CHICAGO – The issue of gender identity, especially for those who are born with a vagueness as to what to call themselves between/beyond boy and girl, has come front and center in the U.S., both with the legalization of gay marriage and the callous repudiation of identity by trying to pass laws dismissing it (the North Carolina “bathroom” laws). The performance companies of The Living Canvas and Nothing Without a Company is currently staging “[Trans]formation,” which presents gender identity art by six performers, who perform most of the play in the nude.
Film Review: ‘Gnomeo & Juliet’ Charms With Music of Elton John
CHICAGO – As movie animation domination continues, “Gnomeo and Juliet” throws its stone cap into the ring, and has a lively story that tweaks it source, while respecting its power. James McAvoy and Emily Blunt are the voices of the star-crossed lovers, with the addition of familiar vocals from Michael Caine and Ozzy Osbourne, among others.
This is a take-off of Shakepeares’ Romeo and Juliet of course, but it’s set in competing English gardens, as the gnome statues (and other species) come to life to protect their turf. Gnomeo belongs to the blue-capped Montagues, and Juliet are with the Red Capulets.
It is established early in the film that the competing garden tribes simply don’t like each other. Gnomeo is the rebel of the Blues, racing lawnmowers with the evil Tybalt (voice of Jason Statham). Lord Redbrick (Michael Caine) is the patriarch of the Reds, and generally everyone wants to protect the loveliest gnome statue, the high-on-a-fountain-perch Juliet.
But Juliet hates the gentle life and wants more action. She sneaks out one night to capture a rare orchid, aided by Nannette (Ashley Jensen), a frog fountain. When Gnomeo spies the lovely red gnome grasping at the flower, he intervenes. As they tumble through a new world of flora and feelings, their doomed love (doomed!) opens up a series of unexpected events.
The lovers run to an abandoned garden, seemingly to begin a life on their own, and meet up with a lawn flamingo named Featherstone (Jim Cummings), who has been trapped in a shed for twenty years. He begins to teach them of love, and how their differences could perhaps become their strengths. Wherefore art thou, indeed.
Photo credit: © Miramax Films