In the Heart of the Nation: The Titanic Spectacle of Taylor Swift

The first impression is a memory from high school. My mother and I attend a sold-out performance of Mamma Mia! and cursory examination reveals I am one of a dozen men in the audience. Rarely in my life have I felt like such an interloper.

Taylor Live

Saturday night was this multiplied by fifty-five. Soldier Field is jammed with women and girls, wearing a mix of official merchandise, homemade T-shirts, and their finest dresses. There is plenty of red lipstick and homemade electric signs casting light in the darkening sky. This is Taylor Nation, and they have come to experience the biggest singer-songwriter in the world.

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Mr. Rostan at the Movies: Death Stories, or, “Amy” and “The Little Death”

Andrew Rostan was a film student before he realized that making comics was his horrible destiny, and he’s never shaken his love of cinema. Every two weeks, he’ll opine on current pictures or important movies from the past.

amy-winehouse-010-original

Amy Winehouse was not talented; “talented” was too weak a word. She was a phenomenon, one of the most exceptional vocalists of our age, and a person not even the most gifted actress could imitate. Even in the steps of removal that film necessarily creates, Winehouse, both in public and private life, had a presence that could entrance anyone and make them feel she was the only other person in the universe. Asif Kapadia all but resurrects this presence before our eyes in his indisputably essential documentary Amy.

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J&STAC: Summertime #1s

-J. Michael Bestul is a writer for the Addison Recorder. Stephanie Ruehl is an artist who works in a comic book shop. They’re married and have a lot of discussions about comic books and graphic novels. Combine all that into a biweekly feature and you get “J. & Steph Talk About Comics.”

It’s been a while since we did a recap of recent #1 releases, in part because of the re-booting brought on by Secret Wars and Convergence. The summer has brought us a plethora of new and re-launched stories, and we start with a classic comic that looks very, very new.

Archie1-FionaStaplesRegCoverArchie #1

words by Mark Waid, art by Fiona Staples, published by Archie Comics

Synopsis: The reboot of Archie finds the titular character giving the reader a tour of his high school, introducing his friends, and now ex girlfriend Betty.

Steph: I loved this. The Waid/Staples combo is just so fun to read. [Read more…]

“We will get by, we will survive.” The Last Concert of the Grateful Dead

Glide

They were there for hours that hot summer day and I know because I was there for hours, too, walking through the greenery by the Field Museum and the south parking lot. I saw people begging for spare tickets holding up signs reading “I need a miracle.” I saw people in dirty khakis sitting on the grass playing acoustic guitars and selling everything from bottled water to jerk chicken burritos, from jewelry to bowls. I saw tailgaters who gave anyone who liked their little set-up a free beer. I saw elementary school girls bravely dressed in teddy bear costumes. I saw more tie-dye and vintage T-shirts (not thrift store vintage but owned and lived in for years, cherished vintage) then I’ll ever see in one place again.

It was the largest audience in the history of Soldier Field – 71,000 people – and they had gathered to see history that was not just Chicago’s but America’s. They came to see the last performance of the Grateful Dead.

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Mr. Rostan at the Movies: Restoration Dramas, or, Ten Picks for the Gene Siskel Film Center’s “Recently Restored” Festival

Andrew Rostan was a film student before he realized that making comics was his horrible destiny, and he’s never shaken his love of cinema. Every two weeks, he’ll opine on current pictures or important movies from the past.

master

If the rest of the summer film season offers nothing that looks like it could match Fury Road and Inside Out, then the Gene Siskel Film Center at State and Randolph is here to help, with a festival whose calendar made me pant with excitement. The Recently Restored series, running from July 3 (or today) to August 16, showcases films from around the world, carefully returned to how both their original audiences saw them (in the finest picture and sound quality) and as their makers intended them to be seen (with the return of cut, damaged, or previously lost footage). It is a wonderful opportunity to see intriguing pictures you’ve never heard of before or check some masterpieces off your list.

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J&STAC: The Autumnlands, volume 1

-J. Michael Bestul is a writer for the Addison Recorder. Stephanie Ruehl is an artist who works in a comic book shop. They’re married and have a lot of discussions about comic books and graphic novels. Combine all that into a biweekly feature and you get “J. & Steph Talk About Comics.”

AutumnlandsTPB1-2x3-300When the first issue came out last fall, the series was titled Tooth & Claw. Today sees the release of the first trade collection of the series under its new name, The Autumnlands vol. 1: Tooth and Claw, and it’s an action-packed book that blends fantasy and sci-fi in a world of animals.

The Autumnlands, volume 1: Tooth and Claw

words by Kurt Busiek, art by Benjamin Dewey, published by Image Comics 

Synopsis: In a world of anthropomorphic animals and floating cities, the one form of true currency and power — magic — is fading. In a last ditch effort to resurrect it, Gharta the wizard works a massive spell to bring forth the Great Champion in the hope that he will restore their magic to what it once was.

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Mr. Rostan at the Movies: “Inside Out” and Pixar’s Ambitions

Andrew Rostan was a film student before he realized that making comics was his horrible destiny, but he’s never shaken his love of cinema. Every two weeks, he’ll opine on current pictures or important movies from the past.

Inside Out

One of the most indelible memories of childhood moviegoing was twenty years ago, watching a cartoon the likes of which I had never seen before called Toy Story. Since that day in 1995, Pixar has given the world a gift of extraordinary all-ages films from studio chief John Lasseter, Brad Bird, Pete Docter, Andrew Stanton, and others that have redefined both the style and substance of modern filmmaking. However, Pixar post-2010 has fallen into a rut, mostly producing films of lesser quality. Inside Out, the new feature from Docter (who also helmed Monsters, Inc. and Up), is a sign that this trend is about to change.

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the Fifth Line: Second City Triumphant

When shall we three meet again?
In thunder, lightning, or in rain?
Macbeth, Act I, Scene I

Those were the exact words I thought as we skipped down Addison Street the moment Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final concluded. Two years ago, a trio of us celebrated the Blackhawks’ second Stanley Cup win this decade by running down to Wrigley Field to celebrate. Monday night, we re-enacted that ritual for Cup #3.

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We even happened upon the Recorder’s editor-in-chief, already celebrating (despite the fact that he’s wild for the Wild).

Monday was a day of hurly-burly in Chicago. Tornado warnings blanketed the city and its suburbs, sirens blared as rain pelted the area, flooding side streets and major thoroughfares alike. Amidst the meteorological chaos was the excitement and hope for Chicago sports fans: our team had a chance to clinch the Cup on ice for the first time in almost a century.

Oh, and the team they were facing seemed way too apropos for the weather. Amidst the raging storms, the Blackhawks strove to defeat the Lightning — the fates were asking for the purplest of prose. The perfect encapsulation of Chicago’s excitement could be found in the channeling of Snoopy / World Famous Author.

Since the Fifth Line is hanging up the skates until the start of next season, permit me this victory lap around the rink before I do. [Read more…]