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HollywoodChicago.com Movie Reviews

‘Christopher Robin’ is a Story That Should Have Remained Untold

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

CHICAGO – Yeesh. Who woulda thunk that the fine people at Walt Disney Studios would throw the “legend” of Winnie-the-Pooh into a live action “sequel,” with absolutely no life… including the computer generated dead-eyed stuffed machinations of the famous animals. Yet, here we are with “Christopher Robin,” featuring Ewan McGregor in the title role.

‘The Spy Who Dumped Me’ Didn’t Need the Spy Part

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

CHICAGO – It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a film completely stolen by a supporting character, but Kate McKinnon in “The Spy Who Dumped Me” managed to do just that… which was fortunate because the “spy” part of the story is a seen-it-before kill and gun fest that felt like the first draft of a James Bond knock-off.

Fun and Uproarious ‘Teen Titans Go! To the Movies’

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

CHICAGO – If a good laugh is golden, then “Teen Titans Go! To the Movies” is worth its weight. Although the meta-make-fun of superhero movies have already been done almost to death (Deadpool?), the Titans have been doing it on the Cartoon Network since 2013, and take it to a new level in their movie adventure.

Tom Cruise Outruns Time in ‘Mission Impossible: Fallout'

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

CHICAGO – By any reasonable account, Tom Cruise should be entering into a phase in the “Mission Impossible” series not unlike the latter James Bond films of Roger Moore… appearing in closeups and letting the stuntmen do the rest. However, Cruise continues to outrun the ravages of time, and his stunts only seem to get crazier in the sixth film, “Mission Impossible: Fallout.”

The Artist’s Obsession in ‘Gauguin: Voyage to Tahiti’

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

CHICAGO – The art masters, and the masterpieces they have created, become a background culture in our lives… even if we don’t necessarily know the artist. Paul Gauguin is one of those painters-as-cultural-influencer, and a vital point in his artistic life is told in the film “Gauguin: Voyage to Tahiti.”

Awkward & Difficult is Played Out in ‘Eighth Grade’

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

CHICAGO – We’ve all been there. Depending on what school structure you lived through, everyone had issues in “Eighth Grade.” Writer/director Bo Burnham puts those universal issues in a modern context (social media, online video), and portrays them through a girl struggling to belong while navigating the choppy waters of adolescence. It’s difficult, awkward and representative.

Director Eugene Jarecki Crowns Elvis Presley ‘The King’

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

CHICAGO – Elvis Presley, besides being one of the most famous entertainers of the 20th Century, does symbolize to an extent what can happen to icons when they turn towards certain directions in a career. Director Eugene Jarecki has created an amazing documentary about Elvis called “The King,” that uses his rise and decline as a symbol for the American Dream.

The Tumbling Delicacy of Life in ‘Blindspotting’

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

CHICAGO – How can we understand the day-to-day factors of men and women who continued to be judged by their skin color, economic circumstances, difficult jobs or gender fluidity, if we are not any of those categories? Our art can help us, as given a great example in the new film “Blindspotting.”

‘Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again’ is a Bubbly Musical

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

CHICAGO – I give in. “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again,” the sequel to the much derided “Mamma Mia,” is a bubbly, frothy here-come-the-good-times musical that fits summer like a glove. The flashback format will also answer all the burning questions that were left unanswered from the first film, and the cast includes Cher!

Excess & Dwayne Johnson is How ‘Skyscraper’ Works

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

CHICAGO – The Dwayne Johnson formula is what it is, as it seems for about three to five films a year. A disaster strikes, but the Johnson character has loved ones among the victims, and in his background (military, police, mercenary) there is enough expertise to rescue them. “Skyscraper” is the latest.

Pungent & Trippy Satire in ‘Sorry to Bother You’

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

CHICAGO – If the film “Get Out” was a shot across the bow in satirizing black and white skin relationships, then “Sorry to Bother You” is a freaking Tomahawk missile. It’s about the time, the space and the state of the human race, which comes to a crescendo of wild and untamed proportions.

‘Leave No Trace’ is Emblematic of Our Times

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

CHICAGO – The temptation to “drop out” must weigh heavily on the minds of many Americans on a daily basis. “Leave No Trace” views this phenomenon through a prism of many factors, including materialism and mental illness. Ben Foster and Thomasin McKenzie are a father/daughter duo who drop out, then tune in.

Truth Upstages Fiction Again in ‘Three Identical Strangers’

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

CHICAGO – The eternal debate of what affects human development more, our nature or our nurturing, opens up again in the wild story of “Three Identical Strangers,” a new documentary about triplets who were separated at birth, only to discover each other by chance and uncover some difficult truths about that separation.

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  • Stephanie Buxbaum

    CHICAGO – In the history of “Reality TV” there has been periods of up-and-down popularity, shows that have been around seemingly forever (“Big Brother,” “Amazing Race”) and spinoffs to new styles like “documentary series” as networks like the National Geographic Channel emerged. In all those permutations, producer Stephanie Buxbaum has experienced it all, and has the career and stories to prove it.

  • Deadbeat2

    CHICAGO – Not many web series start out as music videos, but the new online (YouTube) drama “Deadbeat 2” was just that. Created, written and directed by Danny Froze, the made-in-Chicago story recently premiered episodes five and six in the series, which features actor Kiwaun Stoutmire in the lead role of Ronnie.

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