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HollywoodChicago.com Movie Reviews

‘La La Land’ Will Create Love for Musicals Again

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

CHICAGO – “La La Land” has the spirit of an old time “Singin’ In The Rain”-type Hollywood musical, but this is no throwback or revival. It brings that spirit into the modern age and gets it to live, breathe, and thrive once again. It’s a beautiful technicolor spectacle that celebrates the whimsy of musicals, while finding a way to translate it credibly and wonderfully to the modern age.

‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ is a Worthy Addition

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

CHICAGO – I guess from now on, it will never be the holidays without a Star Wars movie, and why not? Every year, we’ll have a celebration with the ardent fans and characters that are one in that universe, “a long time ago, in a galaxy far far away.” For 2016, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.”

‘Miss Sloane’ Thrills Politically, But Drags Narratively

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

CHICAGO – Nothing says the holiday season like a film about lobbying and politics. If you read that sarcastically, you’d be wrong. “Miss Sloane” offers a female spin for an otherwise male dominated political landscape. Most of you are trying to tune out politics after the elections, but this film builds off of that momentum by reminding us how we arrived to that point.

‘Office Christmas Party’ is Just Ho-Hum Humbug

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

CHICAGO – “Office Christmas Party” summons up a few jolly ho-ho-ho’s, but can’t quite deliver even one decent belly laugh you’d expect, considering the talented cast chock full of funny folks. It’s halfway decent premise is drowned in a sea of unfulfilled potential and weak material that the ensemble can only do so much to save.

Natalie Portman Embodies a Magnificent ‘Jackie’

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

CHICAGO – Capturing one of the most familiar woman of the last fifty years would seem impossible, except when focusing on one of the defining moments of her life. “Jackie” reveals Jacqueline Kennedy during the time of her husband John’s assassination, and when the nation lost a president.

Casey Affleck Anchors ‘Manchester by the Sea’

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

CHICAGO – Tis the season for earnest character studies, and Casey Affleck in “Manchester by the Sea” has a doozy. Portraying a Boston guy with a mountain of sadness within, Affleck harbors the range of emotions like a coiled snake ready to strike, but manages to keep it all undercover.

Two Stories Clash in Uneven ‘Rules Don’t Apply’

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

CHICAGO – Movie icon Warren Beatty had wanted to make a film about 20th Century billionaire Howard Hughes for close to 40 years. On the heels of Martin Scorsese’s “The Aviator,” Beatty has written, directed and portrays Hughes in “Rules Don’t Apply,” and has created a strange farce about the mogul and a romance tale around him.

‘Moana’ is Walt Disney Pictures at its Breezy Best

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

CHICAGO – “Moana” is a solid example of the time honored Disney musical. It is exactly the sort of sun drenched warm weather beacon we residents of cold weather climes can enjoy as the holiday season approaches, and it a refreshing change from another spin of Mele Kalikimaka.

‘Nocturnal Animals’ Takes Two Stories to New Levels

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

CHICAGO – Reality and fantasy have separate rules, and in fantasy there are no rules. This is the philosophy of “Nocturnal Animals,” a wild character study that exists on the reality/fantasy planes. And it has the bonus of the Amy Adams/Isla Fisher mix-up and Jake Gyllenhaal at his Gyllenhaal-iest.

Superb Allegorical Story Told in Essential ‘Christine’

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

CHICAGO – In one of the great American films of the year, character actor Rebecca Hall interprets a based-on-truth incident from the 1970s, as she portrays the title character of “Christine.” The film encapsulates the nature of mental health, gender issues and the pursuit of random numbers.

‘Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk’ Won Some of the Battles But Lost the War

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

CHICAGO – War is an ugly part of our civilization, but it can be told beautifully. The complexities of battle are often dark and overwhelming, but inside of that there is also a light that reflects hope and love. “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” wants to show us both sides of the war, but despite the bright visuals it is still shrouded in problems.

‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ Relies on Second-Hand Wonder

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

CHICAGO – It’s been five years since the last Harry Potter film, and for fans eager to scratch that itch for a dreamworld of magic again “Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them” will probably suffice. It’s this story’s tangential connection to the Harry Potter universe that is its biggest asset – but the film unfortunately can’t muster up much wonder on its own.

Edge Ebbs & Flows in ‘The Edge of Seventeen’

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

CHICAGO – “The Edge of Seventeen” does attempt to do some different things with the growing-up-too-soon teenager soap opera – it throws in a authentic parent, contemporary sex issues and truthful awkwardness. But it can’t help being too heroic, and too “everything’s all right.”

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  • Wonder Woman

    CHICAGO – There are few films in 2017 that are as historically important as they are cinematically well-crafted. Of those, there is only one I saw three times in theaters. That honor comes in the form of the revolutionary “Wonder Woman,” which not only shows huge promise for the future of DC Comics films but for comic book-based films as a whole.

  • Monica Raymund on set for 'Tanya'

    CHICAGOTV fans know Monica Raymund as paramedic Gabby Dawson on the long-running “Chicago Fire.” But the talented actor is expanding her range, debuting her first film as director, “Tanya,” at the Midwest Independent Film Festival on Tuesday, August 1st, 2017. The short film – written by Sam Forman – will be part of “Female Filmmakers Night” at the Midwest Indie, and is part of Raymund’s involvement with Hidden Tears Project, an organization dedicated to raising consciousness by creating media on gender inequality, sexual abuse and human trafficking.

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