Bleader | Chicago Reader

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Weekly Top Five: The best of Polish cinema

Posted By on 06.29.14 at 08:00 AM

  • Barrier
For the past couple of months, Polish cinema has been all over Chicago. The Gene Siskel Film Center is about to wrap up "Martin Scorsese Presents: Masterpieces of Polish Cinema," a program featuring some of the country's best films—over a dozen of them in total. Meanwhile, at the Music Box, Paweł Pawlikowski's J.R. Jones-approved Ida has enjoyed a prolonged residency. All national cinemas have distinct attributes and Poland is no exception: Scorsese himself puts it quite succinctly in his introduction to "Masterpieces of Polish Cinema" when he writes, "This is a cinema of personal vision, social commitment, and poetic responsibility . . . the subtext of great conflict and cultural identity is universal, even if you don’t know the history of Poland, the themes in these films will resonate, as they did profoundly for me."

The idea of "social and poetic responsibility" strikes me as the key attribute of Polish cinema. In the country's best films, which are often grave and somber but never stifling or unbearable, the national consciousness is alive, reflected in austere black-and-white cinematography, precise compositions, and lyrical imagery. Indeed, a sense of moral and aesthetic duty, as well as a calculated national identity, is the very foundation of Polish film. Here are my five favorite.

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Reader's Agenda Sun 6/29: Pride Parade, Street League Skateboarding, and the Chariot Festival of India

Posted By on 06.29.14 at 06:15 AM

Looking for something to do today? Agenda's got you covered.

Grab anything rainbow-colored and show up early for the Gay Pride Parade, the most festive and most crowded parade around. (Seriously, get there early or you'll have to sneak onto someone's roof just to catch a glimpse.) The parade begins at noon at Broadway and Montrose. Over 200 floats and performers will march south toward Diversey. Athlete and musician Will Sheridan is grand marshal.

The Street League Skateboarding World Tour visits UIC Pavilion for its first ever Chicago stop. Skaters compete for a $100,000 cash prize by showcasing their tricks in a Blackhawks-themed skate course. The cast of pros includes names like Sean Malto, Torey Pudwill, Paul Rodriguez, and Tommy Sandoval.

Hare Krishna Temple hosts its annual Chariot Festival of India at the Loyola Park Beach. Festivities include food, music, and meditation, as well as henna painting and workshops.

For more on these events and others, check out the Reader's daily Agenda page.

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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Street View 201: Style paradox at CHGO DSGN

Posted By on 06.28.14 at 09:30 AM

Street View is a fashion series in which Isa Giallorenzo spotlights some of the coolest styles seen in Chicago.


Christine was shot at the opening of CHGO DSGN, an homage to local image makers currently on view at the Cultural Center. She is so perfectly dressed I feel like she should be on display herself. Her print mix is simultaneously subtle and powerful, and the way she accessorized is incredibly hip. Christine's juxtaposition of cool, round eyeglasses, silver Doc Martens, and a native necklace make her look complex in a streamlined way, which is, in my view, the ultimate goal of style.

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Reader's Agenda Sat 6/28: Chinese Dragon Boat Race, Printers Ball, and the Chicago Dyke March

Posted By on 06.28.14 at 06:15 AM

Chip Kidd
  • John Madere
  • Chip Kidd
Looking for something to do today? Agenda's got you covered.

The Chinatown leg of the Chicago River will be overrun with dragons today, all in service of a good cause. This year 26 teams will compete in the Chinese Dragon Boat Race, honoring a 2,000-year-old tradition while supporting and promoting local literacy as well as cultural and diversity programs.

Printers Ball, now in its tenth year, is "a casual celebration of the printed medium," according to the Reader's Brianna Wellen. The event includes hands-on printmaking workshops, readings and performances of printed material, and a beer garden with brews curated by Maria's Packaged Goods & Community Bar. Local comics collective Brain Frame and graphic designer Chip Kidd are among the guests.

Join the Chicago Dyke March Collective as it partners with Orgullo en Accion in celebration of dyke, queer, bisexual, and transgender resilience. That rallies and performances that follow the mile-long march take place at 4 PM at the Humboldt Park Boathouse, where it meets up with the Latina/o PRIDE Picnic.

For more on these events and others, check out the Reader's daily Agenda page.

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Friday, June 27, 2014

9021NO: Mystery Girls reunites Tori Spelling and Jennie Garth

Posted By on 06.27.14 at 05:21 PM

Miguel Pinzon joins Kelly Taylor and Donna Martin on 9021NO.
  • ABC FAMILY/Ron Tom
  • Miguel Pinzon, Jennie Garth, and Tori Spelling need to get a clue.

Now that we're pretty sure we're getting a summer, it would be a shame to waste any of these precious, sun-filled hours watching TV, right? That is, aside from making sure to DVR the final season of True Blood, or keeping an eye out for the return of Masters of Sex or Pretty Little Liars. And, hey, don't be ashamed if you're a fan of that last one—lots of folks our age are. ABC Family established itself as a destination for drama with that hit, and with the success of such shows like Kyle XY and The Secret Life of the American Teenager (which helped launch Shailene Woodley's career). Unfortunately, they’ve decided to pour some of that good will down the drain with contrived comedies, the most recent of which is Mystery Girls, a Tori Spelling creation, starring she and Jennie Garth.

We last saw Spelling and Garth together on 90210, the updated-for-millennials version of that other show they starred in together, Beverly Hills, 90210. So, there. I've already made the requisite reference to the dreamy teen drama of my youth. Surprisingly, Mystery Girls managed to show a little more restraint in conjuring Donna Martin and Kelly Taylor.

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Darth Vader at the Hideout! Or at least a couple of aldermen

Posted By on 06.27.14 at 04:00 PM

Will Alderman Rick Munoz sing "At the Hop" and other songs from the American Graffiti soundtrack? - JEAN LACHAT/SUN-TIMES MEDIA
  • Jean Lachat/Sun-Times Media
  • Will Alderman Rick Munoz sing "At the Hop" and other songs from the American Graffiti soundtrack?

In honor of the latest bright idea to pop out of Mayor Rahm's brain, Mick and I will be wearing our favorite Star Wars costumes for Tuesday's show at the Hideout.

In case you haven't heard, Mayor Rahm's wants to give lakefront land—as if it's his to give—to George Lucas so he can build a Star Wars museum there.

The multimillion-dollar question is how many of your tax dollars will end up going to this thing before it's over.

When the mayor recently announced Lucas had selected Chicago over Los Angeles and San Francisco as the site of his museum, aldermen all over the city happily signed on as supporters—even though neither the mayor nor Lucas has revealed key details about the museum.

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Charlotte Salomon's Life? Or Theater?: Painting for her life, literally

Posted By on 06.27.14 at 02:30 PM

  • Collection Jewish Historical Museum, Amsterdam. © Charlotte Salomon Foundation. Charlotte Salomon®
Charlotte Salomon spent most of 1941 locked in a room in La Belle Aurore, a hotel in Saint Jean Cap Ferrat in the south of France, painting. She was trying to distract herself from the suicidal depression that plagued her family—it had claimed her mother, the aunt for whom she was named, and, most recently, her grandmother—and the impending Nazi invasion. She was 24 years old. Her main subject was her own life. Over the course of 18 months, she produced more than 1,300 gouache paintings, edited down to 769, that, taken together, were intended to be a singespiel, a play with music: she indicated the accompanying songs on the back of the drawings or on transparent overlays. She called it Life? Or Theater? Just before she was deported to Drancy concentration camp in 1943, she gave the entire project to a non-Jewish friend known only as Dr. Moridis. "Keep it safe," she told him. "It is my whole life."

Salomon died in Auschwitz. Life? Or Theater?, however, survived. It was first shown in 1961 in Amsterdam (where it was compared to Anne Frank's diary, which had come out the year before) and has been in regular circulation since, most recently in 2012 at Documenta(13), the international art festival in Kassel, Germany, where it was juxtaposed with work by an Egyptian artist that depicted the Tahrir Square protests. Which is altogether appropriate, since Salomon's work looks strikingly modern; at times, it resembles a graphic novel. You can see it for yourself at the Illinois Holocaust Museum, where 278 of the paintings will be on display until September 21.

"It's a diary in a sense," says Joël Cahen, director of the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam, to which Salomon's father and stepmother donated her paintings before they died. "There's a certain sense of her life. She empties her memory. It's a tragic life, but also a very hopeful life. She was a very promising artist. Had she remained alive, she would have been on the same level as Max Beckmann."

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The politics behind Chicago's garbage bins

Posted By on 06.27.14 at 02:01 PM

  • Chris Wronski
The City Council took up an ordinance Wednesday that few aldermen know much about, except that it's likely to raise the cost of living in Chicago for apartment and condo dwellers. Those who know more aren't talking. The council passed it anyway.

The measure concerns one of the least sexy issues imaginable: how the city regulates and taxes Dumpsters owned by private waste haulers. But the way it became law offers a snapshot of how policies are often forged at City Hall.

"I think we've seen time and time again that when we approve things blindly, and then the actual numbers come in, we end up being like, 'Oh my!'" said Leslie Hairston (Fifth Ward), one of the few aldermen to vote against the measure.

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Uncovering reedist Jimmy Giuffre's lost decade

Posted By on 06.27.14 at 02:00 PM

The odds are slim that a better historical jazz release will surface this year than The Jimmy Giuffre 3 & 4 New York Concerts (Elemental Music), a mind-bending double CD collecting two previously unissued live performances by the reedist from 1965. The music dates from Giuffre's lost decade, a period of time when almost no documentation of his playing exists. His fortunes took a tumble following the release of the brilliant 1963 album Free Fall (Columbia), a paradigm-shifting trio set made with pianist Paul Bley and bassist Steve Swallow that pushed the leader's obsession with contrapuntal composition and improvisation to its apotheosis. The music was very much ahead of its time—drummerless, austere, and decidedly abstract—and the intervening years have shown how profound Giuffre's ideas were; his brand of chamber jazz continues to endure in all sorts of contemporary projects. Ken Vandermark even named one of his groups—with pianist Håvard Wiik and bassist Ingebrit Håker Flaten—Free Fall; clarinetist James Falzone has referenced Giuffre's music in his group Klang; and recently trumpeter Dave Douglas explored those chamber-like sounds in his new Riverside project.

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Karen vs. Rahm—the choice is yours, Chicago

Posted By on 06.27.14 at 01:46 PM

Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union, says shell challenge Mayor Rahm Emanuel if no one else will.
  • Michael Schmidt/Sun-Times Media
  • Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union, says she'll challenge Mayor Rahm Emanuel if no one else will.
I was driving home down Western Avenue, listening to the NBA draft, when the call came in from my man, Mick Dumke.

"Did you hear the news? Karen Lewis is getting ready to run for mayor."

At which point, I started honking the horn, waving my fist, and singing "We Are the Champions."

Then Mick brought me down to earth. Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union, hadn't officially declared. More like she'd told the Sun-Times that she would run if no one else of stature jumps into the race.

Still, I haven't felt so good about a breaking political story in this town since the International Olympic Committee gave Chicago the heave-ho in its bid for the 2016 Olympics. Thus saving you, me, and every other taxpayer gazillions of dollars in taxes.

In fact, you have to go back to the IOC to find anyone with power who's unafraid to stand up to the mayor, be he Daley or Emanuel.

Because let's face it, Chicago—this last 25 years or so have not been your finest moments, politically speaking.

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