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Friday, September 19

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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

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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

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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

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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 MichaĆ«l 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

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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

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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

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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)

Event Mon Sep 01 2014

A Return for Renegade Craft Fair

Renegade Craft Fair, notable for its bounty of detailed jewelry, unique art prints, eccentric products and gorgeous decorating pieces, returns to Chicago Sept. 6 and 7 for its 12th annual summer market.

The Renegade Craft Fair began in Chicago in 2003 and has since traveled the nation as it has garnered the attention of craftmakers throughout the country and beyond. Focused on handmade goods, the fair will showcase endless one-of-a-kind pieces created by talented up-and-coming designers. Over 250,000 shoppers attend the fair circuit throughout the year, which travels from Chicago to Los Angeles and as far as London.

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Sarah Brooks / Comments (0)

Column Fri Aug 29 2014

The November Man, Frank, As Above/So Below, Love Is Strange, Life of Crime, Bound By Flesh, To Be Takei & Me and You

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The November Man


I never discuss a film's marketing strategy in my reviews, but I will admit as I was walking into the theater yesterday to check out the new Pierce Brosnan espionage-themed action-thriller The November Man, I happened to glance at the poster by the entrance and saw the tagline "A Spy is Never Out of the Game," and I couldn't help but cringe. Sure, Brosnan plays Peter Devereaux, a former CIA agent secretly pulled out of retirement to assist with a mission he has a personal stake in, so the tagline makes sense. But of course, what the marketing geniuses are doing is playing with audience's familiarity with Brosnan's most famous film character, James Bond (for you kids out there, he was the super-spy just before Daniel Craig), whom the actor hasn't played in 12 years.

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Steve Prokopy / Comments (0)

News Thu Aug 28 2014

Seanachai Theatre to Become Irish Theatre of Chicago

Seanachai Theatre Company, one of Chicago's acclaimed small Equity theaters, is changing its name to Irish Theatre of Chicago for its 20th anniversary season.

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The current name -- Seanachai -- means "storyteller" in Gaelic. Co-Artistic Directors Michael Grant and Ira Amyx said that they've been considering changing the name for several years. "While our name is changing, our mission remains the same, and (telling stories) is still at the heart of what we do. It is our hope that our new name and logo will support our future plans and make it easier for our current and future patrons to find and follow us."

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Nancy Bishop / Comments (0)

Art Thu Aug 28 2014

Neighborhood Joins Together to Create Work of Art

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Logan Square's CTA Blue Line stop is about to get more colorful. Beauty and Brawn Art Gallery, in collaboration with artist Rachel Slotnick, recently started work on a 200-foot mural at the stop.

Gallery owner Lindsey Meyers has waited almost eight years for the chance to artistically transform this space.

"I had basically given up on adopting the wall until recently when Rachel and I discussed doing a mural that would truly embrace the color and flavor of my neighborhood," she said in a statement. Meyers aims for neighborhood collaboration on the piece, highlighting all of the neighborhood's cultural groups.

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Miriam Finder / Comments (0)

Comedy Wed Aug 27 2014

Gogo Show to Stage Late-Night Variety at Greenhouse Theater Center

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The Gogo Show is coming out from underground with the start of their new season in September, at the Greenhouse Theater Center. The Gogo Show is a late-night variety show with standup, improv, sketch, storytelling and solo pieces, all featuring and produced by women.

Opening night will feature standup by Ali Clayton and Reena Calm, musical comedy by The Shock-Ts and The Rhinestones, storytelling by Cynthia Shur Petts and solo performance by Wes Perry. Hosts will include Gogo Show producers Mary Rose O'Connor, Anna Lucero, Erin Lane, Andrea Wallace, and Rebecca Krasny-McCrackin.

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Nancy Bishop / Comments (0)

Column Sat Aug 23 2014

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, If I Stay, When the Game Stands Tall, The Trip to Italy, The One I Love, Land Ho! & The Possession of Michael King

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Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

It looks and sounds and bleeds like the Sin City we know and love from 10 years ago, the one co-directed by Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller, based on Miller's insanely popular graphic novels. There are a few familiar faces, a few new ones, narration all over the damn place, and deadly black-and-white images, splattered with blood. But strangely enough Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is missing something that I can't quite put my finger on. Maybe it's the fact that Rodriguez and Miller haven't given us anything new in terms of the visuals; the almost-entirely CG environments feel the same, which is a shame because it limits the film in its pursuit to distinguish itself from its predecessor.

Marv (Mickey Rourke, seemingly even puffier in makeup than before) is back, still looking for a fight, but always willing to help out a friend. The one thing that isn't clearly explained (if it was, I missed it) is the timeline. Some of the film clearly takes place after Sin City. Bruce Willis' cop Hartigan is still dead but seems to be hovering over the shoulder of his charge, the stripper Nancy (Jessica Alba), trying to discourage her from going after the men who killed him, mostly those controlled by Senator Roark (Powers Booth, who has become more of a caricature villain than anything truly worth being scared of. But we also get stories that take place before the first film. Jaime King shows up as both twin sisters, Goldie and Wendy, one of whom we know dies in Sin City. I don't think the past and present storyline intersect, but jumping back and forth can get tiresome and confusing, especially to those who don't realize that Josh Brolin is playing the same character (pre-plastic surgery) he played in the first film. Good luck with that.

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Steve Prokopy / Comments (0)

Preview Thu Aug 21 2014

The Pump and Dump Show, a Night Out for Beleaguered Moms

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Billed as a parental night out for beleaguered moms, The Pump and Dump: A Parentally Incorrect Comedy Show comes to Chicago's Mayne Stage next month. Musician/comedian Shayna Ferm and her coach "MC Doula" (Tracey Tee) have presented two years of sold-out monthly shows in Denver.

They're now taking the show on the road to Northern California and Cleveland as well as Chicago this fall. Their album, #BREEDER, featuring songs written and performed by Shayna Ferm, is now on iTunes; and in 2014 Ferm and Tee launched a second website, TheMomToMomProject.com.

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Nancy Bishop / Comments (0)

Theater Wed Aug 13 2014

An Epic, Tragic Win: All Our Tragic

By Benjamin Cannon & Mike Ewing

What then is to be made of the Hypocrites' new stage production, All Our Tragic? This massive opus, comprising all 32 surviving Greek tragedy plays re-written and directed by Sean Graney, lasts a staggering 12 hours, including intermissions and meal breaks. Ben and Mike go the distance.
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Steve at the Movies 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

By Steve Prokopy

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Events

Fri Sep 19 2014
Last Days of Danger Release Party @ Challengers

Fri Sep 19 2014
Funny Ha-Ha @ Hideout

Fri Sep 19 2014
Chicago South Asian Film Festival

Fri Sep 19 2014
Prak-sis N3w M3dia Festival

Fri Sep 19 2014
Expo Chicago

Sat Sep 20 2014
BoyGirlBoyGirl: The Bible @ Stage 773

Sat Sep 20 2014
Prak-sis N3w M3dia Festival

Sat Sep 20 2014
Chicago South Asian Film Festival

Sat Sep 20 2014
Marlene Dietrich's Morocco @ Music Box

Sat Sep 20 2014
Expo Chicago

Sun Sep 21 2014
Prak-sis N3w M3dia Festival

Sun Sep 21 2014
City Made Festival

Sun Sep 21 2014
Chicago South Asian Film Festival

Sun Sep 21 2014
Expo Chicago

Tue Sep 23 2014
Sean Graney on All Our Tragic @ The Arts Club

Tue Sep 23 2014
White Mystery @ MCA

Tue Sep 23 2014
David Bowie Is @ MCA

Thu Sep 25 2014
The Doubleclicks & The Nerdalogues @ Public House Theatre


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A/C is the arts and culture section of Gapers Block, covering the many forms of expression on display in Chicago. More...
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Editor: LaShawn Williams, ldw@gapersblock.com
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