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 – Another wondrous pleasure about director Orson Welles – as if he needed something else on his resume – is the discovery of his film career after the “Citizen Kane”/studio system/boy wonder period of the 1940s. Facing difficulties cobbling together financing for his evolving vision, he resorted to overseas money, international casts and more-for-less. One of the prime examples is “Chimes at Midnight” (1965), a Shakespeare amalgamation that is just another example of Wellesian audacity and yes, genius.
CHICAGO – Opening Night for the 50th Chicago International Film Festival is October 9th, and their official portrait on the poster this year was again photographed by the iconic lensman Victor Skrebneski.
CHICAGO – Charles Chaplin’s “Monsieur Verdoux,” recently released in a lavish Criterion Blu-ray set with new special features and a glorious 2K digital restoration, is such a unique film that it has kind of gone under the radar when the career of its beloved star/director is discussed. His first post-WWII film, “Verdoux” doesn’t feature his iconic Tramp character, contains a ridiculously dark anti-hero, and is more socially demented than most films of its era. While it can be easy to look at the satire of films like “The Great Dictator” and “Modern Times” and apply them not just to today but Chaplin’s era, “Verdoux” can be a more difficult film to dissect. Which is not to imply that you shouldn’t. You really, really should.
CHICAGO – Vincent D’Onofrio has had a career that is rich and diverse. He has worked with directors as distinct as Stanley Kubrick (”Full Metal Jacket”) and Tim Burton (”Ed Wood”), and has starred in the legendary TV franchise “Law & Order: Criminal Intent.” He presents his directorial debut, “Don’t Go in the Woods,” on November 12th in Chicago at the “Tribeca Film Festival on the Road.”
CHICAGO – I have written about thousands of movies and yet I still feel daunted by addressing “Citizen Kane,” recently released in a stunning Ultimate Collector’s Edition Blu-ray for the 70th anniversary of what many still consider to be the best film of all time. What could I possibly add to the conversation? Pulitzer Prize winners have dissected the film down to every decision made by Orson Welles during its production. All I can tell you is that the movie has lost none of its power. It is still one of the most striking cinematic achievements of all time and the impressive Blu-ray box set does the film the justice it has long-deserved.
CHICAGO – What do Carol Reed’s beloved “The Third Man” and Jean-Pierre Jeunet & Marc Caro’s “Delicatessen” have in common? Almost nothing and yet I kind of love that they’re now linked in Lionsgate’s StudioCanal Collection because it illustrates the diversity of this increasingly-interesting wave of releases. They’ll never top The Criterion Collection, but it’s nice to have another series of timeless and modern classics making the Blu-ray market that much richer.