Posted inArts & Culture

Springtime for Mel Brooks

The Producers at the Cadillac Palace Theatre By Albert Williams “Hope for the best, expect the worst!” bellows a Russian male chorus in The Twelve Chairs, Mel Brooks’s finest but perhaps least known film. I approached Brooks’s new stage version of his 1968 movie The Producers with that sentiment in mind. The writer-director who’d given […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Police Scanner

Monday, January 29, 9:25 AM 2310: Point of information–occupants of this apartment are two muscle guys, and the bulk of the narcotics is illegal animal tranquilizer. Dispatcher: OK. 2310: So if you make a stop, you might have a good tangle on your hands. Dispatcher: Just what we need. Tuesday, January 30, 11:40 PM Unidentified […]

Posted inArts & Culture

A Family Affair

A Family Affair, Greasy Joan & Company, at the Chopin Theatre. Out struts an impertinent young woman in a girdle who declares, “Death is terribly unfashionable at the moment.” So begins this dense, self-indulgent, but visually enchanting production of Alexander Ostrovsky’s 1850 comic drama, adapted by Nick Dear. The young woman, the daughter of a […]

Posted inFilm

Please Watch Carefully

The Heart of the World **** Directed and written by Guy Maddin With Leslie Bais, Caelum Vatnsdal, Shaun Balbar, and Hryhory Yulyanovitch Klymkyiev. By Jonathan Rosenbaum It lasts only about seven minutes, making it roughly comparable in length to a Bugs Bunny cartoon, but Guy Maddin’s The Heart of the World–which opens this week at […]

Posted inColumns & Opinion

Savage Love

When I am soft, my cock is tiny. Yet when I am hard, it is long and thick. I have asked girlfriends about this and none has ever seen such a change. In your vast experience with male organs, what can you tell me about growth? –Wee-Willie Winkie/Pink Giant Putting aside my vast experience with […]

Posted inFilm

Two-Lane Blacktop

This exciting existentialist road movie by Monte Hellman, with a swell script by Rudolph Wurlitzer and Will Corry and my favorite Warren Oates performance, looks even better now than it did in 1971, although it was pretty interesting back then as well. James Taylor and Dennis Wilson are the drivers of a supercharged ’55 Chevy […]

Posted inArts & Culture


The CollaborAction Theatre Company’s second annual festival of short plays features 16 world premieres, including sketches by David Mamet, Eric Bogosian, Brett Neveu, Regina Taylor, Beth Henley, and Wendy MacLeod. This “progressive mixed-media festival” also features visual art (environmental design by Wesley Kimler as well as a display of drawings by local artists, including Ed […]

Posted inArts & Culture


LABRADFORD The title of Labradford’s sixth and latest album, Fixed::Context (Kranky), is a bit misleading: since 1992, when Mark Nelson and Carter Brown formed the group in Richmond, Virginia, its personnel, instrumentation, and milieu have all changed. In its early days the band blended ringing guitars, whispered vocals, grinding tape loops, and thick analog synthesizer […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Welcome, Fiction

After a 20-year famine, the Chicago Reader, over the New Year’s weekend, has broken with its own tradition and treated us to a feast of some 16-odd short pieces of original fiction. Without warning or so much as an editorial comment, we have been left on our own to make what we will of this […]

Posted inMusic

Spot Check

MISTREATERS 2/23, HIDEOUT On their first official full-length, Grab Them Cakes (Big Neck), which reprises one song from their 1999 full-length cassette, The Mistreaters Don’t Do Drugs and Stay in School, these Milwaukee boys demonstrate how it’s done–it in this case being greasy, raw, and ruthlessly paced garage punk. Controlled sloppiness within dazzling tightness, a […]

Posted inArts & Culture

I Am Yours

I Am Yours, Cobalt Ensemble Theatre, at Stage Left Theatre. When this Judith Thompson play premiered in Toronto in 1979, it was welcomed as a groundbreaking psychological drama. Two emotionally damaged sisters vie for the center of attention, both aiming to be loved and desired. Dee (Jenny McKnight) is ruining her marriage by playing emotional […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Rosenbaum Caves

As an American film critic who has repeatedly written about the major studios’ predatory practices (e.g., punishing critics who give them unfavorable reviews), Jonathan Rosenbaum certainly stands in a small crowd. I have admired his steadfast commitment to the ethics of criticism, but more, I have admired and applauded his willingness to speak out about […]