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Film Review

Director Eugene Jarecki Crowns Elvis Presley ‘The King’

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

CHICAGO – Elvis Presley, besides being one of the most famous entertainers of the 20th Century, does symbolize to an extent what can happen to icons when they turn towards certain directions in a career. Director Eugene Jarecki has created an amazing documentary about Elvis called “The King,” that uses his rise and decline as a symbol for the American Dream.

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.

Mediated Performances Highlight Alternative Story of Charles Dickens’ Personal Life

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

After years of enlivening adapted work in front of the camera and on the stage, only recently has the prolific actor Ralph Fiennes taken to directing films; in 2011 he gave the world a version of Shakespeare’s “Coriolanus,” which included the odd treat of watching Gerard Butler espouse the Bard’s words from his mouth, and a sporadically-lauded performance from Vanessa Redgrave.

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.

Asghar Farhadi’s ‘The Past’ Finds Resonance Through Subtlety of Human Interaction

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

Filmgoers may bash the January to October movie fare for being boisterous, obnoxious, directed by Michael Bay, etc. However, even during the supposedly tasteful sanctuary that is the award season of November to January, those films themselves can be lumped together to sponsor their own lack of subtlety.

Peter Berg’s Brutal ‘Lone Survivor’ Lacks Context

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

Imagine a version of “Saving Private Ryan” that takes place entirely on the beaches of Normandy. It would have a visceral power purely through the horror of the recreation of war. However, it would lack the context of the rest of the narrative and lead one to question why the cinematic trip was worth taking.

Frustrating Journey Into ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’

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

I so want to love Ben Stiller’s “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.” Stiller’s directorial work on films like “The Cable Guy” and “Tropic Thunder” was underrated, the source material is great, the message of living in the moment has more value in an increasingly cluttered world, and the time seems right for an imaginative journey into the mind of a likable protagonist like Mr. Mitty.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Orange is the New Black

    CHICAGO – Orange Day is Friday (July 27, 2018)… as in “Orange is the New Black.” That’s when Season Six will be available for download from Netflix, as the online series continues to showcase the women inmates at Litchfield Penitentiary, three of whom are played by Taylor Schilling (Piper), Kate Mulgrew (Red) and Dascha Polanco (Daya).

  • Everybody, Brown Paper Box Co

    CHICAGO – When is the last time a stage play, based in an intimate setting, made you think about your life, death, and the destiny inherent in both? “Everybody,” staged by Brown Paper Box Co. (BPBCo), is such a play, and the energetic aura and sense of surprise that the show contains is soul soothing wonder. The show has various evening/matinee performances at the Pride Arts Center in Chicago run through August 12, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

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