culture

The only Chicagoan of the Chicago 7 just wrote a memoir and says he's a fan of the Netflix movie 'Trial of the Chicago 7'

CHICAGO — Lee Weiner was the only defendant in the 1969 trial of the Chicago 7 who was from Chicago. He grew up in South Shore; while facing federal charges of inciting a riot and teaching his fellow protestors to build Molotov cocktails, he was a research assistant in the sociology department at Northwestern University. Yet, in the new Aaron Sorkin movie, “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” which hits Netflix on Friday, Weiner is barely a supporting character. Which isn’t far from the truth: If the Chicago 8 (as they were initially) was considered a dream team of magnetic war protestors — Abbie Hof...

Trump's America gets caught with its pants down in 'Borat Subsequent Moviefilm'

We’ll zip up the matter of Rudy Giuliani’s pants in a minute. First, though, let’s pretend the new “Borat” movie has people talking about anything else.It goes by the droll, broken-English title of “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm.” Sacha Baron Cohen’s most useful satiric creation — the exuberantly bigoted idiot journalist from Kazakhstan first introduced on Cohen’s “Da Ali G Show,” then given his own, wonderful, hit-and-run 2006 feature — captures intermittent flashes of lightning in his return to an America even more alarming than the gun-toting Dogpatch of the second Bush term, as depicted in th...

How 'Social Distance' filmed an entire show in quarantine: 'Like making a student film'

There were just seven months between the day Hilary Weisman Graham came up with the idea for “Social Distance” and the Netflix series’ premiere Thursday.Normally, the process to make a TV show takes years and includes inception, pitching, casting, shooting and editing.“We wanted to get it out before the pandemic is over,” the “Orange is the New Black” writer told the Daily News of the coronavirus era-set show.Turns out, the pandemic isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, but “Social Distance” lives entirely in shutdowns, filmed on FaceTime and Zoom and Nest.Real-life couples and family members wer...

'Trial of Chicago 7': Aaron Sorkin takes Mayor Daley's 1968 nightmare to court

Brilliantly cast, full of juicy verbal confrontations and only slightly undermined by its director, “The Trial of the Chicago 7” hits the righteous indignation spot. The writer is Aaron Sorkin. The director is also Aaron Sorkin.It’ll certainly hit home for Chicagoans who remember 1968 and 1969, as well as Chicagoans who know full well what has boiled these few months of 2020, and why.In late August 1968, the Democratic National Convention began and soon became a secondary narrative. Lincoln Park and, across the street from the Conrad Hilton Hotel convention headquarters, Grant Park drew tens o...

Semiautobiographical 'Forty-Year-Old Version' is rarest of films: funny, wry, incisive, sexy and sincere

What does it mean to be an artist? What does it mean to sell out? Who do we make art for, especially in a capitalist market? These are just a few of the complicated issues that writer/director/producer/star Radha Blank takes on in her semiautobiographical debut feature “The Forty-Year-Old-Version.” But she approaches these heavy-duty questions about art and identity with featherweight touch, and her voice is so cutting, compassionate, and clear, it’s like oxygen. She makes it look so easy, it’s no wonder the film won the directing prize at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival.There’s a refreshingly...

'A Libertarian Walks Into a Bear' reads like a Coen brothers movie – but it's true

Every once in a while, a book comes along that is so darkly comedic, with such a defined sense of place and filled with characters that range from the fascinating to the bizarre to the earnest, that partway through reading, it hits you: This has got to become a Coen brothers movie.That is the feeling you get when flipping through the pages of Vermont-based journalist Matthew Hongoltz-Hetling’s first book, “A Libertarian Walks Into a Bear: The Utopian Plot to Liberate an American Town (and Some Bears).” It’s the true story of a group of libertarians who decided to create the libertarian ideal —...

Trump's ban on WeChat threatens a vital network for Chinese community in Philadelphia area

PHILADELPHIA — For many local Chinese Americans and immigrants from China, the social media app WeChat is a lifeline to government services, community events, friends, and family living on the other side of the Pacific.If the Trump administration has its way, it’ll be taken away.“We are so disappointed, not just because he’s making this hateful language as calling it (the coronavirus) the Chinese flu or the China virus,” said Wei Chen, president of Asian Americans United, a Philadelphia organization focused on fighting discrimination against the Asian community, “but banning WeChat is a hatefu...

Sophia Loren's first film in 11 years generating serious Oscar buzz

Sophia Loren might have a new man in her life soon — and his name is Oscar. The 86-year-old, silver-screen legend is generating serious awards buzz for her performance in “The Life Ahead," her first major film role in 11 years. The Netflix feature, directed by her son Edoardo Ponti, has Loren playing Madame Rosa, a Holocaust survivor who befriends a Senegalese boy while raising children of prostitutes. Loren's most recent cinematic role was in the 2009 Daniel Day-Lewis musical “Nine." “In my career, I've worked with the biggest studios but I can safely say that none have had the breadth of reach a...

Movies need more diversity

I love watching movies. All movies. Even movies in black and white that have all-white casts. And I love movies that have people who look like me, Black and LGBTQ, in them, too.Movies don’t have to have folks of my race/ethnicity as stars. I love “Crazy Rich Asians,” which came out in 2018. But I’d rather see a poorly executed movie with a diverse cast, in terms of gender and race/ethnicity, than one with mostly or only straight white people.And why isn’t blind casting more of a thing? Like in 2017, when Anthony Revolori from Guatemala was cast as a white character from the comic book, in “Spi...

In her new book 'Just Us,' Claudia Rankine invites us all to talk about white privilege

“But what about Black-on-Black crime?”It’s a question that poet, playwright and professor Claudia Rankine has been fielding ever since she toured the country for her 2014 bestseller “Citizen: An American Lyric.” And she expects it for her latest work.“It was never from a white person but always a South Asian guy trying to distance himself from me to show that he’s not Black,” Rankine said. “I understand. There’s a level of anxiety associated with Blackness because of the violence and the history of degradation that comes with that. They want to have a chance to live.”Her new book, “Just Us: An...

New on DVD: 'John Lewis: Good Trouble' follows life of beloved civil rights icon

A documentary featuring an American legend tops the new DVD releases for the week of Sept. 29.“John Lewis: Good Trouble”: Rep. John Lewis died in July, leaving a breathtaking legacy. Known for marching across the Edmund Pettus Bridge on 1965’s Bloody Sunday to protest voting discrimination against Black people and risking his life amid deadly police beatings, his more than 40 arrests during the civil rights movement protesting segregation, and decades of work toward legislation in these areas as well as health care and gun reform (just to name a few), Lewis is affectionately profiled in the do...

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