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 – Some mothers are born great, others have greatness thrust upon them. The Mom of “The Meddler” – portrayed with precise intuition by Susan Sarandon – is of the greatness-of-the-future variety, by simply evolving to be herself. Rose Byrne as daughter Lori tags along.
CHICAGO – The combining of icon Susan Sarandon and a “smother mother” from New Jersey is unbeatable, especially under the sure hand of writer/director Lorene Scafaria. The distinctive voice that brought us “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World,’ now is taking on mother/daughter relationships in “The Meddler.”
CHICAGO – Three actors, with three Oscars and an astounding 14 nominations between them, obviously have lost the ability to read a script late in their careers. That or the producers had dirt on them. There is no other reason why Al Pacino, Alan Arkin and Christopher Walken would be the “Stand Up Guys.”
CHICAGO – Kate Hudson portrays a dying woman in “A Little Bit of Heaven,” and the film is so annoying that her extinguishment can’t come fast enough. The film insults both living and dying, and virtually everything in between, and brings along Lucy Punch, Kathy Bates, Gael Garciá Bernal, Peter Dinklage and Whoopi Goldberg for the funeral.
CHICAGO – Don’t let the awful title fool you — “The Giant Mechanical Man” is not sci-fi. This cute dramedy tackles well-trod ground in the world of indie film but Lee Kirk conveys enough honest affection for his well-crafted characters that the piece works.
CHICAGO – Everyone in “Bad Teacher” is talented and they all do good work here but it’s one of those weird films that never develops an overall comic timing. Every time it feels like it’s about to find a groove and develop a rhythm, there’s a scene that just doesn’t work. It’s a moderately entertaining rental that isn’t nearly as entertaining as its trailers made it out to be.
CHICAGO – Rarely have so many talented comedians been sucked into a more depressing morass of bad comic timing and worse writing than in the dreadful “A Good Old-Fashioned Orgy,” a movie with a bunch of people I like making a comedy I really, really hate. This movie knows nothing about friendship, sex, or, most importantly, comedy.
CHICAGO – Most comedies feature a few key decisions or even just a few moments where you, the viewer, know someone made the wrong choice. Whether it’s something as small as thinking that a punchline works when it doesn’t or something major like the wrong casting decision, modern movie goers are smart enough to tell when they’re watching something dumb. “Take Me Home Tonight,” recently released on Blu-ray and DVD is very, VERY dumb.
CHICAGO – If you’re going to be bad, be bad. But this is mainstream Hollywood “product,” starring Cameron Diaz, and while the concept of the new film “Bad Teacher” had promise, it eventually fell down on the weight of happy resolutions and the worse mortal sin for a comedy…it was dull.
CHICAGO – “Dinner For Schmucks” proves that casting does not make a comedy. Steve Carell and Paul Rudd are easily two of the funniest people alive. They have perfect comic timing. Although you’d never know it from watching them go through the unfunny motions in this lackluster effort.