CHICAGO – If you’ve ever wondered what the difference is between a director and a producer, let “47 Ronin” explain how the hierarchy of creativity hinders the evolution of even the most straightforward-sounding pitches. “47 Ronin” is the type of samurai movie set in Japan that features native actors speaking only English, while Keanu Reeves stars as an outsider clearly plunked into the picture for stateside star power.
CHICAGO – Kate Hudson portrays a dying woman in “A Little Bit of Heaven,” and the film is so annoying that her extinguishment can’t come fast enough. The film insults both living and dying, and virtually everything in between, and brings along Lucy Punch, Kathy Bates, Gael Garciá Bernal, Peter Dinklage and Whoopi Goldberg for the funeral.
CHICAGO – Alice Walker’s novel “The Color Purple” won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1983 and became a highly-acclaimed film just two years later from what was then-seen as an unlikely directorial choice in Steven Spielberg. Despite the controversy, the film went on to be nominated for a stunning eleven Academy Awards and is now one of the first Spielberg works to get the HD upgrade.
CHICAGO – Ntozake Shange’s choreopoem “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf” was a landmark event in 1974, giving voice to a segment of society rarely seen on the stage. It took 34 years for a filmmaker to tackle this remarkable work in film form and Tyler Perry’s “For Colored Girls” retains some of the inherent power of it source and features some strong performances in the process but never finds the narrative cohesion needed to translate it to modern movie audiences.
CHICAGO – The expansive and intuitive prose poetry of Ntozake Shange’s “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf” comes to life in Tyler Perry’s film adaptation “For Colored Girls.” Thandie Newton portrays Tangie (color Orange) and saturates the character with a precise truth.
CHICAGO – Robert Altman’s “The Player” is one of the more important and influential films in the life of this film critic. It came out at a time when the film industry was in a bit of a slump and stood out as an original, creative, mesmerizing vision that I feel helped usher in a period of such productivity in the ’90s. It is a brilliant masterpiece that has lost none of its power almost twenty years after its release.