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.
CHICAGO – “Black Mass” is a well crafted, if somewhat conventional crime tale. It won’t win any awards, but it’s entertaining enough. The story of real life Boston crime boss “Whitey” Bulger has no shortage of juicy details, and while the saga of this mob boss slash FBI turncoat falls short of greatness, Johnny Depp turns him into an otherworldly presence.
CHICAGO – Leslye Headland is facing the new era head on, by putting a post modern Harry-met-Sally spin on her new film, “Sleeping with Other People.” Her question is how do people connect in the new age of hook-ups and online options? Jason Sudeikis and Alison Brie portray the couple trying to answer that question.
CHICAGO – Adam Scott has become familiar to audiences through his five year run as Ben Wyatt on TV’s “Parks and Recreation,” but he is also creating a presence on the big screen, with various supporting roles in big films (“The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”) and his latest comedy, “The Overnight.”
CHICAGO – The showcase and respect given to filmmakers at the recently completed 2015 Chicago Critics Film Festival (CCFF) meant that the top directors made appearances on behalf of their featured films. James Ponsoldt of “The End of the Tour” and Patrick Brice of “The Overnight” are two prime artists at the top of their game.
CHICAGO – The concept is a hot tub, that also acts as a time machine. It practically writes itself! The too-meticulous plot of “Hot Tub Time Machine 2” still delivers a decent amount of laughs, although most of them fall under the crude and rude category. Better a cheap laugh than no laugh.
CHICAGO – The awesomeness of history loses any of its stuffiness with the incredibly fun, indeed educational show “Drunk History” from Comedy Central, its two seasons now released on DVD. Hosted by its creator Derek Waters, the show is a celebration of various historic figures and their under-appreciated true tales, as expressed by funny people narrating in the universal language of inebriation; their recounts are then reenacted by famous actors working with their given dialogue, dressed with the comic cheapness of a bloated biopic.
CHICAGO – Ben Stiller plays Walter Mitty: a man whose constant daydreams about life are interrupted by a series of real-life adventures that may or may not help him find love and save his job. This is a sweet-tempered and often visually spectacular film. It has the guts to be really weird at times as well. The end result? The film is entertaining, but it’s just too scattered to really imprint on the average viewer. That’s too bad because Ben Stiller distinguishes himself here in way that real cineastes will appreciate.
I so want to love Ben Stiller’s “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.” Stiller’s directorial work on films like “The Cable Guy” and “Tropic Thunder” was underrated, the source material is great, the message of living in the moment has more value in an increasingly cluttered world, and the time seems right for an imaginative journey into the mind of a likable protagonist like Mr. Mitty.
CHICAGO – The incredibly talented men and women who make up the cast of “A.C.O.D.” make the relative failure of its script easier to bear. Just hearing brilliant actors like Richard Jenkins and Catherine O’Hara at each other’s throats or watching remarkably likable stars like Adam Scott and Mary Elizabeth Winstead figure out their relationship has enough charm to get one from lights down to credits roll. And the first hour of “A.C.O.D.” is pretty damn funny, allowing one to hope that it will develop into something truly memorable. For some reason, the theme of Sundance comedies this year (“In a World…,” “Afternoon Delight,” and this one) is non-endings as “A.C.O.D.” can’t follow through on its clever set-up.
CHICAGO – In the latest HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: Film with our unique social giveaway technology, we have 50 pairs of advance-screening movie passes up for grabs to the new comedy “A.C.O.D.” (“Adult Children of Divorce”) starring Adam Scott!