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 – The balancing act between reality and drama in based-on-truth narratives is as delicate as walking the high wire. Pour in too much drama, and a story can feel like a soap opera. “Gimme Shelter,” although earnestly and achingly performed, has that sudsy protocol.
CHICAGO – The opportunity for a new film to also take up a cause is one of the advantages of the movies as mass art. “Gimme Shelter” is the based-on-truth story of a runaway pregnant teen named Apple (Vanessa Hudgens) who needs the titular sanctuary to give birth. Director Ron Krauss leads an all-star cast, including Ann Dowd (“Compliance”), who portrayed the real-life facilitator of the shelter for single mothers, Kathy DiFiore.
CHICAGO – Vanessa Hudgens, the former teen actor from the “High School Musical” franchise, has a brand new bag. Besides shocking movie audiences with her memorable performance in last year’s “Spring Breakers,” Hudgens deconstructs her glam image in the new film, “Gimme Shelter.”
CHICAGO – It feels like when any studio besides Walt Disney or Pixar does an animated film with celebrity voices, there is a little less lacquer on it. What the other two remember, and others forget, is that it starts with a script. All the toon landscapes in the world can’t fix a dull story.
CHICAGO – Family 4-packs! In the latest HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: Film with our unique social giveaway technology, we have 10 family 4-packs (40 seats in total) up for grabs to the new animated 3D film “The Nut Job” with Will Arnett and Katherine Heigl!
CHICAGO – Not only have I been a longtime fan of great children’s films like those produced by Disney and Studio Ghibli over the years but I’m now a parent and absolutely adore the feeling of passing along my favorite films like “Spirited Away,” “Dumbo,” “The Little Mermaid,” and “Toy Story” along to my little ones. My children will never see “Escape From Planet Earth.” As someone who not only sees nearly every animated film in his profession but has a new appreciation for them given my being a parent, I feel qualified to say this is one of the worst children’s films of the last decade. It’s aggressively annoying with awful character design and a screenplay that is clearly trying to teach children a lesson about boredom.
CHICAGO – A very subdued and scientific Harrison Ford recently spoke with HollywoodChicago.com and two other Chicago film critics on the subject of his new true-story film “Extraordinary Measures”. Ford stars in the film and served as its executive producer since inception.
CHICAGO – Iain Softley’s “Inkheart” is about a man who can literally read characters into existence. They pop off the page and into reality. Sadly, the film that tells his story is shockingly dull and inert, a movie that is about stimulating a young reader’s imagination but is too boring to keep their attention.
CHICAGO – The divide between the quality of a film itself and the Blu-Ray presentation it has been given has arguably never been wider than with Universal’s “The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor”. The special features are as comprehensive as any released this over-crowded holiday season and the transfer is one of Universal’s best of the year but the film itself is a complete disaster, one of the most excruciating theatrical releases of 2008.