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.
I so want to love Ben Stiller’s “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.” Stiller’s directorial work on films like “The Cable Guy” and “Tropic Thunder” was underrated, the source material is great, the message of living in the moment has more value in an increasingly cluttered world, and the time seems right for an imaginative journey into the mind of a likable protagonist like Mr. Mitty.
CHICAGO – They don’t make ‘em like Robert Mitchum any more. Every few years, there’s a DVD collection of classic movies that rises above the others for the holiday season. One of this year’s most star-packed entries includes not only Mitchum but John Wayne, Deborah Kerr, Kirk Douglas, Shirley MacLaine, Richard Widmark, Gene Kelly, Paul Newman, Shelley Winters, Marilyn Monroe, and many more. Mitchum may be the face on the cover but the set is a trip through the golden era of Hollywood through more than just one star.
CHICAGO – Richard Linklater’s “Bernie” is one of those unusual stories that is so bizarre that it has to be true. It is the saga of Bernie Tiede (Jack Black), a closeted, affable mortician who befriended an irascible, cranky woman named Majorie Nugent (Shirley MacLaine). After years of psychological abuse, he shot her in the back and stored her in the freezer in their garage. As he does with all of his projects, Linklater approaches this true story from a unique, entertaining angle. He’s simply one of our best living filmmakers and “Bernie” is merely further proof.
CHICAGO – Jack Black is a smart and interesting actor. Not content to ride on the modern day John Belushi-type roles that might have pigeonholed him, Black portrays “Bernie,” a convincing conniver in Texas, based on a true story. Veterans Matthew McConaughhey and Shirley MacLaine add spice to the brew.
CHICAGO – I’ve long said that one of the main reasons that Blu-ray didn’t take off as quickly as people thought it would is because too many of movie lover’s favorite movies weren’t available on the format. It took years to get “Alien,” “Star Wars,” and even “Back to the Future.” “Jaws” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark” still aren’t in HD. Well, a wave of catalog releases last week that included some of my personal favorite films ever made should help the format overall. With several Oscar winners and some of the most influential filmmaking of all time, this is an amazing catalog wave. Buy all six.
Blu-Ray Rating: 3.5/5.0
CHICAGO – Chance the Gardener (Peter Sellers), a character who notoriously said “I like to watch,” would probably be mesmerized by the 30th anniversary Blu-Ray release of “Being There” from Warner Brothers. Sadly, fans of the film that are more accustomed to the modern world may be a little underwhelmed.