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HollywoodChicago.com Movie Reviews

No New Frights in Store for ‘Happy Death Day’

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

CHICAGO – “Happy Death Day” has a “Groundhog Day” gimmick, but that’s about it, offering essentially an ‘80’s style slasher flick with the hope that with a little cosmetic window dressing will help it appeal to an audience in 2017… Live, Die, Repeat. That’s all this film offers with precious few improvements to justify its existence.

Cautionary ‘Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House’

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

CHICAGO – Everything old is new again, in the 1970s story of the infamous “Deep Throat” – the source in the FBI who tipped off the Washington Post about the issues surrounding Watergate scandal – who revealed himself in 2005. He is now the subject of a new film, and is portrayed by Liam Neeson, in “Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House.”

Thin Story a Contrast to Visuals in ‘Blade Runner 2049’

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

CHICAGO – It comes down to compelling an audience with a story riff that’s a hook. “Blade Runner 2049” doesn’t possess either the riff or the hook, but what it does do is create a dystopian world that is beautiful in its bleakness, and unsettlingly weird in its twists and turns.

History by Rote in Formulaic ‘Victoria and Abdul’

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

CHICAGO – There have been 155 TV/Movie depictions of Queen Victoria, who ruled England from 1837 to 1901. The “Victorian Era” continues to fascinate filmmakers, and who is perfect to portray Queen V. towards the end of her life? Get me Dame Judi Dench on the Skype!

Tom Cruise in ‘American Made’ Never Gets Off the Ground

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

CHICAGO – Tom Cruise was once a Top Gun, but his newest film “American Made” never really takes off. It wants to be a truth-is-stranger-than-fiction kind of satire where commercial airline pilot Barry Seal (Tom Cruise) winds up getting involved in the Iran Contra Affair and the Medellín drug cartel, but it never creates an enthralling place or story.

Ben Stiller in Character For Thoughtful ‘Brad’s Status’

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

CHICAGO – Everyone comes to the point when they question their choices, their life and their truth. This concept is filtered through Ben Stiller in Brad’s Status, portraying a Dad taking his son for college visits, analyzing his life through the boy, his friends, plus his own angst and fears.

Jake Gyllenhaal Turns Up His Power in ‘Stronger’

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

CHICAGO – The second major film about the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing (after last year’s “Patriots Day”) is “Stronger,” and it wisely focuses on one individual rather than the bigger event. Jake Gyllenhaal portrays Jeff Bauman, a spectator near the explosion that lost both his legs.

‘Battle of the Sexes’ Parallels a Fight That’s Going on Today

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

CHICAGO – Since the time of early hominids, there has been a battle raging with your side being chosen before you’re even born. It all began when men claimed they were superior to women, forcing women to fight for the right at equality. Unfortunately, it remains as alive in the 70’s, when “Battle of the Sexes” takes place, as it is now.

‘Kingsman: The Golden Circle’ is High-Flying Spy Fun

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

CHICAGO – “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” is a hard “R”-rated sequel with a thoroughly juvenile soul. It pairs silly wordplay, dirty jokes and a startling amount of bloody and gratuitous violence while its tongue remains thoroughly in cheek. This is a James Bond movie as made by an unusually sadistic 16-year-old under the influence of some not entirely legal substances.

HollywoodChicago.com ESP, En Español: ‘American Assassin,’ ‘Brad’s Status’ y ‘mother!’

CHICAGO – Cada semana, HollywoodChicago.com le traerá las criticas de las películas que hemos visto y que están saliendo esa semana, pero en español. HollywoodChicago.com ESP no sólo representa HollywoodChicago.com Espanol, sino también Esta Semana en Peliculas. Esta semana, vamos a una misión de venganza y terminamos salvando el mundo (“American Assassin”), luego nos vamos de viaje a visitar algunas universidades mientras tenemos un colapso mental (“Brad’s Status”), y luego nos transportan a una casa que significa mucho más de lo que parece (“mother!”).

Gunplay & Violence Fuel Heroics in ‘American Assassin’

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

CHICAGO – There was another mass shooting (eight dead) in Texas this week, but it was underreported because it didn’t involve “undesirables” and just seemed like another week in America. This blithe attitude towards guns, gunplay and violence continues in the movies, this week with the overindulgent release “American Assassin.”

M is for the Many Things ‘mother!’ Gave Me

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

CHICAGO – In a film that is unsettlingly and regally composed with deep purpose and symbolism, “mother!” fulfills the nature of what it proposes to communicate within layers of essentially rendered storytelling and cinematic perspective. It can potentially change your overall point of view.

You’ll Be Counting the Minutes Until You Too Can Be ‘Home Again’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 1.0/5.0
Rating: 1.0/5.0

CHICAGO – Seeing so many films on a daily basis, you would think that I would grow tired of them. I don’t. Instead, I begin to notice the same formulas in films, like the one in “Home Again”. Unfortunately for “Home Again” you’ll spend most of the film wondering just how much longer before you can be the same.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Speech & Debate (stage play)

    CHICAGO – “Speech & Debate,” the latest production from the mighty Brown Paper Box Company, continues their tradition of thinking outside that “box” in presenting storefront theater that makes a statement and a difference. “Speech” goes inside America by showcasing the outsiders… those who create art because they can’t get it right in real life. This non-equity Chicago stage play premiere is finely tuned and wonderfully acted, and runs through March 4th, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

  • We're Gonna Be Okay

    CHICAGO – The 1960s were a time of historical social transition. The movements – civil rights, feminist, gay rights – all had roots in that tumultuous decade. The Chicago premiere of Basil Kreimendahl’s “We’re Gonna Be Okay” echoes all of those movements in its characters, and collides them against the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. The show has a Thursday-Sunday run at the American Theater Company through March 4th, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

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