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HollywoodChicago.com Movie Reviews

‘The Magnificent Seven’ is How the Western Was Lost

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

CHICAGO – The appeal of Westerns was mostly lost on me when I was younger. The tales of these hypermasculine wanderers, answering every problem with a gun, never appealed to me. When I got older, I discovered their messages of honor and self-defense against corruption. The genre proved it could be more than one-liners and shootouts, but “The Magnificent Seven” set out to be only that.

Funny, Spontaneous ‘Storks’ Really Delivers

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

CHICAGO – I’ve waited all week to write that headline, and I will be joining the 100,000 other similar headlines out there. Hey-ooh! “Storks” is a lot of fun, without the dire need for any “message” or heavy handedness that is too familiar in the current animation environment. It’s just funny.

History & Pure Fun in ‘The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years’

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

CHICAGO – They were the greatest show on earth, for what it was worth, but what they also were was one of the most fascinating show business stories in history. Director Ron Howard encapsulates John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr during their initial meteoric rise in the descriptively titled ‘The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years.’

‘Blair Witch’ Takes a Familiar Trail to a Dead End

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

CHICAGO – The forest is an elusive environment that can hold hope for one person or isolation for another. You can enter the forest for some Thoreauvian wisdom, but end up being engulfed by its overwhelming monotony. As we revisit the world of “Blair Witch”, we are reminded that the found footage genre has come a long way from its humble origins, but perhaps some footage is better off not “found.”

Oliver Stone’s ‘Snowden’ a Lesson for Our Times

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

CHICAGO – The experience of director Oliver Stone, to look underneath the slimy rocks of government secrecy and bureaucracy, produces an excellent history lesson in “Snowden,” an overview of Edward Snowden, a whistleblower against the government who is still in exile.

‘Bridget Jones’s Baby’ Offers Labored Attempt at Humor

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

CHICAGO – “Bridget Jones’s Baby” is the kind of geriatric sequel that makes you retroactively question whether the original film that inspired it was all that good to begin with – it’s less a film than a labored collection of contrived situations involving pregnancy and pratfalls. It’s not painfully unwatchable, but it’s unlikely to inspire anything remotely resembling amusement in its audiences.

‘When the Bough Breaks’ is in Need of Repairs

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

CHICAGO – Popular nursery rhymes are told to children as a way to calm them, but also as some kind of cautionary tale. Most of us could hear the melody and be able to sing the words along with it. This predictability is both its greatest strength and weakness, but the predictability that is the nursery cautionary tale in “When the Bough Breaks” is anything but a strength.

Tom Hanks is Solid, But ‘Sully’ Never Really Soars

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

CHICAGO – “Sully” is a solid effort from Director Clint Eastwood, but it never really soars the way its supposed to. It’s a good story, helped immeasurably by Tom Hanks low key performance, but it feels unnecessary. The problem may be that the story of the pilot who pulled off the so-called “Miracle on the Hudson” is so well known, the movie can’t really add anything to it.

Excellent ‘Little Men’ Exposes Humanity Disrupted

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

CHICAGO – Deep down, because of our profound connection to what makes us human, we attempt to interpret the doing of the right thing. But in a society of property, somebody lives on it and somebody is run off it. This theme, combined with an adolescent friendship, emerge in “Little Men.”

‘Morgan’ Takes Out Intelligence in Artificial Intelligence

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

CHICAGO – There is nothing like the feeling of watching a completely immersive sci-fi film that delivers the complexity of technology in a modest package, and uses elements of nature to create a beautiful contrast. Unfortunately, “Morgan” doesn’t deliver on the enlightenment it promises.

Strong Cast Turns on ‘The Light Between Oceans’

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

CHICAGO – In the early 1970s, “Love Story” was all the rage, with its catchphrase “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” Just as sudsy, and with its own catchphrase, is “The Light Between the Oceans.” The film, set in the early 20th Century, salvages a by-the-numbers tale with fine performances.

‘Don’t Breathe’ is a Terrifying Sensory Experience

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

CHICAGO – The horror genre can be a complex creature. The great films can show you the difference between ‘horror’ and ‘terror’. Some horror is all shock and no substance, while terror can be all fear, but no shock. The difference between them is so nuanced that only a skilled director, like Fede Alvarez, can show you the difference in his latest film, “Don’t Breathe.”

Remake of ‘Ben-Hur’ Can’t Find Right Tone or Pacing

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

CHICAGO – In most cases, remaking a classic film is a fool’s errand that will end in disappointment for everyone involved. The greatest pitfall is the inevitable comparison between the two films. This form of cinematic suicide is becoming more prominent as cash grabs attempt to revive still relevant films. There are few stories that can and should be resurrected, but “Ben-Hur” is not among them.

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  • Abbie Hoffman Died for Our Sins Fest

    CHICAGO – It’s 3am on Saturday night/Sunday morning on August 20th, and you’re just not ready to quit. How about indulging in the 2016 “Abbie Hoffman Died for Our Sins” Theater Festival? The three-day theater marathon is in its 28th edition, and will be sponsored for the final time by the Mary-Arrchie Theatre Company, and hosted by the “Godfather of Storefront Theater,” Rich Cotovsky. It all takes place at the Den Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee in Chicago (details below).

  • aJMfront.jpg

    CHICAGO – No one would call talented one-man-show artist John Michael conventional, at least if they are in their right mind. So ironically, after tackling sexually transmitted disease in his last solo performance, he takes on the vagrancies of old age and caring for elderly patients in his truly heartfelt “Dementia Me.”

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