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Aubrey Plaza

Studio Ghibli Gives Fans Sweet ‘From Up on Poppy Hill’

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

CHICAGO – The torch is being passed at Studio Ghibli from the great Hayao Miyazaki (“Princess Mononoke,” “Spirited Away”) to his son Goro, who directs this week’s tender “From Up on Poppy Hill,” certainly not one of the best in the Ghibli canon but a well-made, enjoyable melodrama nonetheless. A full awareness that it’s kind of a cheap melodrama (one of the characters even says so) doesn’t change the fact that it is but the young Miyazaki’s visual palette is notably beautiful and the voice work is strong throughout.

‘Safety Not Guaranteed’ with Aubrey Plaza is Delightful Journey

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

CHICAGO – I love “Safety Not Guaranteed.” It reminds me of films of my youth – the sci-fi/dramedy hits of directors like Robert Zemeckis, Richard Donner, and Steven Spielberg – that gifted viewers with wonderful characters with which we could identify. The set-up may be ridiculous but as long as we feel grounded with the people within it, we’ll go along with anything. This is something that’s been lost over the years and writer Derek Connolly and director Colin Trevorrow have found in their delicate, lovely film.

Ambition, Ingenuity Win Fight of ‘Scott Pilgrim vs. the World’

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

CHICAGO – Working from the graphic novels by Brian Lee O’Malley, Edgar Wright and Michael Cera deliver one of the most unique films of the year in the comeic-book/romance/comedy/video-game/pop-art/action/musical “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.” You won’t see anything like this again for a long time. It’s an imperfect film that can get downright frustrating but it displays enough flashes of genius to warrant your time and demand your forgiveness of flaws.

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  • Happy Christmas

    CHICAGO – “Drinking Buddies” director Joe Swanberg’s latest release of the same star wattage is “Happy Christmas,” an even lower-fi story than the Olivia Wilde beer comedy, steered even more by the casting that it was able to assemble. However, with this movie Swanberg doesn’t so much worry about having a story that could be confused with a more mainstream romantic comedy if it were to have a bigger budget.

  • reno 911 front.png

    CHICAGO – The oughts was the era of the workplace mock-doc comedy, with shows like “The Office” and “Reno 911!” born into a time where TV viewers were excited to see see fake realities about the crumminess of a job. While this series has been available in separate season collections previously, “Reno 911!” is now available in a complete series set, one that boasts a grand amount of special features content in spite of some lacking comedy in the actual show.

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