Sep. 30, 2013
Two musical moments from weekend television worth noting: Arcade Fire trumpets the Oct. 28 release of its fourth album with an appearance on Saturday Night Live and a half-hour special immediately following, and the ’70s power-pop band Badfinger dominates the final moments of Breaking Bad.
Based on their live performances on SNL and the Roman Coppola-crafted video special that aired afterwards, my early reaction to the forthcoming Reflektor by everyone’s favorite Montreal-based orchestral-popsters primarily is one of confusion. Working in the studio with James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem partly in control, Arcade Fire seems to have crafted an unlikely hybrid of ’80s David Bowie, ’90s U2 (when Bono was in his MacPhisto phase), and disco-era Roxy Music playing electro salsa and New Orleans second line music.
The result sounded clunky and stilted, while the psychedelic/surreal look of things as set by the least talented Coppola—with a slew of gratuitous cameos by stars such as James Franco, Ben Stiller, Michael Cera, and the Almighty Bono Hisself, plus some tired plushies borrowed from the Flaming Lips—all came off as more than a little forced, awkward, and over-reaching.
Sep. 30, 2013
Here's a fun look at Chicago in the 1970s: a 16mm film depicting a day in the life of our fair city.
Chicago Breakdown by Gary Brown looks as if it was made around 1976, judging by a glimpse of an Bicentennial license plate on one of the cars. You'll also see legendary radio jock Larry Lujack at WCFL-AM, where he was on air from 1972 to 1976.
Breakdown begins a little slow with sunrise shots and a quiet country music score, but things pick up. I like when a worker, concluding a night shift, climbs into his Cadillac Coupe De Ville and shifts into gear as the Ohio Players' Love Rollercoaster comes on the car radio.
The 14 minute film features good aerial footage of the John Hancock Building and Lake Point Tower. The sped-up point of view footage taken from inside an 'L' car and along Lake Shore Drive and timed to match the musical "breakdown" hinted at in the title is also nice. We also see Wrigley Field fan yelling to get Cubs outfielder Jose Cardenal's autograph and darkened interior of the University of Chicago. A Playboy magazine shoot is briefly shown, so a word of caution there for sensitive readers.
The movie comes courtesy of the Chicago Film Archives,
Sep. 26, 2013
In the digital present as in the now-distant major-label past, Fall remains the busiest release season of the year. So much music, so little time! Rim Shots are quick single-paragraph reviews of albums you need to know about—sometimes, as is the case here, because they are musts to avoid.
Elvis Costello and the Roots, Wise Up Ghost (Blue Note)
Even for those who consider 59-year-old Declan Patrick MacManus a musical genius capable of enhancing any genre with his melodic and lyrical talents and those who hail the Roots as one of the most versatile and sympathetic bands on the planet—and while I’m among the latter, I certainly don’t second the former—there has to be such a thing as a genre too far. In fact, to find a comparison bad enough to rank beside this funked-up stew of awkward rap-singing over lazy and generic jams, you’d have to reach for something as awful as Iggy Pop’s French cabaret turn Préliminaires or Bob Dylan’s Christmas in the Heart (though good taste would dictate that you didn’t).
Sep. 26, 2013
After three decades, Reeling: The Chicago LGBT International Film Festival is making a few changes.
There’s the new name, which now includes bisexual and transgender in the title (though most still know the fest by its shorthand name, Reeling).
The fest also has a new location, at the Logan Theatre in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood.
And there’s a new approach to what constitutes queer cinema, thanks to new programming director Richard Knight Jr. The lineup was announced Wednesday night.
“I wanted to bring some films into the festival that were not exclusively gay, gay gay,” said Knight. “... It’s certainly there. But it’s not like two guys meeting in a bar sort of thing.”
One of those films will close the fest. Ludwig II is about a 19th century Bavarian monarch. The film isn’t explicitly a work of queer cinema, but Knight saw it differently.
“When you see the movie, it’s gay. He’s in love with the horsemaster, he has erotic dreams, he kisses him,” said Knight. “It’s not very often that you see a $70 million epic around a gay figure.”
Sep. 25, 2013
The woman from the Chicago Artists Coalition told me I could store my recently purchased Cody Hudson print in their space and pick it up later, away from the frenzy of the breakfast for the opening of the EDITION Chicago art fair. That probably would have been a better plan since I had to return to my office later that day.
But I am not rich. And when given the chance to purchase a print within my limited budget, I did not hesitate. I purchased #26 in the edition of 100, an early birthday present for myself and symbol of what art collecting means for many: a chance to grow into a practice that might not be your own.
And because it was mine then and now and (hopefully) forever, I wanted to hold it and make it true.
Sep. 24, 2013