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: ‘About Last Night’ Remake Suffers from Lack of Focus
CHICAGO – The remake of the 1986 Chicago-based movie, ‘About Last Night,’ has potential for a thematic redo. That opportunity seems squandered in this 2014 version, as the focus is just on casting and crudeness, as practiced by co-stars Kevin Hart, Michael Ealy, Joy Bryant and Regina Hall.
It has a few moments – Hart continues his run as the flavor of the moment – but it doesn’t have a specific viewpoint, as the original did. The first film was adapted from a famous David Mamet play, “Sexual Perversity in Chicago,” and that title theme pervaded the first film (as well as it being set in Chicago, which the remake is not). The confusion that the male character feels regarding commitment is not clearly played out in this version, because of a reliance on Kevin Hart and the “R-rated” aspects of crude sex references. This damages the story structure, and creates a reliance on the beautiful cast and their episodic close-ups. And it’s not really a date movie, even though it opens on Valentine’s Day, unless relationship negativity rather than romance is the goal for that day’s feelings.
Bernie (Kevin Hart) and Joan (Regina Hall) are a quasi-couple who appreciate the heat of their hook-up coupling rather than the emotion. Bernie’s friend Danny (Michael Ealy) has been one year away from a destructive relationship, and cringes at an obvious set-up situation with Joan’s friend Debbie (Joy Bryant). But surprisingly, the two hit it off, and it eventually leads into living together.
That is when the second guessing begins. Danny is not sure about closing the door to being a player like Bernie – who has since shut out Joan because she wanted more emotion – and settling down. Debbie is the victim of this indecision and finally gets sick of it. The newly domesticated couple is in trouble, while Bernie and Joan begin to re-ignite the old flame.
Danny (Michael Ealy) and Debbie (Joy Bryant) Give it a Go in ‘About Last Night’
Photo credit: Sony Pictures Releasing