The Bleader | Blog + Reader, the Chicago Reader's blog

Friday, October 31, 2014

Everyone else is wrong, and the rest of this week's screenings

Posted By on 10.31.14 at 07:30 AM

Nightcrawler
  • Nightcrawler
Damien Chazelle's Whiplash is one of the best-reviewed movies of 2014—whoops! Also in this week's issue, Ben Sachs reviews Nightcrawler, starring a skinny Jake Gyllenhaal as an LA sociopath who finds his true calling as a videographer recording crime and accident scenes for the ten o'clock news. And we've got recommended reviews for CitizenFour, Laura Poitras's fly-on-the-wall portrait of Edward Snowden in the run-up to his earth-shaking revelations about domestic surveillance of American citizens; Hellaware, a satire of New York artsy-fartsies who embrace a down-at-heels horror-rap act; and J'Accuse, Abel Gance's 1919 silent epic about love, death, and World War I.

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Thursday, October 30, 2014

What do Michel Gondry and 'Weird Al' Yankovic have in common?

Posted By on 10.30.14 at 03:20 PM

Mos Def and Jack Black preparing to remake Driving Miss Daisy in Be Kind Rewind
  • Mos Def and Jack Black preparing to remake Driving Miss Daisy in Be Kind Rewind.
Like most people, I'm a fan of "Weird Al" Yankovic's recent music video for "Handy," his spoof of Iggy Azalea's pop hit "Fancy." The video contains as many good sight gags and one-liners as any feature-length comedy I've seen all year, which is especially impressive given that it's not even three minutes long. Eddie Pepitone, the bald, dyspeptic stand-up comic profiled in the recent doc The Bitter Buddha, deserves much credit for its success. His outsize reaction to an exploding dishwasher is priceless, as is the sincerely proud expression he wears when playing back-up dancer to Yankovic. (The parodist has long generated big laughs from aging and/or unattractive men getting emotional. Who can forget Dick Van Patten's cameo in the "Smells Like Nirvana" video or that fat, wide-eyed cameraman from UHF?)

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A reminder to Mayor Rahm's 2015 opponents: It's a runoff, dummies!

Posted By on 10.30.14 at 02:30 PM

Hey, Garcia—Fioretti is your friend here.
  • M. Spencer Green/AP Photos
  • Hey, Garcia—Fioretti is your friend here.
With Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia suddenly jumping into the mayoral race, the time has come for me to say something nice about Alderman Bob Fioretti.

And Amara Enyia and former alderman Bob Shaw, and the other mayoral candidates who are already running against Mayor Rahm.

In particular, I feel compelled to say something nice about Fioretti 'cause, first of all, he's been fighting Rahm's policies since long before it was fashionable.

And, secondly, because lots of progressives I know—and I know dozens of that ilk—have been calling to bash Bob now that their man Chuy is in the race. Like Fioretti should just drop out now and support Garcia.

Oh, people, when will you learn?

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The weirdest Halloween cover show this year is tonight

Posted By on 10.30.14 at 02:00 PM

Something like this.
  • Michael Moll
  • Something like this
The next few days are packed with local musicians putting together cover sets for Halloween, ranging from takes on the Descendents to Thin Lizzy, but what might be the holiday's most interesting cover show is happening tonight, Thu 10/30, in a west-side DIY space. Some of Chicago's gnarliest noisemakers are getting together to pay tribute to some of music's weirdest and harshest acts. The event is headlined by confrontational synth project Panicsville (whose lineup includes Andy Ortmann and Brett Naucke), who will be covering some truly offensive material by English extreme power-electronics collective Whitehouse. The rest of the night is rounded out by more weirdness, including sets dedicated to Death in June, Kate Bush, Throbbing Gristle, and others.

The venue's name and location can't be listed here, but it'll be worth doing the necessary digging to find it, because this is bound to be unlike any other Halloween show you'll wind up at this year.

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'Helen's Theme,' a quick shot of Halloween chills from Candyman

Posted By on 10.30.14 at 12:00 PM

Candymancover.jpg
One of the most frightening parts of Candyman, which Drew Hunt says is his favorite horror film shot and set in Chicago (it also took some inspiration from Steve Bogira's "They Came in Through the Bathroom Mirror"), is the Philip Glass score. Jonathan Rosenbaum didn't take to it, but the repetitive, chilling organ that plays throughout the film's intro still gets me. Belgium soundtrack label One Way Static is reissuing Glass's Candyman; it's not due till December, but you can stream a couple of songs now, including today's 12 O'Clock Track, the mood-shifting "Helen's Theme."

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Did you read about wasting time on the Internet, Joe Maddon, and Taylor Swift?

Posted By on 10.30.14 at 11:55 AM

Joe Maddon: Now beholden to Cubs history
  • AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File
  • Joe Maddon: Now beholden to Cubs history

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

Hey, did you read:

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Jean Banchet nominees show a scene that's doing just fine, thank you

Posted By on 10.30.14 at 10:52 AM

wolen.jpg

The annual Jean Banchet Awards, which honor the best in fine dining in Chicago at a benefit for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation in January, announced nominees this morning after soliciting diner opinions for the past few weeks. Last year the list was dominated by a single restaurant—Grace, which won five awards, including Restaurant and Chef of the Year—but this year the list is pretty strong evidence of a diverse scene in which excellence is sprouting all over town, in genres from charcuterie to artful Asian food. It comes just a day after an announcement of a closing—L2O, one of Lettuce Entertain You's high-end spots and a recipient of two Michelin stars—which led some out-of-towners to offer sympathy to Chicago for its sparse fine-dining scene. I beg to differ, and the nominee list is as good an argument for my case as any.

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A new app will put Chicago public art in the palm of your hand

Posted By on 10.30.14 at 09:00 AM

Coming soon to your smartphone.
  • Joe Levy
  • Coming soon to your smartphone.
An unlikely team comprised of a former English lit major, a retired neuroradiologist, and an IT consultant is collaborating on a smartphone app to guide people through Chicago's public-art sphere.

"The city is missing a very important point about itself,” says Ed McDevitt, who studied literature way back when and now serves as the executive director of Public Art Chicago, a fledgling nonprofit with a lofty mission: to showcase the treasure trove of creative masterpieces scattered throughout Chicago. McDevitt and his team of ten volunteers have spent the past four years cataloguing pieces and developing the free Public Art Chicago app, which they plan to release next month.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Il Trovatore brings Amber Wagner back to town

Posted By on 10.29.14 at 03:34 PM

Amber Wagner wows.
Soprano Amber Wagner isn't a Chicagoan, but can't we claim her anyway?

Won't the developmental years she spent at Lyric Opera's Ryan Opera Center (2007-'10) allow us a few boasting rights?

It was clear from the first time Lyric put her on a Chicago stage that Wagner has that rarity, a voice that's not just excellent but—in its power and unique timbre—actually thrilling over most of its range.

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Local hip-hop superhero A-Villa, bank manager by day and skilled beat maker by night

Posted By on 10.29.14 at 02:00 PM

Avillaphoto.jpg
Twenty years ago Nas released his career-defining debut, Illmatic, and while the New York MC has spent the bulk of the year celebrating that anniversary—he's played the album in full on tour—other folks have been working and building on those ideas. In Chicago 33-year-old producer Adrian Villagomez, aka A-Villa, has been waving that flag proudly. His forthcoming debut is steeped in bold, old-school hip-hop, right down to its title, Carry on Tradition—that's a reference to a line Nas collaborator AZ raps on "Life's a Bitch," which A-Villa sampled for his album's title track. A-Villa's vital, bustling "Carry on Tradition" features local stalwart Mikkey Halsted and Little Brother's Big Pooh—it's an excellent example of how the producer is drawing from hip-hop's past to push the form further.

Next week Closed Sessions will release A-Villa's debut, several years after the producer made the first beat for what would eventually become Carry on Tradition. A-Villa's been working steadily on it since the spring of 2010, which is when, among other things, he won his first beat battle—Fresh Produce, hosted by the aforementioned Halsted. A boatload of additional rappers jumped onboard A-Villa's project through the years—including Killer Mike, Freddie Gibbs, Action Bronson, Big K.R.I.T., Inspectah Deck, and AZ—and the producer crafted these songs while juggling his day job as a bank vice president and life as a new father. As the release of Carry on Tradition, the end result of A-Villa's lifelong dream, appeared on the horizon I spoke with the beat maker about his inspirations, collaborating with MCs over e-mail, and wearing several different hats (and, on some days, half a suit and a hoodie).

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