Bleader | Chicago Reader

Monday, September 29, 2014

Rocks in My Pockets and the challenge of representing mental illnesses onscreen

Posted By on 09.29.14 at 01:00 PM

Signe Baumanes Rocks in My Pockets screens at the Gene Siskel Film Center through Thursday.
  • Signe Baumane's Rocks in My Pockets screens at the Gene Siskel Film Center through Thursday.
"People want to see representations of themselves," said New York Times film critic Manohla Dargis in an interview a few years ago, reflecting on what inspires casual viewers to go to the movies. This is hardly a controversial opinion. I've encountered more than enough anecdotal evidence to support that claim, and I'm sure you have too. Even when it comes to period pieces or fantasies set in imaginary worlds, viewers will speak favorably of a movie if they can relate to the characters and the general worldview. (This would explain why almost any period piece says as much about the era in which it's made as it does about the era it depicts—filmmakers working in the genre tend to address outmoded attitudes through the lens of contemporary ones so that the audience might still relate to the material.)

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What I saw (and ate) as a judge at the Hamburger Hop

Posted By on 09.29.14 at 12:30 PM

Like a rhinestone cow, boy

The official photographer looked a little miffed that I kept taking photographs of the photographers, especially with my $100 pocket camera, but I got a kick out of it. The most amusing thing, though, was the idea of being lined up in front of a repeating background to have my picture taken with people who've been on TV and stuff. I tried to strike a modest pose off to one side, and let the spotlight fall to more naturally beautiful people like Top Chef/The Chew's Carla Hall (who feels tall as a giraffe when your troll self is standing next to her), Jeff Mauro (who clearly understood that becoming the Sandwich King called for hiring a really good personal trainer), Bon Appetit editor Adam Rapoport (who's somehow as thin as an exclamation point), and River Roast chef John Hogan—OK, him I might look like, but he has the porkpie hat look going for him.

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'Home Fries,' a serving of characteristic elegance from the Fred Hersch Trio

Posted By on 09.29.14 at 12:00 PM

Fred Hersch
The trio led by pianist Fred Hersch is one of the most malleable, graceful, and exciting working bands in jazz—qualities that shine brightest in the live setting—so it's no wonder that in 2012 the group (which includes bassist John Hébert and drummer Eric McPherson) released the excellent two-CD set Alive at the Vanguard (Palmetto) to show off its inherent dynamism and rapport. Hersch seems well aware of those strengths himself, because on the group's new studio album, Floating (also released by Palmetto), the sequence of tracks was modeled after typical club set: the album opens with a standard from the Great American Songbook ("You and the Night and the Music"), follows with a diverse assortment of original tunes, and concludes with another standard ("If Ever I Would Leave You") and a Thelonious Monk composition ("Let's Cool One"). While the performances on Floating may be a bit more tempered and cool than a live show, the arc of the collection does indeed mirror what unfolds in a typical club set. For today's 12 O'Clock Track you can listen to Hersch's composition "Home Fries." The pianist will give a couple of solo performances at Constellation on Tuesday evening.

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Did you read about International Coffee Day, The Simpsons, and James Franco?

Posted By on 09.29.14 at 11:39 AM

Its the most wonderful time of the year.
  • AP Photo/Lansing State Journal, Rod Sanford
  • It's the most wonderful time of the year.

Reader staffers share stories that fascinate, amuse, or inspire us.

Hey, did you read:

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Best shows to see: Earth, Il Sogno del Marinaio, Dre Green

Posted By on 09.29.14 at 10:35 AM

Dre Green
  • Dre Green
The first half of this week has a ton to offer as far as great shows go, and things kick off tonight with a free show at Wicker Park's Emporium Arcade featuring Sandworm and local noise rockers Unmanned Ship; Lagwagon front man Joey Cape plays an acoustic gig at Gingerman Tavern tonight as well. On Tues 9/30, indie rockers Beach Fossils headline the Bottom Lounge while reformed black-metal outfit Liturgy play at Land & Sea Department. And on Wed 10/1, dance-pop singer La Roux is at Concord Music Hall whilePerfume Genius and Matteah Baim are at Lincoln Hall.

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White Sox and Cubs climb to 16 under—and just wait till next year!

Posted By on 09.29.14 at 09:31 AM

The future for the White Sox: Avisail Garcia and Jose Abreu, after Garcia homered in August against the Orioles.
  • Paul Boucher
  • The future for the White Sox: Avisail Garcia and Jose Abreu, after Garcia homered in August against the Orioles
Chicago baseball fans who wish they could say that at least their team's better than the chumps on the other side of town will have to wait till next year.

With yet another come-from-ahead loss on the south side, to the Royals, the White Sox yesterday blew their one-game lead on the Cubs, who beat the Brewers in Milwaukee. The city's baseball teams thus finished deadlocked for the season, each 73-89. There will not be a playoff for the lesser of two evils.

Actually, both teams made progress this year, but that was easy after they set the bar so low in 2013. The Sox, 63-99 last season, improved ten games; the Cubs, 66-96 in 2013, improved seven. Sooner or later one of these teams is going to stumble into a .500 record.

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Reader's Agenda Mon 9/29: Nasty, Brutish, and Short, 'Hats Off to Dr. Seuss!,' and Earth

Posted By on 09.29.14 at 06:00 AM

  • Frédéric Minne via Flickr
  • Earth

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

Puppets can do more than teach kids the alphabet and sing songs about sunshine. Nasty, Brutish, and Short reveals their darker side in a cabaret-style performance geared toward adults tonight at Links Hall. The innovative puppeteers behind the show are gearing up the city for January's Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival.

Water Tower Place is honoring Ted "Dr. Seuss" Geisel with "Hats Off to Dr. Seuss!" The exhibit showcases rare work from the iconic author and illustrator as well as his own personal hat collection.

Drone-metal band Earth brings their slow, distorted jams to the Empty Bottle tonight. Monica Kendrick calls their recent album Primitive and Deadly the "most social record they've ever made" and writes, "it's also their first album in 18 years to use vocals; Rabia Shaheen Qazi (Rose Windows) adds folk-rock glamour to 'From the Zodiacal Light' with her clear, high croon, and Mark Lanegan (Screaming Trees, Queens of the Stone Age) anchors 'There Is a Serpent Coming' and 'Rooks Across the Gates' with his leathery declamations."

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

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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Weekly Top Five: The best of James Cagney

Posted By on 09.28.14 at 11:00 AM

White Heat
  • White Heat
The latest film in Jonathan Rosenbaum's ongoing "Unquiet American: Transgressive Comedies from the U.S." series is Blonde Crazy, a 1931 pre-Code comedy directed by Roy Del Ruth and starring James Cagney that comes recommended by J.R. Jones. Cagney appeared in Blonde Crazy shortly before his famous turn in The Public Enemy, the film that essentially kick-started his reputation for playing wild, petulant gangster figures. But if the Del Ruth film had been a bigger hit, it's possible the actor could have taken more comedic roles during his career. With one of the most distinctive and flexible faces in cinema history, Cagney excelled in his gangster roles, communicating his characters' inner turmoil with his narrowed brow, thin lips, and wild eyes. Such a skill set is equally required in comedy, where wild expressiveness and over-the-top emotion are tenets of the genre. Indeed, his most rowdy and blistering performances are often just a hair away from being anarchically comic, something his diminutive physical frame had a lot to do with. He was a versatile performer with considerable range, able to elevate subpar material via his presence alone. (He single-handedly makes Nicholas Ray's Run for Cover and Michael Curtiz's Yankee Doodle Dandy, a pair of would-be disasters, watchable.) You can see my five favorite Cagney performances below.

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Reader's Agenda Sun 9/28: 365 Drawings Showcase, Edgewater Fall Arts Fair, and Hyde Park Jazz Festival

Posted By on 09.28.14 at 07:00 AM

Dee Alexander
  • Dee Alexander

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

When artist Jonathan Burden turned 36, he challenged himself to draw a new work every day for a year. Tonight at the 365 Drawings Showcase he'll display—you guessed it—365 original pieces. Live a year through Burden's eyes with live tunes from local rockers Le Tour and Spike and the Sweet Spots at the Empty Bottle.

Satisfy your arts and beer craving with more than 100 art exhibits, beer garden, live music, fashion shows, and a performing arts stage at the second annual Edgewater Fall Arts Fair located at Granville between Broadway and Kenmore. Presented by Gino's North, the fair offers a little bit of something for everyone to enjoy, from a pet costume contest, to performances by Parkwest Strings and Children's Music Talent Showcase. Also on display, local art vendors' original photography, paintings, pottery, and glasswork.

The Hyde Park Jazz Festival represents a modern twist on classical jazz, transforming the south side neighborhood into a musical extravaganza. This year at the eighth annual gathering, out-of-town headliners will perform including tenor saxophonists Houston Person, Dee Alexander, Trinidadian trumpeter Etienne Charles, and pianist Craig Taborn. But let's not forget about the local talent; 35 Chicago performers who regularly play around town will also be jamming out.

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

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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Street View 220: Queen of the MCA Gala

Posted By on 09.27.14 at 08:00 AM

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


Like with everything else, in fashion you need to pick your battles, especially when your intention is dressing to kill. Elegant ladies like Anne choose certain focal points and go for it, bringing undivided attention to their best assets. I spotted her as soon as I set foot into the MCA gala for the David Bowie Is exhibit, as she charmed a group of guests during the Bryan Ferry show. People just seemed to naturally gravitate toward Anne and her beautiful white gown, accessorized by a striking pair of earrings and a clutch with an unexpected inbuilt fingerless glove, plus a couple of nude bangles—and that was it. The result was simultaneously classic and modern, perfect for a gala celebrating contemporary art. Her elegant and friendly attitude crowned it all, making her the queen of the party. See more of her stunning dress and earrings below.

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Agenda Teaser

Performing Arts
Manic Mondays Frances Cocktail Lounge
November 20
Galleries & Museums
June 28

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