Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Destinations: The Debate Surrounding the “Forever Marilyn” Statue (Chicago)

Forever Marilyn  Chicago is a tourist mecca. On a sunny summer day when the humidity index isn’t off the charts, it’s the perfect time for enjoying the waterfront and what it has to offer.

Among the newest sights on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile is the new aluminum and tin sculpture installation called “Forever Marilyn.” The 26-foot-tall piece replicates Monroe’s iconic pose in the billowing white dress over the NYC subway grate in The Seven Year Itch. Unveiled on July 15th, 2011, the 11-ton sculpture sits in Pioneer Court on Michigan Avenue where it meets the Chicago River. “Forever Marilyn” has had a polarizing effect on the city, drawing controversy for reasons, including:

1. Her panties are on full display. You can look up her skirt and some deem this view is in poor taste. (Blog author rebuttal: The cut on the panties is modest.)

2. Some question what message displaying an icon famous for her disastrous love life delivers to the public about women. (Blog author rebuttal: This piece is freestanding art. Can I not enjoy it at face value (no pun intended) as the image that I’ve seen referenced many times over the years?)

3. High-brows call it kitsch and not real art. (Blog author rebuttal: I happen to love it and on a separate note, what’s wrong with kitsch?)

4. They object to it’s misplacement nestled among the lovely stately architecture of the beloved Chicago landscape. (Blog author rebuttal: It only enhances the architecture around her.)

5. The sculpture has no Chicago connection. (Blog author rebuttal: The controversy has remedied that issue.)

I overhead several visitors remarking about how “neat, awesome” and “interesting” a piece it is. The members of the constant crowd of varied ages gathered around her with smiles plastered across their faces as they lined up to get pictures taken with Monroe’s likeness.

The famous legs with some hangers-onMy question is, as the Chicago winter approaches, will the "City of Broad Shoulders" outfit the gal with a coat and/or knitted legwarmers to protect her from the harsh winds coming off the lakefront?

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Town (2010)

The TownCrime caper The Town tells a suspenseful story about friendship, loyalty and love. Bank and armored-truck robbers Doug MacRay (Ben Affleck) and Jimmy “Jem” (Jeremy Renner) are like brothers, having grown up together in the Charlestown neighborhood of Boston. Their crew includes two other childhood friends. The four have executed several successful heists. During their last one, Jimmy takes the bank manager, Claire (Rebecca Hall), hostage.

(Spoiler Alert: Read at Your Own Risk!)

After being blindfolded, she’s released unharmed. FBI Special Agent Adam Frawley (Jon Hamm) is all over the case. Doug and Jimmy are worried. Did she see anything? Doug (sans mask and weapon) begins watching her. After a chance meeting, they become romantically involved, but Doug has his secret to guard; she becomes his other secret. His desire to start a new crime-free life with her grows, but he’s part of the Irish Family and you don’t just quit. Doug and his crew are pegged for a huge heist at Fenway Park--one that will take skill, confidence and luck. Will Doug find a way out or will he end up in prison with his father and never again see Claire?

skull maskThe Town utilizes unique details such as masks. They offer visual stimulation, ratchet up the tension and add lightness to the chaos. The uniforms add complexity to the heists since we aren’t privy to the planning. We see enough of Boston that the city itself becomes a character, providing a feel for its historic charm and the calamity that overthrows it during these robberies.

I’ve never been a fan of Affleck, but he’s accomplished a compelling performance, a decent screenplay and tour-de-force directing (follow-up to his feature debut Gone Baby Gone). Renner is a powerhouse, simmering with emotion behind the stony façade; he is Jem, the hothead loyal to the end. Blake Lively as Krista, Jem’s sister and Doug’s ex, is surprisingly good. Chris Cooper as Doug’s jailbird daddy does what he does best—plays unlikable characters with relish. Pete Postlethwaite as the Irish Godfather, Fergie the Florist, delivers in his second to last performance before his death (cancer) in January.

Adapted for the screen by Ben Affleck, Peter Craig and Aaron Stockard from the novel Prince of Thieves by Chuck Hogan, The Town is worthy of your time.

Co-Writer/Director: Ben Affleck

Country: USA

Genre: Thriller

Run time: 126 minutes

Scale: 4

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Rob Zombie Slays at WAMU Theater (8.6.2011)

Que dices? No lo creo.Rob Zombie don’t just turn up, they create an experience.

Piggy D 1st costumeThe set up: Saturday night. Exodus the opening band. I missed them, but from all accounts, they played an impressive set. From the beer garden, I saw the backdrop screen being tested. When the band started, I gulped my drink and squeezed up to the third row. (One doesn’t realize how comfortable it is to relent holding yourself up when you’re sandwiched by a mass of bodies.)

The backdrop behind the band flanked the crowd with scenes from movies including Carrie, Pulp Fiction, Grindhouse: Werewolf Women of the S.S. Geometric patterns à la Spirograph entranced, vibrant lighting colors alternated, skeletons projected attitude. Even an amazon-sized alien with skeleton claws joined the band on stage.The gang

Rob strikes a pose Rob Zombie is a performer. The band has chemistry and their energy is boundless. This was the last date on current tour and they gave it as if the tour had just begun. It’s obvious they appreciate their fans.

Piggy D on bass

The costumes are vibrant, flamboyant. Zombie’s long dreads swing back and forth like a school of fish suddenly changing directions. Hairy Rob 

Living Dead Girl

John 5 guitar solo

Zombie sported a skeleton silk-screened kilt; his shirt reminiscent of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle belly shield.

Glowing Rob and John 5

Ex-Marilyn Manson drummer Ginger Fish was hidden behind the drum set. When he made his appearance, his resemblance to a more presentable version of the villain from Jeepers Creepers was uncanny.

Ginger Fish comes out from the shadows


A guy in a wheelchair was hoisted and surfed above the attendees. Women displayed their breasts while sitting on willing shoulders. Toilet paper rolls were tossed. Beach balls bounced into the crowd.


Bubbles filled the stage area and metallic confetti rained upon the excited fans, sticking to their sweaty skin and wet hair.

John 5 enveloped in bubbles

The last costume change had Rob Zombie appearing in long red suit coats as Nazi zombies.


John 5 in as zombie Nazi

A happy audience with raining confetti They played White Zombie favorites including More Human Than Human and Thunder Kiss ‘65 as well as Rob Zombie favorites Living Dead Girl and Superbeast. The show culminated with a rendition of Dragula performed with Zombie at the top of an Alien-Tiki platform.

When the party ended, everyone was amped. The mood persists after more than an hour of cheering at one of the best performances you’ve seen. When Slayer began their set, the tone was radically different from the Rob Zombie experience. You felt it in your gut, but compared to Rob Zombie, Slayer’s shredding wasn’t enough to keep this attendee present. After a few songs, I still wasn’t ready to move on, so to keep the Rob Zombie experience alive, I left the auditorium.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Jeepers Creepers (2001)

Jeepers Creepers draws you in with its pointy skeletal digits from the start. Tough to explain because if you were to read the plot, it might sound way too over the top to work, yet it’s creep factor gets inside you. Jeepers-Creepers-highwayEven when it gets outlandish (and it does), you are more scared than you would ever guess you’d be watching a movie starring the Mac-vs-PC guy, Justin Long.

Brother-sister duo Trish (Gina Philips) and Darry (Justin Long) are on a road trip back from university. He’s driving her vintage car on the less-traveled route. Inside, you have Darry’s incessant chatter and chiding. Brooding Trish is much cooler than her obnoxious brother. There’s a simmering discomfort between them. (It’s subtle but almost seems like the actors were attracted to one another and that bled into the characters.)

(Spoiler Alert: Read at Your Own Risk!)

When the two get run off the road, they have no idea the cat-and-mouse they’re entering with the ominous truck and its macabre driver. They continue on the same road (because in horror movies, everyone is courageous) only to see a peculiar man unloading from aforementioned truck what resemble bodies and dumping them down a large pipe. This is where we depart from logical plotting, such as continuing to drive as 911 is dialed. What does Darry do? He drives to the pipe insisting Trish holds his feet as he dangles himself into the pipe with flashlight in hand to look for bodies.

The second part of Jeepers Creepers doesn’t hold up. However, there is a recreation of the Sistine Chapel that begs to be seen. If you want more, there’s a Jeepers Creepers 2 and 3. I will pass on those.

Writer/Director: Victor Salva

Country: USA

Genre: Horror/Thriller/Supernatural

Run time: 90 minutes

Scale: 2.5