November 2 be damned: we can laugh again thanks to this delightfully dysfunctional duo. Seth Thomas is the brainy, patient black brother and Paul Thomas (no relation) his lunkheaded, not-so-silent white sidekick. Their crackerjack hour includes a ghetto version of Abbott and Costello’s famous “Who’s on first?” routine, a film shoot ruined by a white […]
It takes Roddy Doyle a while to find his legs in Oh, Play That Thing, a sequel to A Star Called Henry. The Booker Prize-winning novelist has always had a luminous talent for describing place, but here, as he follows protagonist Henry Smart, on the lam from Ireland to the States, the closely observed settings […]
A weak Christmas movie denies loneliness and despair; a strong one, like It’s a Wonderful Life, confronts them. This ensemble drama by screenwriter David Hubbard isn’t perfect, but its harsh honesty and sincere faith in humanity make it genuinely uplifting. Its Manhattan characters trudge desolately through the forced merriment of the holiday: a divorced book […]
A sublimely happy man (Ulrich Thomsen), married to a vivacious actress and managing a successful Stockholm restaurant, begins to sell his soul after his father commits suicide and leaves the family steel business without a competent CEO. This 2003 Danish drama is essentially a Scandinavian remake of The Godfather–blond and repressed rather than dark and […]
Huge, fuzzy streaks of color traverse five-foot-high sheets of paper in Rosemarie Fiore’s seven “Good-Time Mix Machine: Scrambler Drawing” pieces at Bodybuilder & Sportsman. But for all their bold, colorful beauty they’re strangely unemotional, perhaps because Fiore made them using an amusement park ride, the Scrambler, installed in a warehouse for the purpose. She fastened […]
What the editors of the new Encyclopeadia of Chicago managed to leave out of their seven-pound tome.
August Strindberg’s 1907 chamber play about a woman who has an abnormally close relationship with her son-in-law is at once hyperrealistic–some dialogue resembles a verbatim transcript of conversation–and so bizarre as to leave reality far behind. At one point two characters engage in an ecstatic discussion as they’re being burned alive. It’s beyond me why […]
The Israel Film Festival concludes on November 14 with repeat screenings of several features at Highland Park Theater. All movies are primarily in Hebrew with subtitles; tickets are $9.25, $6.50 for students, seniors, and children under 12. For more information call 877-966-5566 or visit www.israelfilmfestival.com/iff04. Work is the problem for the title character of Henry’s […]
If the text in this ensemble-created work sounds familiar at times, it’s because the piece is a montage–assembled via a process Free Street calls a mash-up–of lyrics sampled from songwriters as diverse as 50 Cent, Toby Keith, Elliott Smith, and Cole Porter. Given the way pop songs have permeated our national consciousness, rhyme and meter […]
Bad songs covered badly can be amusing–and Romuva Productions’ cabaret-theater piece, which includes such gems as “Physical” and “A Whiter Shade of Pale,” certainly has that going for it. Len Jenkin’s script is a mishmash of hallucinatory images that range from dull to disturbing as Spin and Marlene Milton, a divorced couple, do their thing […]
Conceived and directed by Sharon Greene, this noble meditation on noble futility–written and performed by Greene, Shawn Huelle, and Jay Torrence–has its heart in the right place but never quite achieves the associative synergy it seeks. Riffing elliptically off Cervantes’s novel rather than retracing, recasting, or unpacking it, the performers intertwine two main narratives: one […]
Now in its eighth year, the First Nations festival runs November 15 through 21 at venues around the city and suburbs, presenting “works of Native American film and video that break racial stereotypes and promote awareness of Native American issues.” This week’s schedule includes a talk by Chris Eyre, director of Smoke Signals, on the […]
With his new memoir, Toast, Brit food writer Nigel Slater might find his niche in the States.
Dogmatic religious beliefs make no sense. Why are they still so common?