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 – Psychological horror films are the best tweaks, because they remind us of our fears, and where are fears are rooted. The strange combination of science, religion and a blockbuster performance by Olivia Wilde creates an atmosphere of dread and weirdness in “The Lazarus Effect.”
CHICAGO – Melissa McCarthy has jumped the shark. Or if she hasn’t, she’s strapped on the skis and is contemplating the ramp. Going once more to the same character well – this time with a script co-written with her husband Ben Falcone and directed by him – McCarthy shows little originality or gumption as the title character in “Tammy..”
CHICAGO – In the latest HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: Film, we have 50 pairs of advance-screening movie passes up for grabs to the new “R”-rated comedy “Tammy” starring Melissa McCarthy and Susan Sarandon!
CHICAGO – If you were watching Fox Soccer Channel this weekend, you may have been startled to see it switch to repeats of hit comedy shows instead of sports commentary. The network is no more, replaced by FXX, a new brand of the hit FX network designed to appeal to a younger, comedy-driven audience. FX will keep shows like “The Bridge,” “Justified,” and next week’s premiere of “Sons of Anarchy.”
CHICAGO – I really admire the girl power approach to the thriller genre in Katie Aselton’s surprising genre effort, “Black Rock,” but the admirable effort doesn’t change the fact that the movie just doesn’t feel fully fleshed out nor does it play to the strengths of its filmmaker. The what-if scenario that incites the action of “Black Rock” is captivating but Aselton and co-writer/husband Mark Duplass don’t build on that scenario enough to make the venture successful overall.
CHICAGO – Despite an obsession for killing a single man to represent a foggy revenge, “Zero Dark Thirty” is an effective thriller in the actual re-creation of that Navy Seal operation. Directed by Kathryn Bigelow (“The Hurt Locker”), the all-star cast is led by a miscast Jessica Chastain.
CHICAGO – Kathryn Bigelow opens her stunning “Zero Dark Thirty” with a date and a series of voice mail recordings. The date is, of course, September 11, 2001 and the recordings are the ghosts of the people who died that day, perfectly setting the stakes for the story to come – the hunt for and capture of Osama Bin Laden.
CHICAGO – Colin Treverrow’s “Safety Not Guaranteed” is one of the most consistently enjoyable and clever films of 2012. With a script that walks a tonal tightrope and a spectacular ensemble, this is the kind of smart, quirky, unexpected comedy that one hopes for when they stray from the beaten path of the Hollywood movie. It was a wonderful Summer movie alternative that should have an even-bigger life on Blu-ray.
CHICAGO – Give Lynn Shelton a few days, a dozen crew members, a picturesque cabin and three terrific actors, and just look at what she’s capable of making. “Your Sister’s Sister” is clearly the work of a filmmaker in full command of her craft. With limited resources and very little time, writer/director Shelton somehow managed to capture a fully realized human drama brimming with richly etched characters and marvelously insightful comedy.
CHICAGO – Some of the most likable morons in the history of television are back tonight as the eighth season of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and the fourth season of “The League” return to FX for more remarkable stupidity.