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Alec Baldwin

Two Stories Clash in Uneven ‘Rules Don’t Apply’

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

CHICAGO – Movie icon Warren Beatty had wanted to make a film about 20th Century billionaire Howard Hughes for close to 40 years. On the heels of Martin Scorsese’s “The Aviator,” Beatty has written, directed and portrays Hughes in “Rules Don’t Apply,” and has created a strange farce about the mogul and a romance tale around him.

‘Concussion’ Can’t Quite Tackle its Difficult Subject

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

CHICAGO – “Concussion” suffers from what I call the “Moneyball” problem – it’s got an interesting subject matter, but it doesn’t seem to know what to do with it. It doesn’t have enough faith in its own material or its audience, so it stocks up on a lot of off-the-shelf melodrama in effort to avoid digging into what makes the story interesting in the first place. It’s also a movie that chickens out at the end and seems afraid to pick a fight.

‘Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation’ at Top of Its Game

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

CHICAGO – The sensational summer movie season of 2015 still has some pulse pounding tricks up its sleeve, and “Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation” fulfills that sensation with a wham-bam bag of spy games. Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg and Jeremy Renner are back, joined by femme kick-ass Rebecca Ferguson.

SNL Rightly Touts Its Influence in ‘Live From New York!’

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

CHICAGO – Love, hate or maintain indifference to it, the TV dinosaur “Saturday Night Live” has and will continue to influence American culture as long as it may reign. To celebrate its 40th Anniversary, filmmaker Bao Nguyen takes a fresh look at the iconic television show in “Live From New York!”

Unusual, Passionate ‘Aloha’ is Deeply Resonant

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

CHICAGO – Films with major movie stars that take real chances on story formula are rare. “Aloha” is one such example, and produces considerations that are way off the beaten path. Is it an allegory? An absurdity? An homage to 1960s paranoia? Only writer/director Cameron Crowe knows for sure.

Julianne Moore Delivers Shattering Portrayal in ‘Still Alice’

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

CHICAGO – In one of the best film acting performances from 2014, Julianne Moore devastatingly portrays a woman in her fifties who is a victim of early onset Alzheimer’s disease. As the effects of dementia physically deteriorates her life, it is a wonder if she is “Still Alice.”

‘Blue Jasmine’ Puts Woody Allen Back on Top

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

CHICAGO – The auteur Woody Allen is one of the most prolific post-studio-system directors, averaging one film a year for close to 40 years. His meditations on life have become part of the culture, and he brilliantly expresses himself once again – with help from Cate Blachett – in the emotional “Blue Jasmine.”

Banal Story, Unique Visuals Define ‘Rise of the Guardians’

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

CHICAGO – Okay, we get it. The current crop of animators can create amazing worlds, full of sensory-expanding images and visions of magical awe (and in 3D). But, if there is a dull story interacting with the eye candy, it can feel like a fancy cake that tastes like sawdust. Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Isla Fisher Jude Law and Hugh Jackman lend their voices to “Rise of the Guardians.”

Woody Allen’s ‘To Rome with Love’ is Episodic, Choppy

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

CHICAGO – Writer/director Woody Allen continues his film travelogues in “To Rome with Love,” touring The Eternal City with four separate vignettes. An all-star cast – including Jesse Eisenberg, Ellen Page, Alec Baldwin, Penélope Cruz and Woody himself – hit and miss with this varying blend of stories.

Tom Cruise, Julianne Hough Have Fun in ‘Rock of Ages’

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

CHICAGO – Although the jukebox musical needs an available pasture to be put out onto, the new film “Rock of Ages” – based on the Broadway stage play – improves on that genre by having a little fun and lots of tongue-in-cheek. Tom Cruise, Julianne Hough, Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand rock the cashbox.

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  • [Trans]formation

    CHICAGO – The issue of gender identity, especially for those who are born with a vagueness as to what to call themselves between/beyond boy and girl, has come front and center in the U.S., both with the legalization of gay marriage and the callous repudiation of identity by trying to pass laws dismissing it (the North Carolina “bathroom” laws). The performance companies of The Living Canvas and Nothing Without a Company is currently staging “[Trans]formation,” which presents gender identity art by six performers, who perform most of the play in the nude.

  • Life Sucks

    CHICAGO – Let’s face it, life does suck. But what can we do about that? How do we survive? Lookingglass Theatre Company’s latest stage presentation tries to answer those thorny questions through a group of fellow travelers, flung together at a cabin retreat, trying to figure out why (indeed) “Life Sucks.”

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