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 – Humor is subject to the receiver, of course, and what is funny is as distinct to each individual as a fingerprint. Having said that, I found “Zoolander 2” to be hilarious, as it delivered again what made the first film work – tweaking the self-importance of fashion and celebrity.
CHICAGO – We’re born, we’re nurtured, we seek purpose and we die. In between there are a million decisions between the words of that opening sentence, and writer/director Noah Baumbach understands that intuitively in his great new film, “While We’re Young.”
CHICAGO – Director Noah Baumbach is a master in creating cinematic atmosphere. Whether it’s the adolescent mood of “The Squid and the Whale,” the weird loneliness of “Frances Ha” or his screenplays with director Wes Anderson, Baumbach generates a worthy emotional imprint. His latest film is “While We’re Young.”
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 – There are people who made it who probably think that the real-world controversy around Trayvon Martin, which forced the film to abandon its original title of “Neighborhood Watch,” is what undid “The Watch” with Ben Stiller & Vince Vaughn, one of the biggest bombs of Summer 2012.
CHICAGO – An injection of A-list voice talent (including Bryan Cranston, Martin Short, Frances McDormand, and Jessica Chastain) along with a new setting proves to be just what the “Madagascar” franchise needed. “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted” is the best of the three films, a fun, clever ride that works for both kids and adults. While the past two films had tons of bonus material with their Blu-ray releases, this one’s a little lackluster. But the movie itself should make thousands of wee ones happy this holiday season.
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CHICAGO – Star studded, special effects ladened “comedies” featuring aliens should have been put to rest after last year’s “Paul.” But “The Watch” is here, and it features Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill and an odd Richard Ayoade as four suburban neighborhood watch volunteers who end up hunting space men. Yep, right after “Paul.”
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