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 – Movie theaters have rarely appeared as depressingly airless as they do in Todd Solondz’s “Dark Horse.” Rather than confront his adult responsibilities, pathological man-child Abe (Jordan Gelber) storms into the nearest multiplex for his daily consumption of media-fed inspirational escapism. He quietly mouths the answers to pre-movie questions projected in the otherwise vacant theater, as his words fall on nonexistent ears.
CHICAGO – Any film fan that hasn’t seen Roman Polanski’s “Rosemary’s Baby” has not yet completed Movies 101. The fact is that this work is a reference point for so many others that anyone who loves cinema simply must see it to understand the form. Roman Polanski’s 1968 adaptation of Ira Levin’s hit book is a near-perfect example of urban horror, the scary story built around the idea that any door in any apartment building could be hiding pure Hell. It’s the latest addition to The Criterion Collection and a fantastic choice by the brain trust at the company that chose to include it.
CHICAGO – Todd Solondz has always been prone to making films about people that most filmmakers wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole. His characters crave love but are the opposite of lovable. They inspire the sort of laughter spawned not from amusement but from discomfort, sadness, and occasionally, recognition. It’s refreshing to see characters utterly devoid of pre-packaged, studio-approved appeal.
CHICAGO – History has a funny way of distorting the quality of a film. Don’t worry. I’m not here to tell you that “The Last Unicorn” only works through the haze of memory. It still features some striking visuals and reasonably strong storytelling, but it may not be the ’80s classic you conjure up when you hear a tune that reminds you of that cheesy theme song. The legions of adoring fans should definitely check this out but be prepared for what could be a let down.
CHICAGO – Michel Gondry’s latest cinematic breakthrough “Be Kind Rewind” grants passage into his magical imagination and proves yet again he’s one of today’s artistic giants.