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Philip Seymour Hoffman

‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1’ Shouldn’t Have Been Split in Two

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4.0/5.0
Rating: 2.5/5.0

CHICAGO – My issue with the “one movie split into two parts” debate isn’t even about money, which is clearly the main reason why we’ve seen blockbuster films do it like the two-part “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” and now the two-part “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay”.

Moving On in ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1’

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

CHICAGO – The über popular “The Hunger Games” series is back, splitting the final novel into two movie parts, Harry Potter style. Subtitled “Mockingjay - Part 1,” this is the beginning of the end of the story, setting up rather than knocking down.

Philip Seymour Hoffman Lives Again in ‘God’s Pocket’

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

CHICAGO – Watching Philip Seymour Hoffman perform, now that he has passed on, is a bittersweet reminder of his ability and power to embody his deeply felt characters. He does it again in one of his last roles, adding his special brand of acting to the messy story within the gritty noir drama, “God’s Pocket.”

Entertaining, Complex ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’

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

CHICAGO – Second acts to incredibly popular and entertaining mainstream fare can be a tough prospect. For every “The Dark Knight,” there are too many films like “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” – works that essentially just repeat what audiences fell in love with instead of trying to expand on the world of their predecessors.

Author Remains Elusive in Documentary ‘Salinger’

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

CHICAGO – Jerome David Salinger, J.D. to his readers, remains one of the most influential and controversial authors of the 20th Century. Known intuitively for the classic novel “Catcher in the Rye,” he also was known as a reclusive soul. His life and times make up the new documentary, “Salinger.”

‘A Late Quartet’ is Passionate Symphony of the Human Condition

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

CHICAGO – Those who know the language of music at its highest levels seemingly know the secret of the world. But as “A Late Quartet” demonstrates, they also possess the same human foibles as the rest of us. Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener and Christopher Walken portray maestros at an emotional crossroads.

Meandering ‘The Master’ Serves Up Powerful After Effects

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

CHICAGO – ‘The Master’ is the type of film that invites days of contemplation. It is a film about America, but only a certain type of American. It is a film about the need to belong, but in the end it separates all its characters away from each other. Lead actors Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix radicalize writer/director P.T. Anderson’s strange alchemy.

Stunning Ambition Drives P.T. Anderson’s ‘The Master’

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

CHICAGO – Paul Thomas Anderson’s “The Master” screened publicly last week in Chicago for only the second time in the world. It was shown in glorious 70mm, the format in which the film was shot, but in which most people will never get the chance to see it. While much of the conversation surrounding the screening seemed to hinge around the technical specifications, the increasing dearth of actual film projectors in the city, or the aspects of the plot related to Scientology, those aren’t the elements of the film that have been rolling around my head for the last four days.

Ryan Gosling, George Clooney in ‘The Ides of March’

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

CHICAGO – George Clooney’s “The Ides of March” is a star-studded political thriller of the variety that was made much more commonly in the ‘70s and would therefore seem like a perfect vehicle to restart for today’s controversial times. We could use more political thrillers with complex dialogue aimed at adults to offset the fact that a vast majority of motion pictures are aimed at children.

Brad Pitt, Baseball Evolve in Magnificent ‘Moneyball’

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

CHICAGO – Using sports, especially baseball, as a metaphor for life can get dicey – sometimes the symbolic pieces don’t fit universally for everything. But “Moneyball, ” starring Brad Pitt, hits a grand slam with this old allegory, and educates regarding the true nature of modern large dollar sports.

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  • Drunk History Seasons 1 & 2, 2014

    CHICAGO – The awesomeness of history loses any of its stuffiness with the incredibly fun, indeed educational show “Drunk History” from Comedy Central, its two seasons now released on DVD. Hosted by its creator Derek Waters, the show is a celebration of various historic figures and their under-appreciated true tales, as expressed by funny people narrating in the universal language of inebriation; their recounts are then reenacted by famous actors working with their given dialogue, dressed with the comic cheapness of a bloated biopic.

  • Happy Christmas

    CHICAGO – “Drinking Buddies” director Joe Swanberg’s latest release of the same star wattage is “Happy Christmas,” an even lower-fi story than the Olivia Wilde beer comedy, steered even more by the casting that it was able to assemble. However, with this movie Swanberg doesn’t so much worry about having a story that could be confused with a more mainstream romantic comedy if it were to have a bigger budget.

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