Paul Dano

Spotty ‘Swiss Army Man’ Has Just Enough Gas

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

CHICAGO – It’s a simple concept. A man is stuck on an island, and has run out of hope. A dead corpse washes ashore and starts farting. The farts are so frequent that the man rides the corpse like a jet ski. The man is “saved”? Oh yes, and the corpse is portrayed by Daniel “Harry Potter” Radcliffe.

Elegant, Delicate Emotions Are Forged in ‘Youth’

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

CHICAGO – When a film tries to be philosophical, it easily can devolve into heavy handedness. But the exception is the latest from writer/director Paolo Sorrentino, the richly presented “Youth.” It treads upon many definitions of the title, and lands upon all of them, because that’s life.

Brian Wilson Redeems His Soul in ‘Love & Mercy’

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

CHICAGO – Brian Wilson has been called one of the greatest songwriters in popular music history. His tonality and approach towards his best compositions have been studied like Mozart. In “Love & Mercy,” we see that the thing that made Wilson great also had the power to destroy him.

Relentless Artistry of ‘12 Years a Slave’

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

CHICAGO – A man is chained to the floor in a dark, barren room. He has been ripped from his family and his freedom, and we watch as he’s whipped with amazing brutality. It goes on well past the point that most films with similar human suffering would have cut to a less stressful image. It will not be the last time that “12 Years a Slave” forces the viewer to turn away before the editor does it for you.

Jake Gyllenhaal, Hugh Jackman Enter Darkness of ‘Prisoners’

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

CHICAGO – What would you do if your child was in jeopardy? We all love to answer quickly and instinctually that we would do absolutely anything but the fact is that we’re incredibly lucky to never be put in that situation. Would you torture someone else? What if you weren’t sure they were responsible?

Stunning, Creative Vision of ‘Looper’ with Joseph Gordon-Levitt

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

CHICAGO – It’s so refreshing to see a talented filmmaker that has been allowed to bring his unique vision to the screen without compromise. You know the feeling when you’re watching a product of a marketing focus group or producer interference and when you’re seeing something fresh, new, and personal.

Zoe Kazan Illuminates Fascinating Fable of ‘Ruby Sparks’

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

CHICAGO – Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris return to the spotlight this week with their first film since the award-winning “Little Miss Sunshine” and they completely defy the sophomore slump, delivering a smart, fascinating, fun gem in the spectacular “Ruby Sparks.” Buoyed by one of the best screenplays of the year courtesy of one of our most interesting young actresses, “Ruby Sparks” is a clever romantic fantasy that works on nearly every level.

Robert De Niro Triumphs Again in ‘Being Flynn’

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

CHICAGO – The intensity that Robert De Niro puts into his movie characters had slackened a bit, as he bent his reputation on more commercial roles. But Director Paul Weitz has revived the old legend with a meaty, purposeful character, and De Niro delivers it with his old fire. ‘Being Flynn’ is not a comeback, but a gratefully received reboot.

Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford in Dull ‘Cowboys & Aliens’

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

CHICAGO – Jon Favreau’s “Cowboys & Aliens” with Daniel Craig & Harrison Ford is a depressing snooze, a film with so many of the right elements but none of the personality to connect them into something memorable. With so many revisions from a number of writers, it feels like everyone added their own color to the piece until it all faded to gray.

‘Meek’s Cutoff’ Turns Physical Journey Into Riveting Spiritual Drama

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

CHICAGO – Very few films have ever conveyed an impending sense of doom as successfully as Kelly Reichardt’s stunningly accomplished “Meek’s Cutoff,” a journey into the past that has resonance for any era. Which way do you go when you’ve lost the map? Who do you trust when you can’t see beyond the horizon? How does man simply keep moving forward when it’s so unclear where we’re going?

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