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 – Dwayne Johnson slams and jams in the bland “Hercules,” the “Space Jam” he never made when known as a brow-raised wrestler under his birth name “The Rock.” This ferociously generic take on the mythological hero focuses on Hercules with a group of mercenaries (played by Rufus Sewell among others) as they train a group of gee-shucks farmers to become warriors, while they project legends of immortality onto Johnson’s secretly mortal hero.
CHICAGO – Keanu Reeves has been in a lot of dogs over the years, but rarely has he left such a high body count while avenging one of them. “John Wick” is a brutal revenge thriller where Reeves is a ex-mob enforcer who goes on a murderous rampage leaving blood on every doorstep to avenge the death of his dog.
CHICAGO – I empathize with Dwayne Johnson and simultaneously don’t. Most people never get rich and famous once, let alone twice. Sure, it’s hard to re-brand people from the wrestling superstar you once were into the dramatic action star you’re trying to become, but your past is forever immortal.
CHICAGO – In the latest HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: Film, we have 75 pairs of advance-screening IMAX movie passes up for grabs to the highly anticipated “Hercules” starring Dwayne Johnson!
CHICAGO – Nick Frost has played character and comic roles as the affable sidekick, especially in the famed “Cornetto Trilogy” – “Shaun of the Dead,” “Hot Fuzz’ and “The World’s End” – alongside Simon Pegg and director Edgar Wright. Frost is a leading man now, strutting his stuff on the salsa dance floor in “Cuban Fury.”
CHICAGO – Every element of “Jack the Giant Slayer,” released today on Blu-ray and DVD, feels like a subpar version of something done better in a superior film. There’s the epic scope and final siege of a “Lord of the Rings” film. There’s the reimagined fairy tale not unlike “Alice in Wonderland” or “Oz the Great and Powerful.”
CHICAGO – The trend of taking ancient fairy tales – “Hanzel and Gretel” and “Snow White,” for example – and converting them into computer generated mega-pictures is peculiar, and glaringly profitable (no “rights” to buy). The latest, “Jack and the Giant Slayer,” has some fun up the beanstalk again.
CHICAGO – If you can stomach forgiving the film’s uneven acting, inconsistent pacing and a higgledy-piggledy script that feels like it’s still in draft mode, just zero in on the only newsworthy question about “Snow White and the Huntsman”: Who are those “dwarves”?
CHICAGO – In the latest HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: Film with our unique social giveaway technology, we have 25 admit-two movie passes up for grabs to the advance screening of “Snow White and the Huntsman” with Charlize Theron!
CHICAGO – When I heard that Johnny Depp had been sucked back into the cash cow that was the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise so shortly after everyone agreed that the series had run its course with the original trilogy, I was more than a little sad. Depp is still one of our most interesting actors and I’m not alone in wishing he would show a bit more of his range in recent years instead of taking easy roles (and, yes, Jack Sparrow is fun but this is not challenging work for the movie star). And the mediocre reviews caused a bit of dread when the Blu-ray showed up on my desk. So, consider it faint praise when I tell you that “On Stranger Tides” is, well, okay.