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.
George Clooney’s “The Monuments Men” is processed cheese. It is a film that has been rewritten, edited, and refined until it has lost all sense of purpose or identity. There’s no flavor left. It is a film that defies genre; not quirky enough to have a comedic personality despite a cast that almost always supplies edge and not engaging enough to work as drama or thriller.
CHICAGO – Wes Anderson’s “Moonrise Kingdom” was a surprising delight in theaters this past Summer but it seems even more effective at home where one can approach this excellent comedy on an intimate, personal level. Perhaps it’s because so much of “Moonrise” plays like old home movies or long-lost memories of youth that the film holds up so well on repeat viewing. Sadly, the Blu-ray release is woefully underwhelming with a great Bill Murray commercial but little else in terms of special features.
CHICAGO – Wes Anderson’s “Moonrise Kingdom” is a true delight — a fun, clever, and, of course, whimsical tale about the days when love seemed worth running away from home over and getting a scout badge meant the world.
CHICAGO – Over a decade ago, Jill & Karen Sprecher made waves on the indie scene with “Clockwatchers” and “Thirteen Conversations About One Thing” but then virtually disappeared. They’re back with another arthouse piece, a “Fargo”-esque black comedy called “Thin Ice,” starring Greg Kinnear, Billy Crudup, Alan Arkin, and more. The strong ensemble makes the relatively weak script (as presented…more on that later) easier to take as the film skates over some treacherous rough patches but never falls through.
CHICAGO – Showtime’s new comedy series “Web Therapy” with Lisa Kudrow suffers from two notable problems. One, what works in brief installments online rarely translates to longer ones on the small screen.
CHICAGO – James Franco gave a riveting performance in Danny Boyle’s “127 Hours” that is likely to earn one of the best actors of his generation an Academy Award nomination in a few weeks, but it wasn’t his only stellar turn in 2010. He also thoroughly delivered as the legendary poet Allen Ginsberg in the hybrid “Howl,” a film that’s part poem, part courtroom drama, and part history lesson. It doesn’t always come together but it’s worth seeing just for Franco’s work and the strength of the source material alone.
CHICAGO – “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked…” So began the reading of Allen Ginsberg’s poem that rattled society, the very title of which is the inspiration for the new film, “Howl,” featuring James Franco, Jon Hamm and Mary Louise-Parker.
CHICAGO – The seismic shift that took place with the publication of Allen Ginsberg’s epic poem, “Howl” – which is also the title of the new movie about the verse – reverberates and inspires to this very day. The brilliantly rendered film, starring James Franco as Ginsberg, is written and directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman.
CHICAGO – A TV movie that’s slightly light on substance and presented in a downright ugly standard DVD presentation, “Georgia O’Keeffe” is still well worth seeking out for it features one of the best actors and one of the best actresses currently alive in Jeremy Irons and Joan Allen, both nominated for multiple awards for their work in this film and both at the top of their game.