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HollywoodChicago.com Movie Reviews

Tense Creepy Factor Along the Way for ‘It Follows’

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

CHICAGO – There is a particular atmosphere in “It Follows,” that stalks a viewer long after the credits recede. That is a fine legacy for a horror film, which contains symbolic elements of life itself, and some graveyard humor that breaks the agitation. Yet it also relies on the same old, same old.

Lack of Cohesiveness, Intrigue Stymies ‘The Gunman’

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

CHICAGO – If you’re going to see a Sean Penn action movie, I guess “The Gunman” would be appropriate. As he and the filmmakers inject some reality in the usual motivations, the puzzle pieces don’t connect well and in the end are not that interesting. That is not to say that the film is bad.

Shortage of Spark Makes ‘The Divergent Series: Insurgent’ a Second-String Effort

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

CHICAGO – “The Divergent Series: Insurgent” does nothing to change the “Divergent” series status as an off brand Young Adult epic. As we’ve seen with “The Hunger Games,” these Young Adult franchises can be lots of fun and be faithful to their source material. But “Insurgent” has the same problem as the first two “Harry Potter” films – it’s too faithful, coupled with a dearth of inspiration behind the camera.

A Magician Debunks the Paranormal in Beguiling Doc ‘An Honest Liar’

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

CHICAGO – Magician James Randi, or “The Amazing Randi,” has a made a legacy in using his love of magic to show audiences how they’re being tricked by evangelists, spoon-benders, psychics, etc. A ruthlessly charming Houdini-wannabe with instant showman charisma, he exists as the humbling gravity to a world that can convince itself that unattainable answers are to be found in ideas beyond science.

Adam Sandler’s ‘The Cobbler’ a Historical, Stupefying Disaster

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

CHICAGO – The newest Adam Sandler film that doesn’t feature him dressed like a chubby middle schooler is really bad, but in a special way. Similarly, it is an instant classic in the legacy of bizarre disasters, a footnote in writer/director history that must be witnessed to be fully understood.

Bad Luck of the Irish Was in Belfast During ‘’71’

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

CHICAGO – Sectarian violence and terrorism were the norm in the days of the late 1960s and early ‘70s in Northern Ireland. Often mistook for a religious clash between Catholics and Protestants in the region, the conflict was actually about keeping the industrial region either part of Britain or part of Ireland. The extreme nature of the conflict is tensely played out in “’71,” the year when it all boiled over.

‘Cinderella’ Finds New Magic in Old Fairy Tale

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

CHICAGO – In the years since “Shrek,” the fractured fairy tale has become Hollywood’s default approach. We’ve been treated to so many irreverent and increasingly labored treatments of storybook characters, that Walt Disney Pictures’ new live-action “Cinderella” comes off as relatively fresh by comparison.

Pre-Apocalyptic Darkness Found in ‘Maps to the Stars’

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

CHICAGO – There is a moral darkness in director David Cronenberg’s “Maps to the Stars” that is hard to shake. It is filled with circumstance and souls right at the edge of insanity, polluted by an atmosphere that doesn’t give them much of a chance. The apocalypse is now, and living in Los Angeles.

Charming ‘The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ Bucks Botched Sequel Trend

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

CHICAGO – Motivated by financial necessity, sequels often mitigate business risk and satisfy studio executives by riding on the coattails of a previous fan base with brand equity. But business aside, to moviegoers the follow-up product so often feels like it “wasn’t nearly as good as the first” or didn’t need to return at all.

‘Unfinished Business’ is an Unfunny Vocation

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

CHICAGO – Have you ever seen a film where they throw everything against a wall to see what sticks? The appropriately titled “Unfinished Business” is a throwing machine, taking the flimsy premise of a business trip and using it as an excuse for a splattering of jokes that mostly don’t work.

Consciousness Morality for Robots in Odd ‘Chappie’

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

CHICAGO – Who would think a robot movie would teach us about being more intuitively “human”? “Chappie” is a very peculiar film – with fighting robots, violence and grit on one side, and the tenderness of finding a nurturing source and a consciousness on the other. It is worth experiencing.

‘Wild Tales’ Boldly Catalogs the State of Civilization

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

CHICAGO – Road rage, parking fines and weddings are unlikely subjects designed to showcase criminal inhumanity, but “Wild Tales” – from Argentina – takes those common themes and provides some lessons on the breakdown of our civilizaton, in a momentous prologue and five stellar stories.

Fascinating, Infuriating Injustice in ‘Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem’

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

CHICAGO – The title event of “Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem” is a prison sentence with no predictable day of release. The prisoner is Viviane (a fascinating Ronit Elkabetz), a soft-spoken middle-aged woman well beyond the point of a content unhappiness. She is trapped to a farce, as the divorce laws of Israel demand that a husband agree to the divorce before it can be finalized, with three rabbis and a lawyer each to discuss the event.

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