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HollywoodChicago.com Movie Reviews

Beauty Becomes Beastly in Uneven ‘The Neon Demon’

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

CHICAGO – “The Neon Demon” is definitely worth seeing, if only to create an understanding as to what you think beauty is, but the film suffers in its last quarter by taking a turn towards horror. This mix of decisions by director Nicolas Winding Refn (“Drive”) is audacious and maddening.

Social History is Revitalized in ‘Free State of Jones’

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

CHICAGO – The United States is still fighting the Civil War, which ended in 1865. The rebellious South has never completely given away its anger and sorrow for the changes the war has wrought on them. These larger themes are examined historically in the new film, “Free State of Jones.”

‘Finding Dory’ Essentially Finds Its Sweet Spot

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

CHICAGO – Pixar’s sequel to its underwater animated tearjerker “Finding Nemo” isn’t quite in the same league, but “Finding Dory” is satisfying all the same. This time the story focuses on Marlin and Nemo’s forgetful friend Dory, as she searches for the family she can’t quite remember.

Life in 2016 is Famous in ‘Presenting Princess Shaw’

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

CHICAGO – Had you told a person 50 years ago that someday we would be able to personally record television and broadcast it to the whole world, they might have laughed and said maybe on the futuristic cartoon “The Jetsons.” But the future is now, and it lives in “Presenting Princess Shaw.”

Surprisingly Weird, Wacky ‘Puerto Ricans in Paris’

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

CHICAGO – Occasionally, a film breaks through the miasma of images, and proclaims its uniqueness by just being weird. Case in point, the strange and wacky “Puerto Ricans in Paris,” which may have been created after two rich film producers made a one dollar bet (ala “Trading Places”) that they could come up with a movie simply based on the title.

Waste of Talent, Sequel Energy in ‘Now You See Me 2’

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

CHICAGO – Separately, you love all these movie star icons and funny people – Daniel Radcliffe, Michael Caine, Mark Ruffalo, Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Morgan Freeman, Lizzy Caplan and Dave Franco. Together, they add up to a terrible sequel, “Now You See Me 2.”

‘Warcraft’ Tries, But Eventually Has Got No Game

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 2.0/5.0
Rating: 2.0/5.0

CHICAGO – The best that can be said for the video game adaptation “Warcraft” is that it’s not the incoherent, CGI heavy and Michael-Bay-type nightmare it could have been. It’s still somewhat incoherent – full of computer generated cannon fodder – but I am surprised and happy to report it did not induce any headaches, even in pointless 3D.

Ain’t That America in New Documentary ‘Weiner’


Rating: 4.5/5.0

CHICAGO – It’s almost impossible to invent any punishment that former Congressman Anthony Weiner hasn’t inflicted upon himself. According to modern media, his indiscretions are the ultimate sin, but the media hacks are also the rock throwers in the glass houses. It’s all in the new doc, “Weiner.”

‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ is a Marvel Entertainment Gem


Rating: 4.5/5.0

CHICAGO – In doing “comic book” movies right, Marvel Entertainment has established a formula of decent back stories, complex villainy and probable scenarios. In continuing to tell a history of the second half of the 20th Century in “X-Men Apocalypse,” they also add a historical parallel universe that works.

Pointless Trip Back to ‘Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising’

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

CHICAGO – The original “Neighbors” was a funny enough movie, that still boasted at least a couple of big laughs. “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising” only manages the occasional chuckle here and there. As far as big budget studio comedy sequels go, it’s not as bad as “The Hangover 2.” It’s more in line with “Ghostbusters 2”.

Approach of ‘Money Monster’ is Pure Fraud

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 1.0/5.0
Rating: 1.0/5.0

CHICAGO – In our society there is one eternal truth…the rich will ALWAYS win, that’s one of the reasons that they are rich. So when “Money Monster” attempts to take them down a peg with a ridiculous fantasy story, it’s as fraudulent as what they pretend to be fighting. An oligarch watches this, and laughs at us.

Marvel Studios Reaches New Heights in Satisfying ‘Captain America: Civil War’

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

CHICAGO – “Captain America: Civil War” is more of an “Avengers” movie than it is a Captain America movie. But that’s okay because this is easily the best Avengers movie Marvel Studios has ever made, and it also might be the best movie the studio has ever made.

‘Papa Hemingway in Cuba’ is Sadly Inauthentic

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 2.0/5.0
Rating: 2.0/5.0

CHICAGO – Getting the opportunity to trod upon the very ground that Ernest Hemingway once trod must have been a heady experience for the producers of “Papa Hemingway in Cuba.” But location simply isn’t enough if such a literary legend is to come to life.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Harry Lennix, photo by Joe Arce

    CHICAGO – Mention the name Harry Lennix, and images of his many character roles are bound to emerge – Harold Cooper in the TV series “The Blacklist,” General Swanwick from “Batman v Superman” and Commissioner Blades from Spike Lee’s recent “Chi-Raq.” The deeply knowledgeable Lennix brings his years of dramatic expertise, as he directs the Congo Square Theatre Company’s world premiere stage play “A Small Oak Tree Runs Red.’

  • King and I, The

    CHICAGO – The venerable musical “The King and I,” by the legendary team of (Richard) Rodgers and (Oscar) Hammerstein, is now 65 years old. The Lyric Opera of Chicago is injecting fresh life into this senior aged play, with a sumptuous new production that is top drawer at every level.

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