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 – “Lion” is the kind of inspirational-triumph-over-insurmountable-odds and adversity stories that’s bound to appeal to grandmothers and Academy voters, and it does offer plenty of material to tug at the heartstrings. But it’s a movie that only gets the job half done, and unfortunately loses its way once Nicole Kidman comes into the picture.
CHICAGO – Motivated by financial necessity, sequels often mitigate business risk and satisfy studio executives by riding on the coattails of a previous fan base with brand equity. But business aside, to moviegoers the follow-up product so often feels like it “wasn’t nearly as good as the first” or didn’t need to return at all.
CHICAGO – Who would think a robot movie would teach us about being more intuitively “human”? “Chappie” is a very peculiar film – with fighting robots, violence and grit on one side, and the tenderness of finding a nurturing source and a consciousness on the other. It is worth experiencing.
CHICAGO – There’s no television program that can be more simultaneously brilliant and frustrating as Aaron Sorkin’s “The Newsroom,” returning tonight, July 14, 2013, to start an already-tumultuous second season.
CHICAGO – Stephen Elliott’s “About Cherry” takes what could have been an interesting journey into the porn industry and turns it into what is essentially a TV-Movie-of-the-Week without the rating restrictions of the Lifetime Channel. Newcomer Ashley Hinshaw makes an impression and the supporting cast of Elliott’s drama is strong but the film never finds its focus, refusing to get under the beautiful surface of its lead character and present her as anything more than a sexy plot device.
CHICAGO – Seven desperate souls are taking risks to save some part of their world, which describes both “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” and “The Avengers.” Which will win the box office war? The “heroes” of the Marigold residence include Judi Dench, Tom Wilkerson, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith and Dev Patel.
CHICAGO – “The Last Airbender” was mercilessly-panned on its theatrical release and will likely pop up on a few “Worst of the Year” lists in the next few months. And yet, audiences didn’t seem to care too much, pushing the movie to nearly $320 million worldwide (although one wonders if it wouldn’t have made twice that were it actually good considering the fan base of the source material and prime summer release date).
CHICAGO – The choices that M. Night Shyamalan makes in the progress of his filmography have become as perplexing as his early mysteries. “The Last Airbender,” featuring Dev Patel from “Slumdog Millionaire,” is an adaptation of a previous animated series, and although aimed at kids in the end seems tentative and…aimless.
CHICAGO – The ancient martial arts get a workout with M. Night Shyamalan’s live action version of the anime “The Last Airbender.” Featuring Dev Patel – the contestant in the Oscar-winning “Slumdog Millionaire” – and Aasif Mandvi of “The Daily Show,” Airbender uses special effects and action to tell its story.
CHICAGO – Paramount Pictures has just released the HD teaser trailer for the new M. Night Shyamalan film “The Last Airbender,” which stars Jackson Rathbone, Nicola Peltz, Cliff Curtis, Dev Patel (from the Oscar-winning film “Slumdog Millionaire”), Noah Ringer, Jessica Andres, Seychelle Gabriel, Shaun Toub, Aasif Mandvi and Keong Sim.