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 – The film genre of aliens from other planets is as old as the movies. But it hasn’t been told as boldly and humanely as the new film “Arrival.” Its theme is communication, and how this interaction relates to the concept of the life cycle. Yes, it’s lofty, but it is also edge-of-the-seat engaging.
CHICAGO – “Captain America: Civil War” is more of an “Avengers” movie than it is a Captain America movie. But that’s okay because this is easily the best Avengers movie Marvel Studios has ever made, and it also might be the best movie the studio has ever made.
CHICAGO – One of Chicago’s most popular pop culture gatherings is the Wizard World Comic Con, and the 2015 edition is building anticipation for the weekend of Thursday, August 20th through Sunday the 23rd. Besides the fan costumes, vendor booths and comic book legends, Wizard World has appearances from TV and movie celebrities, highlighted by Burt Reynolds (“Deliverance,” “Smokey and the Bandit”) and Jeremy Renner (The Avengers film series).
CHICAGO – The sensational summer movie season of 2015 still has some pulse pounding tricks up its sleeve, and “Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation” fulfills that sensation with a wham-bam bag of spy games. Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg and Jeremy Renner are back, joined by femme kick-ass Rebecca Ferguson.
CHICAGO – When it comes to keeping up with the boys, actress Rebecca Ferguson is equal to any task in the upcoming “Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation.” She portrays Ilsa, an undercover spy who could be going rogue, and treats the audience to her signature leg clamp, motorcycle skills and action-based heroism.
CHICAGO – “The Avengers: Age Of Ultron” is another overstuffed, action packed CGI addled slugfest from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. but the effects are exhausting instead of exhilarating. What has set the Avengers apart is the great interplay between the characters – and when the movie stops to take a breath, those relationships shine through.
CHICAGO – Look. We all know sequels usually suck. And blockbuster films often get panned for overprioritizing special effects at the expense of a well-written story and character development. Even when a story in a big-budget film is redeeming, it’s practically impossible not to shoot holes through it.
CHICAGO – Whew. There is so much going on in “Avengers: Age of Ultron” that you practically need a program to keep up with the players. This mixed bag has overwrought comic book action, head shaking plot points, and the usual Marvel angst that includes some riveting scenes.
CHICAGO – When journalists were heroes and exposed those in power for their sins, movies were made like “All the President’s Men.” Gary Webb of the San Jose Mercury News was one of those journalist heroes during the 1990s, but he wasn’t celebrated in his time. The indictments, induced paranoia and outright lies against him are distinctly chronicled in the luminary “Kill the Messenger.”
CHICAGO – What happens when too much truth is exposed, and those who will feel the backlash from that exposure are too powerful? The new film “Kill the Messenger,” directed by Michael Cuesta, seeks an answer to that question through the true story of journalist Gary Webb, a victim of his own investigative reporting.