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Gugu Mbatha-Raw

'Miss Sloane' Thrills Politically, But Drags Narratively

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

CHICAGO – Nothing says the holiday season like a film about lobbying and politics. If you read that sarcastically, you’d be wrong. “Miss Sloane” offers a female spin for an otherwise male dominated political landscape. Most of you are trying to tune out politics after the elections, but this film builds off of that momentum by reminding us how we arrived to that point.

Social History is Revitalized in ‘Free State of Jones’

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

CHICAGO – The United States is still fighting the Civil War, which ended in 1865. The rebellious South has never completely given away its anger and sorrow for the changes the war has wrought on them. These larger themes are examined historically in the new film, “Free State of Jones.”

‘Concussion’ Can’t Quite Tackle its Difficult Subject

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.0/5.0
Rating: 3.0/5.0

CHICAGO – “Concussion” suffers from what I call the “Moneyball” problem – it’s got an interesting subject matter, but it doesn’t seem to know what to do with it. It doesn’t have enough faith in its own material or its audience, so it stocks up on a lot of off-the-shelf melodrama in effort to avoid digging into what makes the story interesting in the first place. It’s also a movie that chickens out at the end and seems afraid to pick a fight.

‘Jupiter Ascending’ Might Cause Attention Descending

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

CHICAGO – “Jupiter Ascending” is certainly one of the oddest and densest of sci-fi movies, this side of “Dune,” and has some of the most laughable acting and dialogue seen in a major film in awhile. But the worst offense is that the film is dull, and practically without emotion or human empathy.

‘Beyond the Lights’ Has a Respect for Storytelling

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

CHICAGO – Writer/Director Gina Prince-Bythewood, the creator of the cult favorite “Love & Basketball,” is back with another original story that she created, an intimate and romantic perspective on a singer on the path to nowhere, despite superstar-level fame. Gugu Mbatha-Raw stars as that singer in “Beyond the Lights.”

Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts Seek to Repurpose ‘Larry Crowne’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.0/5.0
Rating: 3.0/5.0

CHICAGO – Movie stars need certain types of films to keep their star power safe and audiences expect certain things from them, with limitations, to create summer movie comfort. Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts fill the bill in “Larry Crowne.”

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  • [Trans]formation

    CHICAGO – The issue of gender identity, especially for those who are born with a vagueness as to what to call themselves between/beyond boy and girl, has come front and center in the U.S., both with the legalization of gay marriage and the callous repudiation of identity by trying to pass laws dismissing it (the North Carolina “bathroom” laws). The performance companies of The Living Canvas and Nothing Without a Company is currently staging “[Trans]formation,” which presents gender identity art by six performers, who perform most of the play in the nude.

  • Life Sucks

    CHICAGO – Let’s face it, life does suck. But what can we do about that? How do we survive? Lookingglass Theatre Company’s latest stage presentation tries to answer those thorny questions through a group of fellow travelers, flung together at a cabin retreat, trying to figure out why (indeed) “Life Sucks.”

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