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 – In doing “comic book” movies right, Marvel Entertainment has established a formula of decent back stories, complex villainy and probable scenarios. In continuing to tell a history of the second half of the 20th Century in “X-Men Apocalypse,” they also add a historical parallel universe that works.
CHICAGO – The original “Neighbors” was a funny enough movie, that still boasted at least a couple of big laughs. “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising” only manages the occasional chuckle here and there. As far as big budget studio comedy sequels go, it’s not as bad as “The Hangover 2.” It’s more in line with “Ghostbusters 2”.
CHICAGO – Some mothers are born great, others have greatness thrust upon them. The Mom of “The Meddler” – portrayed with precise intuition by Susan Sarandon – is of the greatness-of-the-future variety, by simply evolving to be herself. Rose Byrne as daughter Lori tags along.
CHICAGO – The combining of icon Susan Sarandon and a “smother mother” from New Jersey is unbeatable, especially under the sure hand of writer/director Lorene Scafaria. The distinctive voice that brought us “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World,’ now is taking on mother/daughter relationships in “The Meddler.”
CHICAGO – It can be argued that Melissa McCarthy, with a film a year and a TV sitcom still running, is topping out on exposure. But as long as she teams with writer/director Paul Feig, as she did on “Bridesmaids” and “The Heat,” she will continue to be an original comic force. Their latest is “Spy.”
CHICAGO – He’s not a household name, but he has certainly rocked a few houses…with laughter. Writer/director Paul Feig has a new film called “Spy,” in which he re-teams with two of the supporting cast of his “Bridesmaids” romp, Melissa McCarthy and Rose Byrne. “Spy” opens on Friday, June 5th.
CHICAGO – Finding the adult button and hitting “on” is becoming more of a challenge as the tech generation morphs into their thirtysomething era. Comedian Nick Kroll (“Kroll Show,” “The League”) ponders this situation in the new film “Adult Beginners,” a primer on growing up and moving on.
CHICAGO – The diabetes-inducing Broadway musical “Annie” does not deserve two film versions – including the newest release – especially since both are tortuous and somewhat dark. The “modern” version even eliminates most of the strength that “Annie” possessed on stage, its chipper songs.
CHICAGO – Jason Bateman and an all-star cast got me there. The unfunny copycat story left me regretting it. If you don’t start with a solid plot that’s at least somewhat new, it doesn’t matter how many “A”-listers you throw into an ensemble. They’re just individuals doing the best they can with weak material.
CHICAGO – In the latest HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: Film, we have 40 pairs of advance-screening movie passes up for grabs to the new dramatic comedy “This is Where I Leave You” starring Jason Bateman and Tina Fey!