Reindeer Gone Wild

Top five things to do this week: Vampire reindeer or White Christmas? Your choice … plus, The Bad Plus, an all-out Hanukkah jam, and what Eighth Blackbird’s Tim Munro is up to this weekend

A scene from 'The White Reindeer'
COLD AS ICE Just to look at her, you wouldn’t know she was a vampire reindeer.
See The White Reindeer Sunday at Cinema Borealis.

THE FIVE

Don’t-miss picks for Wed 12.14.11 through Tue 12.20.11:

1

film The White Reindeer
Rudolph it’s not: The Northwest Chicago Film Society presents The White Reindeer, a 1952 Finnish flick about a creature that’s one-part reindeer, one-part woman, and all vampire. The screening takes place in Wicker Park’s Cinema Borealis, replete with a wood-burning stove and a 1954 Christmas-themed episode of “Space Patrol” to kick things off.
GO: 12/18 at 6 and 8:15. $10 suggested donation. Cinema Borealis, 1550 N Milwaukee, 4th floor. northwestchicagofilmsociety.org

ALSO THIS WEEK: We don’t care how many times this chestnut gets reheated. We’re suckers for the Music Box’s White Christmas/It’s a Wonderful Life double feature, preceded by Santa leading carols, 12/16–18 and 12/21–24.

2

folk One Incredible Hanukkah Jam
Howard Levy, the Grammy-winning harmonica guru and go-to player for folks including Béla Fleck, pairs off with Hazzan Alberto Mizrahi, a tenor who’s sung for the likes of Obama and serves as cantor of Chicago’s Anshe Emet Synagogue, for a concert we’re fully onboard with calling one incredible Hanukkah jam, on Hanukkah Eve-Eve.
GO: 12/18 at 2. $15–$30. Spertus, 610 S Michigan. spertus.edu

ALSO THIS WEEK: This one, you can belt along: Do-It-Yourself Messiah returns to the Harris Theater 12/19–20.

3

jazz The Bad Plus
Jazz Showcase lures Metro’s demographic when this trio—the virtuoso pianist Ethan Iverson, the driving bassist Reid Anderson, the hyperkinetic drummer David King—comes to town, playing rowdy reinventions of everything from Basie to Bacharach to Black Sabbath.
GO: 12/15–17 at 8 and 10, 12/18 at 4 and 8. $25–$30. Jazz Showcase, 806 S Plymouth. jazzshowcase.com

ALSO THIS WEEK: The Sea and Cake, that veteran hometown quartet, combines Brazilian rhythms and guitar in gauzy songs 12/17 at Empty Bottle.

4

jazz CJE Small Ensemble
Who would have thought one of Dana Hall’s first acts as the artistic director of Chicago Jazz Ensemble would be to break up the band? Not to worry—it’s simply a new programming experiment, in which five or six members splinter off for one-night concerts, such as this one spotlighting the hard bop of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers.
GO: 12/15 at 7:30. $5–$25. Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S State. chicagojazzensemble.com

ALSO THIS WEEK: The local keyboard legend Willie Pickens headlines his 17th annual Jazz Christmas, with the trumpeter Tom Harrell sitting in, 12/16 at Hyde Park Union Church.

5

theatre A Christmas Story, the Musical!
Jean Shepherd’s touching story of an Indiana kid obsessed with guns and a father obsessed with a dismembered leg gets musicalized, with the real-life Ralphie, a.k.a. Peter Billingsley, as the show’s chief producer.
GO: 12/14–30. $35–$125. Chicago Theatre, 175 N State. thechicagotheatre.com

ALSO THIS WEEK: The usually R-rated deviants at The Annoyance Theatre deck the halls with bowls of folly in a rare kid-friendly presentation, The Annoyance Christmas Pageant, through 12/27.

WHAT I’M DOING THIS WEEKEND

Tim Munro, flutist for Eighth Blackbird
Tim Munro

Up next in our series of weekend plans from notable, in-the-know locals—a.k.a. people we like: Tim Munro, the Uptown resident and flutist for the Chicago-based sextet Eighth Blackbird, a group busy blazing new-music trails and racking up Grammy noms in the process.

“I try to keep my Chicago Symphony experiences to really special things. This Thursday, they’re playing Mahler’s Sixth Symphony. It’s a hulking roar of jangling nerves—like peering inside someone’s nervous system for an hour, which sounds awful, but for Mahler, that’s his best stuff. It’s hard to resist.

“Friday, I want to see the new David Cronenberg movie, A Dangerous Method, while it’s still in theatres. It’s about the relationship between Freud and Jung. I’ve loved Cronenberg since his early ridiculous horror movies. The first movie of his I ever saw was Crash, when I was 18 years old and looking for movies like that, so it was just perfect.

“I really want to get to the MCA to see a couple things: Andrew Bird has this—I don’t know what to call it. An installation? We were there last week, and I got to stick my head in, and Andrew was there, recording stuff for it. They had all of the gramophone horns set up, and it looked too cool. There’s also an exhibit called The Language of Less (Then and Now). We’re playing a couple of concerts in March related to that, so I need to go and see it. I have a really love-hate relationship with minimalist art.

“I got an email last week from my old high-school band director, from Brisbane, Australia, and my high-school band is going to be in Chicago this week, playing the Midwest Clinic, which is like the biggest band extravaganza in the world. To me now, it sounds a little bit like hell, but it’s actually a very big deal. On Sunday, I’m going to get to meet the kids. It will be very surreal. When I was playing The Phantom of the Opera at age 12, it never occurred to me that I might be a professional musician—never mind living in Chicago. Chicago would have seemed really exotic.

“And Sunday night we’re playing at Wentz Concert Hall. We’re trying to get out to the suburbs more, and that level of beauty at Wentz, of the venue and of the sound, doesn’t exist elsewhere in Chicago.”

FREEBIES OF THE WEEK

galleries Nancy Holt: Sightlines
Because Holt’s primary medium is earth, most of her oeuvre doesn’t fit in museums. Get to know the pioneering artist when the Graham Foundation brings the outside in with a gallery-size retrospective of Holt’s films, books, photos, and archival material.
GO: Through 12/17. Wed–Sat 11–5. Graham Foundation at Madlener House, 4 W Burton. grahamfoundation.org

sports/rec Winter Solstice Festival
Just plain pretty: Walk the North Park Village Nature Preserve’s luminary-lit trails, hum along to seasonal music, and roast chestnuts over—you guessed it. Need we say more?
GO: 12/17 from 6 to 9. North Park Village Nature Center, 5801 N Pulaski. chicagoparkdistrict.com

 

Photography: (THE WHITE REINDEER) Courtesy of Northwest Chicago Film Society; (MUNRO) Luke Ratray

 

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