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HollywoodChicago.com Movie Reviews

The Worst Horror Film of 2014, ‘Ouija’ is ‘Mama’ From 11 Narcoleptic Producers

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

CHICAGO – Out of respect for the filmmakers and actors, I don’t walk out on films. I hold true to that even when I know in the first 10 minutes the film’s not for me. Perhaps the second act could surprise me. Maybe the whole film is a flop but it redeems itself with shock and awe in the last 5 minutes.

Racial Satire ‘Dear White People’ is Heated, Hilarious

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

CHICAGO – A new voice has everyone’s attention with the shaking-head comedy “Dear White People,” a necessary “Wake UP!” to a melting pot nation that still needs to get itself together, even if a black president is in the White House.

Keanu Reeves in Ludicrous Premise as ‘John Wick’

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

CHICAGO – Keanu Reeves has been in a lot of dogs over the years, but rarely has he left such a high body count while avenging one of them. “John Wick” is a brutal revenge thriller where Keanu Reeves is a ex-mob enforcer who goes on a murderous rampage leaving blood on every doorstep to avenge the death of his dog. Despite that chuckle-inducing premise, “John Wick” isn’t the dog I expected, but then again that’s not saying much.

Michael Keaton Soars in Mesmerizing ‘Birdman’

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

CHICAGO – There are parts of “Birdman” that are absolutely breathtaking, in dialogue, performance and visual acumen. Even its subtitle, “The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance” has a wonderful payoff. Michael Keaton provides an Oscar worthy performance as the title character.

Humdrum Documentation of Bigfoot in Found-Footage Horror ‘Exists’

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

CHICAGO – Director Eduardo Sánchez has found one bizarre way to commemorate the rogue nature of his horror film “The Blair Witch Project” for its 15-year-anniversary - by crafting an analogously lesser movie with the very rulebook he defied in 1999. In turn, his new Bigfoot found footage film “Exists” becomes a minimal horror project for the GoPro camera era that doesn’t have much of a life of its own outside of its “Blair Witch Project” context.

Direction Proves a Problem For Open Mic Drama ‘Rudderless’

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

CHICAGO – Actor William H. Macy’s directorial debut “Rudderless” is a film of open mic songwriting that tackles a recovery from grief with neat lyrics and easy metaphors. Instead of standing out, Macy has provided another sap’s ballad that has the cuteness of “Kumbaya”, one that aims to please the crowd without challenging emotions, only presenting them.

‘The Best of Me’ is the Worst of Formulaic Romance Novelist Nicholas Sparks

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

CHICAGO – What do you see in the compilation image below?

Yes, it’s nine films based on books by romance novelist Nicholas Sparks. But look more closely. “Message in a Bottle” opened his can of worms in 1999 and 2002’s “A Walk to Remember” could only say it was based on a best-selling novel.

‘Whiplash’ Finds a Big Rhythm, Gives it a Backbeat

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

CHICAGO – When is the last time you had a bit of sweat after coming out of a movie? “Whiplash” will do that, and it contains not one action sequence or superhero, unless you consider J.K. Simmons as a sociopathic music guru a hero (he is in a way), and drumming as action (it is).

World War II Drama ‘Fury’ Fires on All Cylinders

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

CHICAGO – “Fury” just might be Brad Pitt’s “Saving Private Ryan.” At its heart it’s a crowd pleaser, but it never shies away from the sheer brutality of war. While it doesn’t have anything quite so devastating as “Saving Private Ryan’s” D-Day sequence, it depicts the everyday horrors of killing the enemy and the men who must force themselves to make their peace with the casualties that pile up in the muck.

Phony ‘St. Vincent’ is Bill Murray’s Worst Choice Since ‘Garfield’

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

CHICAGO – “Garfield, maybe” was the sole utterance of regret that iconic actor/prolific movie-golfer Bill Murray expressed in 2009’s “Zombieland” before he died. Should the adoration for this cameo resurrect him for that film’s announced sequel, Murray will hopefully denounce “St. Vincent,” his most needless and perverse career choice since vocally birthing “Garfield” (and yes, that includes getting a handjob as Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 2012’s also terrible “Hyde Park on Hudson”).

‘The Book of Life’ Has Uninspired Tale to Tell

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

CHICAGO – Unfortunately you can’t judge “The Book Of Life” by its cover. The movie draws on the fertile imagery of the Mexican “Day Of The Dead” to create its own animated world. The animation is excellent and the wooden characters seem to spring to life – but those performances are as wooden as a board. Which also describes my feelings for most of this uninspired journey…bored.

Back to Haiti, Finding Identity in Emotional ‘Lakay’

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

CHICAGO – Understanding identity is a lifelong pursuit. When two U.S. immigrant brothers – and filmmakers – go back to to their native Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, they find much more than expected. Tirf Alexius and Remoh Romeo documented their journey in the new film “Lakay.”

Meet the Press in Illuminating ‘Kill the Messenger’

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

CHICAGO – When journalists were heroes and exposed those in power for their sins, movies were made like “All the President’s Men.” Gary Webb of the San Jose Mercury News was one of those journalist heroes during the 1990s, but he wasn’t celebrated in his time. The indictments, induced paranoia and outright lies against him are distinctly chronicled in the luminary “Kill the Messenger.”

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Kingpin Blu-ray

    CHICAGO – Before 1998’s “The Big Lebowski” there was 1996’s “Kingpin”, the Farrelly brothers bowling comedy that didn’t have the narrative intricacies of the Coen brothers’ classic, but had plenty of jokes about middle-aged men playing the sport. Today finds the release of “Kingpin” to Blu-ray for the first time, coming with only one new special feature.

  • Star Trek Into Darkness

    CHICAGO – With J.J. Abrams not involved with the creation of a third “Star Trek” movie, a compendium of his work within the franchise only seems fitting. Loaded with special features but only a few new ones, this disc set is a strong choice for those who don’t already have both entertaining blockbusters in their collection.

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