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 – Gritty, funky and quote-worthy, this re-imagining of “The Gambler” – from a 1970s source film – is one of Mark Wahlberg’s best performances. His addicted-to-gaming soul has roots in other frustrations, and the actor is willing to communicate the whole range of emotions.
Michael Mann’s “Thief” is a crime movie that’s more about the criminal than his illegal acts. It’s about a man who has been torn down to nothing who slowly puts pieces back into his life, like a love affair and a family, only to learn that he has to give all of them up for his own safety. It’s a fascinating film, stunning in its technical acumen and with stellar performances from James Caan, Tuesday Weld, and Robert Prosky (making his film debut). It’s also a great inclusion in The Criterion Collection, perfectly remastered and with some interesting interview insights.
CHICAGO – I was paying attention to the movie. Correction: I was mostly paying attention to the movie. It was challenging to ignore my angry, empty stomach and fully enjoy the food coma that is “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2”.
CHICAGO – From Archie Bunker to Frank Barone, TV has a long history of crotchety, irascible, borderline offensive fathers who really love their kids. To the long list, we can now add Terry Gannon (James Caan), the scene-stealer from ABC’s “Back in the Game,” premiering tonight, September 25, 2013 in a coveted time slot between the returns of “The Middle” and “Modern Family.”
CHICAGO – Adam Sandler is just freaking with us now. His goal is obviously to create the raunchiest, sociopathic and off-putting comedies of all time, and “That’s My Boy” belongs in his Hall of Fame. The A-list cast helps out, including Andy Sandberg, James Caan, Susan Sarandon and Leighton Meester.
CHICAGO – As the chorus of “Goodbye Ruby Tuesday” signaled the recent season finale of “Saturday Night Live,” it was Kristen Wiig that said farewell to the show, but not before a lingering twirl from Andy Samberg, who just announced his own departure. The next phase for Samberg begins with a co-starring role beside Adam Sandler, in the film “That’s My Boy.”
CHICAGO – Musical theater takes on the burden or blessing of twice the challenge as songless theater. To earn widespread acclaim and timeless durability, a show will seamlessly balance song and story in perfect harmony. The two living, breathing creatures must symbiotically advance each other. If one’s stronger, one suffocates the other and both die.
CHICAGO – Keanu Reeves is the sort of actor who succeeds in spite of himself. His best work remains in the late ’80s and early ’90s, when he specialized in playing hazy-brained man-children, the best of which may have been Tod Higgins, the goofy race car driver in Ron Howard’s timeless 1989 comedy, “Parenthood.” Reeves transcended the silliness of his character with a performance of disarming warmth.
CHICAGO – “Middle Men” marks somewhat of a comeback for director George Gallo, since his recent career has been marred by a series of poorly received comedies. As a writer, Gallo’s films can be as great as “Midnight Run,” and as awful as “The Whole Ten Yards.” “Men” appropriately falls somewhere in the middle, though it’s easily Gallo’s most entertaining film in years.
CHICAGO – There’s no better studio at repackaging already-available product than Warner Bros. and they have taken the truly-great “Elf” and given it the lavish Collector’s Edition treatment just in time for the 2010 holiday season. The Will Ferrell family comedy has held up remarkably well in the seven years since its release and makes a perfect selection for what could be called the WB space-killers of enormous Collector’s Editions that have also included “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” the “Harry Potter” movies, “A Christmas Story,” and more.