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Film Review

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.

Martin Scorsese’s ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ is Cinematic Adrenalin

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

Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) lives completely, entirely in the moment. It’s not that there’s no tomorrow, there’s not even “later that same day” in his world. People who make their living on the minute-to-minute fluctuations of the stock market are inherently going to be inclined to live in the small spaces between those quick deviations but Belfort was even more so given the fact that his first day as a legit money maker was on the day the entire economy collapsed in 1987 known as “Black Monday.”

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Bobby Pin Girls

    CHICAGO – The “breeder years” are difficult on everyone, as the biological imperative becomes overwhelming and the couplings that result yield both discovery and misadventure. Nothing Without a Company’s new play “Bobby Pin Girls” highlight two such Millennial women, roommates who are having man trouble, although the argument can be made that it’s eternally “boy trouble.” The show has a Thursday-Sunday run at the Chicago Mosaic School through December 3rd, 2017. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

  • Transformers 5 front

    CHICAGO – Knock me over with a feather kids, but I enjoyed “Transformers: The Last Knight.” Maybe it was in comparison to the others or maybe director Michael Bay has beaten me into submission, but this one had the right story elements and casting to make it work, with exceptions of course. It’s goofiness is its charm, and it was released on Blu-Ray/DVD on September 26th, 2017 (Digital HD already available).

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