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Johnny Depp is Ghoulish in Mob Saga ‘Black Mass’

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

CHICAGO – “Black Mass” is a well crafted, if somewhat conventional crime tale. It won’t win any awards, but it’s entertaining enough. The story of real life Boston crime boss “Whitey” Bulger has no shortage of juicy details, and while the saga of this mob boss slash FBI turncoat falls short of greatness, Johnny Depp turns him into an otherworldly presence.

Billy Bob Thornton’s ‘Jayne Mansfield’s Car’ Stalls Out

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

CHICAGO – There was a time when it looked like not only would Oscar winner Billy Bob Thornton be one of our great actors but possibly a threat behind the camera as well. Everyone knows the impression of his character from “Sling Blade” but many forget that he directed it as well. He followed that up with the flawed but ambitious and interesting “All the Pretty Horses.”

Uninspired ‘R.I.P.D.’ is a Reminder of Better Movies

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

CHICAGO – Did everyone see “Men in Black”? Or the film’s two sequels? They you saw “R.I.P.D.,” which unfortunately for the production team has “rip” in the title, because the film is a lazy rewrite and rip-off of “MiB.” Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds are the protectors assigned in this one.

‘Footloose’ Remake Dances to Its Own Tune

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

CHICAGO – If you’re gonna cut loose, “Footloose,” it is best to do what the production team and cast did in cutting this remake of the 1980s kitschy classic – pay deep homage to the source and modify it with a energetic and contemporary spin on the dance floor.

Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling in Great ‘Crazy, Stupid, Love.’

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

CHICAGO – “Crazy, Stupid, Love.” is undeniably clichéd, broad in its humor, and a bit manipulative in its sentimentality, but it should be. This is a movie about grand statements, soulmates, and true passion, a film that unabashedly believes in the craziness and the stupidity of what we call love. It’s also one of the most purely entertaining films of the year.

Matthew Vaughn’s Entertaining, Stylish ‘X-Men: First Class’ Rocks

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

CHICAGO – Matthew Vaughn rights the ship of mediocre superhero movies with the incredibly accomplished “X-Men: First Class,” the best Marvel Movie since “Spider-Man 2” and a film that proves that big blockbuster summer entertainment can be both commercially crowd-pleasing and intellectually complex at the same time. “X-Men: First Class” features a spectacular mix of well-choreographed action, revisionist history, themes of tolerance, and great performances. This will be one of the best movies of this season.

James Gunn’s Memorable ‘Super’ With Rainn Wilson, Ellen Page

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

CHICAGO – A much darker cousin of Matthew Vaughn’s “Kick-Ass” by way of “Taxi Driver,” James Gunn’s “Super” is a tonally inconsistent comedy that nevertheless features one of my absolute favorite performances of the year so far and enough interesting ideas to warrant a look. If only those ideas were shaped into something a bit more coherent. “Super” could have lived up to its title.

Frank Langella, Michael Sheen, Ensemble Save ‘Frost/Nixon’ From Soulless Direction

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

CHICAGO – Peter Morgan’s play “Frost/Nixon” was a searing portrait of two men trying their best to change their image and their future. It was a head-to-head battle between a celebrity interviewer whose reputation was on a steady decline and the man credited with bringing shame to the White House.

Instead of Seeing ‘Death Sentence,’ I Would Have Welcomed a Death Sentence

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 1/5CHICAGO – When an everyday man goes seeking family justice, action-thriller “Death Sentence” teaches us this valuable lesson: Don’t hire Kevin Bacon for a role you wrote for Charles Bronson.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Harry Lennix, photo by Joe Arce

    CHICAGO – Mention the name Harry Lennix, and images of his many character roles are bound to emerge – Harold Cooper in the TV series “The Blacklist,” General Swanwick from “Batman v Superman” and Commissioner Blades from Spike Lee’s recent “Chi-Raq.” The deeply knowledgeable Lennix brings his years of dramatic expertise, as he directs the Congo Square Theatre Company’s world premiere stage play “A Small Oak Tree Runs Red.’

  • King and I, The

    CHICAGO – The venerable musical “The King and I,” by the legendary team of (Richard) Rodgers and (Oscar) Hammerstein, is now 65 years old. The Lyric Opera of Chicago is injecting fresh life into this senior aged play, with a sumptuous new production that is top drawer at every level.

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