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Helen Mirren

‘The Hundred-Foot Journey’ Not Worth the Trip

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

CHICAGO – “The Hundred-Foot Journey” is as manufactured and flavorless as a frostbitten Lean Cuisine. However as the impresario of a Michelin-starred Restaurant in the south of France, Helen Mirren implores her staff that food is not an old tired marriage, it is a passionate affair. It’s ironic that the film containing that speech is such a limp, forgettable piece of Oprah endorsed uplift with not one genuine emotion to be had.

Despite Flopping as a Comic Book Movie, ‘Red 2’ Coasts By with Well-Written Characters

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

CHICAGO – If you didn’t see the DC Entertainment splash screen when this “Red 2” sequel kicks off with the fake death of one of its usual suspects, you wouldn’t mind that the rest of the film feels nothing like a comic book movie except for its animated transitions between scenes.

Pixar Scores Again With Delightful ‘Monsters University’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4.5/5.0
Rating: 4.5/5.0

CHICAGO – Let’s everybody say it together, “the key to great animation is a great story.” This has to be the motto for Pixar Animation – now part of Disney. Their latest, “Monsters University,” is a prequel with a heart, soul and attention to what makes this type of entertainment work.

‘Hitchcock’ at its Heart is a Relationship Film

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

CHICAGO – The great director Alfred Hitchcock had morphed to legend rather than a man, so it’s interesting that two films have recently been released about his all-too-human foibles. The feature film, starring Sir Anthony Hopkins as the director, gets inside the man’s relationships in “Hitchcock.”

Performance of Exemplary Cast Collects on ‘The Debt’

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

CHICAGO – Re-imagining, almost re-engaging the evil of the Holocaust has been thoroughly examined in film for years. “The Debt” looks at another angle, that of revenge and how much that revenge can wreak havoc on the truth.

‘Brighton Rock’ Remake Fails to Justify its Existence

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

CHICAGO – Rowan Joffe’s long-gestating remake of “Brighton Rock” (the 1947 noir classic was based on the beloved book by Graham Greene) raises the question least-desired in one of these situations – why bother? Sure, the story is a nifty little tale of a rising criminal undone by his own avarice and the love of a girl and the cast assembled for the remake is an undeniably talented ensemble.

Russell Brand Tries Too Hard in Lame ‘Arthur’

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

CHICAGO – There are many problems inherent in film remakes, starting with comparisons to the original source. The first “Arthur,” while not a classic, did have a warm, funny story and Dudley Moore’s title performance. The current remake has none of that.

Talented Ensemble Wasted on Incredibly Dull ‘Red’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 1.0/5.0
Rating: 1.0/5.0

CHICAGO – They say you can learn as much from a bad movie as you can from a good one. If that’s true, what’s the lesson to be taken from the extremely boring and misguided “Red”? Perhaps that moviemaking is not the sum of its parts and that you can’t just get together an amazing cast, shout action, and expect magic.

Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck Bring Spark to Mediocre ‘State of Play’

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

CHICAGO – I’ll be the first critic to tell you that they don’t make adult thrillers often enough. I was very disappointed by the lackluster box office take of Tony Gilroy’s ” Duplicity”. But does that mean that we should give all intellectual mysteries a pass? Of course not. And while I want to love Kevin Macdonald’s “State of Play,” a few poor decisions during production keep it back from being the excellent film it could have been.

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    CHICAGO – “Drinking Buddies” director Joe Swanberg’s latest release of the same star wattage is “Happy Christmas,” an even lower-fi story than the Olivia Wilde beer comedy, steered even more by the casting that it was able to assemble. However, with this movie Swanberg doesn’t so much worry about having a story that could be confused with a more mainstream romantic comedy if it were to have a bigger budget.

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