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by Eddie Sayago
There is a chance that you have come across a song (or two, or so many more) that you enjoy and did not realize that it's either been covered by someone else or is a cover itself. We hope that this series allows you to appreciate both the original and the covers they have inspired, and to seek out and enjoy new music in the process.
The Original: Men Without Hat
from the album Rhythm of Youth (Sire, 1982)
A good dance song doesn’t need much. A catchy beat and an easy to learn chorus is all one needs to create a hit song that will outlive almost everything else. inspiration hit lead singer Ivan Doroschuk to write “The Safety Dance” after getting kicked out of a club for pogo dancing. (When someone jumps up and down like a pogo stick on the dance floor.) “I was kind of mad that they wouldn’t let me dance if I wanted to, so I took matters in my own hands and wrote an anthem of it,” said Doroschuck in an interview in 2012.
“The Safety Dance” peaked at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and has been cited as one of the most popular one-hit wonders in pop culture history. The music video, set in a very believable Renaissance Faire, features the band and their friends dancing however they wish while dressed in some of the best medieval outfits one can buy on a tight budget.
by Kyle Sanders
In the turbulent times we're currently living in, sometimes it helps to travel back to the past for comparison.
Every time I read a news article these days, it's like my heart can't help but sink, letting go of any shred of hope I had left in this lifetime. But then I think back to when my parents were kids, experiencing the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
It helps me to understand that no matter how many bad things take place on this earth, it never stops the world from turning. My parents thought the world was ending after Kennedy's murder, but here we are, almost sixty years later, still spinning--yet still wondering if the end is nigh.
Apologies for such a bleak beginning to this post, but it leads me into something good: documentaries! This year, the Chicago International Film Festival has provided us with dozens of documentary features and shorts to choose from. You've got your pick of profiles ranging from Pete Buttigieg, Julia Child, and The Velvet Underground, to a four year adventure chronicling the life of a bovine named Luma (Cow).
These informative documentaries span a multitude of topics as well, anything from explorations of gay sexuality (Acts of Love), post-prison probation programs (Any Given Day), the dangers of escaping Taliban rule (Flee), and the ecological threat of disappearing indigenous tribes (The Last Forest).
Two documentaries I had the opportunity to check out were not only profiles on history makers, but were also included in this year's Black Perspectives program at CIFF.
The first one is about tennis star Arthur Ashe, aptly titled Citizen Ashe. Known for becoming the first Black man to win the U.S. Open, Wimbledon, and the Australian Open, Ashe not only broke barriers during the Civil Rights Movement, but became a symbol of hope, fighting oppression in the U.S. and South Africa.
Vanishing Twin – Ookii Gekkou (Fire)
by Kyle Sanders
I love that scene in A Few Good Men when Jack Nicholson's character takes Tom Cruise down a peg with his famous "YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH" speech. It's the sort of movie quote that gets overwhelmingly referenced in other matters of pop culture, but also, it ain't no lie.
Dramatic films often include characters that bend themselves over backwards to find out the truth about someone or something, going to extreme lengths even if it means alienating themselves from friends, family, their job, or their sanity.
And the truth can especially cut like a knife when it wedges itself between two lovers. Here at the Chicago International Film Festival, I found two films where the idea of truth serves as the main plot device, causing a tormented man to pointlessly chase after it and a demure woman to construct it to her own advantage.
Winner of the Best Screenplay at this year's Cannes Film Festival, Japan's Drive My Car opens on a loving married couple: stage actor/director Yusuke (Hidetoshi Nishijima) and his screenwriting wife, Oto (Reike Kirishima). The pair seem happily married, but Yusuke discovers cracks beneath their picture perfect relationship.
Drive My Car
by Kyle Sanders
The French Dispatch
Dir. Wes Anderson
It makes sense that filmmaker Wes Anderson would direct a movie about an editor of a cultural magazine that "brings the world" to its readers. Every single characteristic that makes up a single frame of his films is so periodically meticulous and exact, that the aesthetic and witty repartee always abounding within view could only be sympathized by someone who oversees the look and content of an ongoing periodical.
There's an obsessive control element, picking apart words and visuals and choosing what stays and what goes. It's a task too tedious for some, but has to be done to maintain familiarity with the audience yet keep them anticipating what comes next. The French Dispatch, Anderson's tenth film, is familiar in tone and content, but offers us something new to keep us from getting bored.