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 – Although “The Handmaiden” is based in deceit, fetishes, thievery and subservience, director Park Chan-Wook (“Stoker”) keeps it light by the addition of some subversive humor, and weaves a mystery with a pitch that is like the “The Sting” meets “In the Realm of the Senses.”
CHICAGO – Korean cineastes know the name Kim Ki-duk. While Park Chan-wook (“Oldboy,” “Stoker”) and Bong Joon-ho (“The Host,” “Mother”) may get more international attention, anyone who has seen “3-Iron” or “Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…and Spring” knows that Kim is an important international filmmaker. While his recent output hasn’t been as well-received as those early ‘00s arthouse hits, “Pieta,” opening in some markets this Friday and now playing On Demand, is a return to form.
CHICAGO – There is cause and effect in life, and there are times when random acts of circumstance rinses it all away. Those emotions are realized in the strange yet compelling composition of the new film “Stoker,” featuring Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman, and Matthew Goode.
CHICAGO – Movies don’t get much weirder than “The Housemaid.” And I mean that in a good way. Mostly. The extreme Gothic elements of this twisted thriller work even if the ludicrous finale somewhat falls apart on recollection. “The Housemaid” opens this week at the Music Box Theater in Chicago after playing the International Film Festival in October 2010.
CHICAGO – Our film critic Matt Fagerholm may have felt that “The Good, The Bad, The Weird” valued style over substance to a fault (read his review) but this critic still holds it as one of the best films of the year; a joyful cavalcade of modern action and spaghetti western archetypes that’s unlike anything else released in 2010. Don’t miss this excellent movie now that it’s on Blu-ray.
CHICAGO – Park Chan-wook’s “Vengeance Trilogy” stands as one of the most essential cinematic achievements of the new millennium and should be seen anyone who dares call himself a movie fan. The three thematically linked films (although not sequels in a traditional sense) — “Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance,” “Oldboy,” and “Lady Vengeance” — have been collected in a gorgeous, extras-packed, simply spectacular release from Palisades Tartan that is now available to all after a limited exclusive deal with Best Buy for the last few months. If you haven’t already, buy it. Now.
CHICAGO – The masterful young director of “Memories of Murder” and “The Host,” two of the best films of the ’00s, has done it again with the incredible thriller “Mother,” opening in Chicago tomorrow, March 26th, 2010. He recently called over to discuss his new film and its inspirations, along with upcoming work with “Thirst” director Park Chan-wook and even a sequel to “The Host”.
CHICAGO – Easily one of the most interesting and original films of 2009, “Thirst” deserves at least the basic Blu-Ray treatment being given nearly every theatrically released film in the current market or, failing that, at least a special edition DVD. Instead, Focus/Universal has gone the baffling route of releasing a bare bones disc featuring only the film. The movie itself is great enough to warrant a look, but that’s in spite of its home release.