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Individualism in ‘Menashe’ Challenges the Tribe

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

CHICAGO – We all belong to something, be it a family, workplace, congregation or (expansively) a tribe. But within all that belonging is a sometimes nagging feeling of being an outsider. There is not a human being in existence that hasn’t felt that way, and a new film expresses that feeling in “Menashe.”

‘It Comes at Night’ is a Terror-Filled, Nightmarish Delight

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

CHICAGO – Good horror films are difficult to find. Last year, we got the extremely satisfying horror film, “The Witch,” with breakout star Charlie the goat, AKA Black Phillip. Horror films that aren’t franchised cliches are hard to come by, but “It Comes at Night” delivers. The entire atmosphere is mysterious and foreboding. We go into this film blind as if we were stumbling through a forest at night. That is where we find the terrors, and ourselves.

'Free Fire' Knows That Happiness is a Warm Gun

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

CHICAGO – In a film that had a sassy, arbitrary perspective on its own flipped-out story, “Free Fire” sought to out-Quentin Tarantino in freaky funny characters and ammo-splurging gun battles. Director Ben Wheatley (“High-Rise”) took an ensemble cast to rarified heights of insult comedy, revenge dynamics and bullets that hit the bone.

Redemptive & Emotional Journey Dances in ‘Moonlight’

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

CHICAGO – We are all victims of our own circumstances. How we interact with this circumstance, given our DNA, social nurturing, family and relationship ties are thrown in the air like organic confetti, landing here and there, and often in smaller and smaller pieces. “Moonlight” is a film full of this absolution.

‘American Honey’ is a New National Anthem for All of Us

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

CHICAGO – The America we find ourselves in today would never have been imagined by our ancestors. Sure, we don’t have flying cars or robotic house servants but we do have different ways of life. “American Honey” shows the sweet and sour side of my generation’s new American Dream while keeping it infinitely relatable to everyone.

Spotty ‘Swiss Army Man’ Has Just Enough Gas

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

CHICAGO – It’s a simple concept. A man is stuck on an island, and has run out of hope. A dead corpse washes ashore and starts farting. The farts are so frequent that the man rides the corpse like a jet ski. The man is “saved”? Oh yes, and the corpse is portrayed by Daniel “Harry Potter” Radcliffe.

Something Wicked This Way Comes in ‘The Witch’

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

CHICAGO – We perpetuate our fears through many sources. All mythology, religion and politics are based on what is “unknown” in our lives, and the desire to placate what frightens us is how we invent and worship those entities. This is all explored in the new film, “The Witch.”

There are Future Consequences in ‘Ex Machina’

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

CHICAGO – The title “Ex Machina” is a play on Deus ex machina, the stage/scenario term meaning god from the machine, or the basic happy ending. By cutting out the “Deus” in the phrase, the film is left with just the machine, and the humans.

An Age Range of Human Conditions in ‘While We’re Young’

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

CHICAGO – We’re born, we’re nurtured, we seek purpose and we die. In between there are a million decisions between the words of that opening sentence, and writer/director Noah Baumbach understands that intuitively in his great new film, “While We’re Young.”

Jessica Chastain, Oscar Isaac Endure ‘A Most Violent Year’

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

CHICAGO – The effect of violence, centering on the roughest statistical year for it (1981) in New York City history, becomes a flashpoint for the way business has always been done. If someone isn’t intimidating their competitor with lawyers or shady marketing practices, a few hired goons can do the trick. Oscar Isaac takes the beating, both real and metaphorical, in writer/director J.C. Chandor’s “A Most Violent Year.”

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  • Wonder Woman

    CHICAGO – There are few films in 2017 that are as historically important as they are cinematically well-crafted. Of those, there is only one I saw three times in theaters. That honor comes in the form of the revolutionary “Wonder Woman,” which not only shows huge promise for the future of DC Comics films but for comic book-based films as a whole.

  • Monica Raymund on set for 'Tanya'

    CHICAGOTV fans know Monica Raymund as paramedic Gabby Dawson on the long-running “Chicago Fire.” But the talented actor is expanding her range, debuting her first film as director, “Tanya,” at the Midwest Independent Film Festival on Tuesday, August 1st, 2017. The short film – written by Sam Forman – will be part of “Female Filmmakers Night” at the Midwest Indie, and is part of Raymund’s involvement with Hidden Tears Project, an organization dedicated to raising consciousness by creating media on gender inequality, sexual abuse and human trafficking.

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