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 – Deep down, because of our profound connection to what makes us human, we attempt to interpret the doing of the right thing. But in a society of property, somebody lives on it and somebody is run off it. This theme, combined with an adolescent friendship, emerge in “Little Men.”
CHICAGO – When meeting an interview subject for the third time, and remembering him as the first professional interview I ever did, results in a comfortable familiarity. Director Ira Sachs is the subject, and his latest film is “Little Men.” Taking on adolescent friendship, adult passive-aggressiveness and gentrification all in one film, it also spotlights the expansiveness of this talented filmmaker.
CHICAGO – In 2011, author Kim Barker released a press memoir with the odd title of “The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan.” Tina Fey was interested in adapting the book for film – and portraying Barker – so “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” was born. The film opens on March 4th, 2016.
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 – It is a time, and the time is now. Leave it to filmmaker Ira Sachs to break a barrier simply by having the right timing. Exploring a long time gay couple, right at the cusp of their now-legal marriage, opens the door to an odd series of ordinary circumstances in “Love is Strange.”
CHICAGO – One of the notable films to kick off the autumn film season is writer/director Ira Sach’s “Love is Strange.” The story of two men in a longtime gay relationship, who finally can marry – but whose lives go off track unexpectedly – features brilliant performances from veterans John LIthgow and Alfred Molina.
CHICAGO – Let’s everybody say it together, “the key to great animation is a great story.” This has to be the motto for Pixar Animation – now part of Disney. Their latest, “Monsters University,” is a prequel with a heart, soul and attention to what makes this type of entertainment work.
CHICAGO – David E. Kelley is one of the most influential and important TV voices of the modern era with massive hits like “L.A. Law,” “Picket Fences,” “Chicago Hope,” “The Practice,” “Ally McBeal,” “Boston Public,” and “Boston Legal”. However, it’s been a few years and a few failures for Kelley in the recent past and he’s overdue for another hit. Maybe it will be TNT’s “Monday Mornings,” premiering tonight and delivering in unexpectedly successful ways.
CHICAGO – Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man,” “Spider-Man 2,” and “Spider-Man 3” were just released on Blu-ray to coincide with the upcoming theatrical release of Mark Webb’s reboot, “The Amazing Spider-Man,” opening in theaters on July 3, 2012. All of the Sony BD releases are pretty standard although purists will like the consistent packaging and the chance to own them at a low price point (close to $10 at some outlets) before they’re probably repackaged again when “Amazing” hits Blu-ray in time for the holidays. None of the releases include any notable new special features (other than the inclusion of Ultraviolet and some games on the first film) but they all included a wealth of them in previous editions.
CHICAGO – With the success of mystery shows like “C.S.I.” and “The Mentalist,” why not try and bring back a staple of the ’70s and ’80s TV scene, the mystery movie of the week? Such is the thinking behind TNT’s programmers, as the network will debut a whopping four stand-alone mystery movies in the next month, starting with tonight’s debut of “Scott Turow’s Innocent,” starring Bill Pullman, Marcia Gay Harden, Alfred Molina, and Richard Schiff. Despite the stellar cast, this is a limp, dull effort that will only serve to remind viewers why they don’t make TV movies like this often any more.