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Matt Fagerholm

‘Hannah Arendt’ Demonstrates Banality of the Biopic

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

CHICAGO – “Hannah Arendt” comes to American cinemas packaged in the sort of prestige that elicits admiration rather than anticipation. Though Margarethe von Trotta is widely regarded as the leading female filmmaker in Germany, it’s doubtful that any audiences outside of her native country are all that familiar with her work. Her new film, “Hannah Arendt,” is so undistinguished that it’s hard to believe that it was made by a director often mentioned in the same breath as Fassbinder and Herzog.

Michael Cera, Gaby Hoffmann Anchor ‘Crystal Fairy’

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

CHICAGO – It’s a sad day in modern American distribution when a film as highly praised and perversely intriguing as Sebastián Silva’s “Magic Magic” fails to acquire a theatrical release. The very notion of a Sundance darling co-lensed by Christopher Doyle getting unceremoniously dumped on DVD is too maddening to contemplate. At a time when Disney labels a formulaic misfire like “The Lone Ranger” as a “risk,” it’s depressing to see a company like Sony Pictures follow suit.

‘I Do’ Tackles Weighty Issues with Tender Insight

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

CHICAGO – Nothing bugs a critic more than obstacles strategically placed in the path of otherwise happy characters. Without the conspiratorial manipulations of the plot, these people would have no problem leading perfectly content lives. Instead of emerging organically from the characters themselves, the conflict swoops in like a speeding car fresh off the highway.

Ulrich Seidl’s ‘Paradise’ Trilogy Proves Darkly Transfixing

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

CHICAGO – What is paradise but a mirage unaccustomed to reality? It hovers over us at all times, tantalizing our minds with illusions of perfection, divinity and eternal harmony. Only when one reaches out with desiring hands does it fade into the ether. No one seeks utopia without setting themselves up for certain disappointment.

Lauren Ambrose Shines in Heartbreaking Indie ‘About Sunny’

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

CHICAGO – In the annals of bad parenting portrayed on film, the heroine of Bryan Wizemann’s 2011 indie drama is a special case indeed. Though we watch helplessly as she makes countless bad decisions guaranteed to send her young daughter to intensive therapy, we don’t regard her as a sinister figure on the order of Monique’s monstrous matriarch in “Precious.” Our gaze is one of empathy.

Sensual ‘Renoir’ Fails to Explore Titular Giants’ Genius

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

CHICAGO – Naming a picture after two of the great artistic minds in human history is quite a high bar to set. Director/co-writer Gilles Bourdos attempts to tell the tale of both impressionist painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir (Michel Bouquet) and his son, the future filmmaker Jean Renoir (Vincent Rottiers), who would go on to helm controversial masterpieces such as 1939’s “The Rules of the Game.” These are fascinating people, but the script doesn’t even begin to do them justice.

Jeff Nichols’s ‘Mud’ Will Cause Cinephiles’ Hearts to Swell

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

CHICAGO – Sometimes it’s difficult to pinpoint the precise moment when one falls in love with a movie. Other times, it’s as effortless and intuitive as the day one stumbles upon a soul mate. That moment struck me like a bolt of lightning early on in Jeff Nichols’s “Mud,” the most richly satisfying and purely enjoyable moviegoing experience I’ve had thus far in 2013.

Terrence Malick’s ‘To the Wonder’ Nearly Drowns in its Own Beauty

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

CHICAGO – Deservedly renowned as one of our greatest living filmmakers, Terrence Malick has a reputation for taking his time with each project. He won’t make a picture unless he feels a burning desire to make it, and will put directing on the back burner for two decades, if necessary, in order to pursue other interests. He’s never made what could be conceivably considered a minor work—until now.

Elle Fanning Delivers Her Best Performance in ‘Ginger and Rosa’

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

CHICAGO – There are plenty of good reasons to see Sally Potter’s beguiling, tenderly bittersweet coming-of-age drama, “Ginger & Rosa,” but one reason trumps them all. Her name is Elle Fanning. The enormous potential she exuded in everything from art house gems (“Somewhere”) to mainstream blockbusters (“Super 8”) pays off in this sterling showcase, solidifying her status—at age 14—as one of the top talents in modern film acting.

Breathtaking Oscar-Nominee ‘War Witch’ Honors Youthful Resilience

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

CHICAGO – If last year’s group of Best Picture nominees are any indication, American filmmakers seem convinced that in order for their work to be taken seriously, it has to be super-long. I understand why a picture like “Lincoln” would have an epic scope, but did disposable novelties like “Django Unchained” and “The Hobbit: Vol. 1” really have to clock in around three hours?

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Kid Thing, The

    CHICAGO – Like the awesome Engine Who Could, the mighty Nothing Without a Company stage crafters have constructed another triumph at their new home in Berger Mansion on Chicago’s north side. “The Kid Thing” – written by Sarah Gubbins – is a terse, convincing and emotional play about fear, identity and breeding, and it is performed by its cast of five with utter authenticity. The show has a Thursday-Sunday run at the Berger North Mansion through April 15th, 2017. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

  • Wiz, The

    CHICAGO – When stage theater can cause outbreaks of elation, celebration and joy, then it must be due to Kokandy Productions’ revival of “The Wiz.” The urban reinterpretation of “The Wizard of Oz” story – told through tuneful euphoria and jubilant dance – is ecstatically produced, in every morsel of its stagecraft.

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