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 – There’s a reason why the terms “Christian” and “filmmaker” don’t seem to go together. Pictures that push religious agendas tend to sacrifice complex plots and characters in favor of amplifying its message. These films fail not only as entertainment but as quality storytelling. Whenever an aspiring artist attempts to speak for a group rather than oneself, it’s almost always a recipe for tediously preachy dreck.
CHICAGO – Donald Miller’s “Blue Like Jazz” is a beloved book that spent 43 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and sold over 1.5 million copies. I haven’t read it. But I have to believe that it worked on its fans in a way that Steve Taylor’s film simply cannot. This is clearly a personal story, one that touched people by relating to issues they’ve grappled with in their own lives. By taking Taylor’s memories and turning them into cinema, the ability to touch has been removed another degree of separation and the resulting film is a misstep, the kind of work that thinks it’s saying something important but feels more pretentious than precious.