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 – Jason Segel is usually fun to watch in just about anything, but he sure isn’t fun in “Sex Tape,” a big studio summer comedy with a fatal flaw - it doesn’t seem to know what’s funny. So like a stand-up comedian on a bad night, it feverishly and desperately throws anything it can think of at the screen in the vague hope that it might be funny even incidentally.
CHICAGO – It could have been so awful. Liberace was such an over-the-top character that capturing his most extreme behavior in the form of a TV movie could have been the kind of campy thing that deserves comparison to “Showgirls.”
CHICAGO – Mark Pellington’s “I Melt with You” is one of the worst movies of 2011, but has the benefit of also being among the weirdest. Students of rotten cinema will surely flock to this disaster simply to watch it in morbid, mouth-gaping awe. Yet without a scenery chewing wild card like Nicolas Cage in the ensemble, this mournful mess is far from an enjoyable guilty pleasure.
CHICAGO – “Modern Family” may have just won the Emmy and “Louie” & “Curb Your Enthusiasm” both had very strong summer outings, but the fourth-season premiere of NBC’s “Parks and Recreation” (and the equally-hysterical episode that follows it) makes the case that the Amy Poehler vehicle is the best comedy on television right now. With incredibly smart writing and increasingly impressive performances from the entire ensemble, “Parks and Rec” just keeps getting funnier.
CHICAGO – There’s quite a race for the best comedy of the year and I suspect that “Modern Family” will take the Emmy at Sunday’s awards (which we’ll get into more in-depth with a predictions feature later in the week), but the winner by a nose for this critic is NBC’s “Parks and Recreation,” a show that just got better episode by episode as its brilliant third season progressed. See for yourself with the recently-released DVD from Universal.
CHICAGO – The midseason premiere of season three of “Parks & Recreation” starts by catching us up on what we’ve missed. It details the arrivals of auditors, the “black hats,” played by the non-descript Adam Scott and a goofily-exuberant Rob Lowe, and features a tongue-and-cheek detailing of the budget crisis facing the parks department.
CHICAGO – Amy Poehler’s “Parks and Recreation” had the serious problem of trying to find an audience on NBC during the destruction of the network by “The Jay Leno Show.” Debuting in April of 2009, it struggled to find a following and then barely hung around through the disastrous times at NBC during the 2009-10 season. To everyone’s surprise, it was renewed and will return on a revamped Thursday night lineup in January. To try and ignite interest in the show one more time, Universal has released the second season of this better-than-average show.
CHICAGO – There are so many concepts and clever ideas in “The Invention of Lying,” now available on Blu-ray and DVD, thanks to Ricky Gervais’ skills as a writer that his abilities as an actor and director don’t really know what to do with them. The script for this witty comedy is interesting enough to make it worth a rental but it sometimes moves at an awkward pace and never builds like it might have with a more experienced director.
CHICAGO – In our latest comedy edition of HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: Film, we have 15 admit-two passes up for grabs to the Chicago screening of “The Invention of Lying”!