Posted inArts & Culture

St. Germain

St. Germain Young French DJ and producer Ludovic Navarre–who’s released two albums of ambient jazz et cetera as St. Germain, a name he shares with his five-piece band–has attracted a mob of sycophantic fans masquerading as reviewers, and collectively they seem to think his recent Tourist (Blue Note) is our era’s answer to the Miles […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Samson

Dramatizations of the Holocaust usually fall prey to histrionics or stylistic excess, but this stunning 1961 portrayal of a Jew’s wanderings through occupied Warsaw is the exception that proves the rule. The simple, almost deadpan style of director Andrzej Wajda is neatly matched by Serge Merlin’s superbly even performance as the profoundly disoriented Jakob Gold, […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Tomato Box

TOMATO BOX “Tomato Box” is an oddly clunky, utilitarian name for percussionist Michael Brenneis’s quartet. It belies the frequent delicacy of their postmodern chamber improv–delicacy that survives bassist Henry Boehm’s arco shrieks, the occasional police siren, and the battery of hubcaps and kitchen utensils Brenneis uses alongside his small conventional trap set. In groups like […]

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The Santaland Diaries

The Santaland Diaries, Roadworks Productions, at the Chicago Cultural Center. The dominant monologue of the three in this one-man show is something like Springtime for Hitler, seemingly calculated to repulse most audiences. Sentimental theatergoers won’t warm to the cheerless “The SantaLand Diaries,” and the cynical folk who might like it probably aren’t attending the holiday […]

Posted inArts & Culture

The Spirits Are Weak

The Weir Steppenwolf Theatre Company By Erik Piepenburg “The willingness to believe stories about . . . encounters with angels and other miraculous occurrences is considered a mark of enlightenment,” writes social critic Wendy Kaminer with a skeptic’s sneer in her book Sleeping With Extra-Terrestrials: The Rise of Irrationalism and Perils of Piety. “These are […]

Posted inColumns & Opinion

Savage Love

Whenever I am with someone new and we are in bed, all the twisting and fooling around creates all this gas in my stomach. Being a gentleman, I have to hold it in–and the pressure keeps building and building. If I try to do controlled releases, it just comes out even noisier. And with how […]

Posted inFilm

The Universe in a Cellar

The Wind Will Carry Us **** Directed by Abbas Kiarostami Written by Kiarostami and Mahmoud Ayedin With Behzad Dourani, Farzad Sohrabi, Shahpour Ghobadi, Masood Mansouri, Masoameh Salimi, Bahman Ghobadi, Noghre Asadi, and Ali Reza Naderi. By Jonathan Rosenbaum Paradoxically, Americans still tend to demonize Iranians at a time when Iranian cinema is becoming almost universally […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Sports Section

It turns out there are limits to love after all. When the circus cleared out of the United Center last week and the Blackhawks returned home from their annual fall road trip, precious few fans came out to greet them. Only two years ago I had marveled at how, despite a vast tract of empty […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Little Arthur Duncan

LITTLE ARTHUR DUNCAN To contemporary listeners weaned on technical flash, blues harpist Little Arthur Duncan might sound downright primitive. His solos rarely venture outside a 12-bar structure, and he blows with a broad, ragged tone that sometimes sounds off-key and sometimes doesn’t seem to be in any key at all. But there’s a method to […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Look Back in Languor

The Khe Sanh Bagman Center Theater By Kelly Kleiman When the Democrats came back to Chicago in 1996, there were rumors of police officers sporting T-shirts printed for the occasion: “I kicked your father’s ass and I can kick yours, too!” The humor was lost on the national press, which gravely reported the apocryphal shirts […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Cabaret

Here’s hoping the immensely talented cast of this touring production shine as brightly in Chicago as they did when I saw them in Cleveland a few weeks back. British director Sam Mendes, who nabbed an Oscar for last year’s probing but overrated American Beauty, also deservedly garnered four Tony awards for this excellent revival, whose […]