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Joaquin Phoenix

Beyond Being Trippy, ‘Inherent Vice’ is a Difficult Trip

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

CHICAGO – Interpreting the ambling and sonic prose of author Thomas Pynchon has eluded filmmakers until now. Director Paul Thomas Anderson takes a whack at “Inherent Vice,” and although much of the film has his usual eminent vision, as a whole it makes for difficult sledding.

Dark, Stunning Tale of American Dream in ‘The Immigrant’

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

CHICAGO – Just in time for a national holiday is the release of two films about surviving as “the outsider” in a tumultuous American society. “X-Men: Days of Future Past” isn’t the only movie that opines about how the outsider will survive in America, but James Gray’s “The Immigrant” does too, a film that takes the story of a Polish woman traveling through the course of Ellis Island and deconstructs her tale as an American nightmare.

Spike Jonze’s ‘Her’ is Masterful Commentary on Connection

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

How do we connect with other people? Why do we often push away those we need and stay with those we don’t? Why do we hold on to relationships long after they have stopped working? Is a physical relationship with no intellectual or emotional component somehow more valuable than one that can never be person-to-person but engages on a deeper level? And how do the ways we deal with love and loss impact the way we look at the rest of the world?

Meandering ‘The Master’ Serves Up Powerful After Effects

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

CHICAGO – ‘The Master’ is the type of film that invites days of contemplation. It is a film about America, but only a certain type of American. It is a film about the need to belong, but in the end it separates all its characters away from each other. Lead actors Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix radicalize writer/director P.T. Anderson’s strange alchemy.

Stunning Ambition Drives P.T. Anderson’s ‘The Master’

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

CHICAGO – Paul Thomas Anderson’s “The Master” screened publicly last week in Chicago for only the second time in the world. It was shown in glorious 70mm, the format in which the film was shot, but in which most people will never get the chance to see it. While much of the conversation surrounding the screening seemed to hinge around the technical specifications, the increasing dearth of actual film projectors in the city, or the aspects of the plot related to Scientology, those aren’t the elements of the film that have been rolling around my head for the last four days.

Joaquin Phoenix, Casey Affleck Annoy in Worthless ‘I’m Still Here’

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

CHICAGO – Is “I’m Still Here,” the story of Joaquin Phoenix’s attempts to leave behind his acting career and try to make it as a hip-hop star, an elaborate piece of performance art or a documentary about an identity crisis of a man committing professional suicide? The problem is that the answer is irrelevant. Either way, “I’m Still Here” is grating, boring, and completely without value.

Joaquin Phoenix, Gwyneth Paltrow Shine in Excellent ‘Two Lovers’

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

CHICAGO – How many men have missed out on a great relationship because they were chasing a romantic vision largely of their own making? James Gray’s excellent “Two Lovers,” the film that Joaquin Phoenix has notoriously been promoting in a style similar to that of Andy Kaufman, is a wonderful character-driven drama about a man caught between what he has and what he wants.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Spike Heels Stage Play

    CHICAGO – If you can remember the 1990s outside of childhood, you are in the glow of middle age, so congratulations. The Brown Paper Box Co. theater ensemble takes us back to those thrilling days of yesteryear with “Spike Heels,” a relationship comedy centering on the co-mingling antics of two couples, with a slight nod toward George Bernard Shaw and the play “Pygmalion” (or its musical counterpart, “My Fair Lady”).

  • Book of Merman, The

    CHICAGO – One potential theater-goer loves the “The Book of Mormon.” The other would rather stay home and watch old Ethel Merman YouTube videos. Pride Films & Theater offers the ultimate solution by combining both in a campy musical, “The Book of Merman.” Yep, two Elder characters from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints meets foghorn singer Ethel Merman.

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