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 – “The Wedding Ringer” is a Wedding Stinker. It’s a misogynistic trip through a barren land of hackneyed premises, stock characters, female stereotypes and strained physical gags that exemplifies everything that is wrong with big studio comedies today.
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 – From the very beginning of her screen career, Olivia Thirlby has specialized in playing youthful seductresses intent on jump-starting their male partners’ sexual coming-of-age. She exuded megawatt allure in everything from David Gordon Green’s “George Washington” to Brett Ratner’s memorable segment in “New York, I Love You.”
CHICAGO – Judge Dredd is a comic book character, right? In a comic book movie, right? Okay, that might mean – as in this case it does – that there will be some static dialogue and the old good-versus-evil sameness. But the new film “Dredd 3D,” featuring Karl Urban in the title role, forges beyond the ordinary by generating some arresting visual sensations.
CHICAGO – The talented New Zealand actor named Karl Urban has had a pretty decent run in some recent blockbusters – does the “Lord of the Rings” Trilogy and “Star Trek” ring a bell? He breaks out in the title role of the upcoming action flick “Dredd 3D,” portraying legendary comic book character Judge Dredd.
CHICAGO – A decade ago, director Paul Weitz made a wonderful film about the unusual friendship that developed between an aging loner and a fatherless youth preoccupied with the well-being of his suicidal mother. The picture was 2002’s “About a Boy,” and it featured Hugh Grant in a performance sorely deserving of an Oscar nomination.
CHICAGO – “The Darkest Hour,” recently released on Blu-ray and DVD, may seem like a fun sci-fi action option for movie night. It is not. There’s nothing fun about this horrifically made film, easily one of the worst of 2011. It’s stunningly bad, almost as if it was made by college students. Otherwise talented actors get sucked into awful performances (both male leads have never given less genuine performances), the special effects are horrible, and there’s never even the slightest flicker of anything worth giving a damn about.
CHICAGO – When Paul Greengrass’s “United 93” opened in American cinemas on April 28, 2006, the vast majority of buzz surrounding the film centered on the controversial question of whether it was in fact “too soon” for a film based on the 9/11 terrorist attacks to hit the big screen. It apparently wasn’t too soon for the small screen, since Peter Markle’s TV dramatization “Flight 93” played to little fanfare in January of that year.
CHICAGO – I have become nearly exhausted by writing reviews about the modern decline of the romantic comedy, the genre most in need of a complete overhaul. Most of them nowadays are horrendous. So, no one is more surprised than this critic to say that “No Strings Attached” with Ashton Kutcher & Natalie Portman, now available on Blu-ray and DVD, isn’t bad. It’s no genre classic, but it’s an enjoyable comedy on a Saturday night.
CHICAGO – Incredible high-end trip for two to Cancun, Mexico! In our latest VIP edition of HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: Film, we’re offering you and a friend the chance to win an all-expenses-paid, three-night, high-end trip to Cancun!