Matt Fagerholm

Film Feature: HollywoodChicago.com Predicts the 2013 Academy Award Winners

CHICAGO – Hollywood’s favorite night of self-congratulations commences this Sunday, finally putting an end to the awards season and allowing us to get on with the new year in film. One last look back at 2012. Will it be “Argo” or “Lincoln”? Spielberg or the field? What the heck wins Best Original Screenplay?

Blu-ray Review: Dardenne Brothers Triumph Again in ‘The Kid with a Bike’

The Kid with a Bike Blu-ray

CHICAGO – All this fuss about Ben Affleck not getting nominated by the Academy after directing three decent flicks is even more inane in light of the fact that Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, arguably the greatest directing duo in modern cinema, haven’t garnered any Oscar attention. At all. Their latest naturalistic triumph, “The Kid with a Bike,” snagged a mere Golden Globe nod several months before it even premiered on U.S. screens.

DVD Review: Strong Acting Bolsters Meandering ‘28 Hotel Rooms’

28 Hotel Rooms DVD

CHICAGO – It’s taken quite a few movies for me to warm up to Chris Messina. Perhaps it wasn’t his fault that he kept getting typecast as oafish, self-absorbed jerks. In my review of Dana Adam Shapiro’s flawed Oscilloscope release, “Monogamy,” I confessed that every time Messina’s face showed up onscreen, I was “suddenly filled with the intense desire to punch it.”

Blu-ray Review: Barbra Streisand’s ‘A Star is Born’ Remake Fizzles Out Fast

A Star is Born Streisand Blu-ray

CHICAGO – Barbra Streisand is a classic example of a genuine talent who started out big and quickly became too big for her britches. She never came close to topping her phenomenal debut in 1968’s “Funny Girl,” which presented the larger-than-life performer in all of her contrasting shades—funny and tragic, vulnerable and indomitable. Sadly, that picture marked the last time Streisand could conceivably pass for anyone other than—well, Streisand.

Film Review: Sexual Frustration Reigns Supreme in ‘North Sea Texas’

North Sea Texas Film Review

CHICAGO – Coming of age dramas are a dime a dozen in Hollywood, but few are ever brave enough to grapple with the profound transitions that occur during one’s teenage years. Young American moviegoers’ first encounter with foreign cinema is often the result of their search for honest and unflinching portraits of sexual awakening and discovery. In terms of sheer maturity, American movies are still woefully below the curve set by most countries.

Blu-ray Review: Deadly Dull Thriller ‘The Awakening’ Lulls Audience to Sleep

The Awakening Blu-ray

CHICAGO – In contrast with the other subpar supernatural blockbusters released last August, Nick Murphy’s “The Awakening” lacks the cheesy thrills of “The Possession” and the hilarious ineptitude of “The Apparition.” Instead, it’s a humorless and ponderous bore buoyed only slightly by its vivid lead performance from Rebecca Hall, a supremely gifted character actress who has yet to receive the cinematic showcase she deserves.

Blu-ray Review: Minor Woody Allen Comedy ‘To Rome with Love’ Still Delights

To Rome with Love Blu-ray

CHICAGO – After acknowledging that the rewards of reality are infinitely preferable to the shallow pleasures of a nostalgic dreamworld in his Oscar-winning crowd-pleaser, “Midnight in Paris,” Woody Allen’s tirelessly neurotic psyche appears to be more calm and serene than ever before. Perhaps his compulsion to make one picture a year has finally brought him some sort of therapeutic catharsis.

Blu-ray Review: Creepy Jolts Compensate for Weak Drama in ‘The Possession’

The Possession Blu-ray

CHICAGO – In the last days of August 2012, three generically titled ghost pictures had the misfortune of opening at more or less the exact same time. None of them were particularly memorable, yet only one managed to produce any semblance of genuine chills. There are enough eerie moments in “The Possession,” the demonic thriller from gifted Danish director Ole Bornedal, that one wishes that it pushed past the boundaries of its tame PG-13 rating.

DVD Review: Léa Seydoux Mesmerizes in Entrancing ‘Farewell, My Queen’

Farewell My Queen DVD

CHICAGO – Benoît Jacquot is a director clearly enraptured by the beauty of young women. This was eminently clear in his early ’90s-era vehicles for Virginie Ledoyen (“A Single Girl,” “Marianne”), an actress who turned up in his latest picture, “Farewell, My Queen,” still looking startlingly youthful. Yet she is no longer the center of Jacquot’s universe.

Film Review: Great Cast Receives Winning Showcase in Dustin Hoffman’s ‘Quartet’

CHICAGO – There are few things more fragile than an actor’s ego. It must be treated with the utmost care in order to prevent a split-second meltdown. The enormous pressure of audience expectations coupled with the piercing eye of an ever-present media is enough to send sensitive folk to a sanitarium. Thick skin is a necessity in show business, but what happens when that skin begins to age?

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