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.
Craig T. Nelson
CHICAGO – Will Ferrell is a funny guy. Kevin Hart can be a funny guy. But the prison buddy comedy “Get Hard” is woefully less than the sum of its comedic parts. It fires buckshot of lame jokes at its audience, but precious few come anywhere near their targets as it squanders nearly every comic opportunity that comes its way.
CHICAGO – The NBC family drama “Parenthood” has struggled to find a wide audience but the people that do watch it are remarkably loyal to the saga of the Bravermans. Their third season, which looked for some time like it could be their last, was recently released on DVD in advance of the fourth-season premiere on NBC on September 11, 2012.
CHICAGO – There’s something comforting about a family like the Bravermans. It’s a blend of perspective and identification that allows us to look at the clan at the center of a family drama like “Parenthood”.
CHICAGO – John Wells has been one of the most important voices in television for the last two decades, shepherding “Third Watch,” “The West Wing,” “ER,” “Southland,” “Shameless,” and many more. It’s always hit-and-miss when a talent from one medium jumps to another and such is the case with “The Company Men,” starring Ben Affleck, Chris Cooper, Tommy Lee Jones, Maria Bello, and Kevin Costner. The great cast keeps it together and Wells has a keen ear for dialogue but the film never develops beyond a timely character study.
CHICAGO – Pixar continued their line of excellent Blu-ray releases a couple of weeks ago by adding “The Incredibles” to their line. As new Pixar flicks have come out or hit Blu-ray, the company has usually reached into the vault to offer one of their past hits as a companion. With only one Pixar film left to be released in HD (“Finding Nemo”), your collection is nearly complete.
CHICAGO – Dealing with an overall economic downturn, as the world is still experiencing, becomes the story of the individual. The frustration and insecurity that develops in a long dry spell is poignantly rendered in writer/director John Well’s “The Company Men.” Ben Affleck joins Oscar winners Tommy Lee Jones, Chris Cooper and Kevin Costner in telling the story.
CHICAGO – Like a lot of Hollywood depictions of family, “Parenthood” features a lot of yelling. For some reason, most writers think of raised voices when they think of the lives of parents and their children. We don’t all talk over each other during family dinners.
CHICAGO – Just as “My Best Friend’s Wedding” existed solely to provide Julia Roberts with a career comeback, “The Proposal” aimed to prove that Sandra Bullock still has what it takes to headline a romantic comedy. In that regard, it succeeded admirably.
CHICAGO – At some point in our lives, most of us have had to reach slightly above our job descriptions to appease a demanding boss. Common themes from making coffee to picking up dry cleaning are familiar and often tolerated as one strives to “get ahead”.