Moresby Press

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Arts in Review

Actor Michael Shannon, left, and playwright Tracy Letts discuss 2007 movie 'Bug' at Music Box Theatre in Chicago, January 9 2010. Moresby Press photo

Michael Shannon, Tracy Letts
Talk about Movie Bug

Jan. 10, 2020


Jim Peterik and World Stage 'Winds of Change' album cover

Jim Peterik & World Stage
Rock in Winds of Change

Aug. 24, 2019


Philip Caputo novel Hunter's Moon

Philip Caputo Discusses
New Novel, Hunter’s Moon

Aug. 6, 2019


Vendor in djemma el fna square of Marrakesh, Morocco. Photo by Greg Beaubien

Morocco, Land of Dreams

Nov. 17, 2018


Trouble Boys The True Story of the Replacements Bob Mehr author

Book Tells Bizarre Story
of The Replacements

Oct. 26, 2018


The Durrells in Corfu on PBS

The Durrells in Corfu
Starts Season 3 on PBS

Sept. 28, 2018


Artist Jean Michel Basquiat

Rise, Tragic Fall of Artist
Jean-Michel Basquiat

Sept. 16, 2018


Scenic Route movie poster 2013

Audiences Still Finding
Scenic Route

July 24, 2018


Hedy LaMarr

Hedy Lamarr, Genius
behind the Pretty Face

May 22, 2018


W Lance Hunt, author of novel A Perfect Blindness

Author W. Lance Hunt Talks
Novel A Perfect Blindness

April 6, 2018


Doug Nichol

Documentary Director Doug Nichol’s California Typewriter Passion Project

Dec. 13, 2017


78 52 documentary poster

Anatomy of Psycho Shower
Scene Dissected in 78/52

Nov. 12, 2017


Classical pianist Mark Valenti

For Pianist Mark Valenti,
Talent Just the Beginning

Sept. 29, 2017


Chicago Overcoat movie

A Decade Later, Chicago
Still Finding its Fit

Sept. 13, 2017


Author Philip Caputo, photograph by Michael Priest

Philip Caputo’s Novel of Drug-War Sacrifice and Redemption, Some Rise by Sin

April 18, 2017

Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee of the band Rush perform in 1981. Photo by James Borneman

Rush Rocked Literature

Dec. 19. 2019


The Ides of March 'Play On' album cover

The Ides of March Play On

Aug. 20, 2019


Paul Bowles in Tangier, Morocco, photo courtesy of Black Sparrow Press

Visiting Paul Bowles in
Tangier, Morocco

June 4, 2019


John Huston, Orson Welles, Peter Bogdanovich on set of The Other Side of the Wind

Orson Welles’s Last Film
Finally Released

Nov. 7, 2018


William Burroughs at the Prop Theatre in Chicago October 20 1988 photo by Richard Alm

Once a Hipster Hero,
William Burroughs Would
Be a Political Pariah Today

Oct. 12, 2018


Friedkin Uncut documentary

William Friedkin to Receive
Lifetime Achievement Award

Sept. 21, 2018


Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper in movie A Star is Born

Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper
Spark Buzz for A Star is Born

Sept. 7, 2018


Belinda Davids in The Greatest Love of All a Tribute to Whitney Houston

Belinda Davids Brings Whitney Houston to Life

Aug. 12, 2018


Ray LaMontagne photo courtesy of RCA Records

On New Album, Ray LaMontagne Cries for the Light

June 14, 2018


Director William Friedkin in his 2017 documentary The Devil and Father Amorth

William Friedkin’s Better Angels:
The Devil and Father Amorth

April 21, 2018


David Mamet novel Chicago

With New Novel Chicago,
David Mamet Comes Home

March 3, 2018


Craig Denney in movie The Astrologer

Would-be Cult Classic
The Astrologer Resurfaces

Jan. 28, 2018


William Friedkin and Father Gabriel Amorth

William Friedkin Revisits Exorcist, Documentary Roots in The Devil and Father Amorth

Updated Jan. 19, 2018


Changing Chicago A Portrait in Postcards and Photos

Penny Postcards Picture
Chicago History, Changes

Nov. 26, 2017


Sweet Virginia movie

Crime Drama Sweet Virginia
Set in Small Alaskan Town

Nov. 3, 2017


Kenneth Alexander in documentary California Typewriter

California Typewriter a
Meditation on Values that Endure

Sept. 30, 2017

Moresby Press EXTRAS




Mondo Cozmo

Mondo Cozmo Refreshes
Rock with Hopeful ‘Shine’

April 5, 2017

“MY FRIENDS ARE SO ALONE and it breaks my heart / My friends don’t understand we all are lost,” Josh Ostrander, aka Mondo Cozmo, sings in his moving new single “Shine.” Despite the sadness of those words, the tune is an anthem of hope with its chorus “Let ’em get high / Let ’em get stoned / Everything will be all right if you let it go.” The sentiment can be taken literally or as metaphor; either way, the song acknowledges our pain and then blasts it away through musical catharsis.

“Shine” follows a simple chord progression transposed into magical territory by clamping a capo on the fourth fret of Ostrander’s acoustic guitar—and by his soulful lyrics, melody and voice as he sings: “Stick with me Jesus through the coming storm / I’ve come to you in search of something I have lost. Shine down a light on me and show a path / I promise you I will return if you take me back.”


Sidney Lumet

Sidney Lumet’s
Moral Direction

Jan. 6, 2017

“I’M NOT DIRECTING THE MORAL MESSAGE,” the filmmaker says in American Masters: By Sidney Lumet, on PBS. “I’m directing that piece of the people, and if I do it well, the moral message will come through.”

Subtly or otherwise, a moral sense pervades the prolific director’s 44 movies in 50 years—starting with 12 Angry Men in 1957, until his last film, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, in 2007. In between, Lumet gave us Fail-Safe, Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, Network, Prince of the City, The Verdict and many other pictures, at a rate of nearly one per year. As he explains early in the PBS documentary, an experience he had as a young soldier in World War II, when he witnessed a 12-year-old Indian girl near Calcutta being gang-raped by American G.I.’s on a train but did not intervene, instilled in him a lifelong desire to fight injustice. Lumet, who grew up “dirt poor” on Manhattan’s Lower East Side during the Great Depression, says his films all share the bedrock concern: “Is it fair?”

“I love characters who are rebels,” he says, “because not accepting the status quo, not accepting the way it’s always been done, not accepting that this is the way it has to be, is the fundamental area of human progress—and drama, God knows.” The other perennial source of drama is family, he says.

Lumet, who died in 2011 at the age of 86, three years after filming the interview, never received an Academy Award for Best Director. He was awarded an honorary Oscar in 2005.


Gael Garcia a Bernal in movie Neruda

Neruda Explores Borders of
Art and Reality

Dec. 30, 2016

“AM I FICTION?” the detective who is chasing Chilean poet Pablo Neruda asks in Neruda, the intriguing new film from director Pablo Larrain. In fact, the policeman played by Gael Garcia Bernal (above) is invented for the movie—not just as a plot device in a game of cat-and-mouse down the length of the slender South American country, but to symbolize real and imagined persecutors of leftists who “like to play the victim,” as another character in the film puts its. 

Nobel Prize-winning poet Ricardo Eliecer Neftali Reyes Basoalto, who went by the pen name Pablo Neruda, after the Czech poet Jan Neruda, was also a diplomat and politician in Chile. When the country outlawed communism in 1948, Neruda—played in the film by Luis Gnecco—was forced into hiding, as other members of the party were arrested. (In the movie, a prison camp in the harsh Atacama Desert in northern Chile is run by Augusto Pinochet, who would later become dictator of the country after a coup d’etat against democratically elected socialist president Salvador Allende in 1973.)

A reflection of Neruda’s writing style, which sometimes ventured into surrealism, the film toys with the relationship between reality and illusion, including the suggestion that the pampered, hedonistic poet perhaps wasn’t suited to speak for the country’s impoverished masses.

As the story unfolds, the beautifully shot film moves from the urban sophistication of Santiago to the port city of Valparaiso, and then south to Chile’s Lake District—a landscape of mountains and cloud-shrouded pine forests—and the snows of the country’s southern reaches, where the dogged policeman, by now obsessed as much with trying to prove his own existence and worth as with apprehending Neruda, concludes his journey. Like a “second sea,” the Andes Mountains separate Chile from Argentina, where the poet eventually finds exile, supported by Pablo Picasso and other artists in Paris.


Rolling Stones Blue and Lonesome

The Stones Roll Back
into Chicago Blues

Dec. 27, 2016

IT MIGHT BE TEMPTING to dismiss Blue & Lonesome, the Rolling Stones’ new CD of blues cover versions, as minimal effort expended for maximum gain. After all, its 12 songs were all written by Chicago bluesmen in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, not by the Stones, and the band recorded the entire album in just three days, with no overdubs (the title track was done in one take). But with these raw, unpolished recordings, the Stones sound the most sincere they have for a long time. You’re hearing the band play live in the studio, but they might as well be performing at the smoky Checkerboard Lounge on Chicago’s South Side.

Four of the songs, including the title track, were originally recorded by Little Walter, and the galloping beat of his “I Gotta Go” is a highlight of the album. Other tunes simmer in a minor-key blues dirge, like “All of Your Love” by Magic Sam. Blue & Lonesome also covers Howlin’ Wolf (“Commit a Crime”), Little Johnny Taylor (“Everybody Knows About My Good Thing”), Eddie Taylor (“Ride 'Em On Down”), Lightnin’ Slim (“Hoo Doo Blues”), and Jimmy Reed (“Little Rain”).

The final two tracks are Willie Dixon songs— “Just Like I Treat You” and “I Can’t Quit You Baby,” the last with lead guitar by Eric Clapton, who happened to be working in the studio next door. The Stones are all in their 70s now (or close—Ronnie Wood is 69), and have returned to the passion for Chicago blues music that first inspired them more than half a century ago.


Everybody Behaves Badly

The Opportunist
Also Rises

Dec. 13, 2016

ERNEST HEMINGWAY’S RISE as a writer and public figure seemed fueled as much by his charisma—and all the well-connected supporters who lined up to help him launch his career—as by his talent and innovative writing style.

As Lesley M. M. Blume writes in her deliciously readable book Everybody Behaves Badly: The True Story Behind Hemingway’s Masterpiece The Sun Also Rises, (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt,) Hemingway’s debut novel and ticket to stardom was a gossipy roman a clef about his own experiences traveling to a drunken fiesta in Spain with a group of friends in 1924. But the reportorial book, essentially non-fiction with just enough invention added to call it fiction, was elevated to high literature by a title taken from the Bible and the opening epigraph “You are all a lost generation” from Gertrude Stein.

Blume’s book reveals that for all of his popularity, Hemingway was an opportunist and back-stabber who used his friends, wives and supporters to further his career, and then tossed them aside, and even publicly mocked them, once they had fulfilled their purposes for him. And yet, like those friends, Hemingway’s loyal fans and readers can’t help liking him, anyway.