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1980s

Truth Upstages Fiction Again in ‘Three Identical Strangers’

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

CHICAGO – The eternal debate of what affects human development more, our nature or our nurturing, opens up again in the wild story of “Three Identical Strangers,” a new documentary about triplets who were separated at birth, only to discover each other by chance and uncover some difficult truths about that separation.

Tom Cruise in ‘American Made’ Never Gets Off the Ground

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

CHICAGO – Tom Cruise was once a Top Gun, but his newest film “American Made” never really takes off. It wants to be a truth-is-stranger-than-fiction kind of satire where commercial airline pilot Barry Seal (Tom Cruise) winds up getting involved in the Iran Contra Affair and the Medellín drug cartel, but it never creates an enthralling place or story.

Matthew McConaughey is All That Glitters in ‘Gold’

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

CHICAGO – The relish that Matthew McConaughey displays in creating his latest character in “Gold,” a Willy Loman-type mining exec who is looking for his biggest score, is most of the reason to experience the film. However, there isn’t exactly a motherlode when it comes to the story.

‘Everybody Wants Some!!’ Gets Lost in Misty Nostalgia

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

CHICAGO – When the first strains of “My Sharona” by The Knack come out of the car speakers of a dude going to college in 1980, as “Everybody Wants Some!!” began, my do-you-remember-when sense tingled. The film’s story, unfortunately, could not match that feeling of nostalgia.

Philip Seymour Hoffman Lives Again in ‘God’s Pocket’

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

CHICAGO – Watching Philip Seymour Hoffman perform, now that he has passed on, is a bittersweet reminder of his ability and power to embody his deeply felt characters. He does it again in one of his last roles, adding his special brand of acting to the messy story within the gritty noir drama, “God’s Pocket.”

‘Dallas Buyers Club’ is Highly Romanticized Yet Effective

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

CHICAGO – Matthew McConaughey’s performance as a 1980s-era HIV positive man in the drama “Dallas Buyers Club” is a gangbusters piece of acting. However, some highly exaggerated characters and soft soaping of reality creates a more gauzy romance of the situation than true grit.

Miscarriage of Justice Befalls ‘The Central Park Five’

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

CHICAGO – It takes a provocative subject to capture the attention of famous documentarian Ken Burns. There are few things more provocative than the story of “The Central Park Five.” Burns, his daughter Sarah Burns and son-in-law David McMahon were co-directors for this exploration of justice denied.

Whale of a Tale For Drew Barrymore in ‘Big Miracle’

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

CHICAGO – Whale of a tale (chuckle), no other headline writer has thought of that. “Big Miracle” is a family movie with Drew Barrymore, John Krasinski, Kristen Bell, Ted Danson and the voice of Ronald Reagan, that will not have adults seeking the emergency exits. It’s about whales.

Topher Grace Goes to 1980s in ‘Take Me Home Tonight’

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

CHICAGO – Nostalgia films need a couple of elements to make them work. First, instant recognition with the era, and second, a reason to go there. “Take Me Home Tonight” lacks both characteristics, and lead actor Topher Grace can’t seem to light a fire under the rest of it.

‘The House of the Devil’ is a Trip Back in Suspense Horror

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

CHICAGO – Halloween is the perfect time to revisit those horror films of youth, lost in the mall theaters or crackling through the VCR in a multiply rented copy. “The House of the Devil” reveres those roots and brings them back to light.

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  • Stephanie Buxbaum

    CHICAGO – In the history of “Reality TV” there has been periods of up-and-down popularity, shows that have been around seemingly forever (“Big Brother,” “Amazing Race”) and spinoffs to new styles like “documentary series” as networks like the National Geographic Channel emerged. In all those permutations, producer Stephanie Buxbaum has experienced it all, and has the career and stories to prove it.

  • Deadbeat2

    CHICAGO – Not many web series start out as music videos, but the new online (YouTube) drama “Deadbeat 2” was just that. Created, written and directed by Danny Froze, the made-in-Chicago story recently premiered episodes five and six in the series, which features actor Kiwaun Stoutmire in the lead role of Ronnie.

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