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 – One the most familiar movie clichés is the sonorous voice that intones “In a world…” to begin a movie trailer, and then extols the virtues of that upcoming feature. Lake Bell, who wrote, directed and stars in the new movie, “In a World…,’ creates a delightful and gentle satire of voiceover artists and their journeys.
CHICAGO – Lake Bell is a recognizable and successful character actress, having prominence in television (“Boston Legal”) and films (“It’s Complicated”). For her latest film, she wrote, directed and starred in a gentle parody of the voiceover profession, especially the intoned voices that narrate movie trailers, “In a World…”
CHICAGO – Jonathan Levine is quickly ascending lists of the more interesting young directors out there with “The Wackness,” “50/50,” “All the Boys Love Mandy Lane,” and the very original “Warm Bodies,” recently released on Blu-ray and DVD. Merging Shakespeare’s “Romeo & Juliet” with the zombie genre, “Warm Bodies” draws clever performances from its entire cast and offers a unique take on what could seem overly familiar at first. The film’s pace is sometimes not quite urgent enough and Levine hits a lot of the same beats repetitively but this a remarkably enjoyable flick, perhaps the sole occupant of the “zombie rom-com” genre.
CHICAGO – Not only have I been a longtime fan of great children’s films like those produced by Disney and Studio Ghibli over the years but I’m now a parent and absolutely adore the feeling of passing along my favorite films like “Spirited Away,” “Dumbo,” “The Little Mermaid,” and “Toy Story” along to my little ones. My children will never see “Escape From Planet Earth.” As someone who not only sees nearly every animated film in his profession but has a new appreciation for them given my being a parent, I feel qualified to say this is one of the worst children’s films of the last decade. It’s aggressively annoying with awful character design and a screenplay that is clearly trying to teach children a lesson about boredom.
CHICAGO – Craig Robinson has a movie coming out about the end of the world that co-stars friends and fellow comedians Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jonah Hill, and others. It’s called “This is the End.” Craig Robinson has another movie coming out about the end of the world that co-stars fellow comedians, including Rob Corddry, Paul Scheer, John Francis Daley, and Ana Gasteyer.
CHICAGO – Michael Bay’s “Pain & Gain” tells such a ridiculous story that it has to be true. Based on the infamous case of the Sun Gym Gang, a trio of bodybuilders who committed some unspeakable, bizarre crimes, “Pain & Gain” nearly works through the sheer charisma and talent of its A-list cast.
CHICAGO – For the one millionth time in movie history, zombies walk among us in “Warm Bodies.” But this isn’t an ordinary entry in the undead genre, this has a load of romance, symbolism and John Malkovich. “It” couple Nicholas Hoult and Teresa Palmer give a whole new meaning to going steady.
CHICAGO – With the popularity of TV’s “The Walking Dead,” and just the whole trend of faux zombie gatherings in social culture, the undead have never been more popular. A distinct twist on the concept is found in “Warm Bodies,” starring Nicholas Hoult and Teresa Palmer, portraying two very unlikely lovers, alive or undead.