Brian Tallerico

Frustrating ‘Somm’ Fails to Justify a Tasting

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

CHICAGO – “The history of wine is fascinating” – This is only one of many things in the frustrating “Somm,” opening today in Chicago at the Music Box and accompanied by actual wine tastings in the theater, that we’re told but not really shown. I love wine. I drink it too often.

Undeniably Unique Oddity of ‘Berberian Sound Studio’

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

CHICAGO – If David Lynch directed a Giallo it might have come out something like “Berberian Sound Studio,” a truly surreal oddity opening this week at the Siskel Film Center, starring the great Toby Jones as a man driven mad by his work on a ‘70s horror film. Or is it? Like “Eraserhead” or “Inland Empire,” there are times when the film simply defies interpretation.

‘Man of Steel’ Soars Visually But Lacks Humanity

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

CHICAGO – From the CGI-heavy attack on Krypton that opens Zack Snyder’s “Man of Steel” to its soaring finale, I had the same reaction -– where’s the “Man half? Snyder’s attempt to reboot the Superman legacy with the loving assistance of David Goyer and Christopher Nolan of “The Dark Knight” fame gets the superhero part but misses the humanity at the core of this legendary character.

‘This is the End’ Turns Stoner Fantasy Into Comedy

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

CHICAGO – When David Gordon Green’s “Your Highness” hit fans of its writer/director and talented stars like a really bad pot hangover, its creators admitted that the project began life as a stoned what-if scenario. “Hey, let’s make a pot-laced fantasy movie, dude.” Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg’s “This is the End” clearly had similar origins.

Stylish ‘Violet & Daisy’ Wastes Talented Cast

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

CHICAGO – The premise of “Violet & Daisy” and the three actors at its center leave so much room for hope. That room slowly dissipates over the course of the film like air leaking out of a tire. Really? You’ve got this cast with this concept and this is the best you can do? Overly stylized to the point of suffocation, “Violet & Daisy” is the kind of tragic misfire that you just know must have been apparent while it was being made.

Opportunity For Insight Wasted in ‘The East’

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

CHICAGO – Brit Marling is an undeniably smart, forward-thinking writer/actress in that she refuses to succumb to gender stereotypes and tries to chart her own way through the independent film movement. If this is true, and I still believe it is, why did “The East,” in which she stars and which she co-wrote, end up so frustratingly melodramatic? Why was the opportunity for true commentary or even character development within this fascinating world discarded in favor of an awkwardly-staged and poorly-written love story laden with genre tropes? I so wanted to like “The East,” but it never pointed me in the direction where I could do so.

‘Rapture-Palooza’ Makes End of the World Boring

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

CHICAGO – Craig Robinson has a movie coming out about the end of the world that co-stars friends and fellow comedians Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jonah Hill, and others. It’s called “This is the End.” Craig Robinson has another movie coming out about the end of the world that co-stars fellow comedians, including Rob Corddry, Paul Scheer, John Francis Daley, and Ana Gasteyer.

‘The Purge’ is Entertaining What-If Escapism

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

CHICAGO – A vast majority of James DeMonaco’s “The Purge” makes absolutely no sense. It is the kind of what-if thriller that demands that the viewer put on blinders, suspend disbelief, and not pull at the plot threads left dangling or risk tearing the whole thing apart. It’s totally nonsense. And yet it knows that it’s mostly illogical, embracing its ridiculousness to just the right degree that becomes escapist entertainment if you’re willing not to take it too seriously.

Intriguing ‘Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay’

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

CHICAGO – Ricky Jay is a fascinating character. He went from a staple of late night TV on shows like “Dinah Shore” and “The Tonight Show” to a notable collaborator with David Mamet, co-starring in most of his films, to an author and performer on Broadway. The man is one of the true living masters of his chosen art form – magic. As one might imagine, getting behind the curtain of this particular wizard proves difficult for “Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay” but the film about him remains an entertaining bio-doc regardless of the fact that the bio portion really only stays within its subject’s profession.

Frustrating Thriller ‘Wish You Were Here’ with Joel Edgerton

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

CHICAGO – There’s an honesty in the increasingly-great Joel Edgerton’s (“Animal Kingdom,” “Warrior,” “The Great Gatsby”) harrowing performance in Kieran Darcy-Smith’s “Wish You Were Here,” opening in New York and Los Angeles this Friday, that makes it a difficult film to dismiss. Sadly, the truth of what Edgerton brings to the role of a man who carries a dark secret is shrouded by a filmmaker who refuses to let us in on the cause of his pain.

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