Posted inArts & Culture

Grotesque Lovesongs

Grotesque Lovesongs, WNEP Theater Foundation, at the Second City, Donny’s Skybox Studio. Much like Jane Smiley’s A Thousand Acres, a rethinking of King Lear, playwright Don Nigro’s setting of a classic in a modern context is too diluted and touchy-feely to be effective. Nigro’s loose adaptation of 19th-century novelist Guy de Maupassant’s Pierre et Jean […]

Posted inMusic

Mickey Hart’s Planet Drum

MICKEY HART’S PLANET DRUM In the 50s Duke Ellington suggested that “A Drum Is a Woman”; in the 90s globalthink has superseded intimacy, and Mickey Hart can sum up his philosophy of rhythm with Planet Drum. That’s what Hart, the longtime Grateful Dead drummer, called his 1991 coffee-table book about the world’s rhythm traditions–and, shortly […]

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The Reader’s Guide to the 34th Annual Chicago International Film Festival

Friday, October 9 The Mighty Peter Chelsom is a talented filmmaker, but his third feature indulges in the most manipulative impulses of middlebrow art. From the opening shot the tone is one of oppression and coercion, of desperation for validation and approval. Displaying an uncanny resemblance to the recent Simon Birch, this adaptation of Rodman […]

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Headhunters with Herbie Hancock

HEADHUNTERS WITH HERBIE HANCOCK Of all the musicians who escaped Miles Davis’s orbit to colonize their own planets in the 70s, pianist Herbie Hancock stayed closest to the master’s fusion funk. By emphasizing the oozing rhythms and thick, sweet colors of the black pop music of the day, Hancock turned jazz-rock fusion into jazz-soul fusion. […]

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Godspeed You Black Emperor!

GODSPEED YOU BLACK EMPEROR! Godspeed You Black Emperor! follows in the footsteps of Roy Montgomery, Holger Czukay, and Scenic by composing vivid sound tracks to nonexistent movies. But while those other artists seem content to let their records do the talking, this nine-piece ensemble from Montreal devotes most of its energy to its live show: […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Delivering the Paper

By Michael Miner The biggest sports story–probably the biggest domestic story–in Britain last month was Rupert Murdoch’s bid of more than a billion dollars for the Manchester United soccer club. Murdoch is no sportsman, but pro sports are, in his words, the “battering ram” for his cable-TV operations. A Murdoch network already has exclusive rights […]

Posted inArts & Culture

The Psychic Cafe

The Psychic Cafe, Zeitgeist Theater, at the Royal George Theatre Center. Though the performers repeat “answer the question” throughout this awkward blend of prognostication and theater, one question remains: Why bother? True, Zeitgeist hit the jackpot with Flanagan’s Wake, an audience-interactive Irish wake currently being franchised across the country. But The Psychic Cafe fails to […]

Posted inNews & Politics

No Apologies

vargas.qxd Dear Ms. Lutton, Like yourself, I know little of the Hispanic Democratic Organization mentioned in your story “War on Independents” [September 4]. However, I don’t feel any Hispanic organization that works to get out the vote in any election needs to justify or make apologies for getting involved. Your mention of the Hispanic Democratic […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Strong Spirits

Kwaidan: Three Japanese Ghost Stories Ping Chong at the Museum of Contemporary Art, October 3 and 4 By Carol Burbank Avant-garde theater isn’t generally known for its nostalgia. Alienation from traditional storytelling fuels most postmodernists’ dismantling of cherished cultural traditions as they reveal a bitterly clever sense of humor about the dislocations of the late […]

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Red River

Howard Hawks is one of the definers of classical Hollywood style; what is likely Chicago’s first complete Hawks retrospective begins this week with his powerful Scarface (1932) and this monumental 1948 western, one of his greatest films. John Wayne, in the most complex role he’d done till then, is Thomas Dunson, the founder of a […]

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Look Back in Anger

LOOK BACK IN ANGER, Writers’ Theatre Chicago, and LOOK BACK IN ANGER, Floodlight Theater Company, at Strawdog Theatre Company. When John Osborne’s play opened on May 8, 1956, it shook the British theater establishment to its roots. Set in a dreary one-room flat without running water and filled with unlikable characters–a verbally aggressive protagonist, his […]

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Rocket to the Moon

ROCKET TO THE MOON, Shattered Globe Theatre. Richly written and still haunting, Clifford Odets’s Depression-era drama proclaims a credo the playwright also advanced in Awake and Sing! and Waiting for Lefty: Squander life and you die early. Here Ben Stark, a Manhattan dentist nearing 40 and trapped in a marriage of convenience, succumbs to a […]