, Rosamund Pike, Bob Hoskins, and a talented group of mostly newcomers rarely hit a false note and characters one can believe in go a long way in a film such as this one.

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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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