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HollywoodChicago.com Movie Reviews

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.

Matt Damon in ‘Downsizing’ Offers Few Small Pleasures

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

CHICAGO – “Downsizing” is an interesting premise that doesn’t ultimately go anywhere interesting. Part of the problem is that writer/director Alexander Payne doesn’t seem to know what kind of a movie he wants it to be… it’s part cerebral Woody Allen futuristic comedy, part sci-fi social satire about Midwestern malaise, and winds up failing at both.

‘All the Money in the World’ Has a Soft Landing

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

CHICAGO – A bitter and old rich man won’t take responsibility for the co-opting of something he is directly connected to. Is this the Trump administration or “All the Money in the World”? Christopher Plummer portrays mogul J. Paul Getty, trying to steer clear of his grandson’s kidnapping.

Delightful ‘Ferdinand’ Keeps it Simple & Funny

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

CHICAGO – Like the repeat tenets of real estate, good animated films come down to story, story, story. And ‘Ferdinand,’ an older children’s tale adapted to modern audiences, combines a gentle source narrative with palatable visual and cartoon jokes. It’s fun for the whole family!

Ethereal ‘The Shape of Water’ Forms Cinema Magic

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

CHICAGO – This breathtaking morality and love story, set in a backward age, takes all of its major themes – passion, tolerance, symbolism and thrills – to the highest level. Writer/director Guillermo del Toro has created a masterwork that is part fairy tale, part adult desperation and all cinema magic.

‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ Turns Up the Volume

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

CHICAGO – Everything that could be thrown into the Stars Wars legend – and the official story – is present in “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” With three concurrent stories converging into an amped-up climax, all manner of Star Wars-mania and fan satisfaction can be realized in Episode 8.

Woody Allen Has Run Out of Ideas with ‘Wonder Wheel’

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

CHICAGO – Woody Allen emptied out his junk drawer of discarded script ideas and somehow managed to convince Kate Winslet to star in it. That’s the gist of the latest “serious Woody” entry in the Oscar winner’s long running career. Woody Allen has had some timeless triumphs, but lately he’s been more about quantity than quality.

Funny ‘The Disaster Artist’ Takes Us Back to ‘The Room’

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

CHICAGO – “The Room” is a post-millennial cult movie that plays the midnight and college movie circuit, entertaining audiences with its sheer badness. Its story is told in the “The Disaster Artist,” featuring James Franco as the director of “The Room,” and he also directed the film. Very meta.

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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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