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HollywoodChicago.com Movie Reviews

Colin Firth, Nicole Kidman On Track in ‘The Railway Man’

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

CHICAGO – One the hidden implications of World War II was the suffering of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD) from the millions of soldiers who survived the horrors of that war. The difficulties associated with PTSD are communicated with honor by Colin Firth in “The Railway Man”

‘A Haunted House 2’ Spoofs Better Than the Original

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

CHICAGO – The parody industry that the Wayans comedy machine has generated has provided big laughs and big box office for years. In 2013, Marlon Wayans launched another series, with “A Haunted House.” Faster than the fastest green light, that success led to ‘A Haunted House 2.’

Meditative ‘Transcendence’ Also Artificially Intelligent

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

CHICAGO – The Internet is for real in “Transcendence”, a B-movie with grade-A production quality, loaded with terabyte-size open-ended questions, so long as one can accept it lastly with a scientific mindset. It is a film that perceives technology to be more expansive than a box of wires and computer chips, and actualizes the expanse of the internet as limitless to the realm of spiritual.

Spirituality Over Dogma Uplifts ‘Heaven Is for Real’

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

CHICAGO – It would be easy to dismiss “Heaven Is for Real,” given that it is based on the visions of the afterlife by a child, that just happens to coincide perfectly with Christian doctrine (Jesus, Angels, etc.). But there is more to this film in the sincerity of its spirituality, and it succeeds with that inspiration.

Facing Life Transitions in ‘Hide Your Smiling Faces’

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

CHICAGO – The pain and passion of prepubescent youth and adolescence unravels in the excellent directorial debut of Daniel Patrick Carbone, “Hide Your Smiling Faces.” Carbone captures the isolation and meticulous boredom at a time of life when everything conspires to happen on a daily basis.

Jude Law Tolls the Bell for ‘Dom Hemingway’

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

CHICAGO – “Dom Hemingway” begins with a tight close-up on a barely recognizable Jude Law, portraying the title character. He’s giving a monologue, literally spraying the words. When the circumstance is revealed as to what is happening to him, there is an awareness that this is not going to be your Daddy’s petty safecracker ex-con film.

‘Oculus’ Succeeds Psychologically, Fails Supernaturally

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

CHICAGO – Films in general are knocked for being knockoffs of something else. Horror films in particular have it especially hard in the “new” department because we’re so quickly annoyed when we’ve “seen it all before”.

Captivating Tale of Primal Manhood in David Gordon Green’s ‘Joe’

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

CHICAGO – This week in movies about men we have “Joe”, a wild drama about Texas males at their most primal. It is the newest film from director David Gordon Green, and features Nicolas Cage in some of his finest work.

‘Draft Day’ is Daft, Except as an NFL Infomercial

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

CHICAGO – Kevin Costner has defined a career in sports themed movies. From the Iowa farmer building a baseball diamond in “Field of Dreams,” to “Bull Durham,” to “For the Love of the Game,” he exemplified game day heroics. Yet being an NFL executive in “Draft Day” isn’t quite as exciting.

Engrossing ‘Cheap Thrills’ Bets on Men’s Desperation

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

CHICAGO – “Cheap Thrills” is a case study in human desperation and depravity. It’s a sick and twisted film, but it goes about it in a most absorbing albeit uncomfortable way. It’s one of those films that forces the viewer to place themselves in the protagonist’s unpredictable position, asking a question like, “What would you do for money?” Once you do it, what else are you willing to do for more and then, “How far is too far?” 

Richly Complex ‘Oculus’ is Also Scary as Hell

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

CHICAGO – The affect of horror works in five basic ways. There’s the sense of Dislocation where the lead character suddenly loses bearing, becomes unsure of what where or even who they are. Next is Dread, which is the sense that something awful is coming.

Thought Illuminating, Mind Blowing ‘Under the Skin’

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

CHICAGO – Imagine a stranger taking a journey around the landscape of their destiny, and that only begins to describe the audacity and power of director Jonathan Glazer’s “Under the Skin.” Scarlett Johansson creates a character of undeniable mystery and truth, a stranger in a strange land.

Courage of Testimony is Remembered in ‘Anita’

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

CHICAGO – The saga of Anita Hill, an African American law professor from Oklahoma, electrified the United States in the early 1990s. During the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court confirmation hearings, Ms. Hill testified that Thomas had created a workplace atmosphere of sexual harassment. The story is told in the new documentary, “Anita.”

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • The King of Comedy

    Something always felt a bit out of place for me in Martin Scorsese’s brilliant “The King of Comedy”, just released on Blu-ray for the first time. I couldn’t put my finger on it but chalked it up to it being thematically ahead of its time in its investigation of the cult of personality that defines modern entertainment.

  • 47 Ronin with Keanu Reeves

    CHICAGO – If you’ve ever wondered what the difference is between a director and a producer, let “47 Ronin” explain how the hierarchy of creativity hinders the evolution of even the most straightforward-sounding pitches. “47 Ronin” is the type of samurai movie set in Japan that features native actors speaking only English, while Keanu Reeves stars as an outsider clearly plunked into the picture for stateside star power.

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