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Michael Shannon

‘Nocturnal Animals’ Takes Two Stories to New Levels

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

CHICAGO – Reality and fantasy have separate rules, and in fantasy there are no rules. This is the philosophy of “Nocturnal Animals,” a wild character study that exists on the reality/fantasy planes. And it has the bonus of the Amy Adams/Isla Fisher mix-up and Jake Gyllenhaal at his Gyllenhaal-iest.

‘Loving’ Reminds Us That Love Conquers All

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

CHICAGO – This is a difficult review to write. Not for any sort of technical standpoint, but one of moral outrage. Seeing “Loving”, the relevance in today’s society was clear, but that was before the election of our new president. The hatred of the past still echoes to this day, but now more than ever the message of hope and perseverance is needed.

‘Elvis & Nixon’ is a True Story That’s Fit for a King

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

CHICAGO – “When two great saints meet, it’s a humbling experience,” said Paul McCartney of John and Yoko. Well that also applies to “Elvis & Nixon.” Their meeting, albeit brief, has layers of meaning for our times – and their time – and the movie with the “E&N” title exposes that meaning with humor and grace.

Spirit Starts Early in Fun, Raunchy ‘The Night Before’

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

CHICAGO – The tradition of the holiday party gets a workout in “The Night Before,” as three friends take a Christmas Eve walk through the environs of New York City, and make their merry journey an unforgettable night of libation enhancement, magic moments and yes, the Holiday Spirit.

‘Man of Steel’ is Strong, But Not Completely Heroic

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

CHICAGO – Place the Superman legend into the hands of director Zack Snyder (“Watchmen”) and storyteller/producer Christopher Nolan (“Dark Knight”), and old Supes is bound for a makeover in “Man of Steel.” When it works, it’s adds to a legend’s richness. When it doesn’t, it is less than hero.

‘Man of Steel’ Soars Visually But Lacks Humanity

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

CHICAGO – From the CGI-heavy attack on Krypton that opens Zack Snyder’s “Man of Steel” to its soaring finale, I had the same reaction -– where’s the “Man half? Snyder’s attempt to reboot the Superman legacy with the loving assistance of David Goyer and Christopher Nolan of “The Dark Knight” fame gets the superhero part but misses the humanity at the core of this legendary character.

Great Michael Shannon Performance Can’t Thaw ‘The Iceman’

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

CHICAGO – Another great Michael Shannon performance should come as no surprise as everything he touches lately seems to be interesting, from “Take Shelter” to “Boardwalk Empire” to letters written by batshit crazy sorority girls. However, his increasingly impressive ability can’t save “The Iceman,” a misguided, clichéd hitman flick that careens tonally and doesn’t really justify its existence. It doesn’t work as thriller or as drama, serving as little more than a performance piece for its talented star.

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.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt Peddles Clichés in ‘Premium Rush’

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

CHICAGO – We’re looking for cowboy heroes in America, and a new film contends that the urban bike messenger could represent that long lost persona. This unlikely theory is the basis for “Premium Rush,” and it features Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Shannon, Aasif Mandvi and Dania Ramirez.

Michael Shannon Mesmerizes in Moody ‘Take Shelter’

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

CHICAGO – It starts with a clap of thunder. Fierce winds cause the once serene landscape to shiver with unease. When the rain comes, it’s the color of motor oil. All it takes is a single glance at the looming gray clouds overhead to realize that the impending storm could be capable of anything. It’s enough to rock a level-headed man to his very foundation.

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  • [Trans]formation

    CHICAGO – The issue of gender identity, especially for those who are born with a vagueness as to what to call themselves between/beyond boy and girl, has come front and center in the U.S., both with the legalization of gay marriage and the callous repudiation of identity by trying to pass laws dismissing it (the North Carolina “bathroom” laws). The performance companies of The Living Canvas and Nothing Without a Company is currently staging “[Trans]formation,” which presents gender identity art by six performers, who perform most of the play in the nude.

  • Life Sucks

    CHICAGO – Let’s face it, life does suck. But what can we do about that? How do we survive? Lookingglass Theatre Company’s latest stage presentation tries to answer those thorny questions through a group of fellow travelers, flung together at a cabin retreat, trying to figure out why (indeed) “Life Sucks.”

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