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Brian Tallerico

Daring Vision of Darren Aronofsky’s Epic ‘Noah’

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

Darren Aronofsky’s controversial “Noah” exists somewhere between the sentimental, straight-faced versions of biblical tales that Hollywood has been producing for decades and more auteur-driven fare like Martin Scorsese’s “The Last Temptation of Christ”.

‘Divergent’ Wastes Talented Cast on Joyless Adaptation

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

CHICAGO – Despite the best efforts of a game Shailene Woodley and likely future star Theo James, Neil Burger’s “Divergent,” based on the hit book by Veronica Roth, is a joyless, soulless, humorless dud. It is repetitious to the point of parody, never feels like it exists in anything approximating reality, and, like so many “Hunger Games” wannabes, forgets that it’s the characters of that franchise that matter and not the goofy machinations of the plot.

Liam Neeson Can’t Bring ‘Non-Stop’ in On-Time

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

I’m a sucker for a well-toasted slice of escapism that employs a singular setting to maximum impact. Liam Neeson trapped on a plane with a devious killer who’s trying to extort $150 million from him? Where do line up to buy a ticket? Seriously, this is the kind of Oscar counter-programming that I love this time of year—turn off your mind and take a trip with “Non-Stop”.

‘The Monuments Men’ Has Been Drained of Personality

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

George Clooney’s “The Monuments Men” is processed cheese. It is a film that has been rewritten, edited, and refined until it has lost all sense of purpose or identity. There’s no flavor left. It is a film that defies genre; not quirky enough to have a comedic personality despite a cast that almost always supplies edge and not engaging enough to work as drama or thriller.

Twisted Thrill Ride of Intense ‘Big Bad Wolves’

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

“Big Bad Wolves” pulls no punches. It rips off toenails instead. This incredibly dark thriller, courtesy of the twisted folks who made the indie horror hit “Rabies,” built notable buzz at its Tribeca Film Festival and Chicago International Film Festival screenings but really took off when Quentin Tarantino named it his favorite film of 2013.

Spike Jonze’s ‘Her’ is Masterful Commentary on Connection

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

How do we connect with other people? Why do we often push away those we need and stay with those we don’t? Why do we hold on to relationships long after they have stopped working? Is a physical relationship with no intellectual or emotional component somehow more valuable than one that can never be person-to-person but engages on a deeper level? And how do the ways we deal with love and loss impact the way we look at the rest of the world?

‘Inside Llewyn Davis’ Resonates Like Long-Lost Folk Masterpiece

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

Films about musicians are remarkably common. Artists from one medium have always loved to put themselves in the well-worn shoes of craftsmen from another. Most of them are stories of an underrated talent rising to the top of his profession, designed for both audience and filmmaker to live vicariously through the protagonist’s success. “Inside Llewyn Davis,” the latest masterpiece from Joel & Ethan Coen, is not one of those stories.

Joe Swanberg Hits Again with Gentle ‘All the Light in the Sky’

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

Joe Swanberg had quite a year. In the same summer, he appeared in the horror hit “You’re Next” and saw his most high-profile success in the excellent “Drinking Buddies” with Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson, and Anna Kendrick. The year ended with the announcement that his next feature, “Happy Christmas,” starring Kendrick & Lena Dunham, will play in competition at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.

‘Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues’ Defies Pattern of Comedy Sequels

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

Comedy sequels are SO rarely worthwhile. Most good comedy is dependent on being fresh, new, and unpredictable – words not commonly uses to describe sequels. For every “Wayne’s World 2,” there are a dozen films of the caliber of “Ghostbusters 2,” “Arthur 2,” and “Caddyshack II” – movies that are so bad that they almost diminish the legacy of their predecessors.

Eric England’s ‘Contracted’ Can’t Keep Itself Together

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

Eric England’s “Contracted” has the potential to turn into a truly disturbing slice of bodily horror a la some of David Cronenberg’s best work. The tale of a lesbian woman who literally starts falling apart after a sexual encounter at a party could have been a commentary on sexuality, a riff on our national obsession with looking perfect, a cautionary tale about drinking, or even just a twisted slice of grotesque horror.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Kid Thing, The

    CHICAGO – Like the awesome Engine Who Could, the mighty Nothing Without a Company stage crafters have constructed another triumph at their new home in Berger Mansion on Chicago’s north side. “The Kid Thing” – written by Sarah Gubbins – is a terse, convincing and emotional play about fear, identity and breeding, and it is performed by its cast of five with utter authenticity. The show has a Thursday-Sunday run at the Berger North Mansion through April 15th, 2017. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

  • Wiz, The

    CHICAGO – When stage theater can cause outbreaks of elation, celebration and joy, then it must be due to Kokandy Productions’ revival of “The Wiz.” The urban reinterpretation of “The Wizard of Oz” story – told through tuneful euphoria and jubilant dance – is ecstatically produced, in every morsel of its stagecraft.

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