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 Tyler Perry “filmmaking machine” cranks out lowbrow comedies or high drama potboilers without any regard for originality. While this may jibe with Perry’s creative vision, the films themselves are a waste of time. Tina Gordon Chism directs the latest Perry production, “Peeples.”
CHICAGO – Craig Robinson is in the swirl of two media events in the next two weeks. His latest film “Peeples” – in which he plays the romantic comedy lead – opens on Friday. The famous TV series he has been featured in, “The Office,” has its final episode after nine seasons on Thursday, May 16th.
CHICAGO – Who but Quentin Tarantino could make a nearly-three-hour movie about slavery and turn it into the highest-grossing film of his career? The movie made over $160 million domestically and over $400 million worldwide on its way to two major Oscars — Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor. With all of its massive success, one might expect a lavish Blu-ray release. What we get is a bit more cut-rate. It’s got a good transfer but it’s slight on special features and it’s very likely that a special edition is inevitable. Then again, I’ve been waiting for the “Kill Bill” recut, full-movie edition that QT promised years ago.
CHICAGO – Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained” has some undeniable pleasures, the kind that erupt from the screenwriting abilities of one of the best movie scribes alive.
CHICAGO – ABC/Disney has released three of their Spring 2012 mid-season shows on DVD in time for, well, to say goodbye to two of them and catch up on the third. The releases for “GCB” and “Missing” could have been labeled “Complete Series” as ABC pulled the plug on both shows but Shonda Rhimes’ “Scandal” is being given another chance to find a larger audience in the Fall. All three sets are well-loaded with special features.
CHICAGO – Shonda Rhimes has made waves on network TV with her unique, stylized approach to characters on hit shows “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Private Practice.” She occassionally has a gift for pulpy TV and her latest, “Scandal” sometimes hits that nerve that wants an escapist soap opera after a long day at work. More often, it feels over-done, like someone trying to stir controversy with outlandish, unbelievable behavior.
CHICAGO – The movie business is a funny thing in that EVERYONE involved with “A Thousand Words” has moved on and yet there are studio executives who still want you to care enough to open your wallet.
CHICAGO – Tyler Perry must have a bit of internal conflict. On one hand, he gets critically slammed for films that display little creative effort at all like “Madea Goes to Jail” or “Why Did I Get Married Too?” but those movies make money. Then he tries to do something clearly considered artistic with his adaptation of Ntozake Shange’s choreopoem “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf,” now truncated to simply “For Colored Girls” and recently available on Blu-ray and DVD, and it makes less than most of the films he’s directed.
CHICAGO – Nominated right alongside buzzed-about features such as “Get Low” and “Tiny Furniture” in the Best First Feature category at this year’s Indie Spirit Awards is “Night Catches Us,” the impressive yet entirely overlooked filmmaking debut of writer/producer/director Tanya Hamilton. The film breaks no new ground artistically, but its historical backdrop has rarely been explored in cinema.
CHICAGO – No director treasures silence more than Rodrigo García. He doesn’t want anything to get in the way of the audience’s connection with his characters and the extraordinary actors who play them. With the invaluable assistance of cinematographer Xavier Pérez Grobet and composer Ed Shearmur, García has made some of the most brilliant and probing character studies in recent memory.