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Vera Farmiga

Inauthentic ‘The Judge’ Guilty of a Stale Confrontation

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

CHICAGO – Here comes “The Judge,” here comes “The Judge.” That 1960s catchphrase gets new meaning in the film featuring Robert Downey Jr. and veteran Robert Duvall, in a angry generational face-off that makes little sense and provides a stiff courtroom drama that felt like bad TV.

‘At Middleton’ Never Reaches Its Star Power Potential

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

CHICAGO – Since the world has been clamoring for a film about high school seniors touring a liberal arts college, “At Middleton” fills the bill, and throws in a symbolic midlife liaison between characters portrayed by Andy Garcia and Vera Farmiga, tripping across their own “life campus.”

Effective ‘The Conjuring’ Captures the Sum of All Fears

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

CHICAGO – True scary movies have a couple of things going for them – the source of the scare and the psychology of the scare. The source provides the “boo,” the audience provides the interactive psychology. “The Conjuring” is a true scary movie.

Denzel Washington Lives in Boring ‘Safe House’

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

CHICAGO – “Safe House” is so overly familiar that you not only will think that you’ve seen it before and know exactly where it’s going before it gets there, but you will also barely remember having seen it once it’s over. It’s cinematic fast food – relatively streamlined but also not difficult to make for anyone involved, generally bad for you, and totally forgettable. It’s all so, well, “Safe.”

Vera Farmiga Wrestles Religion in ‘Higher Ground’

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

CHICAGO – The subject of religion in America is rarely portrayed honestly in the movies, with its power to both inspire or offend. Vera Farmiga makes her directorial debut and plays the lead character in the religious-themed “Higher Ground.”

Keanu Reeves Sleepwalks Through ‘Henry’s Crime’

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

CHICAGO – Keanu Reeves is the sort of actor who succeeds in spite of himself. His best work remains in the late ’80s and early ’90s, when he specialized in playing hazy-brained man-children, the best of which may have been Tod Higgins, the goofy race car driver in Ron Howard’s timeless 1989 comedy, “Parenthood.” Reeves transcended the silliness of his character with a performance of disarming warmth.

Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan Star in Thrilling ‘Source Code’

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

CHICAGO – Duncan Jones announced his arrival on the sci-fi scene with such authority with the excellent “Moon” that genre fans were naturally concerned about a sophomore slump. Worry no more. “Source Code” may first feel like a more traditional thriller but it’s clearly cut from the same cloth as “Moon” in that it takes the impossible and makes it human, even spiritual. Like the best sci-fi, “Source Code” is both entertaining and thought-provoking. It’s a great slice of entertainment that you’ll want to relive as soon as it’s done playing.

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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  • 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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