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 – Character actor Djimon Hounsou (Jee-mahn Hahn-soo) is memorable in any role he takes on – whether it’s working with Steven Spielberg in “Amistad,” or being so indelibly subtle for “In America.” Hounsou has also forged a true character in his voiceover work as Drago Bludvist in “How to Train Your Dragon 2.”
CHICAGO – “How to Train Your Dragon 2” is spectacular in 3D, the filmmakers actually geared the film to enhance that much maligned vision. It also features a warm and heroic story about the coming-of-age for the character Hiccup, and his now fully trained dragon, Toothless.
CHICAGO – Pixar’s 13th film has been lauded as a major first for the company – the inaugural adventure aimed squarely at young females. Luckily, there’s nothing here that diminishes that goal in any way. “Brave” features a strong, well-designed, interesting heroine, perfectly voiced by Kelly Macdonald, and it doesn’t pander to its demographic, proving that girls can play with the big boys while also giving them a fable of their own.
CHICAGO – A new trailer has been released for the upcoming Pixar film “Brave.” Telling the story of a young princess who wishes to be like any of her people and use her archery skills in battle, the new trailer is really just a scene from the film in which three men shoot arrows to try and win the princess’ hand in marriage.
CHICAGO – Walt Disney Pictures goes old school with their latest animated tale, a return to the Hundred Acre Woods and the adventures of “Winnie the Pooh.” Using the style of the classic “2-D” cartoon method, and crafting a story that is decidedly old fashioned, the folks at the Mouse Factory resisted updating the Pooh formula.
CHICAGO – “How to Train Your Dragon” is one of the best mainstream animated films of the last several years. After years of watching Pixar deservedly take home most of the critical acclaim in the medium, DreamWorks has produced a film that deserves mention in the same breath as the Pixar greats. With gorgeous visuals, strong voice work, and confident storytelling, “How to Train Your Dragon,” recently released on Blu-ray and DVD, works for all ages and will surely become one of the most highly-desired and purchased titles of the upcoming season.
CHICAGO – Craig Ferguson (comedian, actor and host of “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson”) mugged for the HollywoodChicago.com lens before signing copies of his book “America on Purpose” on Sept. 23, 2009 at the Borders on Michigan Avenue in Chicago.