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 – Sometimes a strong cast can save weak writing but such is not the case with CBS’s “Made in Jersey,” a show with one of the most charismatic leading ladies of the new season but also some of its weakest plotting. The legal drama of the premiere is so ridiculous, manipulative, and just silly that it’s almost remarkable how watchable the beautiful Janet Montgomery makes the proceedings but she can’t stop the TV jury from convicting for bad writing.
CHICAGO – Jane Fonda portraying an aging hippie seems like a slam dunk. She was a 1960s hippie at one time, right? Well, it’s obvious she wasn’t the type of hippie personified in “Peace, Love & Misunderstanding,” co-starring Catherine Keener and Elizabeth Olsen. Nobody was that type of of hippie.
CHICAGO – Being a child of the ’80s, I can vividly remember when David Lynch’s “Blue Velvet” took the world by storm. I was too young to see it in theaters but I would be an early teen when the decade ended and the film made a stunning number of lists of the best films of the previous ten years. I could finally see what the fuss was all about on VHS. I would never be the same. There are a few movies I can point to and say, “That shaped the way I look at film.” “Blue Velvet,” recently released on Blu-ray to celebrate its 25th anniversary and complete with 50 minutes of never-before-seen deleted scenes, is one of those movies.
CHICAGO – World-renowned dancer Li Cunxin’s autobiography, “Mao’s Last Dancer,” has been transformed into the type of unimaginative, sentimental tear-jerker that will only move viewers who’ve never seen (or heard of) a movie before. It doesn’t adapt Li’s autobiography so much as stage the SparkNotes version.
CHICAGO – In our latest drama edition of HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: Film, we have 35 admit-two passes up for grabs to the advance Chicago screening of the new film “Mao’s Last Dancer”!
CHICAGO – I’ll admit that I never jumped on the “Showgirls” so-bad-it’s-good bandwagon that turned one of the biggest bombs of the ’90s into a cult hit that plays at midnight in theaters around the world. Not unlike “Rocky Horror Picture Show,” people have been drawn to the film that killed the career of nearly everyone involved and is so awful that it became the go-to bad movie reference until “Gigli” came out. Catch up with the suck on the “Showgirls: 15th Anniversary Sinsational Edition.”