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Dwight Casimere

Stories by Dwight

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CHICAGO FILM FESTIVAL CLOSING NIGHT: THE FRONT RUNNER

Director Jason Reitman (Tully, Young Adult, Up In The Air) brings forth a cinematically sweeping indictment of the American political process in The Front Runner, starring Oscar nominee Hugh Jackman as the ill-fated, but charismatic candidate. In a screenplay co-writtem by the director, the film unreels with the pacing of a Hitchcock thriller, the dramatic rise and fall of the Colorado Senator who, for one brief moment, captured the imagination of young, idealistic potential voters. There are some terrific performances throughout, not to mention the atmospheric cinematography of Eric Steelberg.

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TRANSIT FROM GERMAN ART FILM MASTER CHRISTIAN PETZOID IN U.S. PREMIERE

German art film genius Christian Petzold who brought us the Holocaust survivor drama Phoenix in 2014 takes a time-shifting look at Nazi occupattion in TRANSIT, based on the 1942 book Transit Visa by Anna Segher. Georg (Franz Rogowski) is a burned out refugee who escaped from two concentration camps and finds himself in Nazi occupied France on the trail of a mysterious dissident writer. A friend on the run gives him some letters to deliver to the writer, who is living in exile in a fleabag hotel somewhere in northern France. Instead of making the connection, he finds that the writer has committed suicide n the most horrific way. He assumes the dead man's identity and learns that he is suddenly in possession of the much needed papers for transport out of the hellish occupied territories. Armed with newly doctored transit papers, oodles of cash and guaranteed safe passage on a ship bound for Mexico and a new life. Hence the name of the film. An off-camera narrator, who turns out to be the bartender Barmann (Matthias Brandt) at the local bistro where the protagonists often meet, intones how Georg quietly celebrates by eating a solitary Margarita pizza and sipping Rose wine.

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NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL CENTERPIECE ROMA DIRECTED BY ALFONSO CAURON

Filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron brings the quiet, but emotionally powerful film ROMA to the big screen as a Centerpiece of the Main Slate presentations at the 56th New York Film Festival. The joint Mexico/USA Netflix production is also screening as a Gala Presentation at the Chicago International Film Festival. Cuaron is a highly accomplished director. Born and raised in Mexico City, he started filming everything that moved beginning at age 12. As a multi-talented film director who has done everything from writing, editing, photographing and producing films. He has won multiple awards on several continents, including two Academy Awards in 2013 for the space disaster drama Gravity for Best Achievement in Directing, and Best Achievement in Film Editing, which he shared with fellow Gravity Editor Mark Sanger.

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MARIA BY CALLAS DOCUMENTARY TAKES A MULTI-FACETED LOOK AT A COMPLEX PERFORMANCE GENIUS

Maria by Callas, directed by Tom Volf, takes a probing look art the legendary opera diva, mostly in her own words. Composited from on camera film and tv interviews and audio interviews, archival footage of her opera performances, tabloid newspaper and magazine coverage and old newsreel footage, the film examines the complex life and personality of a true star who has been mythologized perhaps more than any other star, living or dead. A televised interview with 'TV host David Frost, is a recurring thread throughout the film, as his probative questioning is most effective in peeling back the veneer of theatrical "maquilage" to reveal the person beneath the image.

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New York Philharmonic Explores Modern Music from Andriessen, Stravinsky and Debussy

The New York Philharmonic's regular subscription concerts of Oct 4-6 were a careful study of modern serious music, traversing several generations. The music spoke to the distinctive styles and references of each composer but conveyed a singular property of depth and imagination. Music Director and Conductor Jaap van Zweden is showing his vast understanding of contemporary music and its relationship to the works of past composers. The opening work by Dutch composer Louis Andriessen, who was present at the concerts, grew out of his idea to create, in his words, a "war-like piece, full of fast music and nervous terror." The music is constructed like a tone poem, with sections telling the story of Agamemnon, whom Andriessen likens to a pragmatic hero, rather than the villain he is normally portrayed as. Instead, he musically portrays him as "an inspiring leader who's originally reluctant to go to war." Andriessen's music utilizes some lovely stretches of music for the Philharmonic's superb brass section, interspersed with energetic, stylized percussive music echoeing strains of jazz, rock and funk, interrupted by some truly lovely stretches of woodwinds and long, elegant lines for strings. The work brought the audience to its feet and van Zweden invited the composer onstage for a well-deserved bow.

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MET OPERA LA BOHEME A PRE-HOLIDAY TREAT

ANGEL BLUE STARS AS MUSETTA AFTER MAKING HER ROLE DEBUT AT THE MET IN THE 2017-18 SEASON IN T HE LEAD ROLE OF MIMI

Reviewed at the Season Premiere Sept. 4 La Boheme is a timeless story of young love among struggling artists that rings just as true today as it did when it debuted at the Teatro Regio in Turin, Italy in 1896. Puccini's classic has even been transposed to modern times, with the Broadway musical Rent which made history in 1996 as the first musical to win both a Tony and a Pulitzer Prize for drama. Its not surprising that the house was sold out for every performance of the opera that I attended at the Met this season. Its my absolute favorite opera, so I saw it at every opportunity. Much credit for the success of this year's season's Revival Production can be laid at the feet of Nicole Car as Mimi and Vittorio Grigolo as Rodolfo. The radiant duet, sung in the First Act, is the scene that anchors the opera. In it, they declare their love for each other. Standing in the cold artist's garret where Rodolfo lives with his ragtag group of struggling artists, the poignance of their plaintive expressions is palpable. Even after hearing the same duet in countless pairings over the years, their performance still tugs at the heart.

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MET OPERA LIVE HD-LA FANCIULLA DEL WEST (GIRL OF THE GOLDEN WEST) SAT. OCT. 27 1PM ET

Reviewed at the Season Premiere Oct. 4

Solid singing performances propel an otherwise rather staid production of Puccini's single opera set in America's Old West, La Fanciulla del West (Girl of the Golden West). Giancarlo del Monaco's 1991 sets, depicting a Gold Rush-era town in the Sierra Foothills in 1849-50 and the cluttered staging of the supporting cast and chorus is beginning to look a bit long in the tooth.

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56TH NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL SPECIAL EVENT-ORSON WELLE'S THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND

SILENT MASTERPIECE IS DEBUTED AFTER NEARLY 50 YEARS

The air was full of great expectation at the 56th Annual New York Film Festival, and every time Orson Welles’ name was mentioned or his credit rolled across the screen he received a thunderous applause as if Jesus himself had come down off the cross. Unfortunately “The Other Side of the Wind,” was none of that. Ten minutes into the film that was cut so fast, with the camera darting in and out of scenes so that one could not keep up, one knew it was substantially less than the hype. And, for about two more hours it kept on disappointing.

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56TH NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL IN HISTORIC MAIN SLATE EVENT: JAMES' BALDWIN'S IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK FOR THE FIRST TIME IN ITS HISTORY NYFF HOLDS A FILM DEBUT IN HARLEM, JAMES BALDWIN'S HOME

Barry Jenkins, who created the expressively beautiful “Moonlight,” that was awarded the 2016 Oscar for Best Picture, has done it again! “If Beale Street Could Talk,” set in early 1970s Harlem, is telling a bigger story conceived by an iconic writer, James Baldwin, whose novel of the same name this film is adapted. Jenkins cinematically captures Baldwin’s lilting prose and biting commentary about race and the American criminal justice system. The racial despair of this story still resonates today and were the actors not coiffed in Afros and the men wearing side burns and vintage Italian knit shirts, it would have been easy to believe the film depicts the “Black Lives Matter” reality of today.

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Wine of the Week: Cotes du Rhone Wines – The Art of Wine

The confluence of wine and art was affirmed in the presentation of wines from the Rhone Valley in France at Art Space 8 on Chicago's Magnificent Mile. Master Sommelier Laura Maniec, wine educator and owner of the CorkBuzz wine studios in Union Square and Chelsea Market in New York was the presenter. Subtly rich, diverse with pronounced fruit flavors kissed by the sun, the wines are a perfect expression of Mediterranean warmth and beauty. Rhone Valley wine is shaped by its terroir. In summer, the Rhone Valley is hot and dry.

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Chicago Film Festival: Watergate exhumes the Presidential Sins of the Past

Viewed at both the 56th New York Film Festival and the 54th Chicago International Film Festival

Long before the OJ trial dominated public attention and the airwaves with an unfolding real-life drama, there was Watergate. With all acumen of a skill criminal investigator, Director and Screenwriter Charles Ferguson exhumes the Watergate case and examines it with meticulous forensic detail that plays out like a tightly wound Hitchcock suspense drama. What began as a bottomo-basement burglary blossoms into a Constitutional crisis right before our eyes. Ferguson takes viewers from the Watergate break-in of Democratic headquarters in 1972, through the explosive Senate committee hearings that played out on national TV to Nixon's final resignation. The director uses on camera interviews from key players like former Washington Post reporters Woodward and Bernstein, Pat Buchanan., the late Sen. John McCain and John Dean to less familiar voices that have been buried in the time capsule of history such as Daniel Ellsberg, Morton Halperin,William Ruckelshaus, and Elizabeth Holtzman, Archival footage along with news clips and reenactments using spot-on actor characterizations combined to create a spin-chilling saga.

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Chicago Film Festival Gala Presentation Steve McQueen's Widows

Viola Davis and Liam Neeson lead Steve McQueen's new big screen effort, Widows, from Twentieth Century Fox, in which Chicago is as much an on-screen player as the superb cast. Winner of the 2013 Oscar for Best Picture with 12 Years A Slave and the Festival's 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award honoree, McQueen brings forth a slick, fast-paced thriller in which a big money heist is set against the backdrop of Chicago political corruption. In a nod to #MeToo, the deed is carried out by a crew of vengeful women led by the Oscar, Tony, Emmy and Festival Lifetime Achievement Award- winning actress, who also stars in ABC's How to Get Away with Murder.

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Black Perspectives: The Hate U Give at Chicago International Film Festival

The Hate U Give is a superb social drama ripped right from today's headlines. Chicago-bred and Columbia minted Black Film Award- winning director George Tillman Jr., who created the Soul Food franchise, and directed Men of Honor and the Barber Shop trilogy vividly brings the story of Starr Carter to the screen who is torn by her efforts to reconcile "straight-out-of-Compton" existence with the all-white prep school her reformed thug father (an arresting performance by Russell Hornsby, trying desperately to create a better life for his children.

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Chicago International Film Festival Opening Night: Beautiful Boy

Steve Carell stars in this emotionally fatiguing family drama about the devastating effects of teenaged meth-amphetamine and prescription drug addiction on a family. The condition has been declared a national epidemic. Based on the dual biographies of a father and son, David Sheff, played exquisitely by Carell and Nic Sheff, played with searing authenticity by Timothy Chalamet, the film is expertly brought to the screen by Oscar nominated Belgian director Felix van Groeningen, who also co-wrote the screenplay. Cinematographer Ruben Impens and Production Designer Ethan Tobman deftly create the cozy fog and Redwood enshrouded world of the Sheff's in the Bolinas/Marin County world of the Sheffs in the San Francisco Bay area that is shattered to pieces by the boy's raging addictions. Carell plays a freelance writer whose managed to eke out a rather comfy existence for his family, which is held together with a lot of love and heartbreak in spite of a contentious divorce.

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Wine of the Week

Poggi del Sasso, Grosetto, Italy--Move over Brunello di Montalcino and Chianti Classico, there's a new star in Tuscany, Italy's most celebrated wine region. It’s Montecucco, a new wine region in Southern Tuscany that just made DOCG (Controlled and Guaranteed Designation of Origin), Italy's highest wine classification. Bordering on the famous DOCG of Brunello di Montalcino, on the far side of the Maremma, it is one of the region's most dramatically beautiful areas with its vineyards nestled in the shadow of the ancient and extinct volcano Mt. Amiata, which protects the vines.

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MET OPERA SEASON OPENING SAMSON ET DALILA A MIXED BLESSING

With a glitzy new production by a Broadway, Tony Award-winning team, and the star power of opera's most celebrated onstage couple, the Metropolitan Opera opened its 2018-19 Season with Camille Saint-Saens's Samson Et Dalila. Tenor Roberto Alagna fighting a developing cold and his made-in-heaven stage partner , the beauteous Elina Garanca, brought new life to the Metropolitan Opera's 228th performance of the biblical epic. With a glitzy new production by Tony Award winning director Darko Tresnjak (2014 Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Award for A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder and 2015 Obie Award for The Killer) in his Met debut, and sets by Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle multiple nominee, Set Designer Alexander Dodge, also in his Met debut (Broadway-A Gentlemen's Guide, Anastasia, Present Laughter, Hedda Gabler. Opera-Dinner at Eight, Cosi fan tutti at Minnesota Opera), costumes by Tony winner Linda Cho (A Gentlemen's Guide), lighting design by Tony-nominated Lighting Designer Donald Holder (South Pacific, the Lion King) and choreography by Company XIV founder and Met Veteran (Rusalka, 2017 Met debut), Austin McCormick, this is one of the Met's most memorable season opening productions. Tenor Roberto Alagna seemed to be fighting an impending cold, which prevented him from putting the full luster and power of his voice into his most heartfelt arias, but the emotional fireworks between he and his Dalila, Elina Garanca, were palpable. There is no more sensuous duet than the rapturous love song between Samson and Dalila in Act II. The orgy scene, with barely clad dancers choreographed by McCormick was more like something off the Wintergreen stage than the Met, but it really spiced things up in the third act. Love those heady Philistines!

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MET LIVE HD: AIDA -ENCORE PRESENTATION WEDS OCT 10 6:30PM

Met Opera's newest box office darling Anna Netrebko is stunning in her Met Opera debut as the long suffering Ethiopian princess Aida in the title role of Giuseppe Verdi's epic masterpiece now on the Metropolitan Opera stage through March 7 and in a MetLiveHD Encore presentation Weds Oct. 10 at 1pm and 6:30pm in selected movie theaters nationwide. Check your local listings or visit metopera.prg or fathom events.com for theatre locations and tickets. Mezzo soprano Anita Rachvelishvili is ravishingly cruel as her nemesis Amneris, who is both Aida's slave mistress and rival for the affections of Radames, sung with faltering discomfort by Met go-to veteran Aleksandrs Antonenko (Calaf in Turandot, Otello, Don Jose in Carmen, Pollione in Norma, Grigoy in Boris Godunov, you get the idea). Antonenko wasn't having his best night at the Met performance of Saturday, September 29, which is reviewed here. He was obviously suffering from a bad head cold which caused him to miss all of the high notes. Especially in the grueling Celeste Aida aria right at the beginning of Act I which portended the perils ahead. Antonenko hit the final crescendo with a croak that rattled right through your teeth, even in the upper reaches of Dress Circle. It didn't get any better as the night progressed. His cold must have affected his hearing as well, because Antonenko lagged far behind his fellow singers in the ensembles, like a runner with a torn hamstring in the New York Marathon.

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New York Film Festival Opening Night Film The Favourite A Dark Comedy

Emma Stone stars in a deliciously dark comedy on 18th century royalty in the court of Queen Anne that looks beyond the pomp and circumstance to reveal a world of sexually charged intrigue. Stone plays a fallen-from-grace noble woman who finds herself a servant in the royal house, first to Sarah Churchill, the Duchess of Marlborough, played with measured cruelty by Rachel Weisz, then to Queen Anne herself, in a brilliant character display by Olivia Colman.

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Wine of the Week – Castello Del Poggio sparkling Moscato - $14

Piedmont is home to some of Italy's most sought after wines. That is precisely the home of Castello Del Poggio Sparkling Moscato ($14), part of their portfolio of refreshing, low alcohol wines that make up their Sweet Collection. The wine has just the right amount of sweetness to appeal to the tastes of a new generation of wine drinkers who like to be adventurous with the choice of foods they eat; lighter, spicier, exotic fare, that embraces the redolent flavors of Thailand, India and the Mediterranean.

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Goodman Theatre: We’re Only Alive for a short Amount of Time

The World Premiere of Obie Award winning dramatist David Cale's We're Only Alive for A Short Amount of Time is an exuberant celebration of life using an experience-based stream-of-consciousness monologue and orchestration from on on-stage chamber ensemble that recreates a psychological journey from a troubled childhood, in the outskirts of London, fraught with obstacles, to a mature life of creative energy and self-worth. Recounting a life that began with a hardscrabble existence amidst a dysfunctional family, in which he gives voice to all of the players, Cale seamlessly weaves together personal narrative with song that is more like a vocalese extension of the monologue than traditionally structured songs. The music, composed by Cale and Matthew Dean Marsh and arranged by Marsh features a quintet of trumpet (Jered Montgomery), clarinet (Anna Najoom), harp (Michelle Campbell, cello (Desiree Miller) viola (David Belden) and Marsh at the piano. The quintet is visible onstage throughout the performance and is interwoven into the continuous 90 minute performance, at times serving as background score, an echoing Greek chorus, and occasional solo voice, emphasizing key dramatic moments in the narrative.

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Wine of the Week: Villa Sandi ll Fresco Proscecco - $15

TREVISO, ITALY--Prosecco, once considered the stepchild of Champagne, has truly come into its own. It is the sparkling beverage of choice among millennials and is now the widest selling sparkling wine in the world. This golden gift from northeastern Italy, is fueled by the shifting tastes of wine lovers and gastronomes alike. Spicier, lighter international cuisines with lighter staples, such as seafood, various rices and pastas and an ever-widening array of produce and charcuterie has increased demand for the light, refreshing taste of Prosecco. Who would have thought that kale would become as common on the plate as iceberg lettuce once was, or that dishes such as sautéed squid linguine with black ink sauce would become as ordinary as Fettuccine Alfredo.

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Wine of the Week: Old and new barrel aging techniques combined to create California Zin blend

1000 Story California Blend 2015/2016 Zinfandel Bourbon Barrel Aged-$19

In the early days of California wine, vintners employed used Bourbon barrels in their winemaking. French oak was nearly unheard of and American oak, well, that was used strictly for making whiskey. Enter the modern day of California winemaking and men such as Mike Grgich and Robert Mondavi, who happily employed French winemaking techniques and expensive French oak barrels in their winemaking, to achieve stunning results. They created wines so magnificent that California wine was put on the map at the Paris winemaking competition in 1974. And the rest, as thy say, is history.

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Wine of the Week: The Trip to Bountiful – HALL Winery Napa Valley

St. Helena, NAPA Valley, Ca. - Thursday, September 13 is a landmark day in Chicago wine history. That is when Kathryn Hall, owner of HALL Family Winery will visit the Windy City to host a tasting event of her new releases. The kathryn Hall Release Party will be held at the W Hotel, City Center, 172 W. Adams in downtown Chicago from 7 to 9:30pm.In addition, Katherine Hall herself will be leading a pre-event vertical tasting of her signature Cabernet Sauvignon. Tickets to the public are available on Eventbrite. The esteemed wine critic Robert Parker has recently singled out HALL’s wines as among the best that the Napa Valley has to offer. He referenced the wine in recent reviews as reflecting "the Art of Cabernet Sauvignon" winemaking. A personal visit to the HALL Winery tasting room along Highway 29 in the heart of the Napa Valley only confirmed that high praise.

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Serena Williams Breezes Past Venus

Flushing, NY--If Serena William's victory over her sister in last week's match at the US Open, she is well on her way to her 10th straight US Open quarterfinal. That fact was confirmed by her defeat of Estonian Kaia Kanepi on Sunday. Kanji knocked over No.1 seed Simona Halep in the first round. She will next face Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic, who was the last player to beat her at the U.S. Open in the semifinals in 2016. What was expected to be a Battle Royale turned out to be nothing more than a tepid tennis clinic, in which Serena showed off her superlative serve toss and ability rack up multiple aces. The only hint at drama was a turned ankle after the first set, that seemed to do little to dampen her capabilities. Venus rocketed the occasional shot past Serena to just inside the baseline, just to let her know she's still the big sister.

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Wine of the Week: Raimat Family Vineyards Rosada Rose 2017 – Organic wine from Spain $16.

One of the great bargains of the season is Raimat Family Vineyards Rosada Rose 2017. It's a dry organic wine from Spain that sells for only $16.80 a bottle. The wine is a light-bodied blend of two red grapes that have been crushed with only minimal skin contact to create a delightfully delicate pink color. 55% Cabernet Sauvignon and 45% native Tempranillo is the blend and with a relatively low 12% alcohol content, it has achieved that perfect balance of fresh fruit flavor; think ripe raspberries and hints of lime and tangerine notes that give it just the right amount of tingle on the palate. This is a great wine for summer salads and seafood.

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Wine of the Week-4 Anna De Codorniu Brut Rose-$16.97

The name Codorniu is legendary in the realm of Spanish Cavas, which is their version of Champagne. Codorniu is Spain's oldest and largest producer and the wines, produced in the authentic Methode Traditoonalle, are among the finest. So comes the appealingly packaged Anna De Codorniu Brut Rose, moderately priced at $16.97. This delightful pink sparkler is a blend of 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay.

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Wine of the Week: Department 66 Fragile Rose 2017 - $18

From the historic wine growing region of Maury, France, nestled high in the Pyrenees-Orientales Mountains, an area known as France's Department number 66, comes Fragile Rose 2017 ($18). Maury is a village that is legendary for its legacy of growing grapes. Locals drink a succulent bright salmon-pink colored wine made with a blend of old vine grenache, syrah, mouvedre and carignan, all rustic old grape varieties that are native to the region. The rich, multi colored soils of black schist and red clay angle on steep hillsides revealing striking shades of black, gray and Orange. That, combined with the region's warm climates and blustery winds, makes for one of the most compelling wine producing regions in all of Southern France.

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Final Day Newport Jazz Festival

Artemis, the all-female musical ensemble led by brilliant pianist and composer Renee Rosnes featured Melissa Aldana on Saxophone, Anat Cohen, clarinet and reeds, Noriko Ueda, Bass, Ingrid Jensen, trumpet and Allison Miller on explosive percussion electrified the Newport Jazz Festival's final day. The icing on this all-female celebratory cake was a vocally superlative Cecile McLorin Salvant, who proved with her artful phrasing and towering jazz vocal improvisations, that the human voice is just as potent a musical instrument as any of those assembled onstage. The group's collective effort on Monk's Brilliant Corners, set the tone for the performance under blazingly beautiful summer skies, with the ambiance of boats in the harbor serving as the backdrop to a delightfully swaying capacity crowd. Savant, looking slim and lovely in a simple white summer linen dress, laid claim to her own musical legacy, with a tribute to Billie Holiday, singing Fine and Mellow, a simile that can easily be applied to Ms. Salvant. Artemis similarly gave musical flight with takes on the Beatles (Fool On The Hill) and an appropriately innovative take on Stevie Wonder's If It's Magic, creating a musical alchemy all their own.

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Day Two 2018 Newport Jazz Festival-Stars, Fans Battle Inclement Weather

The 2018 Newport Jazz Festival's second day of stormy weather did little to dampen audience enthusiasm or the talents of the brilliant performers on multiple stages at the festival on the isle of Fort Adams. Pat Methany returned to perform the next day on the main Fort Stage in driving rain, yet he delivered an electrifying set that rivaled the hurricane level wind and rain with his intensity. Vocalist and saxophonist Grace Kelly kept things moving swimmingly (pardon the pun) in the shelter of the Quad stage, paying musical tribute to festival Artistic Director Christian McBride in a stunning display of vocalize and launching into her own uniquely refreshing brand of jazz fusion which she proclaimed was inspired by a film on female superheroes. Musically, she can claim the same encomium for herself.

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Wine of the Week: Zonin Cuvee 1821 Prosecco D.O.C. $31.97

Zonin Cuvee 1821 Prosecco DOC is the benchmark for great Prosecco. This is one of the highest rated Italian sparkling wines that I've written about this year, and one glass tells you why. It has all of the hallmarks; a delightful pale straw color, persistent pearlage (that steady stream of tiny white bubbles that ascends from the bottom of the glass) a nice foam, and a creamy feel in the mouth with flavors of lemon and lime peel and a hint of peach stones and a just a little bit of mineral taste to give it some backbone.

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Part One of Three-2018 Newport Jazz Festival Honors established Legends and Rising Stars

Like a painter digging deep into his palette of oils and water colors, newly-appointed Artistic Director Christian McBride extracted a 2018 Newport Jazz Festival program that showcased the full depth and breadth of the musical genre in a kaleidoscope of colors. Legendary lions bellowed from the caverns of time; the guitar great Pat Metheny on Opening Night at the International Tennis Hall of Fame, site of the original festival in 1954, and Charles Lloyd, celebrating his 80th birthday in a trio of settings, and rising stars such as teen wunderkind Matthew Whitaker and the scintillating baritone Jose James streamed across the Newport Bay sky like so many multi-colored musical fireworks. This was no artifice, but the referencing of a skilled hand presenting a weekend calendar of artists designed to please both the seasoned aficionado and the jazz neophyte alike.

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2018 Newport Jazz Festival Opening Night; Jose James Honors Bill Withers

OPENING NIGHT 2018 NEWPORT JAZZ FESTIVAL AN ECLECTIC MIX

At Opening Night of the 2018 Newport Jazz Festival, the esteemed young baritone Jose James appeared inexplicably in a retro getup reminiscent of either Jimi Hendrix or Prince. The unfathomable wardrobe reference appeared to have little to do with the subject of his concert, a musical tribute to composer and singing artist Bill Withers. It was particularly baffling since through his entire career as a performer, Withers eschewed any trappings of the popular recording industry. In fact, his memorable, quietly soulful hits (Grandma's Hands, Hello, Like Before, among many) were, by design the very antithesis of the commercial pop/funk/soul that dominated the music scene at the height of his career.

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Wine of the Week – Dry Creek Sonoma Old Vines Zinfandel 2015-$28.98

A bold, beautiful wine, full of rich red fruit flavors of blackberries, dark plums, dried oregano, and cracked pepper with hints of dark unsweetened cocoa on the finish, this is the perfect wine to go with a well-aged Cowboy Rib Eye steak, right off the grill or a slab of Baby Back Ribs in a dark molasses sauce. The wine has a dark ruby-red color that is appealing.

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Wine of the Week -9Lives Reserve 2017 Sauvignon Blanc, San Pedro - $12.95

Argentina is quickly gaining recognition as one of the most important wine growing regions in the world. Its historic development and cultivation of Europe's most recognized and prized grapes and its nurturing of its own indigenous varieties has only increased its appeal. Add to that the country's ideal growing conditions, from high elevation vineyards in the foothills of the Andes Mountains, to valleys in the shadow of Mount Aconcagua. Some vineyards are planted at some of the highest altitudes in the world. Malbec is the country's most important planting, followed by Cabernet, Tempranillo and Chardonnay. Coming up close behind is Sauvignon Blanc. Increased demand and appreciation for white wine varietals has boosted the world's appreciation for this white grape. With its bright lemon and citrus flavors and hints of herbs, like tarragon, oregano and thyme, the grape and its resulting wines have subtle complexity that makes it ideal for spicy foods, fusion dishes and international cuisine so popular among millennials. Everyone is looking for versatility and Sauvignon Blanc delivers on all counts.

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110th Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac marred by bad weather, man lost at sea

Choppy seas and sloppy weather conditions marred the start of the Chicago Yacht Club 110th Race to Mackinac, considered the nation's premiere yachting event. Further, a man lost at sea following a report of a man overboard, on the race boat, Imedi, in the Turbo section, considered the largest and fastest of the 306 boats in the race, resulted in 39 boats returning to the Chicago Yacht Club, ending their race participation. The missing sailor has been identified as 53 year old Jon Santarelli of Lincoln Park.

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GAUGUIN: VOYAGE TO TAHITI, JULY 20 IN LIMITED ENGAGEMENT AT GENE SISKEL FILM CENTER CHICAGO

Edouard Deluc's exquisite film Gauguin: Journey to Tahiti is in limited engagement beginning Friday July 20 at The Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago's Loop. A fictionalized account of the tortured genius's phenomenal life, the film recounts his eschewing of the life of 1890s Bourgeois Paris and its contrasting Bohemian culture, Abandoning his wife and five children in Paris, he ventures to Tahiti. Vincent Cassel, with his deep set eyes and craggy face of lines dug in like the wood block etchings Gauguin created to depict his magical new world, gives life and breath to the artist's angst and brief moments of exquisite joy . Deluc's deft directing and sweeping panoramic lens captures the all -encompassing glory of this strange new world of Tahiti and its mystical mountains, hills, and valleys. Tuhei Adam's is luminous as the artist's common law wife Tehura.

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Stacy Keach is Ernest Hemingway in Goodman Theatre’s Pamplona

The esteemed television, stage and film giant Stacy Keach's onstage transformation into that giant of the literary world, Ernest Hemingway, in Goodman Theatre's World Premiere production of Jim McGrath's play Pamplona, directed by Goodman Artistic Director Robert Falls, is a miracle to behold. Originally scheduled for last spring's season, Keach had to bow out following 11 preview performances after suffering an onstage seizure on opening night. Those who attended this season's opening were richly rewarded for their wait, for Keach delivered a performance of monumental proportion. The play takes place with Keach pacing the confines of a rundown hotel room in Pamploina Spain like a caged animal, in a set crafted with creative genius by Set Designer Kevin Depinet. Faced with a looming deadline to write a magazine article on a duel between two famous bullfighters, Hemingway is facing the twin demons of writer's block and deep personal depression. Just a few years on the heels of winning the Nobel Prize for Literature, the famous writer finds himself at a dead end. Fighting desperately to get past the opening line of his article, writing and re-writing the words until they almost become a mantra to failure. The bullfight becomes a metaphor to Hemingway's deepening dilemma.

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Wine of the Week – 9 lives Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, San Pedro - $12.95

This wine has the nine lives of a cat! Direct from Chile's Central Valley comes 9 Lives Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, San Pedro 2016 at a phenomenal price of $12.95. Extreme versatility is its signature feature with bold fruit flavors of ripe berries, Black Figs and hints of vanilla and baking spices from careful oak aging.

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Wine of the Week – Antonelli Montefalco Sagrantino 2012 -$40

Treat yourself this summer to one of the truly great wines of Montefalco, made exclusively from Sagrantino grapes, Antonelli Montefalco Sagrantino 2012-$40. This is a powerful wine with rich, complex flavors of wild berries and aromatic herbs with hints of mint and oregano and a surprising splash of tart citrus. The complexity and structure along with persistent tannins make it perfect for steak or ribs done on the grill, game meat, like venison or wild boar, roast pig, or a fatty grilled fish like grouper or salmon and, of course, a board of well-aged cheeses. One of my favorite summertime dishes on the grill is skewered steak cubes made with ti-tip or top sirloin alternated with cubes of onion and alternating slices of red and green pepper. Brush with an oregano and balsamic glaze when it’s right off the grill for added flavor. Serve with a side of Orzo tossed with light olive oil, Basil and Fontina cheese.

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Wine of the Week – Perticaia Montefalco Rosso D.O.C. 2014 $24.00

Summer is here and the most likely gathering place is at the backyard grill or on the patio's outdoor kitchen. Popping corks of chilled bubbly or sparkling rose are typically the order of the day, but I'd like to share a little secret with you. A lightly chilled glass of red wine from Italy's least recognized regional star, Umbria, is the perfect pairing with grilled meats. Umbria has lived in the shadow of its more famous regional neighbor, Tuscany, for many decades, but thanks to the dedication of local producers, such as Arnaldo Caprai, Umbria and its sub-region, Montefalco, in particular, are quickly gaining in both stature and popularity.

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Wine of the Week – 1000 Stories Gold Rush Red 2016 - $19.99

Share the big, bold spirit of the California Gold Rush in this seasonal wine that is just for summer. 100 Stories Gold Rush Red 2016 is under $20 (listed at $19.99-it's also been selling online for as low as $15.99), the wine is made from grapes selected from the finest hill and valley vineyards of the Golden State, blended and then aged in new and old Bourbon Barrels to give a unique, robust flavor to a wine that is already bursting with big jammy flavors of ripe fruit, candied dark cherries, cinnamon sticks and hints of ripe peppercorns. Get the grill smoking with copious amounts of Applewood or pecan wood and toss a marinated skirt steak over the coals for just a couple of minutes on each side while you savor the first sips of this expressive wine that summons up all the courage and boldness of the California Gold Rush. Fajitas with all the fixin's is my first choice for a meal, but buy an extra bottle for sippin' with some flavorful cheese like Humboldt Fog or Danish Blue or a nice chunk of Stilton.

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Goodman Theatre: Father Comes Home From The Wars

Pulitzer Prize winner Suzan-Lori Park's Father Comes Home From the Wars (Parts 1, 2, and 3) clocks in at a whopping 3 hours and 15 minutes (including two 10-15 minute intermissions), but audiences will find themselves preening their ears to hear every word, with unwavering attention. The play tells the story of Hero, a Texas slave during the time of the Civil War (played with resounding conviction by Chicago theatrical favorite Kamal Angelo Bolden (Court Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Victory Gardens, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre), who is faced with a dilemma; join his master as his servant during the Confederate army with the (alleged) promise of freedom, or stay behind as a slave on the plantation. Not much is said in the history books about the role of slaves who served on the side of the Confederacy, but it is a fact that many were brought into the war by slave holders, some as man servants to their masters and others who fought willingly and vigorously, many with promise of freedom once the war was over.

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Goodman Theatre-Having Our Say through June 2

Goodman Theatre veteran Resident Director Chuck Smith's revival of Emily Mann's Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years, is the triumph of the Chicago theatrical season. The play, starring Ella Joyce (Goodman's Jeff Award-winning Crumbs from the Table of Joy) as Bessie. and Marie Thomas (Broadway's Don't Bother Me I Can't Cope, TVs L.A.Law, Amen, Knots Landing) as Sadie, is an historical time-travelogue, narrated by the two sisters who speak to the audience from a magical set by 30 year Goodman veteran Set Designer Linda Buchanan. It recreates the living room and kitchen of the Delaney's Mount Vernon, N.Y. home. The back story of how they managed to purchase the home in 1957 in the then-segregated lily-white suburb is one of the play's many narrational gems. Goodman's veteran Costume Designer Birgit Rattenborg Wise also deserves praise for her spot-on designs as does the creative work of Lighting Designer John Culbert and Sound Designer Ray Nardelli. The artful use of historic photographs projected on screens above and around the stage, by Projection Designer Mike Tutaj, further enhances and advances the story-telling.

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In Praise of Greek Wine-Greek Wine Producers In U.S. Tour with New summer Wines

For Greece to be one of the oldest wine producing regions in the world and the first to introduce wine and winemaking to most of Europe, it is mind-boggling how little today's wine drinking public is familiar with wines from that country. Perhaps the popularity of Retsina, a saccharin-sweet wine that became the national beverage of Greece in the 1960s, cemented the perceptions of Greek wines in the public mind. It has been an uphill effort ever since to reshape the image of Greek wines as being those of unique character and exceptional quality. Greek wines have their own distinct flavor profile and are made from indigenous grapes with names unfamiliar to most wine lovers; Assyrtiko, Roditis, Malagousia, Debina, Moschofilero, Robola, Savatiano, Lagorthi to name but a few of the hundreds of locally grown grape varieties that comprise the universe of Greek Wine. Currently, several groups of winemakers from all of t he Greek wine growing regions are touring the United States, conducting tastings at venues in all of the major cities, introducing their latest vintages. The wines are exciting. Their unique flavors are perfect for today's ever-changing culinary scene with its emphasis on ethnic and fusion cuisines and current trends for lighter and more flavor inhanced fare, which incorporates a kaleidoscope of new flavors from the Mediterranean and beyond.

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MOUNTAIN, NARRATED BY WILLEM DAFOE, OPENS EVERYWHERE IN THEATRES

MOUNTAIN, the sweeping cinematic and musical journey among the world's highest peaks, opens this weekend in theaters everywhere and is available on all video platforms. Narrated by three-time Academy Award winning actor Willem Dafoe and directed by British Academy Award (BAFTA) nominated director Jennifer Peedom, renowned for her documentaries SHERPA, MIRACLE ON EVEREST, LIVING THE END and SOLO, it also features a musical "narration" scored and played by the Australian Chamber Orchestra. Showing in IMAX and other large screen formats in a number of theaters, MOUNTAIN is a complete sensory immersion in the world of big-league mountain climbing. Large screen format is the most-recommended form of viewing for this particular film. The film had its North American Premiere at the Australian International Screen Forum in New York City.

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Wine of the Week – Arnaldo Caprai Montefalco Rosso 2015-$25

Bordering on Tuscany and right above Rome is the lesser-known and lesser-traveled region of Umbria. It’s Italy's best kept secret and its been hiding all along in plain sight! Home to some of the country’s most delightful, yet undervalued wines, the region is starting to get some respect thanks to its flagship grape Sagrantino.

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Wine of the Week – Chateau Belingard Rouge 2015 - $9

Love Bordeaux wine but not the price? Let me be among the first to introduce you to the wines of Southwest France, deemed the Wine Region of the Year by Wine Enthusiast.

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Goodman: “Until The Flood” lays bare the soul of Ferguson and the nation - now

Dale Orlandersmmith's Until The Flood, playing in the intimate Owen Theatre at Goodman Theatre now though May 12 is exactly what the Greeks had in mind when they invented theater.

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Tribeca Film Festival 2018-Momentum Generation Wins 2nd Place Audience Award Documentary

MOMENTUM GENERATION CHRONICLES THE RISE OF SURFING FROM A DANGEROUS HOBBY TO A WORLD CLASS EVENT

From an Executive Producing team led by Robert Redford comes one of the best sports movies in a generation, Momentum Generation, which is screening in the final days of the 17th edition of the Tribeca Film Festival. The film tells the story of a rag-tag group of surfing enthusiasts from some of the unlikeliest coastal backwaters and socio-economically starved communities and some of the unlikeliest places (try Chicago) to spawn an interest in the then-unlikely sport of surfing. Their various backgrounds were all but ideal. In fact, most of them grew up on the wrong side of the tracks. More than one of the subjects might well have spent a lifetime of dodging the law or in jail, were it not for the love of surfing. Surfing is probably one of the most dangerous endeavors you can engage in, but it has spawned a following of cult-like enthusiasts around the world. All that's needed to participate is a wooden surf board, not much bigger than an ironing board, and a steel-willed daring to brave the elements and possible death at the hands of an unforgiving sea. Using archival footage, much of it shot by the participants themselves, the film traces the rise of the sport from a mere personal interest into the big moneyed international phenomenon it has become today, complete with sponsorship, corporate endorsements and big money.

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Tribeca Film Festival 2018-Blue Note Records: Beyond The Notes-World Premiere/Feature Documentary

The history of American Jazz, social movements and evolving cultural landscapes are inextricably twined in the carefully constructed Feature Documentary Blue Note Records; Beyond the Notes by Director Sophie Huber. The film had its World Premiere screening at Tribeca Film Festival with a post performance by Common and some of the movie's principals Robert Glasper, Kendrick Scott and Derrick Hodge at Spring Street Studios. Blue Note Records was born in the maelstrom of the Holocaust. Founders Alfred Lion and Francis Wolff fled their native Berlin as German-Jewish refugees and arrived in New York. The two had already developed an early interest in jazz and set about recording the stride piano and early jazz artists such as Sidney Bechet, Albert Ammons and Meade Lux Lewis. That trend continued for a while until Blue Note musician, and Alfred Lion's confident Ike Quebec took Lion on a trip up to Harlem in 1947 to meet a young pianist named Thelonius Monk. His music was like nothing heard before. It was unorthodox, to say the least, but with a captivating and haunting power to enthrall the listener. It was indefinable, yet it inspired other musicians to reach for their creative heights. Interview subject Robert Glasper describes Monk as "the first Hip Hop pianist" in the film. His words are prescient as we will later see the socio-musical thread that would later spawn the burgeoning form in Blue Note's later years.

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