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 – After becoming one of last season’s don’t miss shows “Hannibal” has it’s work cut out for it on several fronts. Forget the fact that the bar is set so high for the writing and the acting and visual aesthetics. Underneath all that is another far more daunting task. Show Runner Bryan Fuller has already let leak that Season Four is when the events depicted in the novels and previous film adaptations will start to enter the mix – culminating in a season that imagines events taking place after the film “Hannibal” (2001).
CHICAGO – Has there ever been a network TV show more cinematic than “Hannibal”? Especially when one watches it commercial-free in “binge” format on the newly-released Blu-ray, one can even more distinctly appreciate the fact that the first season of Bryan Fuller’s incredible show, the best on network TV, plays like long film. Scratch that.
CHICAGO – NBC’s “Hannibal” is the best new network drama of the 2012-13 season. It’s a smart, creepy, atmospheric piece of work that perfectly gets the Thomas Harris universe that gave us one of the most memorable villains of all time.
CHICAGO – Tanya Wexler’s “Hysteria” is a feel-good movie about the dawn of an invention that redefined the meaning of “feel-good.” As America continues to harbor simultaneously puritanical and adolescent attitudes toward sex, films like “Hysteria” continue to be as vital as they are entertaining. In a way, the picture is as old-fashioned as any Hollywood crowd-pleaser, aside from its eyebrow-raising subject matter.
CHICAGO – Combining late 19th century Victorian England with the invention of the vibrator is a surefire laugh getter, but unfortunately “Hysteria” adds in a romance subplot and doesn’t climax. Maggie Gyllenhaal, Hugh Dancy, Jonathan Pryce and Felicity Jones add to the buzz.
CHICAGO – When creating a film about the origins of the vibrator, it’s best not to take yourself too seriously. The brassy, bubbly director Tanya Wexler helped convert a two page premise into a sly romantic comedy. The cast of Maggie Gyllehaal, Hugh Dancy, Jonathan Pryce, and Felicity Jones take the journey with her.
CHICAGO – You’d never know it from the Academy Awards this past weekend but Sean Durkin’s “Martha Marcy May Marlene,” recently released on Blu-ray and DVD, was one of the best movies of 2011, a better overall film than at least half of this year’s Oscar winners. It features my choice for the best actress performance of 2011 and won the CFCA Award for Most Promising Filmmaker and Most Promising Performer. It’s absolutely a must-see.
CHICAGO – “Our Idiot Brother,” recently released on Blu-ray and DVD, is a light, good-natured comedy with a stellar ensemble that doesn’t quite click into place as a truly stand-out entry in the genre but features such a positive tone and overall message that it’s a difficult movie for which to mount too much of an offense against. The cast is so incredibly likable and so is the overall theme of the movie that it’s easy to approach like its title character and just go with the flow.
CHICAGO – With a striking lead performance and assured direction from a debut filmmaker, “Martha Marcy May Marlene” has been one of the most acclaimed films of 2011 since its debut at Sundance many months ago.
CHICAGO – People who have been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, which is on the autistic spectrum, are sometimes described as being “mind blind”. In other words, they often don’t understand what people are thinking.