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 – He may share a name with a notable movie star, but director Steve McQueen has made his own mark in cinema in a very short time. After his debut with “Hunger” (2008), he followed with the shocking “Shame” (2011). As producer, he won the Academy Award for Best Picture for “12 Years a Slave” (2013), a film he also directed.
CHICAGO – There has been an attitude shift in America in a couple of generations toward the poor and unlucky in life. What was once a campaign to end poverty and take care of that part of the population, has turned into a demonization of them. This is one of the main themes in “A Place at the Table,” an overview of the continuing hunger problem in America.
CHICAGO – One of the strangest problems in the United States, the richest country in the world, is “food insecurity.” Millions of Americans, lost in economic or working poverty, can’t keep pace with their food needs. The new documentary “A Place at the Table” dissects this social problem, and is co-directed by Kristi Jacobson.
CHICAGO – Writer/director Steve McQueen and actor Michael Fassbender have the kind of interview dynamic that only comes with two people who know each other very well. They broke through with the same film, 2008’s “Hunger,” a masterpiece of human drama.
CHICAGO – After snagging the Best Actor prize at the 68th Venice Film Festival, Michael Fassbender’s acclaimed performance in Steve McQueen’s drama, “Shame,” will be able to premiere on American screens in the near future. On Sept. 9, Fox Searchlight Pictures presidents Nancy Utley and Stephen Gilula announced that their studio had acquired U.S. rights to the film, while HanWay Films will handle international sales.
CHICAGO – “Five Minutes of Heaven” is a good film with the potential to be a great one. Though it garnered prizes for its writing and direction at Sundance, it’s precisely the work of screenwriter Guy Hibbert and director Oliver Hirschbiegel that makes the film occasionally falter. This material may have worked better as a two-man play featuring the same two stars, whose brilliant performances help the picture succeed in spite of itself.
CHICAGO – Here’s an art house film more visceral and unsettling than any run-of-the-mill mainstream bloodbath. It’s the feature debut of visual artist Steve McQueen, an unfortunate name for anyone who doesn’t happen to be the star of “Bullitt.” His previous work has been confined to art galleries, and there are countless shots in “Hunger” that could function as standalone artworks.
CHICAGO – From Heath Ledger’s searing portrayal of The Joker in “The Dark Knight” to Sean Penn’s riveting embodiment of Harvey Milk in “Milk,” 2008 has been an excellent year for on-screen performances.