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 – You can’t keep a good conspiracy down. Tom Hanks returns to a role we thought had joined the pages of history his character was so eager to uncover. Like the previous films in the franchise, “Inferno” promises to deliver a new problem to solve even though they never attempt to fix any of the cinematic and narrative flaws from its past.
CHICAGO – They were the greatest show on earth, for what it was worth. But what they also were was one of the most fascinating show business stories in history. Director Ron Howard encapsulates John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr during their initial meteoric rise in the descriptively titled ‘The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years.’
CHICAGO – When is comes to appreciating life, one great practitioner is Anson Williams, better known as the character “Potsie” from the 1970s TV series “Happy Days.” Williams wants to remind everybody to “pay it forward,” as he does in highlighting his unlikely mentor in his new book, “Singing to a Bulldog.”
CHICAGO – Defining the glory days of any sport is often centered on personal rivalries. The 1970s – notable for stand-offs like John McEnroe and Björn Borg – had a similarly contentious rivalry between Formula One car racers James Hunt and Niki Lauda, portrayed in Ron Howard’s “Rush.”
CHICAGO – In the latest HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: Film with our unique social giveaway technology, we have 25 pairs of advance-screening movie passes up for grabs to the highly anticipated “Rush,” which is based on a true story and stars Chris Hemsworth from Ron Howard!
CHICAGO – The torch is being passed at Studio Ghibli from the great Hayao Miyazaki (“Princess Mononoke,” “Spirited Away”) to his son Goro, who directs this week’s tender “From Up on Poppy Hill,” certainly not one of the best in the Ghibli canon but a well-made, enjoyable melodrama nonetheless. A full awareness that it’s kind of a cheap melodrama (one of the characters even says so) doesn’t change the fact that it is but the young Miyazaki’s visual palette is notably beautiful and the voice work is strong throughout.
CHICAGO – I’m dating myself but I was a young, fantasy-obsessed teen when I first saw Ron Howard’s “Willow.” Revisiting it 25 years later in the newly-released Blu-ray, I was instantly stunned by how old the film looked. A lot of the physical effects, the general tone, the dialogue — it feels more like a ’70s movie than some ’80s fantasies that predate it (“Legend” and “Ladyhawke” come to mind). And a sinking feeling entered my bones. “Willow” isn’t great. Yes, it has some nostalgic charm and hardcore fans will dig the HD release but I hope you don’t have the same realization that I do that my 13-year-old self may have overrated it.
CHICAGO – Could this be the news fans of the old FOX series “Arrested Development” have been waiting for? Since the final episode of the canceled series aired on February 10, 2006, rumors and hope have swirled around that the comedy series would come back for a full length feature film. Now, the long wait may be over and fans could be getting more than just a movie.
CHICAGO – It’s easy to write off bad romantic comedies like “Something Borrowed” or “Valentine’s Day” but Ron Howard’s “The Dilemma” lives up to its title for this critic. There are elements that truly work but the film is tonally inconsistent and features a few near-awful supporting performances. Ultimately, it’s a marginally successful film, an unusual movie that passes the time without being truly memorable.
CHICAGO – In many ways, “The Dilemma” is director Ron Howard’s most daring film. Leaving behind the usual brightly lit, good/evil morality tales, Howard weaves a narrative basket filled with infidelity, gambling addiction, blackmail and mistrust.