WBEZ | Music Box Theatre http://www.wbez.org/tags/music-box-theatre-0 Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Nick Offerman's Chicago roots http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-03/nick-offermans-chicago-roots-105933 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/cubs-and-white-sox-fans-exchange-wisecracks-640x250.jpg" style="height: 242px; width: 620px; " title="Native Illinoisans turned NBC stars, Nick Offerman of &quot;Parks and Recreation&quot; and Craig Robinson of &quot;The Office,&quot; faced off in a series of Cubs v. White Sox commercials for the New Era Cap Company in 2012. (Funny or Die) " /></p><p class="image-insert-image ">Before Nick Offerman became <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ron_Swanson" target="_blank">Ron Swanson</a>--rugged individualist, breakfast food aficionado and instant&nbsp;<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K_on5gEMAfM" target="_blank">fan favorite</a> on the NBC comedy <em>Parks and Recreation--</em>he was just another Chicago actor looking for his big break. Offerman&#39;s Midwestern roots obviously influenced the no-nonsense character of Ron; but in real life, he is a jack of all trades: writer, producer, husband, carpenter, one-time fight choreographer and die-hard <a href="http://www.funnyordie.com/videos/fdcae34e76/chicago-vs-chicago-round-1" target="_blank">Cubs fan</a>.&nbsp;</p><p class="image-insert-image ">This weekend, Offerman returns to the city where he cut his acting chops for&nbsp;<a href="http://www.musicboxtheatre.com/events" target="_blank">multiple advanced screenings</a> of his new film <em>Somebody Up There Likes Me</em>&nbsp;at the Music Box Theatre.&nbsp;To prepare for his arrival, brush up on these Offerman &quot;Illinois-ims&quot; that might serve you well during an after-show Q&amp;A or a chance encounter over bratwurst:&nbsp;</p><p class="image-insert-image "><strong>The Early Years</strong></p><p class="image-insert-image ">Offerman was born and raised in Minooka, Ill., a small town just outside of Joliet. His father taught social studies at a junior high in nearby Channahon, and instilled the value of skilled craftsmenship in his son from a very young age. Offerman built theatrical in high school, which inspired him to open his own <a href="http://offermanwoodshop.com" target="_blank">woodshop</a>&nbsp;later in life:</p><blockquote><p class="image-insert-image "><span style="line-height: 21px; text-align: left; ">&quot;My family is made up of farmers and, generally, like great Americans, we all grew up with a great set of skills and used tools,&quot; Offerman told the Huffington Post. &quot;I spent many years building scenery as a large part of my income and that allowed me to really develop my shop skills.When I got to Los Angeles, I started building cabins in peoples&#39; yards...The woodworking spell really got a hold of me and has not let go.&quot;</span></p></blockquote><p class="image-insert-image "><strong>College</strong></p><p class="image-insert-image ">Offerman received a Bachelors of Arts from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a decision spurred by driving his then-girlfriend to a dance audition and running into some <a href="http://www.believermag.com/issues/201210/?read=interview_offerman" target="_blank">random theater kids</a> in the hall:</p><blockquote><p class="image-insert-image ">&quot;I was in the hallway of the performing arts building--a beautful facility-- and met some theater students,&quot; Offerman says, &quot;I&nbsp;<span style="line-height: 26px; text-align: left; ">said, &#39;What do you mean, you&rsquo;re theater students?&#39; And they said, &#39;We study acting and plays.&#39; I said, &#39;You can do that for a job?&#39; I was completely blown away. I went home and told my parents: &#39;You can get a job acting in plays and make money doing that.&#39;&rdquo;</span></p></blockquote><p class="image-insert-image "><strong>Chicago Theatre</strong></p><p class="image-insert-image ">In 1993, Offerman and a group of fellow University of Illinois graduates founded the Defiant Theatre in Chicago. He continued living in the city through the mid-1990s, performing in plays at Steppenwolf, the Goodman and the Red Orchid Theatre. While acting in the company of Steppenwolf, Offerman also worked as a fight choreographer and master carpenter. In an interview with&nbsp;<em><a href="http://www.believermag.com/issues/201210/?read=interview_offerman" target="_blank">Believer</a>&nbsp;</em>magazine, Offerman recalled &quot;cutting his teeth&quot; in the Chicago theatre scene alongside some of the greats:&nbsp;</p><blockquote><p class="image-insert-image ">&quot;Michael Shannon [of <em>Boardwalk Empire</em>] was a contemporary of mine, &quot; says Offerman. &quot;I did Sam Sheperd&#39;s <em>Buried Child</em> at Steppenwolf. Gary Sinise directed it. John Malkovich came and did <em>The Libertine</em>. Laurie Metcalf did a play while we were there...Ethan Hawke was in <em>Buried Child</em>, and Keanu [Reeves] came to see him. We all went out for a beer. It&#39;s when I realized that movie stars were normal people.&quot;</p></blockquote><p class="image-insert-image "><strong>Chicago Sports</strong></p><p class="image-insert-image ">When asked to describe his &quot;ideal day&quot; in Chicago by <a href="http://articles.redeyechicago.com/2012-06-01/entertainment/31965151_1_nick-offerman-ron-swanson-american-ham" target="_blank"><em>RedEye</em></a>&#39;s Scott Bolohan, Offerman&#39;s made sure to include a Cubs game on the agenda:</p><blockquote><p class="image-insert-image ">&quot;<span style="line-height: 18px; ">I would walk over to the lake and walk with a couple friends and my wife down the shore to Wrigleyville and make my way to the Cubby Bear and drop in for a Cubs game,&quot; he said. &quot;It would be a day game, so then we could finish up, take a nap and recover from all the beer we drank and then head over to Steppenwolf and see what they were playing in their studio theater.&quot;</span></p></blockquote><p class="image-insert-image "><strong>Meeting Amy Poehler</strong></p><p class="image-insert-image ">Poehler, who plays perky city councilwoman Leslie Knope opposite Offerman&#39;s surly Ron on <em>Parks and Rec</em>, was heavily involved in the Chicago improv scene when she and Offermen were <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/12/nick-offerman-of-ron-swan_n_1591255.html" target="_blank">first introduced</a> circa 1994:</p><blockquote><p class="image-insert-image "><span style="line-height: 21px; text-align: left; ">&quot;We each had a mutual friend living together in a house and met at a party there,&quot; says Offerman. &quot;I was engaged in a production of <em>A Clockwork Orange&nbsp;</em>at Steppenwolf&nbsp;at the time and, in a nutshell, I looked like a <a href="http://globalgoodgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/clockwork-orange-droog.jpg" target="_blank">droog</a>. I looked really scary with a big beard and my hair was dyed orange. Amy hasn&#39;t changed a great deal since then, so she was a very charismatic firecracker and I was immeditately taken with what a great point guard she could make. And I think she thought that I was really scary.&quot;</span></p></blockquote><p class="image-insert-image "><strong>Chicago Food</strong></p><p class="image-insert-image ">&quot;For me, a dream date in Chicago [with wife&nbsp;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Megan_Mullaly" target="_blank">Megan Mullally</a>] is having a brat at the Berghoff and then walking over to the Art Institute,&quot; says Offerman. His other favorite Chicago restaurants include Gino&#39;s East and Heartland Cafe in Rogers Park. When asked by <em><a href="http://www.bonappetit.com/blogsandforums/blogs/badaily/2012/11/nick-offerman-of-parks-and-rec.html" target="_blank">Bon Appetit</a>&nbsp;</em>magazine if he preferred his pizza New York-style or Chicago-style, Offerman&#39;s response proved where his loyalties truly lie:</p><blockquote><p class="image-insert-image "><span style="line-height: 19px; text-align: left; ">&quot;If properly dried and trimmed, New York-style pizza could be used to make a box for Chicago-style pizza. I love a slice when I&#39;m in NYC, but it&#39;s like eating a Slim Jim compared with a filet mignon.&quot;</span></p></blockquote><p class="image-insert-image ">Check out the trailer for&nbsp;<em>Somebody Up There Likes Me</em>, which screens tonight (7:30 and 9:45 p.m.) and tomorrow night (also 7:30 and 9:45 p.m.) with Nick Offerman <a href="http://www.musicboxtheatre.com/events/somebody-up-there-likes-me-2013-03-08-0945-pm" target="_blank">live</a>&nbsp;in-person at the Music Box Theatre:&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size:16px;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/LECoeBD_4XU" width="620"></iframe></span></p><p><span style="font-size:14px;"><em>Follow Leah on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/leahkpickett">@leahkpickett</a> or add her on <a href="https://www.facebook.com/leahkristinepickett" target="_blank">Facebook</a>.</em></span></p></p> Fri, 08 Mar 2013 08:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-03/nick-offermans-chicago-roots-105933 The work of projectionists in the age of digital movies http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2013-02/work-projectionists-age-digital-movies-105551 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center; "><br /><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/70mm.jpeg" style="height: 480px; width: 640px; " title="70mm Film (flickr/Cornelius Bartke)" /></div><p>Tonight the Music Box in Chicago kicks off its <a href="http://www.musicboxtheatre.com/collections/music-box-theatre-70mm-festival">first ever, two-week long festival of 70mm films.</a></p><p>70mm is a wide-gage, high resolution format. It is bright and sharp and absolutely steady, free of the distortion that can occur with 35mm films. The format&#39;s no novelty: It&#39;s been around about as long as we&#39;ve had movies. But it is costly, requiring special projectors and screens. So 70mm has always been more of a special treat than standard fare at the cineplex.</p><p>Still, the Music Box program is eclectic enough to satisfy a variety of cinematic tastes.</p><p>High art formalists will appreciate <em>2001: A Space Odyssey</em> or <em>Vertigo</em>, both of which screen tonight. Early Gen Xers can wax nostalgic over (and bring their kids to) <em>Chitty Chitty Bang Bang</em>. And for cult film enthusiasts, there&#39;s <em>Lifeforce</em>. The sci-fi thriller about space vampires was a failed attempt at a blockbuster, directed by Tobe Hooper and shot by the late Alan Hume, who did great work on films ranging from <em>Return of the Jedi</em> to one of my personal favorites, <em>The Legend of Hell House</em>.</p><p>Doug McLaren, head projectionist at the Music Box, says the festival was inspired by an advanced screening late last summer of Paul Thomas Anderson&#39;s film <em>The Master,</em> a rare contemporary film shot in 70mm.</p><p>It turns out the Music Box is the only theatre in Chicago capable of projecting 70mm. After a lot of local interest (and calls from &quot;Anderson&#39;s people&quot;, according to McLaren), he arranged the screening, which almost immediately sold out and prompted rave reviews, for both the film and its presentation.</p><p>The Music Box only got their 70mm projector about 10 years ago &ndash;&nbsp;McLaren says to expand both their programming scope and projecting capabilities (the theatre can screen 16, 35, and 70mm film, as well as the digital equivalents to film: DCP or &quot;Digital Cinema Package&quot; and HDCAM).</p><p>But McLaren says in preparation for the festival they&#39;ve completely rebuilt their 70mm projector, installing brand new gears and bulbs, and re-timing &quot;everything.&quot;</p><p>Paradoxically, at the same time that the Music Box has been investing time and money in an aging and almost obsolete format, what they&#39;re now screening is almost entirely digital content.</p><p>McLaren says that wasn&#39;t the case even as recently as six months ago. But starting with their latest winter calender, the tides shifted.</p><p>&quot;Even things that used to be a new restoration of a given film is now video,&quot; he said. &quot;Which was quite a shock, because it came faster that we thought. It seems like everyone decided to go all in at the same time.&quot;</p><p><strong>The arrival of digital</strong></p><p>Much has been written about the rapid shift from analog to digital at the movies, in particular how the new &quot;paradigm&quot; threatens small, independent film exhibitors and movie houses, who can&#39;t always afford to pay for new digital equipment.</p><p>But I hadn&#39;t yet fully processed the impact this was having on the people who actually climb into the booth and screen the movies for us, until a recent chat with another local projectionist (and full disclosure, good friend), who had just returned from her annual 3-week gig at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.</p><p>Michelle Puetz has been a freelance projectionist for 15 years. She regularly travels to festivals in the U-S and abroad to inspect and project films. It&#39;s always been a high pressure and even grueling gig. But thanks to digital, Puetz says the projectionists at Sundance saw their workload double.</p><p>Puetz and her colleagues had to inspect almost 300 movies, most of which were either DCP or HDCAM. Only 16 were 35mm films, and of those a mere 5 were actually screened. The other 11 were back-up copies, which were run through projectors with their lamps not on, in case something went wrong with the digital copy.</p><p>The protocol for inspecting actual films is pretty clear cut. But for what Puetz dubs &quot;the wild west&quot; of digital content, the Sundance projectionists had to figure out a whole new standard of inspection and quality control.</p><p>DCP, unlike a reel of film, is just a hard drive full of files which program a number of things, from the actual image, to the soundtrack, to the language or even font of the subtitles. A separate key (an alphanumeric string) &quot;unlocks&quot; the content, specifying which servers and for what period of time, down to the very minute, it can be played.</p><p>Which means that instead of measuring the length of a film or checking it for tears or splices, Puetz says &quot;you&#39;re an IT person learning how to read code.&quot; And because there&#39;s no actual &quot;object&quot; to inspect often the only way Puetz could check a film was to load it on a server and play it, in real time.</p><p>Even that wouldn&#39;t guarantee a trouble-free screening (hence the 35mm back-ups). Digital promises that you can just push play and walk away. But any number of things can go wrong (see David Bordwell&#39;s <a href="http://www.davidbordwell.net/blog/2012/01/05/pandoras-digital-box-at-the-festival/">exhaustive</a> but enlightening take on the potential pitfalls of the nascent format). And if it does, a film technician can&#39;t open up the projector and take a look. They have to call someone who is authorized to access and re-format the content (controls Puetz and others chalk up to the studios&#39; &quot;paranoia&quot; about piracy).</p><p>The process sounds annoying and mystifying to be sure. But according to projectionists, it&#39;s also diminishing.</p><p><strong>The decline of projectionists</strong></p><p>&quot;In the past projectionists, though technicians, were very deeply interested in the art of presentation,&quot; Puetz said. &quot;They knew when an image looked right on screen. They could see a shutter vibration or flicker. They could actually hear it going wrong. Now with digital, the presentation standards are set by studios. So it&#39;s not really an art anymore.&quot;</p><p>McLaren of the Music Box concurs.</p><p>&quot;It invites a laziness I don&#39;t appreciate,&quot; McLaren said. &quot;There&#39;s nothing I can really change.&quot;</p><p>And while he&#39;s a big proponent of &quot;showing things in the medium that they were intended for, digital is creating an atrophying of skills, both in myself and my staff.&quot;</p><p>That&#39;s likely not just because of digital. Whether because of cost-cuts or sheer indifference, 35mm projection at many multiplexes has for years now been foiled by under-trained staff and poorly maintained equipment: How many badly lit, awful sounding films have you sat through?</p><p>These days, if audiences do notice the difference between film and digital, it&#39;s probably because if only by comparison, the latter is often a more satisfying experience. Even Puetz says if she&#39;s going to see a Hollywood feature she wants it be digital.</p><p>And the digital &#39;adapt or die&#39; scenario projectionists face is not unique. Other skilled practitioners, from car mechanics to doctors (who seem to spend as much or more time doing data entry as diagnostics during appointments), have moved on. In fact some projectionists are excited by the potential of digital (Mclaren notes there&#39;s currently room for up to 128 audio tracks on DCP).</p><p><strong>The digital divide</strong></p><p>Still, what exactly is that potential? So far the main argument seems to be that digital conversion saves money, for the studios anyway. Great for them. What about us? I don&#39;t mean this to be a Luddite&#39;s lament. Smart phones, computers, social media streams: All have allowed us to communicate in wonderfully transformative and complicated ways.</p><p>How much wonder and imagination has digital conversion thus far brought to actual movie going, or to the art of film presentation? Digital visual effects have produced fantastic spectacles.&nbsp;</p><p>A film like <em>Avatar</em>&nbsp;definitely threw down the gauntlet, especially in terms of how much money was to be made with new 3D technology&nbsp;(digital conversion conspiracy: it was James Cameron, a whole bunch of green screens, and a huge swath of New Zealand that sent us hurtling pell mell down this path.)&nbsp;</p><p>But for all its technical innovation, film going and film screening has been a relatively stable and standardized experience. And so it more or less remains, at least for those of us out front, in the house seats.</p><p>Not so much for those up in the booth. As the art of projection dies away, and actual films become as rare and precious as old master paintings (how ever did the copy become the master, the original?), it is hard not to wonder to what purpose - or even why - such a complete and seismic shift in the film experience, had to happen.&nbsp;</p><p>Maybe it&#39;s too soon to tell. But as the winding down of cinema speeds up, I&#39;d really love an answer.</p><p><em>The 70mm Festival runs February 15-28 at the Music Box Theatre. </em></p><p><em>You can follow me on Twitter @wbezacuddy or <a href="https://www.facebook.com/cuddyalison?ref=hl">Facebook.</a></em></p></p> Fri, 15 Feb 2013 00:04:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2013-02/work-projectionists-age-digital-movies-105551 Local record label Drag City likes movies as 'confrontatory' as its music http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/2012-01-26/local-record-label-drag-city-likes-movies-confrontatory-its-music-958 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2012-January/2012-01-26/dragonslayer.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-January/2012-01-26/dragonslayer.jpg.crop_display.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 400px;" title="Josh 'Skreech' Sandoval is a superb practitioner of the slacker lifestyle in Tristan Patterson's 'Dragonslayer.' (Drag City) "></p><p>Toward the end of the film<a href="http://dragonslayermovie.com/"> <em>Dragonslayer</em></a>, main character Josh "Skreech" Sandoval - a superb practitioner of the SoCal, slacker-skater-dude lifestyle - describes his ideal world: Things are pretty much the same, but everyone is frozen. That way he can have his run of the place - going in and out of people's houses, eating their food - in a word, freeloading. It's a funny and slightly heartbreaking view of the future, since freeloading everday is pretty much what Skreech does already.</p><p>A freeze frame view of the world also propels director Tristan Patterson's approach to this documentary, which screened Wednesday night at Chicago's <a href="http://www.musicboxtheatre.com/">Music Box Theatre</a>. Afterwards Patterson was beamed in via Skype for a bit of audience Q &amp; A. He said his aim was not a full-blown "life and times" of Skreech but a film about the moment as it unfolds in Skreech's life and in front of Patterson's camera.</p><p>To some, that life sucks. One young man in the audience, who said he was from Downey, Calif., said the film was "BS" and gave an inaccurate view of his home state. Others in the crowd - a decent turn-out for a Wednesday winter night - seemed to connect with Skreech, who tries, fails, and falls, over and over again - a pretty painful thing to watch when he's skateboarding the steep sides of an abandoned swimming pool.</p><p>That sense of trying but failing in a rapidly changing landscape was the kick in the pants that launched local music label <a href="http://www.dragcity.com/">Drag City</a> into the film distribution business to begin with, as they tried to confront the declining profitability of the record industry. <em>Dragonslayer</em> is the label’s second foray into films - their first was Harmony Korine’s <em><a href="http://www.trashhumpers.com/">Trash Humpers</a></em>. Drag City sales director Rian Murphy doesn’t think they’re deliberately drawn to tales of "f*&amp;@ed up losers," but they do like films that are "confrontatory" and that "put the onus on the audience to think their way out of a situation that isn’t very comfortable for them."</p><p>But are movies –especially challenging independent ones - a safe bet? Thus far, Murphy says that "nothing really makes money for us the way records do," and even though the label at one point considered running a movie house Murphy thinks "you can [show] the greatest films in the world to an audience who is absolutely copacetic with your mindset but you won’t make any money unless you sell the popcorn." (The label has no current plans to do so, although they announced this week they will sell Bonnie Billy Blend Kona Rose, <a href="http://www.pitchfork.com/news/45212-bonnie-prince-billy-gets-his-own-coffee/">a custom coffee from long-time Drag City artist Will Oldman</a>.)</p><p>Favoring curation over concessions means staying the course while moving into the home distribution market, "at which point profitability expands," according to Murphy. Like <em>Dragonslayer’s</em> antihero Skreech, the label is just going with the flow and making connections. Murphy says after <em>Trash Humpers</em> "it’s not as if [we] walked and then we ran. We walked and then we rested and then [<em>Dragonslayer</em>] came along."</p><p>There are currently no plans for a second run in Chicago, though the label is exploring a potential pay per view scenario.</p></p> Thu, 26 Jan 2012 17:56:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/2012-01-26/local-record-label-drag-city-likes-movies-confrontatory-its-music-958 'Screen Dances' marries film and dance http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-09-23/screen-dances-marries-film-and-dance-92375 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-September/2011-09-23/Love Crime.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>French filmmaker <a href="http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0006734/" target="_blank">Alain Corneau</a> died of cancer last year and his final film screens in Chicago over the weekend.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.musicboxtheatre.com/features/love-crime" target="_blank"><em>Love Crime</em></a>, a cat-and-mouse thriller set in the global corporate world, involves a fight to the finish between a boss and her talented assistant. To discuss whether this is more cat fight or great mystery-- or a bit of both– <em>Eight Forty-Eight </em>was joined by <a href="http://nightingaletheatre.org/contact.html" target="_blank">Christy LeMaster</a>. LeMaster directs the <a href="http://nightingaletheatre.org/" target="_blank">Nightingale Theatre </a>in on Milwaukee Avenue in Chicago and joins <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> monthly to talk about film.&nbsp;</p><p><a href="http://www.musicboxtheatre.com/features/love-crime" target="_blank"><em>Love Crime </em></a>opens Friday at the <a href="http://www.musicboxtheatre.com/" target="_blank">Music Box Theatre</a> in Chicago. LeMaster also&nbsp;reviewed <em><a href="http://chicagofilmmakers.org/cf/content/screen-dances-films-nadia-oussenko" target="_blank">Screen Dances</a></em>, which runs Friday and Saturday at 8:00 p.m. at <a href="http://chicagofilmmakers.org/" target="_blank">Chicago Filmmakers</a> in Andersonville, Chicago. Filmmaker <a href="http://nadiaoussenko.com/" target="_blank">Nadia Oussenko</a> will be at both screenings.</p><p><em>Music Button: Dinah Washington, "This Can't Be Love", from the album For Those In Love, (Verve)</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 23 Sep 2011 14:52:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-09-23/screen-dances-marries-film-and-dance-92375 Taking a look at the 'Jewish Mark Twain' http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-08-25/taking-look-jewish-mark-twain-91024 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-August/2011-08-25/Web image for SA Film Review 110825.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><audio class="mejs mediaelement-formatter-identified-1332483664-1" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/sites/default/files/sa-film-review.mp3">&nbsp;</audio></p><p><em>Fiddler on the Roof</em> became a stage and screen classic but there’s more to Tevye the Milkman than meets the eye; and the same goes for the writer who created him. <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em>’s Jason Marck delivered a review of a new documentary film about the man known as, “The Jewish Mark Twain."<a href="http://trailers.apple.com/trailers/independent/sholemaleichemlaughinginthedarkness/" target="_blank"> S<em>holem Aleichem:&nbsp; Laughing In The Darkness</em></a>, opens Friday at the <a href="http://www.musicboxtheatre.com/" target="_blank">Music Box Theatre</a> in Chicago and<a href="http://www.landmarktheatres.com/market/Chicago/Landmark%27sRenaissancePlaceCinema.htm" target="_blank"> Landmark Renaissance Place Cinema </a>in Highland Park and the film’s director,<a href="http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0233771/" target="_blank"> Joseph Dorman</a>, will answer questions at both theaters Friday and Saturday.</p><p>For a thousand years, Yiddish was the everyday language of Eastern European Jews. But even the people that spoke Yiddish didn’t take their <em>mame loshen </em>or, “mother tongue,” seriously.&nbsp; Sure, it was good for bargaining in the market, telling your friends how terrible the Tsar is and of course, for hilarious curses.&nbsp;</p><p>Writer Ron Litke shared some favorites:</p><p>“’Ruen zolstu nisht afile in keyver,” (may you find no rest even in the grave!), or ‘Shraybn zol men dir retseptn’ (they should write prescriptions for you!),” he translated.&nbsp;</p><p>But “real” literature, serious writing, was done in Hebrew or Russian. That is, until the 1880s, when a plucky young writer named Solomon Rabinovich realized his real calling. He didn’t try to be the next Tolstoy or Gogol, he wrote for, and about, his people: The Jews of the shtetls, or, “little towns,” that dotted the far western edge of the Russian Empire. He took a pen name, Sholem Aleichem, a most familiar greeting that means everything from “peace be with you,” to, “how do you do?”&nbsp; And he did it in Yiddish.&nbsp;</p><p>The Joseph Dorman film, <em>Sholem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness,</em> brings the author to life.&nbsp; But more than a mere biography, the film reveals the depth of his work and imbues the filmgoer with the historical perspective needed to understand the vibrant but quickly fading world that Sholem Aleichem was documenting.</p><p>His first big breakout was a serialized novel that featuring a character named Menachem Mendel, a guy who went to the big city to strike it rich. He dreamt big, he schemed big; but before he could send any money back to his long-suffering wife, he lost it all. Despite his utter lack of business sense, he remained certain that “the big one” was just around the corner. His wife, Shayna Shayndel, didn’t exactly share his positive outlook.</p><p>Chicago improv veteran and <em>Saturday Night Live</em> alum Rachel Dratch helped bring Shayna Shayndel to life in the film.</p><p>The Menachem Mendel stories are full of humor, warmth and can-do spirit. But the film reveals a deeper reality. Menachem Mendel isn’t off in Odessa simply because he’s a wacky dreamer:&nbsp; The shtetl can’t sustain itself; the people are desperately poor; they live in constant fear of pogroms. Strange new “-isms” enter the lexicon: capitalism, socialism, communism, bundism and Zionism. An open world could mean new opportunities but it could also mean a breakdown of the social order. To voice his people’s uncertainty, Sholem Aleichem invented his greatest character: Tevye the Dairyman.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>Tevye had seven daughters and said, “When you have seven daughters, <em>fargayten gelechte, ‘</em>you forget to laugh,’ because seven daughters is serious business.”&nbsp;</p><p>As Tevye’s first three daughters reach marrying age, they each represent a dilemma for him and the Jews of Eastern Europe. The first rejects her arranged marriage and wants to marry for love.&nbsp; The second wants to run off with a secular revolutionary. The third wants to marry a Gentile, which meant she had to convert. Each episode cut deeper into Tevye, further testing his ability to hold fast to his beliefs while trying to hold on to his beloved family. Sholem Aleichem’s navigated these difficult roads with great pathos; but also with great humor.</p><p>Irwin Weil, a professor of Russian language, literature and music and a professor of Jewish Culture at Northwestern University explained.</p><p>“Sholem Aleichem showed that in Jewish life, humor could easily be combined with the deepest kind of feeling toward the universe, toward Jewish history, and toward everything that counted. And if you read him, you realize that there are some things you absolutely have to laugh at, but at the same time you’re laughing you realize just how deeply, importantly, and emotionally it goes,” Weil said.&nbsp;</p><p>In the film, scholar and translator Hillel Halken, gave an example of comical Yiddish wordplay that Sholem Aleichem employed so well.</p><p>“Erech zoygen, 'God is up there in heaven, and we’re down here on the earth.' But in Yiddish zein in drerd also means…can I use an expletive here?," Halken asked, "It means ‘up shit’s creek,’” he chuckled.</p><p>One of the most interesting points in the film came when Aaron Lansky of the National Yiddish Book Center explained that while Tevye and his shtetl seemed a million miles away, Jews around the world still wrestle with the exact same questions: which traditions to keep, which to leave behind&nbsp; and what will it mean for their identity?&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>“Tevye lives out in the countryside in the middle of nowhere. So when these incredible challenges of the modern world confront him, he’s got to figure out for himself how you adapt and how you make accommodations for all of this. Which means he’s the do-it-yourself Jew; the ultimate ‘modern’. Or to put it more accurately, he’s the precursor for us.” Lanksy explained.</p><p>Filmmaker Joseph Dorman ultimately leaves the audience with something more powerful than a portrait of a writer or a sentimental look at a lost world; or even the notion of how laughter can help pierce the most difficult of subjects. He shows them that great art is timeless—and forever holding up a mirror.&nbsp;</p><p><em>Music Button: Cracow Klezmer Band, "Haniel", from the album Balan: Book of Angels Vol. 5, (Tzadik)</em></p><p><em>Director Joseph Dorman will appear for Q&amp;A at Landmark Renaissance Place Theater in Highland Park on Friday after the 4:45 p.m. showing and Saturday after the 7:00 p.m. showing</em>.<em> He'll also appear at the Music Box Theatre on Southport Ave. in Chicago on Friday after the 7:20 p.m. showing and Saturday after the 5:00 p.m. showing</em></p></p> Thu, 25 Aug 2011 14:26:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-08-25/taking-look-jewish-mark-twain-91024 Music Box Films does film distribution, Midwest-style http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-07-20/music-box-films-does-film-distribution-midwest-style-89395 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-July/2011-07-20/Music Box Theatre.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>In August the <a href="http://www.musicboxtheatre.com/">Music Box Theatre</a> will turn 82 years old. The theatre on Chicago’s North Side had many identities over the past couple of decades--its proven to be a haven for fans of independent and foreign film. But in recent years, the Music Box has branched out in other ways. Now the exhibitor is also a distributor of films. To find out what prompted that move, <em>Eight Forty-Eight's</em> Alison Cuddy was joined by two of the people behind this enterprise: Willam Schopf, president of <a href="http://musicboxfilms.com/about/" target="_blank">Southport Music Box Corporation</a>--the company that owns<a href="http://www.musicboxtheatre.com/" target="_blank"> Music Box Theatre</a> and<a href="http://www.musicboxfilms.com/" target="_blank"> Music Box Films</a> and Brian Andreotti, the program and marketing director for Music Box Theatre and Films.</p></p> Wed, 20 Jul 2011 13:49:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-07-20/music-box-films-does-film-distribution-midwest-style-89395 New film looks at the buzz around the worldwide bee crisis http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-04-28/new-film-looks-buzz-around-worldwide-bee-crisis-85786 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-April/2011-04-28/Honeybee_RGB.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>For years now, the global bee population has been in decline. Some refer to it as <a href="http://www.ars.usda.gov/News/docs.htm?docid=15572" target="_blank">Colony Collapse Disorder</a>, which means the hives and honey are still there but the bee population dwindles. A new film takes on some of the possible culprits – from pesticides to corporate farming.</p><p><a href="http://www.queenofthesun.com/" target="_blank"><em>Queen of the Sun: What Are the Bees Telling Us?</em></a> opens in Chicago Friday at the <a href="http://www.musicboxtheatre.com/features/queen-of-the-sun-what-are-the-bees-telling-us/" target="_blank">Music Box Theatre</a>. <em>Queen of the Sun’s</em> director and producer <a href="http://www.queenofthesun.com/2010/11/taggart-siegel/" target="_blank">Taggert Siegel</a> will be there opening night – but first he spoke to <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em>.</p><p><em>Music Button: Medeski Martin &amp; Wood, "Queen Bee", form the CD End of the World Party, (Blue Note)</em></p></p> Thu, 28 Apr 2011 13:25:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-04-28/new-film-looks-buzz-around-worldwide-bee-crisis-85786 'A Man Within': A new documentary about William S. Burroughs http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/man-within-new-documentary-about-william-s-burroughs <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/burroughs getty.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>American icon William S. Burroughs, novelist of books like "Naked Lunch" and a self-proclaimed outlaw, is the subject of a new documentary, "<a href="http://www.burroughsthemovie.com/" target="_blank">William S. Burroughs: A Man Within</a>."<br> <br> The film has already attracted some impressive critical praise. Its Chicago run begins Friday at the <a href="http://www.musicboxtheatre.com/" target="_blank">Music Box Theatre</a>. Leyser will hold a Q and A after the 8:00 p.m. screening on Friday and the 5:30 p.m. screening on Saturday.<br> <br> To find out what drew filmmaker <a href="http://www.imdb.com/name/nm3529539/" target="_blank">Yony Leyser</a> to Burroughs, "Eight Forty-Eight's" Alison Cuddy sat down with him.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><a href="http://thinkartsalon.com/" target="_blank">Th!nkArt Salon</a> on North Paulina will celebrate the opening of its exhibit featuring the artistic works of William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg Thursday evening from 5:30 - 9:30 p.m.</p></p> Thu, 20 Jan 2011 15:13:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/man-within-new-documentary-about-william-s-burroughs