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Phyllis Dreazen

Stories by Phyllis

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DIANE

U.S. Kent Jones, director

Critic-turned-filmmaker Kent Jones' feature debut is a portrait of a woman who tries to atone for something in her past by doing good deeds for others and trying to turn her adult druggie son's life around. It's a tour de force role for Mary Kay Place; she nails and honors it. The film begins in a bleak Western Mass. winter. That the roads are full of snow doesn't stop Diane from delivering casseroles, shopping for friends, making hospital visits, or volunteering at a soup kitchen. In between are scenes with her best friend where she lets her hair down and others where she and other family members and friends —all of them 70ish— are comfortably interacting with each other. Life is a many layered complication, but it is dotted with small pleasures and miracles that make it worthwhile.

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JUMPMAN

Russia, Ireland,Lithuania, France Ivan I. Tverdovsky, director

Oksana put her infant son, Denis, into the Baby Hatch at an orphanage. When he became a teenager she went to reclaim him and bring him back to Moscow. Sadly, it was not for love, but for his special talent that made him useful to her and her associates: Denis could not feel pain, which made him ideal to be a jumpman, someone who jumps in front of cars, gets hit, and blackmails the drivers. If they don't pay, they are taken to court. These two elements —numbness and corruption— are the counterpoints of this drama. Putin's Russia is the morass, but corruption has been part of that culture for much longer. Jumpman's corruption is systemic from the police who target the cars to be jumped, the hospital staff where "the victim is taken," the lawyers and judge who try the cases of the marks who don't pay. At first Denis was enchanted by his beautiful mom, having a room of his own, catching up on 16 years of birthday cake and being part of a community. Little by little, however, things stop working, he walks starts to feel pain —physical as well as emotional, and he walks away from the new life. No problem: he is expendable; it is the system that endures.

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Chicago Film Festival: SOFIA

Morocco Meryem Benm'Barek, director

Ms. Benm'Barek opens her debut feature film, for which she also wrote the screenplay, with a penal code quote about babies born out of wedlock. Though pregnancies outside marriage are common in Morocco, single mothers face serious consequences, including prison time. Sofia, a 20 year old who lives with her family in Casablanca, doubles over with a violent stomach while clearing the table at a family lunch. Her cousin Lena, a medical student, feels her stomach and realizes Sofia is about to give birth though Sofia is in denial about her pregnancy. Saying they are going to the pharmacy, Lena rushes her out of the house but actually takes her to the hospital. But no one at the hospital will help them —since Sofia is without a husband the risks to the hospital are catastrophic— so Lena delivers the baby. They have 24 hours to come up with a father. Sofia names a former coworker as the father, a young man from a poor family whom she had only met once. The families meet and negotiations begin. The story has a big surprise towards the end.

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Chicago Film Festival: COUCH POTATOES

Italy Francesca Archibugi, director

Tito's parents are divorced. The teenager lives part-time with his mom and part-time with his dad, Giorgio, a television personality. A typical teenager, Tito likes hanging out with his friends, especially at his dad's place; playing video games and biking through Milan with his pack. Not surprisingly, Tito and Giorgio fight about almost everything. Since the enemy of our enemy is our friend, it is also not surprising that Tito is closer with his grandfather than anyone else. Yet, as we get to know them, we learn that all three generations love each other.

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Chicago Film Festival: CLAIRE DARLING

France Julie Bertuccelli, director

Catherine Deneuve and her real life daughter, Chiara Mastroianni, play mother and daughter, Claire and Mary Darling. It is the first day of summer, the day Claire decides will be the day she dies. But before she goes, she decides to dispose of all her belongings. And there are many. Her wealth has enabled her to collect and hoard: museum quality paintings and furniture, Tiffany lamps, antique dolls and mechanical toys, clocks, music boxes, rugs, etc., etc. Each one connects to a memory of, or an event in her flamboyant, sometimes crazy, life; each one sells for the same unbelievable pittance; each sale liberates part of her soul. Or exemplifies mental decline. As word of Claire's latest craze spreads, Mary's childhood friend, Martine, convinces her to return the home she left 20 years earlier. Is it possible to go home again? to resume a relationship after decades? To watch the great Deneuve at work is always a gift; to watch her work with her daughter is, if possible, even better.

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Chicago Film Festival: Rafiki

Kenya Wanuri Kahiu, director

Rafiki (Friend) is the first Kenyan film to be shown at the Cannes Film Festival. Almost at the same time it was selected, the Kenya Film Classification Board banned the movie entirely. That the movie is subtle and gentle made no difference because gay sex is illegal Kenya, and Rafiki is about two girls in love. Kena is a tomboy with good grades who dreams of becoming a doctor; Blackstra loves her. Ziki is the town beauty; all the girls love her. That the girls' fathers are vying for the same political position makes them particularly visible in their town and exposes them to danger.

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Chicago Film Festival: Liverleaf

Japan Eisuke Naito, director

Liverleaf is the flower that blooms to push the winter away. Haruka's family moves from Tokyo to a rural community where her father has a new job. She, the new girl from the big city, is subjected to horrible, unrelenting bullying by the other students. The teacher does nothing. The parents have no idea of their children's capacity for cruelty. Haruka's grandfather comes from Tokyo to take care of things after the horror of a family tragedy. He has no idea of his lovely, inscrutable granddaughter's capacity for rage or revenge. The blood in the snow is like a field of liverleafs: In Japan even horror wears a decorous face. (Based on the manga comic).

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Chicago Film Festival: Flammable Children

Australia Stephan Elliot, director

A primary colors, over-the-top, good-natured, fun romp through 1970s suburbia, a time that seems as far from our own as a fairy tale. Guy Pearce and Kylie Minogue lead the cast of three couples and their children who do almost everything together both at home and at the beach. The parents and their children are two different universes. It's for the viewer to decide which group has the most growing up to do. A sub-plot with a beached whale offers some clues.

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53rd Chicago International Film Festival capsule

The Chicago Film Festival continues through Thursday, Oct 26 at the AMC River East 21, 322  E. Illinois Chicago....... Visit chicagofilmfestival.com or call 312-332-FILM (3456) for tickets and info

What’s Playing? If you’ve ever wanted to travel to other countries but haven’t had an opportunity or the finances, the Chicago International Film Festival is a great way to see films from around the world. Moviegoers can get a glimpse of the culture and people through the different stories told through the lens. The festival is going on now through Thursday October 26 at AMC River East 21, theater 322 E. Illinois Street, Chicago, Illinois Tickets are $15 for regular screenings with discounts for Cinema/Chicago members, students, seniors and $10 after 10 p.m. $8 Weekly matinees through 5 p.m. For more go to chicagofilmfestival.com

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Hamilton Makes History Come Alive for CPS High School Students

Lin-Manuel Miranda had a Plan B for his career: If musical theater didn't work out, he would continue with his other love: teaching high school. Then came In the Heights. A MacArthur Genius Grant, And Hamilton, which changed the trajectory of musical theater and won every prize there is. The lines in the three cities (NYC, Chicago, SF) where it is currently playing are such that it has started a daily lottery. And it made Ron Chernow, Hamilton's historian-biographer, a rock star.

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Chicago International Film Festival Documentaries not to miss

ent@thetimesweekly.com TWO TRAINS RUNNIN' (U.S.) Art and Activism, Music and the Civil Rights Movement, intersected in Mississippi in June 21, 1964, one year after the March on Washington. Two groups of young white men, one from the West Coast and one from the East Coast were in the area searching for Country Blues legends Skip James and Son House, respectively. At the same time, Andrew Goodman and Michael (Mickey) Schwermer, CORE activists from New York, arrived to register voters for the Mississippi Freedom Summer Project. The day before they were to begin their work, together with James Chaney, a local Rights worker of color, they went to investigate the burning of a local black church in Philadelphia. They were murdered by the Ku Klux Klan. The two tracks happened in close proximity of place and time. Director Sam Pollard uses archival footage, animated reenactments and blues performances to recreate that revolutionary time. Common narrates. Nearly three dozen interviewees speak and perform. RAISING BERTIE (U.S.)

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52nd Chicago International Film Festival October 13 - 27

ent@thetimesweekly.com CIFF 2016 opens Thursday, with LaLaland, "a musical masterpiece" (The Guardian) starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone and closes two weeks later with Arrival, starring Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker, an elite team helping humankind communicate with aliens. Peter Bogdanovich is the recipient of the Festival's Gold Hugo Lifetime Achievement Award and a Tribute to Steve McQueen celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Festival's Black Perspectives program. Others honored with Tributes include Geraldine Chaplin, and directors Claude Lelouch and Alfonso Arau.

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Wonderful Town

Originally, Wonderful Town had been scheduled to end Goodman Theatre's 2015-16 season. Then Goodman got War Paint, which closed last season and moved Wonderful Town to open this one. The buoyant, joy-filled production is a grand celebration to begin Robert Falls' 30th anniversary as Goodman's Artistic Director. The story is based on Ruth McKenney's stories about her sister, Eileen – who, tragically, died before even the book was published – and the play, My Sister Eileen, by Joseph Fields and Jerome Chodorow. Turning the play into a musical was problematic until Betty Comden and Adolph Green got involved and brought along their friend, Leonard Bernstein, who provided a exuberant and musically sophisticated score. Wonderful Town bookends On the Town, another musical love letter to New York, the trio created a decade earlier. Two sisters, Ruth (Bri Sudia) and Eileen (Lauren Molina) Sherwood, leave Ohio for New York City where they dream of "making it" as writer and singer, respectively. Their first day the meet Mr. Appopolous (Matt DeCaro) who convinced them to move into his rundown Greenwich Village building. Though awful looking to an outsider – I still remember my mother's horrified face when she saw my first Village apartment – it quickly became home. Like two sides of a coin blond, bubbly, guy magnet Eileen is the Yin to Ruth's industrious Yang.

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Appomattox

WASHINGTON, DC: Washington National Opera at The Kennedy Center ended its run of the world premiere of the Philip Glass-Christopher Hampton opera Appomattox (revised from the 2007 San Francisco Opera original) on the anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The performances marked 150 years since the end of the Civil War and 50 years since President Lyndon B. Johnson passed the Voting Rights Act. Representative John Lewis, veteran and venerable Civil Rights activist, who stood with Martin Luther King and who is one of the characters in Act II, was the honored guest. In this version, the Civil War material–from the fall of Richmond through Lee's surrender at Appomattox–was condensed into a 90-minute Act I and material about Voting Rights issues–including the March from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama–became the new Act II. Given the pushback against President Johnson's seminal legislation–the Supreme Court's striking down parts of the 1965 Act in 2012; Ferguson, Mo; the murder of Laquan McDonald and Black Lives Matter–another revision may soon be warranted. Revisions are not so unusual in opera: Puccini revised Madama Butterfly five times.

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A NEW PRODUCTION OF WOZZECK AT LYRIC OPERA

When Alban Berg's Wozzeck debuted in Berlin, in1925,it was an immediate success in spite of its atonalities and sprechstimme. Though many sounds were edgily new, Berg's sprinkling in of tonal sections and his use of classical forms–including symphony, dance, variation, fugue, largo, rondo, passacaglia–to underpin his intricately constructed 15 scenes (three uninterrupted acts) provided a cushion of familiarity to the listener's inner ear. But what mostly grabbed and held attention was the story of the poor, common soldier who is so beaten down by life that he eventually implodes and murders his unfaithful mistress, the mother of his son. Sir David McVicar's new production for Lyric Opera, brilliantly conducted by Sir Andrew Davis, evokes similar responses nearly 100 years later. Wozzeck (Tomasz Konieczny), Marie (Angela Denoke), the Captain (Gerhard Siegel), the Drum Major (Stefan Vinke) and the Fool (Brenton Ryan) are artists making Lyric Opera debuts. Their returns will be welcome. Margaret (Jill Grove), the Doctor (Brindley Sherratt) and Andres (David Portillo) have appeared here previously. Together they make a fine, integrated ensemble, acting equal to singing, to create an spellbinding whole.

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Chicago Film Festival: KAKEKOMI

Kakekomi, a traditional story based on a novel by Hisashi Inoue, might be subtitled "Divorce, Samurai Style." Tokei-ji, the Buddhist temple at which Kakekomi takes place, opened as a shelter for abused and battered women in 1285. In old Edo, it was also a place where women seeking divorce or escaping bad marriages would flee. Once through the temple gates they became “kakekomi” and would spend two years pursuing a monastic existence. In the meantime, the wise divorce arbitrator Genbei helped them prepare to restart their lives. The new "kakekomi" include a beautiful but tragic concubine (O-Gin), anexpertiron-worker (Jogo), and a vengeful female samurai (Yu). A man with ties to the temple also seeks refuge there since he is an aspiring writer (as well as a doctor) and all entertainments had been banned. He provides the comic relief in a drama of serious issues.

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Chicago Film Festival: PAULINA

Like her father, Paulina (Dolores Fonzi) is a liberal, humanistic lawyer. He became a judge; she is completing a PhD in sociology but puts it and her promising legal career on hold–to his great dismay–to go work in a pioneering education program in a rural slum high school in the Northeast, where Argentina abuts Paraguay and Brazil, at the border of poverty and despair, where the forests have been made victim to the lumber industry. Her first night in the village, in a case of mistaken identity, she is attacked by five boys from the school, raped and impregnated. She refuses to name the attackers, though she knows them. Her responses bring into question who is victim and who a survivor, what is chaos and what is justice.

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Chicago Film Festival: ROAD TO LA PAZ

Sebastian, a 30-something unemployed Argentinian (Rodrigo de la Serna), agrees to accept a large sum of money to chauffeur Jalil, old Muslim (Ernesto Suarez) to La Paz, Bolivia, a distance of about 2,000. There he will join his brother to make Haj. Sharing life changing adventures both sacred and profane, funny and heart rending, the men develop a relationship like father and son, or master and disciple. At the end of their time together, Jalil tells a story: One freezing night a mountain climber falls and dangles from his cord. He calls out to God to save him. "Do you believe in me"? "Yes, of course." "Then take your knife and cut the cord." The next morning rescuers found the climber frozen to death, attached to his cord, two feet above level ground.

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Chicago Film Festival: MOTLEYS LAW

Motley’s Law follows Kimberly Motley as the Wisconsin-born lawyer’s lives and works in Afghanistan. When 38-year-old Kimberley Motley left her husband, Claude, and three kids–Diva, Seoul and Cherish–in the US in order to work as a defense lawyer in Kabul (2008), she was the only foreign lawyer, and the only woman, who had a license to work in the Afghan court system. She didn’t know where Afghanistan was, but she and her family needed the money, so she jumped at the chance to be part of a nine-month legal education program run by the U.S. State Department to train Afghan lawyers.

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Chicago Film Festival: THE WOMEN HE’S UNDRESSED

Gillian Armstrong’s campy portrait of Orry-Kelly, a costume designer from the golden age of Hollywood, is full of the bright colors of his native Australian sun, clever patter and great gossip. Sent away to school to become a banker, he ran away to New York to become an actor. Having studied painting Kelly, known as Jack, supported and his roommate, Archie Leach (Cary Grant) by hand painting ties, later sets and costumes for the Schuberts. The pair eventually moved to Los Angeles where Cary stayed in the acting path and Jack got into costumes.

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Chicago Film Festival: SWORN VIRGIN

In the villages of patriarchal Albania women are very subservient to their husbands. One way of escaping this life is for a woman to swear a vow of chastity-for-life in front of 12 village elders. She then lives as a man, with protected status. When her sister left home and her father died, Hana became Mark, a sworn virgin. Nearly 15 years later when Mark (Alba Rohrwacher) goes to visit her sister and her family in Italy, she begins to question her decision. Sworn Virgin moves back and forth between the bleak majesty of the Albanian mountains and Italy. Wednesday, October 28.

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Chicago Film Festival: DÉGRADÉ

On a hot summer day 10 women crowd a small beauty shop in the Gaza strip. Among them are mother with her daughter who is having her hair and makeup done in preparation for her wedding, an older woman primping for a lover, a religious fanatic, a pregnant woman with her sister, some married women and the restless son of the owner, a Russian woman married to a Palestinian.

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Chicago Film Festival: The Treasure

A man asks his neighbor for a loan in order to rent a metal detector. He wants to look for the treasure buried at the family at home in the Romanian countryside. He says he will split whatever they find. With the detector and the man who runs it, they drive to the old, abandoned farm and begin to look for the treasure.

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Chicago Film Festival: HOW TO WIN ENEMIES

Lucas, a young lawyer, works in the family law firm with his older, married brother. His parents have died, He is living in their apartment while looking to save up to buy one of his own.

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Chicago Film Festival: SCHNEIDER VS. BAX

Sweet-faced, tousle-haired Schneider is awakened by his sweet blond wife and sweeter blond daughters singing him Happy Birthday. A dinner party is planned for the evening. He has planned to have a day off, but Mertens phones and tells him there is a job that cannot wait. Unbeknownst to his family, Schneider is a hit man. The man he is to eliminate, Bax, is a writer who abuses drugs and alcohol among other things and people.

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Chicago Film Festival: Story of father who saved son filled with haunting images

Saving his son's life causes nightmarish images for a a Jewish father in this film festival winner.

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Chicago Film Festival: Cannes winner tells heart-wrenching story of dedicated father

Cannes Film Festival winning film tells the story of an Auschiwtz prisoner trying to bury his son after he discovers his body in one of the gas chambers.

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Chicago Film Festival: Egoyan film tells story of Auschwitz survivors

New film from Atom Egoyan tells the story of friends and concentration camp survivors who plan to find the Auschwitz guard who killed their families.

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Chicago Film Festival: Documentary recounts suffering under Argentinian dictator

After her husband and most of her children were murdered in Argentina, Laura Bonaparte Bruschtein’s organized Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo to try to learn what became of the victims under a harsh dictatorship.

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Chicago Film Festival: Eisenstein in Guanajuato

When Sergei Eisenstein (Elmer Back), the renowned Russian director (Battleship Potemkin) arrived in Mexico to film Que Viva Mexico (Thunder Over Mexico), he was 33 years old –the same age as Jesus Christ and Alexander the Great– world famous after only three pictures, manic, and a virgin. He arrived in time for the anniversary of the Russian Revolution and the Mexican Day of the Dead Festival. According to Peter Greenaway’s exorbitantly lush film, when he left, having been mentored by his Mexican guide/fixer, Palomino Cadedo (Luis Alberti), a professor of comparative religion, he was no longer a virgin, was marginally less manic, and he had experienced personal vulnerability.

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Chicago Film Festival: 45 YEARS

Kate (Charlotte Rampling) and Geoff (Tom Courtenay) Mercer had to cancel the party for their 40th anniversary when Geoff needed bypass surgery. Now it’s a week to their 45th. Kate is in the throes of party details when a letter arrives that turns their lives upside down. It is from Swiss authorities informing Geoff that the body of a former girlfriend has been found, perfectly preserved, 50 years after she fell into an Alpine crevasse. Though not physically fit, he is investigating the possibility of a trip to Switzerland; Kate imagines that Katya is a presence in the house with them, smells her perfume in the room. The tensions are as palpable as the love of their many years together. Both Ms. Rampling and Mr. Courtenay won top honors at the Berlin Film Festival for the portrayal of these roles.

Chicago Film Festival: A VERY ORDINARY CITIZEN

Mr. Safari is an 80 year old pensioner in a Tehran suburb. Since his wife died a decade past, his life revolves around getting Sangak–traditional Persian bread, –from the bakery and sitting on his balcony. His son, Parviz, lives in Canada and cannot return to Iran for political reasons, so he pays Mrs. Parvin, a neighbor Mr. Safari’s senior building, to keep an eye on him. As Mr. Safari descends into Alzheimer’s and no longer answers his phone, the worried son enlists a travel agent friend, Sara, to get dad a passport, a ticket, and to accompany him to Canada where he can be looked after and get better care. However, Mr. Safari falls obsessively in love with the young woman, gives up travel plans and, before his memory goes completely, tells her he loves her and would do anything for her, including murder. The elegiac film is a strong statement about the solitude, loneliness and becoming invisible of old age – whether in contemporary Tehran, or anywhere else.

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Chicago International Film Festival – A short look at Films not to miss this week

Taking Care of Parents

In these two films as in life, it is usually daughters who are caretakers.

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Chicago International Film Festival - The Emperor in August

From The Chicago Film Festival

Japanese Emperors were considered living gods, intermediaries between heaven and earth. Hirohito, the longest reigning emperor (60+ years) was a revolutionary–the first to travel abroad, the first to have a PhD (in biology), the first to speak to the people (the Imperial voice had never been heard before)–and the last to claim divinity. He chose instead traditional Shinto family values, including abolishing Imperial concubines. The Emperor in August covers the time from the Allied firebombing of Tokyo (March 9, 1945) to the Japanese surrender (Sept. 2, 1945). Beautifully shot and interspersed with historical footage, the documentary is both historically accurate and, to a Western audience, a bit confusing, for instance, it is not clear that Gen.Tojo had already been dismissed. Starting slowly, almost ceremonially, the film accelerates in pace and intensity as Spring turns into Summer and the debate about whether to have a final battle at home or surrender becomes a matter of life and death in myriad ways.

Taking Care of Parents: A Light Beneath Their Feet, The Closer We Get

In these two films as in life, it is usually daughters who are caretakers. In A Light Beneath Their Feet, Beth (Madison Davenport), a senior at Evanston High School, lives with and takes care of her bipolar mother Gloria(Taryh Manning). She has been accepted both at Northwestern and University of California, and she is tormented trying to decide between them: she wants to be an unencumbered teen and yet, since her father remarried, she feels totally responsible for her mother. She wants to go to the prom with Jeremy (Carter Jenkins), a classmate who also has had a difficult time. Daschulla (Maddie Hasson), daughter of Gloria’s therapist (Kurt Fuller) is determined to ruin things. Chicago favorite, Nora Dunn, has a cameo.

Chicago Film Festival: "First Views” of First Looks

The Infinite Happiness Copenhagen’s “8 House” is Danish architect Bjarke Ingels’ creative response to social architecture, how to make a building a community. With this project he joins a group of visionary architects including Paolo Soleri (Cosanti), Moshe Safdie (Habitat67) and Le Corbusier; the Hopi Indians are distant cousins in group design. Bjarke's "8 House" (the number 8 looks like the infinity symbol) is a community of 500 mostly happy residents who have services ranging from onsite kindergarten to workshops and senior clubs; one retired gentleman donates his time to help his neighbors fix things in their homes.

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Lyric Opera's Cinderella: Fun and Dreams in Glorious Color

Last season’s Barber of Seville was a confection of brightness and color in both look (oranges and yellows, plants and grilles) and sound.(Isabel Leonard, Nathan Gunn and Alessandro Corbelli). This season’s Cinderella raises that bar. The new to Chicago production is a dream within a dream, an exhilaration of Spanish magical realism. Director Joan Font and Designer Joan Guillen create a zany world of sharp Mediterranean light (in counterpoint to Cinderella’s drab, darkish home), a market day bazaar of sets and costumes in vivid colors and impossible elements including dancing mice, a mirror that magically becomes a carriage, a set that shifts back and forth from home to palace and back again; a court philosopher/ tutor, Alidoro, who makes magic (instead of the fairy godmother) and a prince who wants to be loved for himself. Transformations are the order of the day. Cinderella is based on Charles Perrault's 17th century story of an ill-treated daughter, a wicked stepmother, a fairy godmother, a pumpkin coach, and a “magic” slipper. The opera changes a few things: the daughter is ill treated by a grasping, greedy stepfather, the fairy godmother is a male philosopher, and the slipper is a bracelet. In this production, the mice are a human size chorus of movers and dancers.

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MY LIFE WITH A KING

Jaypee, a high school student, from a small town in the Philippines is chosen to bring “The King of the Poets” to his school to receive an award. Conrado Guinto, is the crowned king of the Kapampangan poets, the guardian of the vanishing language of the Kapampangans, which was devastated 25 years earlier by the eruption of Mount Pinatubo.

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Goodman Theatre’s 'Disgraced' extended to Oct. 25

As Ayar Akhtar’s Pulitzer Prize winning play, Disgraced, opens, Amir Kapoor (Bernard White) is being sketched by his wife, Emily (Nisi Sturgis). Although her focus has become Islamic art, this portrait of her husband is influenced by Valazquez’s “Portrait of Juan de Pareja.” Like the painter, she is white (WASP blond); like Pareja, Amir is brown. Amir’s upper torso is clad in a designer jacket and a $600 shirt; his bottom is in underwear; when the session ends he changes clothes. With those few simple strokes, Director Kimberly Senior has provided the context for all that follows. Who is Amir? Who are any of us, really? Mr. Akhtar asks that question in regard to the Muslims community in the post-9/11 world, but it applies to all of us in this nation of immigrants. At the intersection of familial DNA and one’s self-created persona, there is tension between where we started and where we want to end up. How will we and the lies we tell ourselves and others hold up under pressure? Can we leave where we started behind, or will something always pull us back?

World premiere of Sense and Sensibility at Chicago Shakespeare Theater

The world premiere musical adaptation of Jane Austen’s beloved novel, Sense and Sensibility, is playing at Chicago Shakespeare Theater now through June 14.

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Lyric Gives Weinberg’s The Passenger Its First Chicago Performances

Miecyzslaw Weinberg’s Holocaust opera, The Passenger, which Lyric gave its first Chicago perfor-mance Tuesday night,was a mesmerizing event, one of the few occasions where an audience was si-lent when the opera ended, then as if catching its long-held collective breath, erupted into sustained cheers. It runs through March 15, part of that time in repertory with Wagner’s Tannhauser.

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Lyric’s Tosca: A Revolutionary new take on a beloved old friend

Puccini’s beloved Tosca was part of Lyric Opera’s opening (1954) season and has been produced 17 times since. Director John Caird’s new production for this 60th anniversary season shines a light on the opera in a way that makes us reexamine what we thought we knew and makes the old very new.

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What makes a family happy

According to Tolstoy, “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” But what alchemy makes a family? Five dynamite theatrical productions playing around town provide five very different answers to that question.

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Anna Bolena at Lyric Opera

Donizett’s Anna Bolena is rarely performed. Lyric’s last and only production was in 1985 with Dame Joan Sutherland as Henry VII’s second wife.

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Goodman A Christmas Carol: Simply Wow!

I was the newbie, probably the only adult in Goodman’s Albert Theatre who had never seen Dicken’s A Christmas Carol. Perhaps the only one of any age: from their laughter and excitement, it seemed that most of the kids as well as their parents knew the story, the characters, what to expect and where the laughs were.

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Porgy and Bess at the Lyric

If you loved Francesca Zambello’s 2008 Lyric Opera production of Porgy and Bess, you will be delighted: this revival looks and feels much the same and it is musically even stronger.

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Porgy and Bess at the Lyric

It may be cold outside, but inside the Civic Theater it is "Summertime." After an absence of six years, George and Ira Gershwin's Porgy and Bess has returned to Lyric Opera for eleven performances through December 20.

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Lyric Opera Celebrates 60 Years with a Gala Concert

Lyric Opera invited 3563 of its nearest and dearest fans and supporters to dress up and celebrate its 60th birthday at a gala concert and ball on Saturday, November 1.

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Miss Julie opens 50th Chicago International Film Festival

Two-time Academy Award-nominee Liv Ullmann (Cries and Whispers, Scenes from a Marriage) returned to the Chicago International Film Festival, where she made her debut as a director (Sofie, 1992) to open its 50th edition with the film "Miss Julie." Ullmann directed and wrote the script of this adaptation of August Strindberg's eponymous 1888 stage drama of psychosexual class warfare. The play was banned for 50 years in the United Kingdom as much for its sexual content as its class commentary, and Ullman's version with Golden Globe winner Colin Farrell (In Bruges) as John, personal valet to an Anglo-Irish Lord and two-time Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty) , as the Lord's spoiled daughter who sexually stalks him, masterfully touches upon both social hot-buttons. Fellow two-time Oscar nominee Samantha Morton (Minority Report) is the cook, Kathleen, who observes the sexual sparring from afar, in her chamber just off the kitchen, where much of the drama takes place.

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