Wednesday, October 1

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Film Wed Oct 01 2014

The Hairy Who Returns -- to the Siskel Film Center

Hairy Who exhibition at the Corcoran Gallery, 1969.

If you missed the year's greatest art film in June, The Hairy Who and the Chicago Imagists is coming back. The 109-minute documentary about the lurid and outrageous Chicago art movement of the '60s and '70s will be shown at the Siskel Film Center from Friday through Oct. 9.

Director Leslie Buchbinder will be on hand at the 8:15pm Friday show. On Sunday, the six original Hairy Who artists will appear at the 5:30pm show.

The film was shown here a few times in June and we reviewed it for Gapers Block then.

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Nancy Bishop / Comments (0)

Art Tue Sep 30 2014

FLATS Studio Opening Reception: Gravity

Flats is a Chicago-based company that curates live-in spaces for those with character, authentic taste and design. The rent for FLATS is affordable and the spaces are exquisite. In addition to apartments, FLATSstudio is the sister to the housing unit -- the exhibition aspect that displays artists and creatives in the Chicago area in the Uptown neighborhood.

Last Friday, FLATSstudio exhibited its first formal show, titled Gravity. Ethereal forces and otherworldly shapes filled the space, located in a beautifully adorned and decorated building on Wilson Avenue. The opening reception featured nine artists ranging from painting, photography, and installations. Movable walls throughout the large gallery featured liquid mixtures of blood and water by Jen Lewis which were eloquently placed alongside Edward Muela's two pieces which featured a deteriorating clay baby in a clear container.

The show glowed with hues of pink, red and green. All of the pieces reflected and aided one another to create a cohesive and successful collection of works by Chicago artists.

In addition to the hues, Gravity displayed two floor-to-ceiling pieces that spread out like a red carpet (although black and white in shade) across the space. The connections between all of the artists and artworks displayed a strong sense of an ubiquitous force or impression of emotion.

Thoroughly impressed, visitors mingled, sipping on delicious cocktails from Koval Distillery and listening to a DJ set throughout the night. The show will run through Oct. 10 and may be viewed by appointment only. The FLATSstudio gallery is located on 1050 W. Wilson Ave. Contact (855) 443-5287 for appointments and other questions.

S. Nicole Lane / Comments (0)

Column Fri Sep 26 2014

The Equalizer, The Boxtrolls, Tracks, Jimi: All Is By My Side & Take Me to the River


The Equalizer

We've seen Denzel Washington be a badass; we know he can do it, and he remains one of the best at combining action and gunplay with sheer magnetic personality. All three were front and center when he and director Antoine Fuqua first teamed up for Training Day, which gave us a version of Washington who was both villain and character we were still sort of rooting for if only because to lose him from the story meant the film would be something less. So what if Washington presented us with a character who was reserved, hesitant to act, quiet (but not in a menacing way), bordering on boring? Well, it's still Denzel Washington, so he'd just make that character a different kind of badass.

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Steve Prokopy / Comments (0)

Art Fri Sep 26 2014

David Bowie Is at the MCA Reveals a Cultural Icon, Beyond the Pop

David Bowie IsDavid Bowie was born September 16, 1965. Actually, that's the day that the 18-year-old David Jones legally assumed the name that became famous. This is one piece of minutiae that you can glean from the blockbuster exhibit, David Bowie Is, at the Museum of Contemporary Art through January 4. The exhibit fills the fourth floor of the museum and demonstrates far more than minutiae... and shows Bowie as far more than a musician. He is a cultural prodigy, knowledgeable and expert at art, design, theater, writing and music.

The Kon-RadsBowie had been performing as David Jones or Davie Jones since he was 15. (He changed his name partly to distinguish himself from Davy Jones of the Monkees.) Even as a young teen performer, he was concerned about his image and identity. He designed business cards and stage sets for his band, The Kon-Rads. Throughout his career, he took almost obsessive control over every aspect of his performances, hiring noted designers to create the costumes and stage sets that he sketched out on paper. In addition to creating 35 studio and live albums and making 14 worldwide tours, he painted and acted on stage and in films.

Bowie has also been obsessive about saving items from his career, which explains why the David Bowie archive in New York has some 75,000 items stored, organized and managed by a full-time archivist. The current exhibit was developed by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London; Chicago is the only US location where it will be exhibited.

How did the MCA manage to secure this exclusive slot in the tour? I asked that question at the press preview the week before the exhibit opened. The answer was simple, according to MCA curator J. Michael Darling. "We called up the V&A and asked if they would bring it to Chicago." And the answer was yes. The exhibit has appeared in Toronto, São Paulo and Berlin and moves next to Paris and Melbourne.

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Nancy Bishop / Comments (0)

Theater Wed Sep 24 2014

House Theatre Plants a Big Wet Kiss on the Theater Industry

Photo by Michael Brosilow.

House Theatre warns its patrons in advance that its new production, Season on the Line, is "an epic love letter to the American theater." And it is indeed a love letter. A big sprawling messy exuberant love letter, sealed with a big wet kiss.

The play, written by House ensemble member Shawn Pfautsch, takes us through the tribulations, artistic and economic, of the Bad Settlement Theatre Company, based somewhere in or near a big city with an influential theater critic. In a fit of authenticity, House has even provided Bad Settlement with business cards and a website,

This three-hour epic (plus two intermissions) is Shakespearean in its ambitions. The show takes us, act by act, through the company's current season, opening with a rousing success in its diverse reimagining of The Great Gatsby (3-1/2 stars from that critic). In act 2, a less successful Balm in Gilead opens to a 1-star review and an abbreviated run. But Season on the Line revolves around the artistic director's obsession with producing a great new version of Herman Melville's Moby Dick as the season finale.

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Nancy Bishop / Comments (0)

Theater Tue Sep 23 2014

Chicago Shakespeare Stages Warm, Humanistic King Lear

Photo by Liz Lauren. Ross Lehman and Larry Yando.

King Lear, perhaps William Shakespeare's most-revered play, is an existential tragedy. It's a story of power and family lost, mind and health destroyed. But it's also a retirement story and a family tragedy. It's amazing how deeply and warmly current issues are treated in this 400-year-old masterpiece.

Fathers mourn relationships with their children. Siblings fight over the estate before the parent dies. Old men suffer the tears and trauma of aging. And most profoundly, we see the onset of dementia in someone who has been a brilliant and powerful leader.

Chicago's Larry Yando may not be old enough to be called a legend, but his performance as Lear is legendary in this new modern-dress Chicago Shakespeare Theatre production, directed by Barbara Gaines. He is a bored and fickle king in the opening scene, tossing aside faulty remotes as he clicks through Frank Sinatra songs to find one he likes: "I've Got the World on a String." Then he's decisive as he divides his kingdom among his three daughters and their husbands. Finally, he's forced into exile with his Fool (wisely and wittily played by Ross Lehman, another Chicago Shakespeare veteran). As Lear's mind fails, he suffers degradation into a wild man in the wild. At the end, he is left a bereaved father who has lost all.

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Nancy Bishop / Comments (0)

Chicago Speaks Tue Sep 23 2014

Chicago Speaks: Comorian, as Spoken by Charif Hachim, Honorary Consul General of Comoros in Chicago

Chicago SpeaksAs a global city, Chicago is home to many languages besides English. Chicago Speaks profiles speakers of these languages, and shares some of their personal stories along the way.

Charif Hachim's home, where he lives with his wife and three children, might be the only one in Chicago where people speak Comorian. Comorian? It's the language of Comoros, a group of islands located in the channel between Mozambique and Madagascar.

Hachim knows of only one other local Comorian family, and they live in the suburbs. He would know best. He has lived in Chicago for more than two decades and since last year has been the honorary consul general of Comoros in Chicago.

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Megan Marz / Comments (0)

Film Fri Sep 19 2014

Five Must-Sees at the Reeling LGBT Film Festival

Reeling, the Chicago LGBT International Film Festival is back this year, showcasing what the community considers to be the best films of the year. From a documentary that explores the International Gay Rodeo association, to a comedy about best friends who just might have found love...with each other, it's a festival that has a film for everyone. The festival runs Sept. 18-25 at participating Chicago theaters.

Here are a few favorites you should consider looking into for all the laughs, heartbreaks and screams you could ever need.

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Megan Daley / Comments (0)

Column Fri Sep 19 2014

The Maze Runner, A Walk Among the Tombstones, The Guest, This Is Where I Leave You, Tusk, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them & The Zero Theorem


The Maze Runner

Unlike many of the other science fiction films we've been getting in recent year featuring younger people as central characters, The Maze Runner (based on the successful novel series by James Dashner) isn't about an established future that everyone accepts, and often into which a "chosen one" is introduced to set the world right. The Hunger Games, The Giver, Divergent, Ender's Game. Christ, it seems like there's a new one every two or three months. But The Maze Runner dares to drop its characters into a place they know nothing about, with every memory of where they came from erased. That place is The Glade, and surrounding them is a giant, ever-changing maze whose door opens up for a few hours every day, and if you are unlucky enough to get caught inside when they close, well, that's the end of you, thanks to some unpleasant creatures call Grievers.

The Glade is occupied by only boys and young men. Some have been there for years and some are new arrivals, each assigned a job when they arrive, and this makeshift society seems to function, until the arrival of Thomas ("Teen Wolf" star Dylan O'Brien), who seems just a little more curious and ambitious than the rest, and finds it difficult to accept things just because he's told he has to. His primary rival (and chief rule keeper) is Gally (Will Poulter from We're the Millers), whose motivations are solid but his methods are dictatorial. The group is loosely ruled by its most senior member, Alby (Aml Ameen), who seems to have a level head about most things that stray from the norm, but when he gets ill, the group falls into chaos.

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Steve Prokopy / Comments (0)

Dance Fri Sep 19 2014

Joffrey Ballet kicks off 20th Chicago season

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Joffrey Ballet residing in Chicago. To celebrate, the company welcomes the 2014-2015 season with a special, one-weekend show, "Stories in Motion."

"Stories in Motion" opens ahead of Joffrey's usual season of three programs. Consisting of three pieces, the show examines the idea of story ballet. Both George Balanchine's Prodigal Son and Antony Tudor's Lilac Garden, two Joffrey favorites, will be presented in a fresh way alongside with Yuri Possokhov's Chicago premiere of RAkU.

"With 'Stories in Motion,' the Joffrey Ballet explores the ways by which stories are told with physical movement and music," said Artistic Director Ashley Wheater in a release. "We tend to think of only full-length ballets as our narrative food, so I wanted to focus on telling a complete story in a very short space of time."

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Miriam Finder / Comments (0)

Column Fri Sep 12 2014

The Drop, Dolphin Tale 2, The Skeleton Twins, Finding Fela, Code Black & Gringo Trails


The Drop

It seems strangely fitting that the final major roles from both Philip Seymour Hoffman (in A Most Wanted Man) and James Gandolfini (in this week's release The Drop) are portraits of soul-crushing loneliness. Both actors have played in this sandbox before, but in both roles, the emptiness leads to careless and poor decisions that impact the rest of their lives.

Written by novelist Dennis Lehane (Gone Baby Gone, Mystic River, Shutter Island) and based on his short story "Animal Rescue," The Drop marks the second powerful work from Belgium-born director Michaël R. Roskam, who helmed the 2012 Best Foreign Language Oscar-nominee, Bullhead. The film centers of former thug and current Brooklyn bartender Bob Saginowski (Tom Hardy of Locke, Warrior, The Dark Knight Rises) who works with his cousin Marv (Gandolfini) at a bar that is used to funnel cash from various numbers rackets, payoffs and other criminal activities. Like many other bars around the borough, this is a "drop bar," where cash is literally handed to the bartender, who in turn drops it into a safe he doesn't have access to. After the close of business, the cash is picked up — end of story.

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Steve Prokopy / Comments (0)

Neighborhood Mon Sep 08 2014

Lakeview East Festival of the Arts Celebrates 10th Anniversary

More than 150 juried artists will show their work next weekend during the 10th annual Lakeview East Festival of the Arts. The festival showcases original paintings, prints, sculpture, photography, furniture, ceramics, jewelry and more. In addition to artists' booths, there will be live music on multiple stages, an interactive children's area, wine and food booths. The event is hosted and produced by the Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce.

The festival will begin with a special anniversary kickoff party and preview celebration (open to the public) 6:30 to 10pm Friday. Festival hours are 10am to 6pm Saturday with live music, food and drink tents open until 10pm, and 10am to 5pm Sunday on Broadway between Belmont and Hawthorne.

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Nancy Bishop / Comments (0)

Theater Fri Sep 05 2014

Shattered Globe Spins Tale of Shipwreck and Survival

Shattered Globe Whaleship Essex
Photo by Emily Schwartz.

Tales of the whale--the commercial treasure and leviathan of the sea--and the sailors who set out in wooden ships to hunt them, are endlessly fascinating. Herman Melville's Moby Dick stands as one of the great adventure stories of world literature.

A story that inspired Melville is being staged now by Shattered Globe Theatre in the exciting adventure/survival play, The Whaleship Essex by ensemble member Joe Forbrich. The two-hour-plus drama is staged with meticulous attention to nautical detail through the use of lighting, projections and simple wooden benches that serve as the whaleboats in which the whalemen leave the ship to capture whales. Or survive a shipwreck, as the case may be.

Veteran director Lou Contey skillfully orchestrates a cast of 15 through the story, which begins in 1850 in Nantucket, Mass., an island off the coast of Cape Cod and the center of the whaling industry. The brief 1850 scene establishes the main story line about the Essex, which sailed out of Nantucket in August 1819 on what was to be a three-year voyage. It was never seen again. The play tells the true story of the ship that was attacked and sunk by a sperm whale in the southern Pacific Ocean. The aftermath, in which the battered ship sinks and the sailors fight for survival, is the main thread of the story.

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Nancy Bishop / Comments (0)

Column Fri Sep 05 2014

Life After Beth, A Five Star Life, The Last of Robin Hood, The Congress & The Identical


Life After Beth

I firmly believe that the only genre that more difficult to get right than horror is horror comedy. And we're still living in a post-Shaun of the Dead world, in the same way we were living in a post-Reservoir Dogs world for 10 years after that landmark film. As a result, the zombie comedy has had its fair share of hits and misses since Edgar Wright's 2004 master class is finding the humor in horrific situations, rather than simply cracking jokes, acting silly, and having every character act like exaggerated versions of human beings. With that in mind, allow me to introduce you to Life After Beth, from writer-director Jeff Baena (a credited writer on I Heart Huckabees and boyfriend to Life After Beth star Aubrey Plaza).

The film begins with the untimely death of Beth Slocum (Plaza), whose boyfriend Zach (Dane DeHaan) really really misses her. In the period right after Beth's passing, Zach and her parents (John C. Reilly and Molly Shannon) actually get closer as their shared love of Beth brings them together. Then suddenly, Mr. Slocum stops returning Zach's calls and the family hides when he comes to their house. After about three minutes of investigating, Zach discovers that the Slocums are hiding a returned-from-the-dead Beth, who they consider a miracle from the heavens, but is actually her being a zombie who can still talk and reason and not eat human flesh (at least not right away).

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Steve Prokopy / Comments (0)

Theater Tue Sep 02 2014

Timeline Explores the Power of Art to Hurt and to Heal in My Name Is Asher Lev

Photo by Lara Goetsch.

Asher Lev is an artist, a fresh-faced, cherubic artist whose paintings horrify his deeply religious Hasidic parents and community. "My gift is demonic and divine. It has the power to hurt and the power to heal," he says at the end of this eloquent 90-minute rumination on the challenges of art and faith, family and responsibility.

Timeline Theatre is staging the Chicago premiere of My Name Is Asher Lev, written by Aaron Posner and adapted from the best-selling 1972 novel about the Brooklyn Hasidic community by author and rabbi Chaim Potok. The three-actor play, directed by Kimberly Senior, is staged on a two-level set with three musicians at side stage. Andrew Hansen's original score for clarinet, cello and violin creates a subtly beautiful undercurrent to the dialogue and ends the play with a klezmer flourish.

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Nancy Bishop / Comments (0)

Film Wed Oct 01 2014

The Hairy Who Returns -- to the Siskel Film Center

By Nancy Bishop

The documentary fills in the long shadow of the Chicago Imagists.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Sep 26 2014

The Equalizer, The Boxtrolls, Tracks, Jimi: All Is By My Side & Take Me to the River

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »


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Wed Oct 1 2014
Video Playlist @ MoCP

Wed Oct 1 2014
Good Ol' Freda @ City Winery

Thu Oct 2 2014
SAIC Visiting Artists Program: Claire Bishop & Claire Doherty

Thu Oct 2 2014
500 Clown at the Threshold @ Smart Museum

Fri Oct 3 2014
Ravenswood ArtWalk Opening Reception

Fri Oct 3 2014
Opening Reception of Fantasy Zone: K-9 ISLAND @ Hidden Dog

Fri Oct 3 2014
Cornelia Arts Building Open Studios

Sat Oct 4 2014
7th Annual Spudnik Press Benefit @ Spudnik Press Cooperative

Sat Oct 4 2014
Ravenswood ArtWalk & Detour

Sun Oct 5 2014
Ravenswood ArtWalk & Detour

Mon Oct 6 2014
Salonathon @ Beauty Bar

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