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 – “Big Hero 6” is a dark revenge thriller masquerading as a kids movie. Walt Disney Studios takes a few pages from its corporate cousin Marvel, while creating this new animated adventure. It has its moments, but not quite enough of them to make this anything more than a minor entry in the Disney legacy.
CHICAGO – Into the “getting old sucks” genre with award-winners like Sarah Polley’s “Away From Her” and Michael Haneke’s “Amour,” we can add “Still Mine,” opening tomorrow, July 26, 2013, in Chicago.
CHICAGO – When we got to the end of FX’s excellent “American Horror Story” and nearly all of the characters were dead, a natural question arose — what the Hell do they do for season two? Welcome to “American Horror Story: Asylum,” a completely new tale with some of the same ensemble from the first season but a new setting, new characters, and new story but the same goal — to rattle your senses and put you on edge in the middle of the week.
CHICAGO – Wouldn’t you think that the release of the last Best Picture winner from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences would be an event? I know we’ve reached a point where public opinion and the Oscars are arguably further apart than ever before but wouldn’t think that Sony would treat their most-respected film critically with “Special Edition” degrees of Blu-ray features. The release of “The Artist” last week is a decent one but not what one would expect given the pedigree of the film.
CHICAGO – The character actor has always been a fixture in Hollywood culture, and there are few as unique as James Cromwell. He’s had many memorable roles in films like “Babe,” “L.A. Confidential” and within the “Star Trek” legacy. Currently, he portrays Clifton in the Oscar-nominated “The Artist.”
CHICAGO – “The Artist” is the kind of film for which a critic feels an added responsibility. The fact is that I know that a large number of readers won’t go anywhere near a movie that is described as “a black & white ode to silent films.” Eek. Sounds like torture.
CHICAGO – The sheer craft of the actor’s expression is what drove the early “silent” film industry, before syncing up the “talking.” Director Michel Hazanavicius has a new film opening called “The Artist,” in which he explores the expression of early moviemaking, during the era of its transition to talking, and it is rendered as a silent film.
CHICAGO – In real life, we cling to the notion that the inconceivable can happen, that magical probability can penetrate the mendacity of everyday existence, but it rarely if ever happens. That is what makes the new film “Secretariat” so appealing, that 37 years ago the impossible did happen, through the heart of a horse and his believers. Diane Lane and John Malkovich lead the charge.
CHICAGO – We have grown accustomed to experiencing the world through technology. One of the great gifts cinema grants us is the ability to experience the world vicariously through the lives of others. The reason why mainstream movie stars are unnaturally beautiful and glamorous is because they represent how we’d like to envision ourselves.
Blu-Ray Rating: 3.5/5.0
CHICAGO – What happened to Oliver Stone? Despite strong performances by Josh Brolin, James Cromwell, and Elizabeth Banks, “W.” is one of the most inert, middle-of-the-road movies that this once-controversial auteur has ever made, helped on the home market by an excellent Blu-Ray release but still a little “eh” as a film.