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Joe Swanberg

Elisabeth Moss Reigns Supreme in ‘Queen of Earth’

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

CHICAGO – Elisabeth Moss is the ‘Actor of Her Generation.’ She is a true chameleon, and can anchor a lead role while still expressing a twitch of consequence. The subject is depression in “Queen of Earth,” and writer/director Alex Ross Perry is able to honestly portray it through Moss.

‘Happy Christmas’ is Au Naturale for Good or for Bland

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

CHICAGO – One thing that struck me about writer/director Joe Swanberg’s previous “Drinking Buddies,” and made it one of my more celebrated from 2013 despite not really loving it as a film, was its importance to those good ol’ independent movies. Here were big flashy stars like Olivia Wilde and Anna Kendrick, not just acting in a movie of a lower budget, but creating a wider appeal out of a previously very niche aspect, without the film form itself changing much.

Joe Swanberg Hits Again with Gentle ‘All the Light in the Sky’

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

Joe Swanberg had quite a year. In the same summer, he appeared in the horror hit “You’re Next” and saw his most high-profile success in the excellent “Drinking Buddies” with Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson, and Anna Kendrick. The year ended with the announcement that his next feature, “Happy Christmas,” starring Kendrick & Lena Dunham, will play in competition at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.

Family Reunion Gets Bloody in ‘You’re Next’

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

CHICAGO – “You’re Next” is a brutal, blunt, bloody instrument of a horror film. It works as well as it does because of an engaging performance from a future star at its center and a writer/director team willing to get in, get gory, and get out. I wish the set-up was a bit more engaging and the tone more consistent but there’s a lot to like here, especially for fans of the genre looking for something that doesn’t need a supernatural twist to stay scary.

Olivia Wilde Shines in Joe Swanberg’s Excellent ‘Drinking Buddies’

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

CHICAGO – Joe Swanberg’s “Drinking Buddies” has been billed as the Chicago writer/director’s breakthrough largely due to the star power on display in the cast list but the film works not merely because of the notable talents of its cast but a new maturity and wisdom displayed by its creator.

‘Be Good’ to Get Fest Premiere at Midwest Independent Film Festival

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

CHICAGO – Possibly one of the most perplexing times of life is the aftermath of the couple having their first child. The anticipation and joy quickly morphs into the reality of lifelong responsibility and care. Writer/Director Todd Looby captures that reality succinctly in his latest film, “Be Good.”

Horror Anthology ‘V/H/S’ Offers Mixed Bag of Body Parts

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

CHICAGO – “V/H/S” is a clever concept for a film executed with decidedly mixed results. There are enough smart ideas and chilling moments to recommend it to fans of any of its multiple genres (horror, found footage, indie film, even mumblecore), but I would never suggest it to a general audience. It is a cult film through and through and it feels like that’s just the way its talented team of creators wants it to be.

Joe Swanberg’s ‘Marriage Material’ Deftly Observes Young Adulthood

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

CHICAGO – Ever since stumbling upon his 2005 directorial debut, “Kissing on the Mouth,” I’ve been deeply transfixed by the cinema of Chicago filmmaker Joe Swanberg. There’s a startling honesty to his work that is unmatched by many of his peers, as well as a near-obsessive desire to capture the “truth” in his fictional characters. He never shies away from sexual frankness or raw intimacy if they are required to serve the story.

‘11/4/08’ Assembles Interactive Portrait of Fateful Night

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

CHICAGO – When Barack Obama took to the podium at Grant Park and gave his acceptance speech on the evening of November 4, 2008, his face appeared strangely reserved. His eyes did not reflect the overwhelming excitement of his supporters. Their grassroots efforts led to the election of a candidate whose popularity transcended national boundaries, injecting cynics with hope.

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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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