Here's a sneak peek at what's coming up in this week's Time Out Chicago, on newsstands tomorrow:
Hey, have you noticed it's a little chilly out there? Don't let the nose hair–freezing temps keep you from going out: Just follow our guide to the best eating and drinking spots close to El stops so you can inhale, imbibe and jog back to the train before your limbs turn to ice. Go for the carnitas off the Pink Line's 18th Street stop, high-end cocktails off the Red Line's Grand stop, the abundance of BYOBs off the Blue Line's Western stop and more. Plus: the ultimate guide to restaurants and bars on (almost) every block of the Loop!
Happy Birthday Robert Burns! In celebration of the Scottish poet’s birthday on January 25, some restaurants in the city are hosting Burns night. Burns night is an annual celebration for the national poet of Scotland who was an important figure in the Romantic Movement during the eighteenth century. These celebrations will include traditional food like haggis, poetry reading, and lots of booze.
The Scottish organization Chicago Scots will be bringing nursing home members of their Scottish Home to the Robert Burns statue in Garfield Park. They will be gathering for some poetry reading and all are invited to join.
Union League Club of Chicago
Chicago Scots is having a supper filled with haggis, patties, and other delicious meats. There will be poetry readings and dancing, and Sheila Gilmore, a scholar from Scotland, will be performing the Immortal Memory speech praising the life and work of Robert Burns.
There's a full week of exciting activities that don't require you to pull out your wallet.
"Dutes Miller: In the Garden"
11am–6pm, Western Exhibitions
Miller's ecstatic installation of new works on paper and sculptures portrays a natural world in which homosexuality is the norm.
The Maltese Falcon
1pm and 7:30pm, Northbrook Public Library
Dir. John Huston. 1941. 100mins. Bogie would perfect his whip-smart gumshoe routine in Howard Hawks's The Big Sleep, but this earlier detective yarn is the better film: a morally complicated caper, with private eye Sam Spade (Bogart) outwitting a trio of lowlifes searching for a priceless antique. The ending is devastating—and, with apologies to Sleep, it actually makes sense.
4pm, Loyola University
Leveen discusses her historical novel, The Secrets of Mary Bowser, about a Union spy who posed as a slave in the Confederate White House.
6pm, Chicago Public Library (Blackstone Branch)
Steinberg discusses his latest book, You Were Never in Chicago, as part of the 2012–13 Despres Family Memorial Lecture Series.
5:15pm, Mary & Leigh Block Museum of Art
Northwestern's Jason LaFountain, Terra Foundation postdoctoral fellow in American art; performance studies chair D. Soyini Madison; and American studies director Ivy Wilson join Dan Silverstein, manager of exhibitions and collections at the Block Museum, for a conversation about "Terry Adkins: Recital."
Artists' Talk: Brian Jungen and Duane Linklater
6:30pm, Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts
The Canadian artists speak about their film project Modest Livelihood, which is on view at Logan Center.
It's 2004 all over again. Two of the most high-profile, anticipated premieres at Sundance '13 are nine-years-later encores.
The first, of course, is Before Midnight, Richard Linklater's trilogy-capping return to the heady pleasures of a feature-length conversation. Before Sunset ended on such a perfect note—a heart-stopping ellipsis, a magical moment at the crossroads—that checking back in with Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Céline (Julie Delpy) seemed to me like a mistake waiting to happen. But then, I thought the same thing when I heard that Linklater was making a sequel to his original 1995 Before Sunrise, which had a pretty wonderful ending, too. What's clear now, if it wasn't before, is that the director and his stars/cowriters have been laboring on a grand, beautiful experiment: the life of a romance onscreen, decade by decade, in all its gory detail.
Writer Dan Harmon is perhaps best known for creating the NBC sitcom Community, but since he was fired from producing the show last year, the self-professed narcissist has found a new passion: podcasting. Recorded live at the NerdMelt Showroom in Los Angeles, Harmontown is a loosely structured show that features Harmon and Jeff Davis (Who's Line Is It Anyway?) chatting about whatever topic floats into the host's mind, frequently bringing audience members up on the stage to take part in the conversation. Additionally, Harmon and Davis conclude each episode with an installment of the role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons, run by Spencer, a 23-year-old Dungeon Master that was plucked from the audience. Now, Harmon is touring the country with the podcast team and a documentary crew, bringing Harmontown to 19 different cities, including Chicago. After a successful show in Brooklyn the night before, Harmon called us from the tour bus to discuss the his podcast.
How did the Harmontown show in Los Angeles originally get started?
It started as just a hobby, a kind of therapy for myself. I really like performing for people. I like talking to strangers. I've got a lot of personality flaws that don't make me the most dynamic person to have a one-on-one encounter with. But there's something very comforting about lights shining in my eyes and hearing my most shameful thoughts rewarded by people laughing or just listening. I just started doing it in the back of this comic book store to keep from going insane. I would always tell people in that room, "Please, whatever I say in this room, let's keep it here and not YouTube this stuff.” For almost a year, they were able to keep that agreement. But then, one fateful night, I played Chevy Chase's drunken voicemails into a microphone and someone in the audience couldn't resist the temptation to record it and put it on the Internet. After that happened, Jeff and I started thinking to ourselves, “Why don't we just record this thing and podcast it for everyone? If these things are going to get leaked, then why pass up the opportunity to have a podcast, which seems to be every American's God-given right these days?”
Sundance Film Festival 2013 | I Used to Be Darker, Computer Chess, Kill Your Darlings and Ain't Them Bodies Saints
Too many movies, too little time to write about them. Perhaps inevitably, I've reached that point in the festival when I'm struggling to keep up with my own viewing schedule. It's a good problem to have—what did I come to Park City for but to watch lots and lots of films?—though I still wish I had the inhuman time-management skills of some of my contemporaries. Are there secret hours in the day I don't know about? Are you guys knocking out dispatches in your sleep? What gives?
Excepting maybe Sarah Polley's lovely essay-doc Stories We Tell, which my colleague Ben Kenigsberg wrote about from Toronto last year, the best movie I've seen at the festival so far is Matthew Porterfield's I Used to Be Darker. Though more conventionally structured than Putty Hill, the writer-director's improv-driven previous effort, this quietly devastating family drama feels like a major step forward. The story is bare-bones simple: Fleeing her job and boyfriend in Ocean City, Maryland, a Northern Irish teenager (unknown American actress Deragh Campbell, nailing the brogue) drops in unexpectedly on her aunt (Kim Taylor) and uncle (Ned Oldham, brother of Will), both musicians. What she doesn't know is that the two are in the process of separating—a development that has sent shock waves of resentment through their Baltimore household, many of them absorbed by their home-from-college daughter (Hannah Gross).
With the film festival circuit basically running year-round, one of the benefits of attending a major fest is the opportunity to see titles that screened earlier elsewhere. Case in point: Some eight months after its premiere at Cannes 2012, Jeff Nichols's Mud screened yesterday for critics at Sundance. I was less enamored than many of the filmmaker's last effort, Take Shelter, which—to these eyes, anyway—made some very critical missteps in its home stretch. Mud furthers my impression that Nichols's work behind the camera far exceeds his efforts at the keyboard.
If Shotgun Stories (2007) found the writer-director taking up the Southern-poetic-realism mantle of friend David Gordon Green—the latter of whom also has a film, Prince Avalanche, screening in Park City—then this is his Undertow: a boyhood adventure yarn, set on and around a raging river. Two Arkansas middle-schoolers (Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland, both excellent) travel to a nearby island, find an abandoned boat stuck in a tree, and meet Matthew McConaughey's eponymous outlaw hermit. Soon the boys are playing gopher for this wanted man, getting mixed up in his romantic and legal troubles while dodging both their guardians and some nasty customers on the hunt for Mud.
Call it the calm before the storm: Though well-wishers had warned me of instant, sidewalk-clogging traffic, my first morning in Park City was mild in every sense of the word. (The temperature, far from subzero, hovered around 20 degrees—no great adjustment for a traveling Chicagoan.) Only scattered festival parking signs, coupled with a double-take-provoking Mike White sighting, offered any indication that this sleepy ski community would soon be invaded by thousands of tourists, cinephiles and industry professionals.
But then, it's still early. Day one of Sundance seems to have been designed to ease all of us—attendees, organizers and locals alike—into the ten-day festivities to come. The first handful of screenings don't start until this evening; my week-long movie binge kicks off with May in the Summer, one of the 16 films in this year's U.S. Dramatic Competition. In the meantime, here are some thoughts on a couple of Sundance titles, both pretty exceptional, that I caught in the run-up to the fest.
Here's a sneak peek at what's coming up in this week's Time Out Chicago, on newsstands tomorrow:
There are some of us (my mother) who, when given a choice between two similar items, will always choose the cheapest one. No matter if the cheaper one is made of the chintziest material this side of Bangladesh and will fall apart after a few wears, the cheap one is a deal. Sometimes, my mom is right: Who needs high-quality purple jeans when that color will be out of style next season? But when it comes to things like bikini waxes and fresh produce, it pays to shell out more.
In this week's Deals Issue, we help you through that difficult choice—cheap out or pay up?—by weighing all the important factors such as how much of a hassle the cheaper item is, whether the more expensive choice will pay off in the long run and more. Turns out, more often than not, my mom is right. As if there were any other option.
Enjoy these activities around Chicago, completely free.
6pm, Harold Washington Library Center
Some people collect stamps, baseball cards and comic books. Others amass the bony skeletons of heads. Author Simon Winchester chats and signs copies of his new book Skulls: An Exploration of Alan Dudley’s Curious Collection, a visual display of more than 300 animal skulls.
5:30-8pm, Instituto Italiano di Culture
In case you haven't heard, 2013 has been declared the Year of Italian Culture. Support this year's theme by learning the language. Stop by the center's open house to take a placement test, meet with professional instructors or register for an upcoming class. There are music, wine and Italian delicacies in it for you, too.