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Penelope Ann Miller

‘The Birth of a Nation’ Depends on its Own Piety

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.5/5.0
Rating: 3.5/5.0

CHICAGO – “The Birth of a Nation” has been making news since it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival early this year. Taking place before the American Civil War, this incendiary look at a real slave rebellion in the deep South does pack a punch, but its approach isn’t completely successful.

Lauren Ambrose Shines in Heartbreaking Indie ‘About Sunny’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.5/5.0
Rating: 3.5/5.0

CHICAGO – In the annals of bad parenting portrayed on film, the heroine of Bryan Wizemann’s 2011 indie drama is a special case indeed. Though we watch helplessly as she makes countless bad decisions guaranteed to send her young daughter to intensive therapy, we don’t regard her as a sinister figure on the order of Monique’s monstrous matriarch in “Precious.” Our gaze is one of empathy.

‘The Artist’ is Magical Ode to Old Hollywood

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 5.0/5.0
Rating: 5.0/5.0

CHICAGO – “The Artist” is the kind of film for which a critic feels an added responsibility. The fact is that I know that a large number of readers won’t go anywhere near a movie that is described as “a black & white ode to silent films.” Eek. Sounds like torture. And yet, I also know for a fact that a vast majority of those same readers would LOVE “The Artist.” This is a stellar piece of filmmaking, one of the best of the year. Jump on the bandwagon early for what will surely be one of the major players of the upcoming awards season.

Excellent Young Actors Carry Rob Reiner’s Nostalgic ‘Flipped’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.5/5.0
Rating: 3.5/5.0

CHICAGO – Rob Reiner’s “Flipped” is not merely nostalgic for an era when life seemed simpler and sweeter but for an age when every minor detail meant the world and love was as simple as looking into the eyes of a new neighbor. We all remember the days when the smallest act of kindness or meanness changed everything and, thanks to two very strong central performances, “Flipped” captures the essence of those times in a gentle, sentimental romance.

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  • [Trans]formation

    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.

  • Life Sucks

    CHICAGO – Let’s face it, life does suck. But what can we do about that? How do we survive? Lookingglass Theatre Company’s latest stage presentation tries to answer those thorny questions through a group of fellow travelers, flung together at a cabin retreat, trying to figure out why (indeed) “Life Sucks.”

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