Bleader | Chicago Reader

Friday, February 26, 2016

The director of A Hijacking is back with A War, plus more new reviews and notable screenings

Posted By on 02.26.16 at 08:00 AM

A War
  • A War
Tobias Lindholm, director of the critically lauded Danish drama A Hijacking, returns with A War, which opens at Landmark's Century Centre on Friday and competes for an Oscar for best foreign film on Sunday. Our long review is here. We've also got capsule reviews of: Eddie the Eagle, an inspirational sports drama about the unlikely Olympian Eddie Edwards;  The Last Man on the Moon, a documentary profile of NASA astronaut Eugene Cernan; Magical Girl, a Spanish noir about a man who'll do anything to obtain an expensive dress for his terminally ill daughter; Triple 9, an underworld thriller from the director of The Proposition; and The Vanished Elephant, a metafictional romp about a crime novelist pulled into a real-life mystery.

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Is Donald Trump too scary to stand up to?

Posted By on 02.26.16 at 07:00 AM

  • AFP/DSK/AFP/Getty Images

"Why Isn’t the G.O.P. Trying Harder to Beat Donald Trump?" asks the headline over a short piece of political analysis by Benjamin Wallace-Wells posted online this week by the New Yorker.

Establishment Republicans expected the Trump campaign to implode—but it didn't, Wallace-Wells observes. Now Ted Cruz and Marc Rubio hammer each other while Trump floats above the fray, saying what he pleases when he pleases and getting away with it. 

Take him on, says Wallace-Wells. Hound him. He spoke with Stuart Stevens, a strategist for Mitt Romney four years ago. When Newt Gingrich, opposing Romney for the Republican nomination, campaigned in Florida after carrying South Carolina, he was shadowed by a Romney surrogate who held his own news conferences and called Gingrich out every time Gingrich spoke. Was a man who once asked his wife for an open marriage really the President that Republicans wanted? Would they back a "serial philanderer?" 

Romney won Florida by 15 percentage points.

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Dexter Fowler makes surprising return to the Cubs and other Chicago news

Posted By on 02.26.16 at 06:00 AM

Chicago Cub Dexter Fowler - AP PHOTO/JEFF ROBERSON
  • AP Photo/Jeff Roberson
  • Chicago Cub Dexter Fowler

Welcome to the Reader's morning briefing for Friday, February 26, 2016

  • Weather: Not great, but not terrible

Friday will be pretty blah, with a high of 37 and a low of 31. There will be some sun but a few clouds. Temperatures are supposed to climb into the 50s over the weekend. [AccuWeather]

  • The return of Dexter Fowler is a welcome surprise at Cubs spring training

This is the year for the Cubs, according to Dexter Fowler. The popular Cubs center fielder will be back for the 2016 season after reaching a one-year deal with the team. It had been widely reported that he'd signed a three-year contract with the Baltimore Orioles. [ESPN]

  • A triage center in Cook County could be a game changer for police crises

Officials in Cook County shared plans for a 24-hour triage center where police can take detainees suffering from mental health and/or substance abuse issues. It would help Cook County Jail, where about a fifth of the inmates reportedly are suffering from mental health problems. With the center and officer training, police shooting victims Laquan McDonald and Quintonio LeGrier might still be alive, one official told the Associated Press. [Associated Press via ABC News]

  • CPS high school students must now take computer science to graduate

Computers are an important part of daily life for most students. Now Chicago Public Schools will require all graduating high school seniors to take computer science starting with the class of 2020. [TechCrunch]

  • Obama nominates former Chicagoan as head of the Library of Congress

President Barack Obama is nominating former Chicago Public Library chief Carla Hayden as the Librarian of Congress. He says that he and First Lady Michelle Obama have known Hayden since her days working at CPL. Hayden, who has a bachelor's from Roosevelt University and a master's and doctorate from the University of Chicago, is currently CEO of Baltimore's Enoch Pratt Free Library. [New York Times]

  • Tina Fey plays former Tribune reporter in Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

Commercials for Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, an upcoming movie in which Tina Fey plays a network TV reporter assigned to Afghanistan, are on TV all the time. What you might not know is that the movie is actually based on the experiences of former Tribune reporter Kim Barker and her book The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan. [Reader]

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Thursday, February 25, 2016

A short-form defense of long-form journalism

Posted By on 02.25.16 at 09:46 AM

Steve Bogira goes long in this week's Reader. - COVER ILLUSTRATION: BOBBY SIMMS
  • Cover illustration: Bobby Simms
  • Steve Bogira goes long in this week's Reader.

"Most long-form is bad," Alex Balk writes in a recent, decidedly short-form post on the Awl. "The problem arises from the 'long' part. If you need more than 600 words to say what you need to say you are trying too hard for accolades or you’re getting paid by the word."  

Balk's 200-word rant reads as bite-size performative outrage. (A commenter rightly calls him out for "just striking a savvy-cynic pose.") 

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'Et tu, Michael?' Ferro firing Griffin is positively Shakespearean

Posted By on 02.25.16 at 07:00 AM

The Tribune Tower is a stage, and the executives merely players. - SCOTT OLSON/GETTY IMAGES
  • Scott Olson/Getty Images
  • The Tribune Tower is a stage, and the executives merely players.

Lucky is the suit, empty or otherwise, whose downfall inspires somebody to reach for Shakespeare. Jack Griffin, the ousted CEO of Tribune Publishing, was just shown that kindness. "This is almost Shakespearean," says the "savvy industry observer" quoted in media writer Ken Doctor's account of Griffin's downfall. "The CEO brings in a new shareholder as his 'partner' and his ally's first move is to kick him out. Act One is Romeo and Juliet and Act Two is Julius Caesar."

Or possibly both acts are Othello. Or King Lear. Trust repaid with betrayal! If a grandiose notion of his victimization gives Griffin solace, he’s welcome to it.

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One primary race could be key to Illinois's budget crisis, and other Chicago news

Posted By on 02.25.16 at 06:00 AM

Democratic state rep Ken Dunkin, under fire for breaking ranks, and primary challenger Juliana Stratton - RICH HEIN/SUN-TIMES
  • Rich Hein/Sun-Times
  • Democratic state rep Ken Dunkin, under fire for breaking ranks, and primary challenger Juliana Stratton

Welcome to the Reader's morning briefing for Thursday, February 25, 2016.

  • Weather: Wednesday was awful, Thursday will be better

Winter returned Wednesday and brought unwelcome snow. Fortunately, there won't be any more on Thursday, just clouds and wind. Expect a high of 36 and a low of 25. [AccuWeather]

  • Why state representative Ken Dunkin's primary race is so important

Savvy politicos are closely watching the Democratic primary battle between state rep Ken Dunkin (Fifth District) and challenger Juliana Stratton, which could have a huge impact on the budget battle. Dunkin (who got a shoutout/smackdown from President Obama in Springfield a couple weeks ago) has broken ranks with powerful Democratic house speaker Mike Madigan twice now. That's pushed Madigan's union allies to retaliate and back Stratton. [WBEZ]

  • Body of British tourist missing since Saturday found in Metra repair yard

The search for 26-year-old Ademola Owolana ended tragically Tuesday when his body was found in the Kensington Yard maintenance facility on the far south side on top of a retired Metra train. Owolana was visiting family in the Chicago area when he went missing in the West Pullman neighborhood early Saturday morning. [Tribune]

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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Hxlt's hip-hop past lingers on his punk debut

Posted By on 02.24.16 at 03:45 PM

The cover of Hxlt
  • The cover of Hxlt
On Friday Kanye West's GOOD Music drops the self-titled debut by Hxlt, pronounced "Holt"—it's the stage name of Treated Crew member Nigel Holt. Hxlt has been a known quantity around these parts for more than a decade, albeit as Hollywood Holt. In a 2015 interview with MTV, Holt explained the change: "When I rap I'm Hollywood Holt, and since I'm not rapping it's just Holt."

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Striding Lion's The Great and Terrible Faustus is great indeed

Posted By on 02.24.16 at 03:30 PM

Zach Nichol as Faustus and Darling Squire as Envy - COURTESY STRIDING LION
  • courtesy striding lion
  • Zach Nichol as Faustus and Darling Squire as Envy

Striding Lion's The Great and Terrible Faustus guides the audience through a devilish fun house of sorts, offering seven different paths with seven different characters, each of whom gets a different glimpse of Faustus as the doctor tries to resist Lucifer's temptations. Every character represents a different deadly sin; during my journey I followed the velvet-suit-clad Lust (Erik Strebig).

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HBO's Vinyl is a broken record

Posted By on 02.24.16 at 01:00 PM

Bobby Cannavale and Oliva Wilde in Vinyl - HBO
  • HBO
  • Bobby Cannavale and Oliva Wilde in Vinyl

Sex, drugs, cursing, violence, New York City, the 1970s, mirrors smudged with coke residue, the Brill Building, a label acquisition, racial epithets, booze, broads, orgies, cooked books, deals made under the table, the enticing thought of Ray Romano vacuuming up lines of coke with his architecturally handsome nose, the sound of a skull cracking, cash stuffed in envelopes and record sleeves, Brooklyn accents, murder, a punk brawl, a trashed living room, and, finally, rock 'n' roll. There's not much of an order of importance to the list of things crammed into Vinyl, the new HBO show brought to you by Mick Jagger, Martin Scorsese, Terence Winter (Boardwalk Empire), and journalist and author Rich Cohen (The Record Men, Tough Jews). Vinyl centers on the music industry—but all too often the drama places more weight on anything but the music.

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Bear rapper Big Dipper goes Commando in his new nu-metal band

Posted By on 02.24.16 at 12:00 PM


Like many millennials, I happen to occupy a demographic that helped drive the nu-metal boom at the end of the 1990s. I never owned a pair of JNCOs, but I devoured every CD that vaguely reminded me of Korn's Follow the Leader. While I'm embarrassed now to admit that I spent actual money on a Hed PE album (hey, I was young and made mistakes), I still have a soft spot for some of that ol' caustic, supersize pop-metal. I did, after all, pay to see Korn perform all of their self-titled debut in the fall (man, was that dark). And if the Chicago Open Air festival wasn't the same weekend as Pitchfork I'd happily go see Disturbed and Slipknot down at Toyota Park.

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