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Melanie Lynskey

‘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.

Wonderful ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ Captures Teenage Life with Grace

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

CHICAGO – Stephen Chbosky’s “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” based on his hit book of the same name, is the most pleasant and accomplished surprise of the year, a delightful, sweet, funny, and moving examination of teenage life that merits comparison to John Hughes and Cameron Crowe.

‘Hello I Must Be Going’ Provides Well-Deserved Star Vehicle for Melanie Lynskey

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

CHICAGO – Melanie Lynskey is one of those effortlessly sublime character actresses who always seemed destined for stardom. At age 16, she made an astonishing film debut in Peter Jackson’s “Heavenly Creatures” opposite Kate Winslet. In the years that followed, she has proven adept at playing everything from a good-hearted stepsister (in “Ever After”) to a severely screwed-up mom (in “Win Win”).

‘Seeking a Friend for the End of the World’ Can’t Find Honest Emotion

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

CHICAGO – Lorene Scafaria’s “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” is a manipulative mess that’s only slightly redeemed by yet-another engaging performance from one of the best actresses of her generation. Even the always-great Keira Knightley can’t hold back the deluge of clichés and false characters that drag this piece down into the kind of dreck that would be universally derided if it just had the name “Nicholas Sparks Presents” in front of it.

Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan Rock in Fantastic ‘Win Win’

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

CHICAGO – Writer/Director Thomas McCarthy makes films with that very unique attribute in which the characters completely feel like they exist before the opening scene and after the credits roll. As he did in “The Station Agent” and “The Visitor,” he has told another unique story that is both moving and also believable at the same time, an increasingly-rare combination. “Win Win” is the first great film of 2011.

Oscar-Worthy ‘Up in the Air’ Gels With Shrewd Script, Fresh Faces, Unpredicted Realism

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

CHICAGO – Director Jason Reitman is becoming like a fine wine. He’s maturing with age, tasting newer with each sip and leaving an aftertaste that makes you think you’ll savor what’s next.

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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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