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.
LOS ANGELES – The genius comedy of Gene Wilder was often in the subtlety. With a slow burn or a raised eyebrow, Wilder was able to draw big laughs. The star of “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” and “Young Frankenstein” died in Stamford, Connecticut, according to his nephew in Los Angeles. He was 83.
CHICAGO – The “Best of Warner Bros.” series of DVD box sets increased by one last week with the 4th edition (following Best Pictures, Musicals, and Romance) of the 20 Film Collection versions of this series (one can also buy a massive 100 Film Collection set on DVD and a 50 Film Collection on Blu-ray). The new release centers on comedies released by the legendary studio from 1935 (“A Night at the Opera”) to 2009 (“The Hangover”).
CHICAGO – A bit too much of “Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic,” premiering tonight, May 31, 2013, on Showtime, is devoted to adoration of its subject matter from his peers and friends, and not enough insight is offered into from where the true talent or serious demons of the man originated. Perhaps no one really knows.
CHICAGO – I’m a huge Mel Brooks fan, one of those critics who bows at the altar of arguably the two best comedies of all time, “Blazing Saddles” & “Young Frankenstein.” I’ve seen them both a dozen times and can’t wait to watch them again.
CHICAGO – Mel Brooks is an indisputable genius and his comic mastery gets a perfect tribute in the 5-DVD-and-1-CD set from Shout Factory, “The Incredible Mel Brooks,” a treasure trove of rare clips, old TV shows, appearances, and recollections from one of comedy’s greatest writers. This is a fantastic set, a perfect gift for the comedy fan in your family.
CHICAGO – “The Mel Brooks Collection” contains two undeniable masterpieces, four more films that I could watch repeatedly, two so-so entries, and one interesting dud. The range of material, the special features, and the collectible packaging make it a must-own for anyone who dares claim to be a hardcore comedy fan.
CHICAGO – Legendary comedian and Chicago native Harvey Korman passed away on Thursday. He is best remembered from films such as “Blazing Saddles” and “High Anxiety” as well as a performer on the “The Carol Burnett Show”. Korman was 81.