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 – “Office Christmas Party” summons up a few jolly ho-ho-ho’s, but can’t quite deliver even one decent belly laugh you’d expect, considering the talented cast chock full of funny folks. It’s halfway decent premise is drowned in a sea of unfulfilled potential and weak material that the ensemble can only do so much to save.
CHICAGO – The raucous party movie has become a reliable staple in movieland, and now a production tackles the holiday soiré, and all that can go wrong. “Office Christmas Party” is co-directed by Josh Gordon and Will Speck, who also gave us “Blades of Glory” and “The Switch.”
CHICAGO – In doing “comic book” movies right, Marvel Entertainment has established a formula of decent back stories, complex villainy and probable scenarios. In continuing to tell a history of the second half of the 20th Century in “X-Men Apocalypse,” they also add a historical parallel universe that works.
CHICAGO – Kevin Hart’s license to riff should be revoked. “Ride Along 2” is an aimless, pointless and seemingly endless sequel to the bafflingly successful action comedy from a couple years back. Hart hijacks nearly every scene with his incessant hyperactive schtick.
CHICAGO – In the latest HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: Film, we have 30 pairs of advance-screening movie passes up for grabs to the new comedy “Ride Along 2” starring Ice Cube from Kevin Hart!
CHICAGO – I have to say while watching Johnny Depp in “Mortdecai,” I found myself amused. I rarely elicited anything more than a slight chuckle, but its indomitable spirit of silliness made it a not entirely unpleasant evening out.
CHICAGO – “Deliver Us from Evil” is director Scott Derrickson’s second foray into possession horror. His first, the excellent “The Exorcism of Emily Rose,” was taut, thoughtful and offered some truly unsettling demon scares.
CHICAGO – The 2013 Emmy nominations were announced this morning, leading to the natural hand-wringing and chest-beating over who missed the cut. Before we get to the most egregious snubs of the year, a few places where the Academy unexpectedly, happily got it right:
CHICAGO – There’s no television program that can be more simultaneously brilliant and frustrating as Aaron Sorkin’s “The Newsroom,” returning tonight, July 14, 2013, to start an already-tumultuous second season.
CHICAGO – Aaron Sorkin’s “The Newsroom,” recently released on Blu-ray and DVD, drives me crazy. The HBO drama can be so thematically dense and brings up subjects too often missing from the national conversation but it can also be so frustratingly self-important and deluded in its vision of the way real people operate. Do you give it credit for the topics it raises or smash it for the heavy hand with which they’re delivered? I have high hopes that season two will iron out some of the problems (stories of reshot episodes indicate that Sorkin heard his critics) but I’m still torn on how to feel about season one.