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 last year’s powerful “Blue Jasmine,” writer/director Woody Allen’s trajectory seemed destined toward another film masterpiece, but “Magic in the Moonlight” isn’t it. Colin Firth and Emma Stone are an unlikely pairing in this seen-it-before-Woody film trifle.
CHICAGO – They often say that a movie is written three times - on paper, on film, and in the editing bay. Look no further for this truth than the deleted scenes from “Silver Linings Playbook,” recently released on Blu-ray and DVD. While some of the scenes are fun and allow Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, and Robert De Niro more chances to shine, I would argue that all 26 minutes of them were correctly cut. If they hadn’t been, the movie’s not an Oscar winner.
CHICAGO – There is cause and effect in life, and there are times when random acts of circumstance rinses it all away. Those emotions are realized in the strange yet compelling composition of the new film “Stoker,” featuring Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman, and Matthew Goode.
CHICAGO – It’s funny that a movie with the word “Playbook” in its title is so clearly about how those of us who think we know exactly where life is taking us are merely kidding ourselves. Like so many of us, the hero of “Silver Linings Playbook,” Pat Solatano (Bradley Cooper), has a plan to find happiness, to find his silver lining.
CHICAGO – There are some major laughs in “The Five-Year Engagement,” good old fashion you-can’t-breathe laughs. But is it also dark and serious at times, and makes some surprising contemporary statements regarding coupling. Jason Segel and Emily Blunt portray the engaged couple.
CHICAGO – One of the most wonderful nominations on Oscar morning this year was that of the great Jacki Weaver for the movie that most “E!”-watchers probably had never even heard of — “Animal Kingdom.” This searing crime thriller barely found an audience when it was released in art houses but should get a nice boost from the Academy and was just released on DVD last week, Jan. 18, 2011.
CHICAGO – It started with the best lead performances of 2010 yesterday and now we naturally move on to many of the stars who made those lead turns possible. For what is a great lead performance without the supporting ones that got it there? These were the MVPs of 2010 who may have allowed others to take the spotlight but also made it shine so much brighter.
CHICAGO – The thin line between anarchy and social peace is shriveling into a microscopic blur as sentencing and incarceration become increasingly less effective as a deterrent. The human side of this perspective is explored with an artistic elegance, featuring Guy Pearce in writer/director David Michôd’s “Animal Kingdom.”
CHICAGO – The gangster movie gets a nice Freudian twist in director David Michôd’s new film, “Animal Kingdom.” This Australian import focuses on a family of bank robbers whose mother is the glue that holds their criminality together. Guy Pearce (”Memento,” “The Hurt Locker”) lends his talent as Leckie, a pursuing police officer.