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.
LOS ANGELES – The genius comedy of Gene Wilder was often in the subtlety. With a slow burn or a raised eyebrow, Wilder was able to draw big laughs. The star of “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” and “Young Frankenstein” died in Stamford, Connecticut, according to his nephew in Los Angeles. He was 83.
CHICAGO – Mel Brooks’ “The Producers,” recently released in a perfect collector’s edition with both SD and HD versions accompanied by spectacular special features by Shout Factory, may be a perfect comedy. It has that perfect balance of incredibly smart humor and physical antics that would define a lot of Brooks’ best work. It won the Oscar for Best Screenplay and, unlike a lot of films from the ’60s, would win it again today were it released tomorrow.
CHICAGO – I’m a huge Mel Brooks fan, one of those critics who bows at the altar of arguably the two best comedies of all time, “Blazing Saddles” & “Young Frankenstein.” I’ve seen them both a dozen times and can’t wait to watch them again.
CHICAGO – Mel Brooks is an indisputable genius and his comic mastery gets a perfect tribute in the 5-DVD-and-1-CD set from Shout Factory, “The Incredible Mel Brooks,” a treasure trove of rare clips, old TV shows, appearances, and recollections from one of comedy’s greatest writers. This is a fantastic set, a perfect gift for the comedy fan in your family.
CHICAGO – One of the great children’s films is “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory,” released in 1971. As the movie celebrates its 40th Anniversary with a lavish new Blu-ray package, the main child star of film, Peter Ostrum (Charlie Bucket), made an appearance at the 2011 Chicago Wizard World Comic Con.
CHICAGO – Warner Bros. is unmatched when it comes to repackaging their beloved films for holiday season Blu-ray gift sets. Every season brings a handful of new limited edition gift sets with physical collectibles, HD transfers, and fan-centric packaging. Past releases include “A Christmas Story,” “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” and “Elf.”
CHICAGO – You can keep Tim Burton’s remake of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” with Johnny Depp. I’ll be watching the classic “Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory,” recently released on Blu-Ray, for years to come. It’s not a must-own family film release like the recent “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” or “Wizard of Oz” packages, but the film remains remarkably timeless.