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 – It was a musical-oriented, high octane night at the 74th Golden Globe Awards on January 8th, 2017. Hosted by Jimmy Fallon of NBC-TV’s “The Tonight Show,” the Globes celebrated the best in TV and film in 2016, and selected Best Pictures “La La Land” (Comedy/Musical) and “Moonlight” (Drama), and honored the Best TV Shows with “Atlanta” (Comedy, FX) and “The Crown” (Drama, Netflix).
CHICAGO – “La La Land” has the spirit of an old time “Singin’ In The Rain”-type Hollywood musical, but this is no throwback or revival. It brings that spirit into the modern age and gets it to live, breathe, and thrive once again. It’s a beautiful technicolor spectacle that celebrates the whimsy of musicals, while finding a way to translate it credibly and wonderfully to the modern age.
CHICAGO – Bringing the musical movie genre back requires a bit of nostalgia, a nod to modernity and always old fashioned star power. Writer/director Damien Chazelle (“Whiplash”) combined all three to produce “La La Land,” with Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling as star-crossed lovers. Rosemarie DeWitt also has a featured role.
CHICAGO – The 52nd Chicago International Film Festival kicks off on Thursday, October 13th, 2016, with the highly anticipated film, ‘La La Land.’ The modern day musical, directed by Damian Chazelle (“Whiplash”) features Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling as two star crossed lovers.
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CHICAGO – When HollywoodChicago.com last spoke to writer/director Adam McKay in 2013, he was about to release “Anchorman 2,” and wasn’t really known for anything but his wacky comedy films. That all changed this month, with the release of “The Big Short,” a brilliant indictment of the financial meltdown of 2007 and ’08, and an impressively creative and serious effort from the comic director.
CHICAGO – This is a rare film that will fill you with anger, while making you laugh at the absurdity of 21st Century life. “The Big Short” is an inside look at the mortgage meltdown that began in 2007, that cost eight million jobs and an untold amount of foreclosures, and the men who knew it was coming.
CHICAGO – The awesomeness of history loses any of its stuffiness with the incredibly fun, indeed educational show “Drunk History” from Comedy Central, its two seasons now released on DVD. Hosted by its creator Derek Waters, the show is a celebration of various historic figures and their under-appreciated true tales, as expressed by funny people narrating in the universal language of inebriation; their recounts are then reenacted by famous actors working with their given dialogue, dressed with the comic cheapness of a bloated biopic.
CHICAGO – Nicholas Winding Refn’s “Drive” made perfect use of its director’s ultra-stylized, hyper-violent aesthetic in that it became a commentary on the superficial world of moviemaking and crime and the place that they often intersect. It’s a great film. On the other end of the spectrum is Refn’s follow-up, a film that’s practically a quasi-sequel in that it again features Ryan Gosling as a stolid, nearly-silent hero. However, the end result couldn’t be different in terms of quality. Not only does “OGF” get buried in its style but it loses all semblance of anything worth giving a damn about at all. I don’t mind movies that are overly stylish. In fact, I often defend them. But there’s no defending something this boring.
CHICAGO – Ruben Fleischer’s “Gangster Squad” is a steak devoid of juice. It has all the trappings of an effortlessly enjoyable genre exercise, but it doesn’t bring a single fresh idea to the table. It goes through the usual motions of a standard gangster picture while giving each overqualified member of its ensemble exactly one note to play. And they’re all exceedingly familiar notes, conveying a tune so familiar even Sam would refuse to play it again.