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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  • It's NOT ALL About You John Michael

    CHICAGO – John Michael epitomizes the art of the monologue. The Chicago transplant, by way of Dallas, is moving on (he says temporarily) from the city that inspired his last show, “Meatball Seance,” after notorious and successful runs of his other one-man shows, “John Michael and the Order of the Penix” and “Dementia Me.” His farewell performance is his latest, another laugh riot, “It’s NOT ALL About You John Michael,” and will take place at Mary’s Attic in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood on March 1st, 2019. Click here for details, including ticket information.

  • Soccer Player in the Closet, The 2

    CHICAGO – Connecting to the theater collective Nothing Without a Company means a couple of things. One, you may visit parts of Chicago you’ve never seen before – in this case a plant store in an industrial area south of Humboldt Park – and two, you will see some daring and outside-the-box stagings. “The Soccer Player in the Closet” is their latest production – a World Premiere – and it provides what the title implies and beyond. The play runs through March 17th, 2019. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

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