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Saturday, January 31

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Column Fri Jan 30 2015

Black Sea, Black or White & Mommy


Black Sea

I love submarine-set movies and I love heist movies, so imagine if I dared to dream of a heist movie set on a submarine. Well now I don't have to any longer, because screenwriter Dennis Kelly (best known as a playwright, although he did write the British series "Utopia") and Oscar-winning director Kevin Macdonald (One Day in September, The Last King of Scotland, State of Play, Touching the Void, How I Live Now) have combined forces to make Black Sea, an ambitious if somewhat underdeveloped tale of rough and rugged men in a sub searching for lost Russian gold on a long-lost Nazi sub — something for everyone.

Between his roles in Dom Hemingway and now Black Sea, Jude Law has put aside his charm and looks and replaced them, in the case of Capt. Robinson, with a Scottish accent and sunken features. Robinson has recently been fired from his longtime job for a marine salvage company, a job that he was so devoted to that his wife left him and took their young son. Obsessed with making enough money to win his wife back (she has now remarried a rich man) or at least provide for his son, he gets wind of a scheme so hair-brained, it must be true.

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Steve Prokopy / Comments (0)

Art Fri Jan 30 2015

Vesna Jovanovic's Art Shows "Foreign Bodies" in Our Innards

By Vera Scekic


Every so often, weird stories surface in the news about people harboring a roofing nail, pair of scissors, toy dinosaur or other bizarre object in their dark interior. We read these accounts and recoil at the thought of something so alien making its home inside the human body. Yet millions of us are hosts to an array of medical devices made from metal, plastic and other synthetic materials, from pacemakers and stents to artificial joints and silicone gel implants.

Foreign Bodies, Vesna Jovanovic's exhibit of seven drawings at Packer Schopf Gallery, spotlights our new medical reality and its biological and ethical implications. Striking in size and execution, the works offer drawing purists plenty of virtuoso technique while prodding viewers to consider the degree to which rapid changes in our medical landscape are upending conventional conceptions of the human body.

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Theater Wed Jan 28 2015

Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play Lights Up Theater Wit

Photo by Charles Osgood.

Four survivors sit huddled around a fire, which provides the only light on the scene. Matt (Daniel Desmarais) is recreating a story from the past: an episode from "The Simpsons." Jenny (Leah Urzendowski) occasionally interrupts or adds a line. It's an eerie view of the near future or of our preliterate past--and of the power of storytelling.

In Theater Wit's Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play, playwright Anne Washburn foresees a time when power plants are down and the electric grid is dying. Director Jeremy Wechsler stages this dystopian comedy/drama with style and flair -- and suggests that survival might depend on our carrying on the mythology of the 26-year epic television series, "The Simpsons."

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Nancy Bishop / Comments (0)

Art Tue Jan 27 2015

Call for Plants for (Provisional) Park at Co-Prosperity Sphere

Calling all plant lovers and plant parents! (Provisional) Park would like you to place your plants on temporary loan for a project in Bridgeport.

(Provisional) Park

(Provisional) Park will be a temporary indoor park made up entirely of your wonderful green and tropical houseplants, located inside of Co-Prosperity Sphere at 3219-21 S. Morgan St. The project was created by artist Allyson Packer, who graduated from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill with a BFA in 2009. The park will free and open to the public March 6-April 3 between 6am and 11pm.

If you would like to lend your plant to Packer for the duration of the park, email to schedule a pick-up or feel free to bring your plants to Co-Prosperity Sphere between 10am and 5pm on Sunday, March 1. Have no fear, your plants will be returned in April once the project is completed!

S. Nicole Lane / Comments (0)

Theater Mon Jan 26 2015

The Rose Tattoo at Shattered Globe: A melodrama of love, loss and love


Grelli and Niccolai. Photo by Michael Brosilow.

The setting is an insular Italian-American community on the Gulf Coast in 1950. Tennessee Williams' play, The Rose Tattoo, is a tragicomic tale of love lost and love gained. Its Sicilian characters are superstitious and passionate in their joy and in their grief. The play is an emotional roller-coaster and suggests to me that our techno-laden lives might be healthier if we let in more human spirit.

Greg Vinkler directs this Shattered Globe production with clear fondness for the quirks of the Sicilian community. The cast is excellent all around with outstanding performances from the leads: Eileen Niccolai as Serafina Delle Rose, the grieving widow; Nic Grelli as Alvaro Mangiacavallo, the earthy visitor who lifts her veil of grief; and Daniela Colucci as Rosa, Serafina's daughter.

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Nancy Bishop / Comments (0)

Performance Sun Jan 25 2015

Jesse Malmed @ The Film Studies Center

The show begins as Roy Orbison filters in through the speakers in the theater, Happy Days plays while Robin Williams still makes us laugh, and the morass of language is snarled and muddled throughout the visual odyssey of Untitled (Just Kidding).


Jesse Malmed was born in Santa Fe, N.M., and has since moved to Chicago where he thrives as a curator and artist. He earned an MFA for Moving Image at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Malmed draws on his affinity for humor, pop culture, wordplay, performance, and visually hypnotic video works, specifically the work seen at the Film Studies Center for the talk and screening of Untitled (Just Kidding).

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S. Nicole Lane / Comments (0)

Column Fri Jan 23 2015

The Boy Next Door, Cake, Song One & Match


The Boy Next Door

(Or 'Twas Booty Killed the Beast)
Calling the new Jennifer Lopez sexually charged thriller The Boy Next Door sleazy implies that the film has the balls to be sleazy, which it certainly does not. Instead we get what is essentially a tossed-off subplot from "Desperate Housewives" turned into a C-grade stalker story. As if the filmmakers were afraid of offending anyone with this limp tale, the affair between Lopez's high school teacher Claire Peterson and her neighbor/student Noah (Ryan Guzman) is made "acceptable" by making sure it's clear that Noah took a year off of high school, and that he's actually 19 years old. Wouldn't want you to think anything shady is going on.

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Steve Prokopy / Comments (0)

Call for Artists Tue Jan 20 2015

Call for Proposals: Out of Site Chicago

Out of Site Chicago is a curatorial project which focuses on public space and performative work. The goal of Out of Site is to invite the public to the artists practice and bring forth a cultural experience for everyone involved. The current call for proposals is for a public performance in Chicago.

Call for Proposals Out of Site.jpg

Out of Site Chicago is interested in presenting an "interactive experience for the public" that would take place in the Wicker Park/Bucktown neighborhood, for a duration of two hours. Revitalizing the current notion of public performance is what applicants should focus on for the 2015 call for proposals. Dance companies and performance artists are encouraged to apply. The 2015 jury panel is Felicia Holman, Carron Little and Roberto Sifuentes.

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S. Nicole Lane / Comments (0)

Dance Tue Jan 20 2015

Crafting "Restless Creature": Hubbard Street Choreographer Cerrudo Discusses Wendy Whelan

By Cora Vasseur

Whelan Cerrudo restless creature
Photo by Christopher Duggan.

Creating a pas de deux is challenging enough, but putting one together for Wendy Whelan after she retired from her 30-year career with the New York City Ballet is mind-numbing. Alejandro Cerrudo, resident choreographer of Hubbard Street Dance Company, is one of four choreographers she asked to create and perform with her in "Restless Creature," one of the first projects in her new dance career. The Chicago debut of "Restless Creature" will be Wednesday at the Harris Theater.

How someone discusses working with a major figure in their field shows how much they grasp the significance of the occasion. If Baryshnikov is Zeus, Whelan is Athena. It's a big deal that this archetype of a contemporary ballerina chose the Spanish Cerrudo to help her craft this project. And he's aware of that fact.

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A/C / Comments (1)

Art Mon Jan 19 2015

Lands End Exhibition @ UChicago's Logan Center

Lands End, a new exhibition at University of Chicago's Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts curated by Zachary Cahill and Katherine Harvath, focuses on physical boundaries, the human psyche, and a revitalized concept of landscape. The notion of a "beginning" or a boundary of "separation" is displayed in the videography, auditory, painterly, and interactive work by 13 multidisciplinary artists represented in the exhibition.

 'Cave of the heart' by Theresa Ganz
Cave of the heart by Theresa Ganz

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S. Nicole Lane / Comments (0)

Column Fri Jan 16 2015

American Sniper; A Most Violent Year; Still Alice; The Wedding Ringer; Two Days, One Night; Goodbye to Language 3D & If You Don't, I Will


American Sniper

We're not here to talk about Chris Kyle or how truthful his book is or his politics or director Clint Eastwood's politics. You could despise each and every one of these elements that went into making American Sniper, the movie, and still find the film compelling as both a character study and a film about war that doesn't get too deep into the reasons why the American military was in Iraq in the first place. (It's my understanding that in his book Kyle draws a direct line from the 9/11 attacks to America being in Iraq, something the movie skirts ever so slightly.) As a pure cinematic experience, American Sniper has more than a handful of impressive sequences on both sides of the war, and that has to be considered.

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Steve Prokopy / Comments (0)

Preview Thu Jan 15 2015

"My Bloody Valentine" to Feature Lady Arm Wrestlers in Friday the 13th Mashup


Photo by Marty Schousboe.

Fans of lady arm-wrestling can celebrate Valentine's Day and avert Friday the 13th disasters at CLLAW XXI: My Bloody Valentine on Friday, Feb. 13, at Logan Square Auditorium, 2539 N. Kedzie. The event will feature Chicago's most belligerent lady arm wrestlers in appropriately outlandish costumes plus live musical entertainment, a kissing booth, and the chance to win a five-minute date with one of the wrestlers.

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Nancy Bishop / Comments (0)

Call for Artists Wed Jan 14 2015

Ragdale Ring Project Calling for Proposals

Ragdale Ring 2014 by Bittertang Farm.jpg

Calling all artists, architects and designers! The nationally acclaimed artist residency, Ragdale, is accepting proposals for the third annual Ragdale Ring, an outdoor performance and theater space.

For the project and residency, Ragdale is seeking a "full-scale project and installation" which will be similar to the original Ragdale Ring created and designed by Howard Van Doren Shaw in 1912. The recipient will receive a $15,000 production grant to fund the project, a large studio, room and board for up to 10 people for 18 days in May.

Deadline for submissions is Feb. 20 and the selected month for the residency is in May. Ragdale is located at 1260 N. Green Bay Rd. in Lake Forest, 30 miles north of Chicago. If you are interested in participating in the Ragdale Ring Project, begin the application here. For more questions, call 847-234-1063 or email:

Ragdale hosts up to 150 artists, writers, composers and various creatives at any stage in their career for 18-25 days each year. The residency grounds are made up of 50 acres of prairie, family style dinners, and supportive interactions in the program.

S. Nicole Lane / Comments (0)

Column Fri Jan 09 2015

Inherent Vice, Predestination, Leviathan, Le jour se Lève, Compass Cabaret '55 & Remote Area Medical


Inherent Vice

It was 1970. The '60s were over, and hippies were on the way out. Their image, dress, music, hair, lingo, drugs — once looked at as a threat to the mainstream — had in fact been co-opted by it. The hippie ideal of love had also been perverted and made monstrous by the likes of Charles Manson, a man whose name comes up more than a few times in Paul Thomas Anderson's latest ensemble blur, which he adapted from the Thomas Pynchon novel. Paranoia had replaced psychedelia. And when someone from the mainstream attempts to adopt the hippie belief that man should help his fellow man (in the case of real estate mogul Michael Wolfmann, he wants to give away all his property so people can live on it for free), that person is dealt with severely by friends, family and the government. How can the little guy — hippie or not — hope to survive? That's the world of Inherent Vice.

The fact that Doc Sportello (played to dizzying comic perfection by Joaquin Phoenix) is a private detective is something of a curiosity right from the start. He's a consummate stoner, and he's a womanizer with a pretty sad success rate. The one woman who will sleep with him (although she doesn't like being seen with him in public), Penny (Phoenix's Walk the Line co-star Reese Witherspoon), is a member of the straight world, working as a deputy DA. Into Doc's life one lazy, late afternoon comes his ex-old lady who vanished about a year earlier, Shasta Fay Hepworth (a breakthrough performance from Katherine Waterston, daughter of Sam). Shasta has come up in the world in the months since she broke Doc's heart: she's sleeping with the aforementioned Mr. Wolfmann (Eric Roberts). His knowing wife and her lover are attempting to place in mental hospital for wanting to give the hippies free housing. Wolfmann has vanished and Shasta enlists Doc to find him.

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Steve Prokopy / Comments (0)

Film Thu Jan 08 2015

Compass Cabaret 55: How Chicago Became National Comedy Central

Compass Cabaret '55Second City didn't spring full grown from that stage in Old Town in the 1960s. Sketch comedy and improvisational theater has a long and storied history in Chicago, starting with a group of University of Chicago students who began performing at a bar in Hyde Park in the early '50s.

The new documentary, Compass Cabaret 55, is the story of the pioneers who invented a new form of comedy performance that led to Second City and "Saturday Night Live" and nurtured the careers of stars like Bill Murray, Stephen Colbert, Jane Lynch, Elaine May and the late Mike Nichols, and John Belushi.

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Nancy Bishop / Comments (2)

Chicago Speaks Mon Dec 22 2014

Chicago Speaks: American Sign Language, as Signed by Poet and Storyteller Peter Cook

By Megan Marz

"People think everyone signs the same all over the world," says Cook. "But of course each country has their own [sign language], because it's related to culture."
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 30 2015

Black Sea, Black or White & Mommy

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »


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Sat Jan 31 2015
Quimby's 2015 Zlumber Party

Sat Jan 31 2015
Onion City Film Festival @ Columbia College

Sat Jan 31 2015
You're Being Ridiculous @ Davenport's Piano Bar

Sat Jan 31 2015
Mary Dorrell and Thomas King Exhibition @ Arts on Elston

Sat Jan 31 2015
Build Presence: Public Interactive Art Project @ Chicago Cultural Center

Sat Jan 31 2015
Winter Block Party for Chicago's Hip Hop Arts @ Metro

Sun Feb 1 2015
"And sometimes gravity" Opening Reception @ Adds Donna

Sun Feb 1 2015
Bric-A-Brunch Day Party @ Empty Bottle

Sun Feb 1 2015
Remembering Harold Washington at Black Cinema House

Wed Feb 4 2015
Ultimate Painting @ Double Door

Fri Feb 6 2015
The Height Below Opening Reception @ Heaven Gallery

Fri Feb 6 2015
Short Films by Shirley Clarke @ The Film Studies Center

Fri Feb 6 2015
Mossy Cloak Opening Reception @ Roots & Culture

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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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