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 – In our society there is one eternal truth…the rich will ALWAYS win, that’s one of the reasons that they are rich. So when “Money Monster” attempts to take them down a peg with a ridiculous fantasy story, it’s as fraudulent as what they think they’re bringing down. An oligarch watches this, and laughs at us.
CHICAGO – In contrast with the other subpar supernatural blockbusters released last August, Nick Murphy’s “The Awakening” lacks the cheesy thrills of “The Possession” and the hilarious ineptitude of “The Apparition.” Instead, it’s a humorless and ponderous bore buoyed only slightly by its vivid lead performance from Rebecca Hall, a supremely gifted character actress who has yet to receive the cinematic showcase she deserves.
CHICAGO – There a lot of sighs and longing looks in the new horror film “The Awakening” (and good luck trying to distinguish between the generically-titled “The Apparition,” “The Possession,” and this one — all in theaters). This disappointing attempt at an atmospheric ghost story tries to tell a tale that first feels like a haunting from within.
CHICAGO – I approached “John Carter” on Blu-ray expecting to fall strongly on either side of the debate surrounding one of the biggest bombs of 2012. The cyclical nature of entertainment journalism means everything that faces as much critical derision as “Carter” did when it hit theaters is likely to get a camp of loyal devotees before long and I had heard from several people that Andrew Stanton’s film wasn’t actually all that bad. It’s not. But it’s not good either. It’s just there. There are elements that work, for sure, but the thin storytelling and characters for whom it’s simply impossible to care about make it more lackluster than anything else.
CHICAGO – Coming on March 9th is one of the more anticipated action films of 2012. Walt Disney presents “John Carter,” featuring Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Willem Dafoe, Thomas Haden Church, Samantha Morton, Clarán Hinds and Bryan Cranston. The story is based on a 100 year old series of novels by “Tarzan” creator Edgar Rice Burroughs.
CHICAGO – “The Hour” recently finished its run on BBC America and was very quickly released on Blu-ray from BBC and Warner Bros. The quick turnaround is a brilliant move on the part of the company, striking while the iron is hot if you will. If they released “The Hour” in 6 to 9 months it wouldn’t have the same impact. Now, people talk about having watched the show to their friends and they can go out and see what the buzz is about for themselves. I’m surprised more studios don’t follow the same pattern.
CHICAGO – BBC America’s “The Hour,” debuting tomorrow night, August 17th, 2011, is a well-produced, well-acted, well-conceived piece that’s just…well. It’s a great piece of drama to use as an example as to how quality television is more than just the sum of its parts.
CHICAGO – Some movies were clearly a lot of “fun” for the cast and crew. A different f-word may come to mind when the cast of the period action/adventure “Centurion” thinks back on the film’s brutal production.
Blu-Ray Rating: 3.0/5.0
CHICAGO – It’s officially a strikeout for Marvel’s The Punisher, a character now featured in not one, not two, but three bad movies of his very own. Dolph Lundgren swung wildly and missed with his “The Punisher” and Thomas Jane nearly connected but went foul with his reboot of the franchise. Now, Ray Stevenson is the latest actor to fail to connect with this legendary character in “Punisher: War Zone,” now available on Blu-Ray.
CHICAGO – “Deadwood” and “The Wire”, two of the best television programs of the last decade, have been given lavish, must-own treatment by HBO with spectacular season sets available just in time for the holidays.