Posted inArts & Culture

Justin Timberlake

No longer a boy, not yet a man, fer sure: Justin Timberlake’s sullen baby face and Michael Jackson falsetto make him seem less a womanizing pig than a castrated hamster. But listening to his solo CD, Justified (Jive), it dawned on me that his sub-Lionel Richie slinkiness and tippy-tap low end are so wimpy they’re […]

Posted inArts & Culture

The Navigator

The Silent Film Society of Chicago opens its 2003 “Silent Summer” festival at the Copernicus Center’s lovely Gateway Theatre with a performance by the West End Jazz Band and a screening of Buster Keaton’s 1924 comedy masterpiece about a spoiled rich boy and his sweetheart who are stranded on an abandoned, drifting ocean liner, to […]

Posted inArts & Culture

The Venetian Twins

The Venetian Twins, Trap Door Theatre, at Angel Island. Devotees of commedia dell’arte hated 18th-century playwright Carlo Goldoni because he committed three unpardonable sins. He mixed stock commedia characters, like the flirty Columbine and her comical suitor Harlequin, into plots with more naturalistic characters. He combined commedialike physical comedy with serious drama, like onstage murders. […]

Posted inNews & Politics

News of the Weird

Lead Stories In May in Portage County, Ohio, motorist Catherine Donkers was arrested for “improper child restraint,” among other things–she was breast-feeding her baby while she drove. Donkers has failed to pay the $100 fine that would have settled the charges; instead her husband, Brad Barnhill, is demanding that the matter go to trial, and […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Red Tape

Red Tape, Embassy, at ComedySportz. There’s nothing wrong with most of the premises for this sketch-comedy revue. Cancer, Syphilis, and Polio molder in a nursing home, kvetching about overhyped upstart SARS. Charles X-Gayvier and Fagneto argue whether homosexuals are the evolved successors to Homo sapiens. A pirate captain explains the “trickle-down bootynomics” justifying his distribution […]

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Darezhan Omirbaev, who’s made four features to date in Kazakhstan, is one of the most talented filmmakers currently working anywhere, but his nationality seems to have doomed him to the margins. He made his feature debut with this remarkable 1991 black-and-white film about a dreamy-eyed youth from the steppes arriving in the city by train, […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Jere Van Syoc

Jere Van Syoc writes of her seven bizarre, sometimes goofy assemblages in the series “Death Toys” that they “both mock and ward off…domestic violence, road rage, gang warfare,” and they do have a totemic quality. Made of junk found in alleys and at garage sales, they mix phallic aggression and its negation. The figure in […]

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Forever Plaid

Forever Plaid, Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire. In Stuart Ross and James Raitt’s musical, the Four Plaids are a squeaky-clean doo-wop group who had the good sense to die early–in 1964, when they collided with a bus full of “parochial virgins” headed to a Beatles concert. The public’s switch to rock would have consigned these tuxedoed […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Roy Haynes

Roy Haynes arrived too late to claim a place among the drummers who helped invent bebop. He began playing with Charlie Parker in the late 40s, and though he quickly made his mark–with crisp explosions on the bass drum, a stinging, chattery hi-hat, and an almost feral energy–the styles of Kenny Clarke, Art Blakey, and […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Traci Lords

The sad tale of Traci Lords includes rape at ten, porno work at 15, domestic violence, drug and alcohol addiction, a decade’s worth of trouble with the FBI, a slightly embarrassing (save for her work with John Waters) mainstream acting career, and a totally embarrassing stint in techno. Yet critics of her recently published memoir, […]