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HollywoodChicago.com Movie Reviews

Zen and the Art of Cinema in ‘24 Frames’

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

CHICAGO – The legendary Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami (“Certified Copy”) passed away in 2016, but he left one more meditation on cinema and illusion, in the artistic “24 Frames.” Yes, it refers to the number of still photos that make up a second of film, but in this case it is also Kiarostami’s observations of stillness in motion.

Final Chapter of ’Fifty Shades Freed’ for Masochists Only

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 1.5/5.0
Rating: 1.5/5.0

CHICAGO – Only masochists and other gluttons for punishment will be heading to the theaters for “Fifty Shades Freed.” But be sure to grab a blindfold, because you can at least get 40 winks while the incompetent and unintentionally hilarious Fifty Shades Trilogy reaches its deadly dull climax.

Humankind Gets a Necessary Lesson in ‘The Insult’

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

CHICAGO – The clash of ideologies or religion that result in war is one of the most emotional of reasons to fight (and convenient for those who manipulate such emotions). “The Insult,” a contender for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars, shows how feelings can escalate to bitter conflict.

‘Maze Runner: The Death Cure’ Has Run Out of Life

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

CHICAGO – The third part of the “Maze Runner” trilogy is called “The Death Cure,” and that cure best describes the faint pulse of this run-out-of-steam dystopia aimed at “young adults.” It is mostly warring and not much more, except for a stab (literally) at misplaced emotion.

Inflammatory ‘In the Fade’ is the State of Our Now

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

CHICAGO – In one of the more truthful and contemporary films of 2017, “In the Fade” is a German/French production about the fallout due to a terrorist act. What it also emphasizes is the generated hatred, frustration and waste of such acts, and its textual story is stunning and distressing.

‘12 Strong’ Wins the Battle as it Loses the War

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

CHICAGO – In the 16 years of the U.S. and Afghanistan war, which began a month after Sept. 11, 2001, the U.S. has spent trillions of dollars and lost 2,400 soldiers. The story of that war’s first battle, “12 Strong,” would probably be more revelatory if we weren’t still there.

‘Phantom Thread’ is Both Beautiful and Muddled

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

CHICAGO – There is a certain beauty in human creation, and the fashion industry allows that we can be individual in the sense of our clothing choices. The perfection that those creators attend to is nicely defined in “Phantom Thread,” but as an exploration of their personal life, it is frustrating.

Annette Bening Proves ‘Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool’

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

CHICAGOGEORGE BAILEY: “Hey, you look good. That’s some dress you got on there.” VIOLET: “This old thing? I only wear it when I don’t care how I look.” That is how actress Gloria Grahame (as Violet Bick) was introduced in the classic “It’s a Wonderful Life”. Now she is portrayed by Annette Bening in “Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool”.

‘The Commuter’ is a Fun, Butt-Kicking Good Time

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

CHICAGO – Sometimes you’re just in the mood for a good old Liam Neeson ass-kicker… and “The Commuter” fits that bill. It asks, damn near requires, you to leave your brain safely at the station, but it moves too fast that you don’t have much time to think about it. It’s ludicrous, dumb and fun entertainment for January.

‘Hostiles’ with Christian Bale is a Big Bad Bore

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

CHICAGO – “Hostiles” is an exercise in prestige western boredom. It’s competently made, but its as lifeless as a scalped corpse on the prairie. It’s long on pretty western locales and impressive facial hair, but short on story, characters, or much of anything else to help keep your eyelids from closing.

‘The Post’ Illuminates the Skills of Meryl Streep

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

CHICAGO – For all the films Meryl Streep is privileged to make – which is remarkable considering the industry’s attitude toward older actresses – she has even admitted that the audience may be tired of seeing her. But as publisher Katherine Graham in ‘The Post’, she nails yet another great performance.

Aaron Sorkin’s Directorial Debut in ‘Molly’s Game’

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

CHICAGO – High stakes poker are for folks who prefer to get their rush of adrenalin from the turn of a card rather than other life risks. The positives, the negatives and everything in between are in “Molly’s Game,” the feature directorial debut of Aaron Sorkin (“The West Wing” creator). Let’s walk and talk.

Margot Robbie in ‘I, Tonya’ Can’t Stick the Landing

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

CHICAGO – We have arrived at point where yesterday’s trash TV has become today’s critical darling of the film festival circuit. As the trailers proclaim, “I, Tonya” desperately wants to be the “‘Goodfellas’ of Figure Skating,” but one of the biggest problems I had is that it’s just trying too hard.

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  • Everybody, Brown Paper Box Co

    CHICAGO – When is the last time a stage play, based in an intimate setting, made you think about your life, death, and the destiny inherent in both? “Everybody,” staged by Brown Paper Box Co. (BPBCo), is such a play, and the energetic aura and sense of surprise that the show contains is soul soothing wonder. The show has various evening/matinee performances at the Pride Arts Center in Chicago run through August 12, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

  • Not One Batu

    CHICAGO – The State of Hawaii may be one of the most misunderstood in America. Because of its reputation as a tourist mecca, the fact that native peoples live and work there like any other place is hard to imagine. Also unimaginable is the drug use of island residents, but playwright and Hawaiian native Hannah li-Epstein wrote about it in her stage play “Not One Batu,” now in its Premiere Chicago run at the Berger Park Coach House through July 28th, 2018. For more information, including tickets, click here.

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