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A/C

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)

Art Wed Aug 20 2014

Artist Sows Seed Bombs to Represent Cabrini Resident Diaspora

When artist Katherine Alexandria took a tour of one of the new condo developments that have risen on the land once occupied by the Cabrini-Green housing projects, it wasn't because she was interested in buying. It was to get a better sense of what she was protesting.

"The idea of displacing 15,000 people so you could use the property for something more profitable is inexcusable," Alexandria said. "There is a massive number of people in Chicago living below the poverty level. We have anti-discrimination housing laws, but we don't enforce them. It's such a slap in the face in how we treat our poorest citizens."

873 N. Larrabee St. view
View of Cabrini rowhouses from 873 N. Larrabee St. Photo by Katherine Alexandria

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Andrew Huff / Comments (9)

Dance Tue Aug 19 2014

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago premieres Kyle Abraham's "Counterpoint"

Hubbard Street Dancer Kellie Epperheimer, foreground, Kyle Abraham, left. Photo by Todd Rosenberg.JPG

Photo by Todd Rosenberg.

Chicago Dancing Festival returns for its eighth year Wednesday, and for the first time, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago members will perform a festival-commissioned piece--Counterpoint by Kyle Abraham.

While Hubbard Street Dance has been involved in the festival since its inception, working on a commissioned piece is something new.

"This is our first time being part of the commissioning...which has become a major part [of the festival]," said Hubbard Street Dance Manager of Communications Zachary Whittenburg. "They had the idea that Kyle would create a piece for Hubbard Street."

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Miriam Finder / Comments (0)

Column Fri Aug 15 2014

The Expendables 3, Let's Be Cops, The Giver, Venus in Fur, Dinosaur 13 & The German Doctor

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The Expendables 3

Well, it took them three tries, but Sylvester Stallone and his grizzled gang of tough guys and renegades known as The Expendables finally made a film that I can whole-heartedly recommend. I was not an admirer of the first two films; I saw the appeal, and I may have even laughed a couple of times as the countless dumb jokes about age and virility. But there's something a bit more lived in and knowing (bordering on sensible) about The Expendables 3. And I give a great deal of the credit to two people: new director Patrick Hughes, who made a terrific little Australian movie a few years back called Red Hill (he's also slated to do an English-language remake of the The Raid, but we won't hold that against him...yet); and Mel Gibson, who embraces his villainous personal image to play a bad guy who's actually formidable and worthy of taking on this team.

Honorable mention should go to the great Wesley Snipes as Doc (short for Dr. Death), whose opening-sequence rescue from a high-security prison (he's in for tax evasion, he says; where do they get this stuff?) is one of the best openings of any movie this summer. There's a lot of talk about how "crazy" these old guys are, but Snipes sells it better than anyone in this franchise to date. I also give credit to Harrison Ford as CIA operative Drummer; for the first time in ages, Ford actually looks like he's enjoying himself and fully embracing the idea of being an elderly badass.

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Steve Prokopy / Comments (0)

Theater Wed Aug 13 2014

An Epic, Tragic Win: All Our Tragic

By Benjamin Cannon & Mike Ewing

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Photo by Evan Hanover.

Consider for a moment the single most impressive ingredient one can add to food or drink, or really anything for that matter. It is readily available, though seemingly scarce, and most often wasted.

We'll play the sphinx no longer and tell you it is the ingredient of time. It suffuses products with nuance and richness otherwise absent from that made in haste, resulting in tender, smoky briskets and deep, complex scotches. Or the reward is more valuable for the time taken to attain it, offering release as warring patience and hunger are reconciled. That first bite of Hot Doug's or Kuma's is made sweeter by the waiting.

In art, time adds value and gives opportunity for reflection. Temporal remove has helped even our initial reactionary responses to practically every major epochal shift in the arts. Taking time to sit with a work and one's thoughts can greatly broaden the experience of the piece. The brain becomes flush with considerations of time and place, of semiotic interpretation versus emotional reaction.

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A/C / Comments (0)

Art Tue Aug 12 2014

See the Many "Hats" of Dr. Seuss This Fall

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"Oh, the places you'll go" and things you'll see this September at the exciting Hats Off to Dr. Seuss! exhibit at Water Tower Place. As part of the national touring exhibition of the famous author's collections, attendees will be treated to a look inside Dr. Seuss's hidden treasures from his estate, on display for the first time. From paintings to towering feathered hats, this display shows off some of the most whimsical creations of the beloved children's writer.

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Megan Daley / Comments (0)

Chicago Speaks Tue Aug 12 2014

Chicago Speaks: Bengali, as Spoken by Feryall Rahman

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.

The structural engineer Fazlur Khan is known for his work on the John Hancock Center and the Willis Tower, where a sculpture depicting his face greets visitors to the Skydeck. But Khan, perhaps the best known Bangladeshi Chicagoan, bequeathed more than buildings to his adopted city.

In 1980, shortly before his death, he founded a community organization called the Bangladesh Association of Chicagoland. In 2012, Feryall Rahman decided to join it. "I was like, 'Oh, if Fazlur Rahman Khan started this, I'm going to go see what this is about,'" she says.

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Megan Marz / Comments (0)

Film Mon Aug 11 2014

A Master Builder : A Claustrophobic Stew of Lust, Ambition, Ego and Envy

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Photo courtesy Gene Siskel Film Center.

Sometimes it's best to ignore the source of an adaptation and let the new work stand on its own. That works well with this excellent new adaptation of the 1893 Henrik Ibsen play converted to film in modern dress, as A Master Builder by Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory. The two-hour film, currently showing at the Gene Siskel Film Center with an outstanding cast of seven, immerses us in a story of lust, ambition, ego and envy.

The film closely follows Ibsen's original story -- with one important exception. We meet master builder Halvard Solness as an aging and sick man, tended by nurses and resting in a hospital bed in his office. (Ibsen describes him in the original as "a man no longer young, but healthy and vigorous.") This illness reframes the story of the architect with the monstrous ego and ambition and provides a dreamlike and ambiguous ending.

Director Jonathon Demme has created a film that to my mind is more claustrophobic than a single-setting play. Demme uses extreme closeups of his garrulous characters as well as a small number of tight physical spaces.

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Nancy Bishop / Comments (0)

Column Fri Aug 08 2014

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Hundred-Foot Journey, Calvary, What If, A Master Builder & Alive Inside

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

I wish I felt more passionately — positive or negative — for the latest attempt to get the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles back into the cultural spotlight. Clearly inspired by by the recent wave of superhero movies, this version of the turtles stick to the same basic origin story, but gives the reptiles a little more grit and attitude. Their shells are worn and chipped, their usually colorful green forms are muted and worn in. Their voices still reveal their hyper-teenage brains (with the exception of Johnny Knoxville, inexplicably brought in to voice Leonardo), but they are forced to deal with some very dark and serious situations that could result in some nasty business courtesy of their old enemy Shredder.

The biggest (but far from only) problem with the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is the the genuine fun has been all but wiped from these characters. I certainly wasn't looking for a retread, but I was hoping to laugh and smile a bit. Instead, the heroes are being beaten to a pulp, put at real risk of death (or those around them are), and just generally being put in the middle of some truly grim situations. Director Jonathan Liebesman (Darkness Falls, Battle Los Angeles, Wrath of the Titans) doesn't seem to have any real affection for the turtles, and if he does, it doesn't show. I'm not too traumatized about their new, more humanoid look the way some are, but it doesn't really add much to the film either, the way, I don't know, a story or minor character development might.

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Steve Prokopy / Comments (0)

Art Mon Aug 04 2014

Ed Paschke's Art Finds a New Home in His Old Neighborhood

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The work of a Chicago artist who won national and international fame is settled in at a small museum in Jefferson Park, near the neighborhood where he grew up.

Ed Paschke, whose vividly colored and brilliantly grotesque paintings are part of the collections of major American and European museums, grew up the son of Polish immigrant parents on the northwest side of Chicago and lived there much of his life. The new museum dedicated to his work is the Ed Paschke Art Center at 5415 W. Higgins Ave. in Jefferson Park.

The center, which opened in June, exhibits about 40 Paschke works -- mostly paintings (oil on linen), but also prints and colograms (a digital photographic process that results in a 3D-like effect). His Howard Street studio, where he worked from 1980 until his death in 2004, is meticulously recreated. In addition, a 30-minute video runs continuously, showing Paschke working, talking about how he works, and teaching a class of art students at Northwestern University. The video is well done and worth watching for insights into the work and thinking of this creative and articulate artist.

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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 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

By Steve Prokopy

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Events

Sun Aug 31 2014
Oddball Comedy Festival

Sun Aug 31 2014
Chicago Fringe Festival

Sun Aug 31 2014
Noir City Film Festival @ Music Box

Sun Aug 31 2014
Remix Chicago @ Logan Square

Mon Sep 1 2014
Impress These Apes @ ComedySportz

Mon Sep 1 2014
The Unauthorized "Saved by the Bell" Story @ East Room

Mon Sep 1 2014
Noir City Film Festival @ Music Box

Mon Sep 1 2014
Chicago Fringe Festival

Tue Sep 2 2014
Noir City Film Festival @ Music Box

Wed Sep 3 2014
Noir City Film Festival @ Music Box

Thu Sep 4 2014
Chicago Fringe Festival

Thu Sep 4 2014
Strictly Ballroom @ Millennium Park

Thu Sep 4 2014
Noir City Film Festival @ Music Box

Fri Sep 5 2014
Chicago Fringe Festival

Fri Sep 5 2014
Life Itself @ Film Center

Fri Sep 5 2014
The Hideout Block Party & Onion AV Fest

Fri Sep 5 2014
Luiz Gonz╬Člez Palma Reception & Exhibit @ Schneider Gallery

Fri Sep 5 2014
Zoovie: Best in Show @ Lincoln Park Zoo

Fri Sep 5 2014
First Friday @ Flat Iron Building

Sat Sep 6 2014
Eugene Sun Park's Film Self Deportation @ Chicago Filmmakers

Sat Sep 6 2014
Filipino Cinema series @ Film Center

Sat Sep 6 2014
Chicago Fringe Festival

Sat Sep 6 2014
Internet Cat Video Festival @ Metro


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About A/C

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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