Posted inArts & Culture

Little Victories

LITTLE VICTORIES Trinity Square Ensemble at Live Theatre Little Victories must have been written by a feminist double agent, a saboteur pretending to champion feminism while actually subverting the cause from within. The play seems ideologically pure. It revolves around two icons of feminism –Susan B. Anthony and Joan of Arc — who are busy […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Measure for Measure

Chicago Shakespeare Company The Immediate Theatre Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall — measure for measure. Written between Othello and King Lear, Measure for Measure must have absorbed a lot of spilled-over seriousness from those uncompromising plays. In this alleged comedy, Shakespeare sets up the burning conflicts so strongly that the obligatory […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Off-Off Loop Theatre Festival

Last year, with the Chicago International Theatre Festival running at about the same time, there was an aura of the underdog to this event. This year, they’ve got a nice logo and the field more or less to themselves. Still, the specifics are the same: ten plucky non-Equity companies displaying their wares in a series […]

Posted inArts & Culture

The Easy Life

Vittorio Gassman as a middle-aged playboy who takes law student Jean-Louis Trintignant under his wing, the better to teach him the cynical lessons of modern Italian living. Dino Risi’s corrosive social comedy managed to combine the aggressive energy of the French New Wave and the dissipated drift of Antoniennui in away that seemed fresh and […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Katia and Mariella Labeque

The Labeque sisters, Katia and Marielle, are the most sensational piano duo since Fitzdale and Gold. Not quite convinced? Neither was I, until I heard and saw them in action last year. For a brief spell, their pyrotechnics and panache made me believe in the merits and possibilities of the dubious genre, which enjoyed a […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Hour of the Star

Brazilian filmmaker Suzana Amaral’s acclaimed debut feature, about a slovenly young secretary, 19 years old and still unhappily a virgin, searching for romance and fulfillment among the marginal employables of Sao Paulo. The story is almost too precious, with harsh urban reality grinding provincial innocence to dust, though to her credit, Amaral eventually moves beyond […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Miles Davis

Let’s take a moment to restate the obvious. Miles is unquestionably one of the supreme figures in jazz. Like Pablo Picasso, he has metamorphosed through an astonishing variety of periods and styles; from his 1940s apprenticeship with Charlie Parker to his current pop/funk preoccupations, his has been a career of constant searching, both outward and […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Peter Case

Peter Case used to be in the Plimsouls. However, not only is his recent debut LP a good deal more interesting and full-bodied than I remember his former band’s work to be, but it also made him one of the freshest and most warmly hailed “new” arrivals of last year. While Case has not forsaken […]

Posted inArts & Culture

William Ferris Chorale

It has been said that to qualify as the subject of a William Ferris Chorale tribute a composer must be: (1) British or American, (2) marking a major anniversary, (3) a possessor of impressive credentials and prestigious awards, (4) recognized for his vocal and liturgical music, and (5) the cultivator of an accessible, preferably tonal, […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Orchestra of Illinois

This Orchestra of Illinois concert presents an unusual opportunity for Chicagoans to hear China’s premier pianist, Yin Cheng-Zong. Russian-trained and a past Tchaikovsky Competition winner (1961), the 46-year-old Yin is noted for his technical brilliance and air of hauteur as much as for his uncanny ability to survive China’s periodic anti-intellectual campaigns. One indication of […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Golden Palominos

I once saw a wild-eyed Anton Fier (in Richard Hell’s band at the time) jump out from behind his drum kit in midset to attack an audience member who was apparently flipping lit cigs at the bandstand. So I have no trouble believing persistent reports of what a moody, intense guy he supposedly is. Besides, […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Witchboard

Spirits of the dead communicate through Ouija board, slash a few tires, and scare the bejeezus out of everybody. Pardon the suggestion, but this may be the best little Z film in awhile. First-time director Kevin S. Tenney camouflages his nonexistent budget by pushing his camera straight in the actors’ faces and stripping his visuals […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Raising Arizona

Joel and Ethan Coen’s Road Runner comedy in overdrive, about a convenience-store bandit (Nicholas Cage) who swipes the infant son of an unfinished-furniture tycoon (he’s got quints so he won’t mind, Cage’s wife insists), then has a hard time holding onto the kid. The snickering humor that percolated through the Coens’ overly arch Blood Simple […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Cabaret

Joel Grey is the above-the-title star of this elaborate revival of the 1966 musical set in Nazi-era Berlin, but the show’s real strength lies in the performances of its two leading ladies. Alyson Reed, whose talents were buried in the dismal film version of A Chorus Line, is a revelation as Sally Bowles, the determinedly […]