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 – “Drinking Buddies” director Joe Swanberg’s latest release of the same star wattage is “Happy Christmas,” an even lower-fi story than the Olivia Wilde beer comedy, steered even more by the casting that it was able to assemble. However, with this movie Swanberg doesn’t so much worry about having a story that could be confused with a more mainstream romantic comedy if it were to have a bigger budget.
CHICAGO – One thing that struck me about writer/director Joe Swanberg’s previous “Drinking Buddies,” and made it one of my more celebrated from 2013 despite not really loving it as a film, was its importance to those good ol’ independent movies. Here were big flashy stars like Olivia Wilde and Anna Kendrick, not just acting in a movie of a lower budget, but creating a wider appeal out of a previously very niche aspect, without the film form itself changing much.
CHICAGO – As I learned on my inaugural trip to Sundance (check out all the coverage here) this year, there is common discussion as to how things will play outside of the thin mountain air of Park City. People wonder what will be the next “Beasts of the Southern Wild” or “Winter’s Bone” and what will never get the hype it gets at Sundance. Two films that peaked at Sundance 2012, “Hello I Must Be Going” and “Nobody Walks” were recently released on DVD. One is worth your time while the other never should have come off the snowy mountain.
CHICAGO – Stephen Chbosky’s “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” based on his hit book of the same name, is the most pleasant and accomplished surprise of the year, a delightful, sweet, funny, and moving examination of teenage life that merits comparison to John Hughes and Cameron Crowe.
CHICAGO – Melanie Lynskey is one of those effortlessly sublime character actresses who always seemed destined for stardom. At age 16, she made an astonishing film debut in Peter Jackson’s “Heavenly Creatures” opposite Kate Winslet. In the years that followed, she has proven adept at playing everything from a good-hearted stepsister (in “Ever After”) to a severely screwed-up mom (in “Win Win”).
CHICAGO – Flawed females are often feared by Hollywood because of their questionable commercial appeal. Yet 2012 has provided moviegoers and TV fans with a rich assortment of characters—led by Lena Dunham’s Hannah Horvath on HBO’s “Girls”—that prove women can be every bit as immature, developmentally arrested and utterly fascinating as the guys.
Film Review: ‘Seeking a Friend for the End of the World’ with Steve Carell Can’t Find Honest EmotionSubmitted by BrianTT on June 22, 2012 - 3:21pm
CHICAGO – Lorene Scafaria’s “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” is a manipulative mess that’s only slightly redeemed by yet-another engaging performance from one of the best actresses of her generation.
CHICAGO – Writer/Director Thomas McCarthy makes films with that very unique attribute in which the characters completely feel like they exist before the opening scene and after the credits roll. As he did in “The Station Agent” and “The Visitor,” he has told another unique story that is both moving and also believable at the same time, an increasingly-rare combination. “Win Win” is the first great film of 2011.
CHICAGO – Writer/director Thomas McCarthy has helmed three motion pictures and already shot to the top of most lists of the best directors working today. He finds the truth in unusual situations like the trio of friends in “The Station Agent” or the unexpected romance of “The Visitor.”
CHICAGO – Steven Soderbergh is arguably the most important American filmmaker working today and his “The Informant!” with Matt Damon, just released on Blu-ray and DVD, is a great piece of evidence to support that argument. He continues to bring traditional stories to life in continuously unique, interesting ways.