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Sean Penn

Lack of Cohesiveness, Intrigue Stymies ‘The Gunman’

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

CHICAGO – If you’re going to see a Sean Penn action movie, I guess “The Gunman” would be appropriate. As he and the filmmakers inject some reality in the usual motivations, the puzzle pieces don’t connect well and in the end are not that interesting. That is not to say that the film is bad.

Back to Haiti, Finding Identity in Emotional ‘Lakay’

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

CHICAGO – Understanding identity is a lifelong pursuit. When two U.S. immigrant brothers – and filmmakers – go back to to their native Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, they find much more than expected. Tirf Alexius and Remoh Romeo documented their journey in the new film “Lakay.”

Frustrating Journey Into ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’

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

I so want to love Ben Stiller’s “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.” Stiller’s directorial work on films like “The Cable Guy” and “Tropic Thunder” was underrated, the source material is great, the message of living in the moment has more value in an increasingly cluttered world, and the time seems right for an imaginative journey into the mind of a likable protagonist like Mr. Mitty.

Josh Brolin, Sean Penn Sleep Through Dull ‘Gangster Squad’

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

CHICAGO – I know it’s only January but Ruben Fleischer’s “Gangster Squad” is sure to be one of the most disappointing films of 2013. Look at that cast! Look at them playing caricatures and doing absolutely nothing of interest! “Gangster Squad” is a total mess and absolutely none of it has to do with notorious reshoots after the shooting in Aurora that pushed the flick back four months.

Strange, Beguiling Sean Penn in ‘This Must Be the Place’

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

CHICAGO – Sean Penn picks his roles carefully, and famously said he didn’t know what the story meant in “Tree of Life.” His attachment to “This Must Be the Place” continues the vague journey through movieland, as he plays a bizarre and aging rock star whose life is about to get interesting.

Terrence Malick’s Captivating Meditation on ‘The Tree of Life’

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

CHICAGO – I’ve seen Terrence Malick’s “Tree of Life” twice now and I still struggle with how to put my reaction to it into words. The film almost defies typical critical discussion with its lack of narrative thrust and a structure that makes it far closer to a poem than a piece of prose. How do you even begin to talk about a piece that works with emotions instead of plot twists?

Sean Penn, Naomi Watts Revive Valerie Plame in ‘Fair Game’

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

CHICAGO – The key line in “Fair Game,” a distillation of Valerie Plame’s outing as a CIA operative in 2003, is intoned by character actor Bruce McGill, in a scene reminiscent of the “Mr. X” moment in the “JFK” movie. Pointing to the White House and the Bush Administration, he simply says, “there are the most powerful men in the history of the world.”

Sean Penn’s Oscar-Possible Harvey Milk Puts Face to Gay Rights in ‘Milk’

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

CHICAGO – Just as Tom Hanks put a face to AIDS in 1993’s “Philadelphia,” Sean Penn has now put a face to gay rights as Harvey Milk in the new Gus Van Sant true-story film “Milk”.

Robert De Niro, Director Barry Levinson Wade Through Hollywood’s Mud in ‘What Just Happened?’

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

CHICAGO – In his long and distinguished career, Robert De Niro has probably seen it all when it comes to Hollywood excesses and quagmires. Given that experience, he seems the perfect choice to portray an aging film producer and power broker whose influence is on the decline.

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  • Punk Punk

    CHICAGO – For theater that is audaciously in-the-now and generates a sparkle of life, there are few better storefront (garage, gothic gathering place) groups than “Nothing Without a Company.” Their latest, eclectic kick-in-the-head production is the intensely diverting and weirdly fun “Punk Punk.”

  • Assassination Theater

    CHICAGO – There are two dates in modern American History that ring in the heads of certain generations. Of course, there is September 11th, 2001, but the granddaddy of that date is November 22nd, 1963. That is when an American president, John F. Kennedy, was shot point blank in the head and killed on the street of an American city. The official proclamation from the government is that a lone assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, fired those shots. In a new Chicago play, “Assassination Theater,” subtitled “Chicago’s Role in the Crime of the Century,” the jury is still decidedly out.


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