Posted inArts & Culture

Highway Patrolman

The anarchistic and unpredictable English director Alex Cox (Repo Man, Sid & Nancy, Walker) goes bilingual in this 1992 Mexican picture, spoken in Spanish throughout. In some ways it’s his best work to date–a beautifully realized tale about the life of a Mexican highway patrolman who’s neither sentimentalized nor treated like a villain: he takes […]

Posted inNews & Politics

The City File

Dept. of fine distinctions. The Northfield-based retailer of a negative-ion generator says the product “is not cleared by the FDA, so we do not make any health claims for it.” Yet the advertised dial settings include “fewer colds and flu” and “reduced recuperation time.” Numbers George Orwell would have loved, from Second Harvest Update (Winter): […]

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The Primacy of Form: Kubleka & Kren

The short, highly concentrated films of Peter Kubelka have given me some of the most ecstatic experiences I’ve had watching movies. No other filmmaker has realized the idea of cinema as light, shadow, and sound organized in time with more purity and precision. The images in Adebar (1957)–commissioned as an ad for a Vienna cafe–are […]

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Detroit Junior

Veteran keyboardist Detroit Junior likes to present himself as something of a novelty act: he sports outlandish turbans and glittery suits and grinds his hips and mugs for the audience. But beneath the showmanship lies savvy: he’s among the blues’ wittiest songwriters. His best lyrics (“If I Hadn’t Been High,” “Call My Job”) portray the […]

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Dynamite Fun Nest and ImprovOlympic

Dyanmite Fun Nest and ImprovOlympic ImprovOlympic Theater Way back when, there was something called charm school. In more recent years, there was group therapy. It seems that every generation has its own method of converting unsteady, timid individuals into self-assured members of society who can excel at public speaking and cocktail conversation. This generation appears […]

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Jackie Allen

On the subject of singing, the line between cabaret performance and jazz vocalizing has always appeared a little blurry; just consider how many people think of jazz pioneer Billie Holiday as a “nightclub singer,” and how many others lump someone like Andrea Marcovicci in among the jazz chirps. But Jackie Allen does more than blur […]

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Ramon Salvatore

Ramon Salvatore is a champion of American piano music, the unjustly neglected repertoire he’s already highlighted in two well-received CDs (the second of which is on the local label Cedille). For this free recital, sponsored by the Chicago Historical Society in conjunction with its ongoing exhibit on the Columbian Exposition, Salvatore’s compiled a sampler from […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Reader to Reader

When I was signing in to vote last Tuesday, the Democratic election judge–a friendly woman from up the street–asked if I was clear on the names of the LaRouchies. I thought I was, but there was no reason not to go over them one more time. Love, Jones, Beaudette, I recited, Harper or Handler or […]

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Savage Nights

Highly controversial and troubling but undeniably powerful and impossible to dismiss, this French feature cowritten (with critic Jacques Fieschi) by, directed by, and starring the late Cyril Collard follows the last reckless days and nights of a 30-year-old cinematographer and musician who discovers he is HIV positive but continues to have sex with strangers as […]

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The Seagull

THE SEAGULL Touchstone Theatre In 1989 Touchstone Theatre, previously located on the North Shore, made its Chicago debut at the Theatre Building with a splendid revival of The Seagull. Ina Marlowe’s sensitive staging fully registered the pathos of Chekhov’s first great play, an uncompromising portrait of unrequited love and thwarted ambition. There was much to […]