Posted inFilm

A Moment of Innocence

One of the best features by the prolific and unpredictable Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf, this 1996 film also happens to be one of his most seminal and accessible–a reconstruction of a pivotal incident during his teens that landed him in prison for several years during the shah’s regime. A fundamentalist and activist at the time, […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Epic Soundtrack

Tristan und Isolde at Lyric Opera, through March 4 By Lee Sandlin Say what you will about Richard Wagner, the guy knows how to capture a crowd. His opera Tristan und Isolde, in a new production at the Lyric, runs almost six hours, and it has virtually no suspense, no character development, and no comic […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Sports Section

Baseball’s hot stove league is livelier than any other sport’s off-season because baseball is a game of individuals, and therefore encourages speculation on how new players will fit with the hangers-on. There’s an element of mystery in football, basketball, and hockey; one new player can make others around him immediately better–or inexplicably worse, if chemistry’s […]

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Amistad Voices

Amistad Voices, Duncan YMCA Chernin Center for the Arts and the Chicago Theatre Company. In 1839 slaves in transit to Cuba aboard the schooner Amistad escaped their chains, overpowered the crew, and ordered them to sail for Africa. Instead the sailors made for New London, Connecticut. There the incident sparked an international legal dispute: Were […]

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Valparaiso, Steppenwolf Theatre Company. There’s a claustrophobic feeling to Frank Galati’s production of Don DeLillo’s play, a suffocating sensation one might also feel upon entering a fun house or hall of mirrors. Like DeLillo’s protagonist–a schnook named Michael Majewski who achieves 15 minutes of talk-show fame when he winds up in Valparaiso, Chile, instead of […]

Posted inMusic

Spot Check

FUZZY COMETS 2/18, HEARTLAND CAFE This Pittsburgh folk-rock band’s first full-length, Strong Man (Devour Records), is a sugary amalgamation of pop hooks, violin ripples, and purty harmonizing borrowed from some “folk” somewhere who would all have perfect teeth if they existed. It has its share of ear-catching moments, but I’m nonetheless compelled to rant: Musicians, […]

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Bacchae, Half Cocked Productions, at the Space. If Greek myth had any foundation in fact, Thebes must have had an unusually bad run of kings. Pentheus was the last in this hubristic gallery: indignant at his countrywomen for neglecting their homes to cavort with a lascivious deity (who just might be his own illegitimate cousin), […]

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The Territory Between

The Territory Between Between words and movement, that is. Fluid Measure Performance Company–Kathleen Maltese, Donna Mandel, and Patricia Pelletier–hosts a four-week series made up entirely of women, including seminal dance-performance artist Simone Forti, one of the first creators of “happenings” in the 60s. Fluid Measure will appear every week in three new pieces, their first […]

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Beasts from the East

As Bees in Honey Drown Northlight Theatre at North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie Advice From a Caterpillar Grassroots Theatre Company at Chicago Actors Studio By Justin Hayford I was talking recently with a semifamous television and film actor when he began to expound upon the Chicago theater scene. “I flipped through […]

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Le Gran Scena Opera Company

LA GRAN SCENA OPERA COMPANY If the idea of men running around in women’s costumes singing the female roles in Carmen, Il trovatore, and La traviata makes you think “bad drag show,” La Gran Scena Opera Company will set you straight. This gender-bending comedy troupe doesn’t just burlesque grand opera and its divas; it honors […]

Posted inFilm

Wrinkles in Time

Alone. Life Wastes Andy Hardy Rating *** A must see Directed by Martin Arnold With Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland, and Fay Holden. By Jonathan Rosenbaum Wearing suspenders, Mickey Rooney as Andy Hardy steps behind his mother (Fay Holden), clutching her left shoulder and right forearm with his two hands, and firmly kisses the back of […]