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HollywoodChicago.com Movie Reviews

Susan Sarandon Plays Smother Mother in ‘The Meddler’

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

CHICAGO – Some mothers are born great, others have greatness thrust upon them. The Mom of “The Meddler” – portrayed with precise intuition by Susan Sarandon – is of the greatness-of-the-future variety, by simply evolving to be herself. Rose Byrne as daughter Lori tags along.

Tom Hanks Delivers in ‘A Hologram for the King’

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

CHICAGO – Tom Hanks is using his golden years as a vehicle to stretch his performance skills, and his role as a sort of “Death of a Salesman” spin in “A Hologram for the King” gives him an opportunity to keep stretching. The stylish film floats within the focus on his character, and he delivers.

‘Elvis & Nixon’ is a True Story That’s Fit for a King

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

CHICAGO – “When two great saints meet, it’s a humbling experience,” said Paul McCartney of John and Yoko. Well that also applies to “Elvis & Nixon.” Their meeting, albeit brief, has layers of meaning for our times – and their time – and the movie with the “E&N” title exposes that meaning with humor and grace.

‘The Huntsman: Winter’s War’ is a Bloated Bore

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

CHICAGO – This new Hollywood fairy tale does have one thing in common with the bedtime stories of old…it may lull you to sleep in the first 30 minutes. “The Huntsman: Winter’s War” is a special effects extravaganza where the effects aren’t special, the story is thin, and almost all the actors seem to have been allowed or even encouraged to indulge their worst impulses.

‘The Dark Horse’ Rises with Performance of Cliff Curtis

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

CHICAGO – The narrow genre of chess movies (“Searching for Bobby Fischer,” “Pawn Sacrifice”) gets a New Zealand entry, the appropriately titled “The Dark Horse.” The film is a showcase for the performance of Cliff Curtis as the title character, abiding with mental instability and his own redemption.

‘The First Monday in May’ Confirms That Life is Beautiful

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

CHICAGO – The moral of the story of “The First Monday in May” definitely is “there is heaven on earth if the right angels come together.” The film is stunningly beautiful, as it chronicles the development of the annual costume exhibit and gala at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art.

‘Barbershop: The Next Cut’ Does Their Take on ‘Chi-Raq’

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

CHICAGO – The Barbershop series of films have always prided themselves on following the “Seinfeld Rule” – they are essentially about nothing. But with this go-around – like the recent “Chi-Raq” – the gang at the shop takes on the Chicago neighborhood violence around them, in “Barbershop: The Next Cut.”

‘The Jungle Book’ is a Technical Marvel Missing Some Magic

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

CHICAGO – While Disney Studios’ new live action version of “The Jungle Book” is an improvement over the 1967 animated version, it’s more of a technical marvel than magical fable. And it’s unable to completely transcend the earlier version’s limitations.

Shining Restoration of Jean Cocteau’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’

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

CHICAGO – One of the legendary films in cinema history is Jean Cocteau’s “La Belle et La Bete,” also known to generations as “Beauty and the Beast.” The restored re-release is touring the country, and in Chicago it’s currently at the Gene Siskel Film Center, and Patrick McDonald of HollywoodChicago.com will lead a discussion of the film there on Monday, April 11, 2016.

Melissa McCarthy Really Proves She is ‘The Boss’

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

CHICAGO – If anything, “The Boss” is a bigger testimony to Melissa McCarthy’s status as a comic superpower than her breakthrough role in “Bridesmaids.” That one had a veritable treasure trove of comedic talent, while McCarthy has considerably less to work with here.

‘Demolition’ Describes the Way They Treated the Story

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

CHICAGO – The attempt to make a European-style “journey of emotional morality” between four characters in New York City kept getting flatter and flatter as the tale emerged. It’s amusing that they called it “Demolition,” because as cinema, it’s basically a teardown.

Akira Kurosawa’s ‘Ran’ is a Must-See Masterpiece

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

CHICAGO – The master director Akira Kurosawa (1910-1998) gave us a treasure trove of cinematic wizardry, to savor and revisit for years to come. Rialto Pictures is distributing the latest 4K restoration of one of his greatest pictures, “Ran” (1985). As part of a nationwide road show, it’s currently at the Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago.

‘Everybody Wants Some!!’ Gets Lost in Misty Nostalgia

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

CHICAGO – When the first strains of “My Sharona” by The Knack come out of the car speakers of a dude going to college in 1980, as “Everybody Wants Some!!” began, my do-you-remember-when sense tingled. The film’s story, unfortunately, could not match that feeling of nostalgia.

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  • New Country

    CHICAGO – The Country Music industry has become as huge as any category of music entertainment. So Mark Roberts, the creator of the TV sitcom “Mike & Molly,” has fashioned a boisterous new play about the machinations of that genre of music industry, and gave it the plaintive title of “New Country.”

  • Romeo and Juliet, Lyric Opera of Chicago

    CHICAGO – The familiar story of the “star crossed lovers” by William Shakespeare, “Romeo and Juliet,” has been given as many interpretations over the years as there are stars in the sky. The Lyric Opera of Chicago presents the operatic French version, with a bright and venerate staging.

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