Posted inNews & Politics

Sloppy Thinking

Dear editors: The way Jonathan Rosenbaum, in his piece on Leni Riefenstahl [“Can Film Be Fascist?,” June 24], relies on empty cliches like “puff piece” is typical of the sloppy thinking that permeates his review. In my Riefenstahl profile, I do praise her artistry and I do assert that she was not a Nazi, but […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Phil Woods

Along with his contemporary Cannonball Adderley, Phil Woods essentially defined the alto saxophone in jazz after Charlie Parker’s death in 1955; over the succeeding four decades he has honed one of the most personal and recognizable styles in all of jazz. It resembles a language all its own, marked by distinctive idiomatic expressions–the equivalent of […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Reader to Reader

I was in the 31 Flavors at Western and Lunt when the man in front of me asked for sugar-free ice cream. “Sorry,” the teenage employee said. “The best we can offer is reduced-sugar ice cream. Everything in nature has some sugar in it, so we’re not allowed to call it sugar-free.” “Well, I can’t […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Gasping

GASPING, Interplay. Despite the fact that Ben Elton’s Gasping has some moments of inspired wit, its indefatigably madcap hilarity and incessant punning become difficult to tolerate after about an hour. As the old Yiddish saying goes: “Once is nice. Twice is all right. The third time is a hit in the head.” Set in the […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Little Balls of Fire

To the editor: Michael Brownstein’s July 15 article “Summer Snow,” about the seeds billowing from his backyard cottonwood tree, is a thoughtful meditation on the lives of people and trees. But it failed to mention the most wonderful characteristic of the gentle, white puffs of seed: they are highly flammable. With just a touch of […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Life According to Agfa

What’s so intriguing about this 1992 black-and-white feature by Assaf Dayan, the pacifist son of war hero Moshe Dayan, is the unusually frank glimpse it offers of Israeli society today. Over the course of a long night, people from various walks of life–macho soldiers, hookers, suicidal cokeheads, oppressed Arab cooks, undercover cops–congregate in a Tel […]

Posted inNews & Politics

The Sports Section

Ball Four is a landmark baseball book, at least in part because it is set in 1969, the year the players’ union first flexed its muscles. The first paragraph of Jim Bouton’s diary has an ominous ring to it now: “Reported to spring camp in Tempe, Arizona, today, six days late. I was on strike. […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Gastr del Sol

David Grubbs, who got his start with influential Louisville postpunk kids Squirrelbait, created Gastr del Sol out of the dissolution of his other former band, Bastro. On 1993’s The Serpentine Similar (Teen Beat), which offered an intriguing study of static rock structures and near-drones, the band consisted of Grubbs and former Bastro bassist Bundy K. […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Greene v. Heiple

To the editors: Thanks to my colleague Jonathan Rosenbaum for his letter [July 22], the one that clarified when exactly Tommy Lee Jones came blasting out of the prison cell in Speed. I just have one more question: Was it before or after he had that big shoot-out with Harrison Ford on top of the […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Brygida Bziukiewicz

Soprano Brygida Bziukiewicz has a sweet, limpid, breathtaking voice, nicely suited for the role of exquisite sufferer in the tragedies of Donizetti, Verdi, and Puccini. The former Miss Poland, a regular on Chicago’s operatic circuit and a prima donna with the local Lincoln Opera, has gathered quite a following at the relatively young age of […]

Posted inMusic

Spot Check

DIS, CRAW 8/19, EMPTY BOTTLE Dis are a Milwaukee trio who’ve managed to transcend their early days as slavish adherents to Slint. Now they sound more like the Poster Children. On their recent second album, M 386.D57 1994 (12 Inch)–does the title suggest that Dis are fans of the Dewey Decimal System?–flimsy pop songs get […]

Posted inMusic

Love Jones

Last December I arrived at an Afghan Whigs show too early and found myself waiting for the opening act, which I expected to be the usual aggressive, distorted guitar rock. Instead out popped Love Jones: five guys in chintzy red polyester suits who burst into a snappy lounge-pop number with note-perfect three-part vocal harmonies. They […]

Posted inFilm

Tribal Trouble

**** CALENDAR (Masterpiece) Directed and written by Atom Egoyan With Arsinee Khanjian, Ashot Adamian, and Atom Egoyan. In terms of craft, originality, and intelligence, there are few young filmmakers in the world today to match Atom Egoyan–a Canadian writer-director with a bee in his bonnet about video, photography, voyeurism, sexual obsession, troubled families, and personal […]