STD (Stuff to Do)—Friday, April 4, 2008

By Ben Rossi

Friday/April 4

The Coen brothers’ No Country for Old Men, 2008 Oscar-sweeper and one of the first films of the decade to become a cultural touchstone, screens at Doc this evening. Returning to their favorite subject—the unpredictable consequences of crime—the Coens call on the tropes of Western, thriller, and suspense genres to both revel in and subvert them. A virtuosic display of technical ability in cinematography and story structure, the film is also weighty enough to leave you with more than just the terrifying image of Javier Bardem as the serial killer Anton Chigurh—but this is quite enough. (Max Palevsky Cinema, 6:30–8:30 p.m. and 9–11 p.m., $5)

Come for the art, stay for the drinks—or vice versa. That’s the beauty of the Museum of Contemporary Art’s First Fridays, where you can mingle with the singles, drink cocktails, chow on Wolfgang Puck appetizers, and see a preview of the latest USB 12×12: New Artists/New Work exhibit, featuring an up-and-coming Chicago artist. (220 East Chicago Avenue, 6–10 p.m., $15, 21+)

Scandal magnet that it is, the American Catholic Church is still the center of community life for millions, especially in the immigrant-heavy neighborhoods of Chicago. The Chicago History Museum’s exhibit Catholic Chicago celebrates the vibrancy of Chicago’s Catholic life—from the huge parades and beautiful iconography to the dignified rituals of Communion and baptism. Though it is not blind to the Church’s failings, the exhibit gives you a sense of why so many people are still so attached to it. (1601 North Clark Street, 9:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m., $12 for students)

Saturday/April 5

Chicago-based artist Ed Paschke, who died in 2004 and was one of the most renowned members of the Chicago Imagist school of the late 1960s, has a retrospective at the Russell Bowman Art Advisory through May 10. A Chicago native, Paschke was influenced by the exhibits of Picasso, Seurat, and Gauguin that he saw at the Chicago Art Institute as a child. While he did not abandon representation, he let elements of surrealism, pop art, and abstraction seep onto his luminescent canvases. (311 West Superior Street, Suite 115, 10 a.m.–5:30 p.m., free)

The Center for Gender Studies and the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture sponsor a town-hall meeting on the hip-hop generation and its perceptions of gender, race, and political participation. Notables making an appearance include Bakari Kitwana, former editor of Source magazine, graffiti artist and activist William “Upski” Wimsatt, and cultural theorist Vijay Prishad. (Ida Noyes Hall, 1–4 p.m., free)

Before the show ends next weekend, catch Court Theatre’s excellent, very modern adaptation of Roger and Hammerstein’s musical, Carousel. If you saw last quarter’s Titus Andronicus, you’ll understand why if artistic director Charlie Newell were going to do a musical, he had to do this one—an unusually dark work about class conflict and domestic abuse. Although, to be honest, I’d like to see what he’d do with The Sound of Music. (Court Theatre, 7:30 p.m., $32, $10 for students)

Sunday/April 6

Chicago-based indie-pop septet The Scotland Yard Gospel Choir headlines the Friends with Benefits charity concert at Schubas Tavern tonight. The group covers the same lyrical territory as Belle and Sebastian with a poppy gloss of airy vocals and catchy guitar hooks. DJ Stinky Pink and comedian Jena Friedman, among others, spice up the mix. (3159 North Southport, 8 p.m., $6)

Conceptual artist Hans Haacke presents his work Dog and Pony Show at Court Theatre as part of the University of Chicago Artspeaks Fellows Program. Haacke skirts the line between artist and polemicist with his pieces, which analyze and critique political and social systems, including the structures of the art world itself. (Court Theatre, 7:30–9:30 p.m., $5)

A jazz singer with an unusually erudite lyrical range, husky, low-toned singing voice, and technically accomplished piano technique, Patricia Barber constantly pushes the limits of new cabaret/poppy jazz. Her last album, Mythologies, wittily played with stories from Ovid’s Metamorphosis. (4802 North Broadway Avenue, 9 p.m.–1 a.m., $7, 21+)

Tuesday/April 8

As part of its celebration of United Artists’ 90th anniversary, the Music Box is screening The Manchurian Candidate this evening. This story about an American soldier brainwashed by Communists to assassinate the president was shocking when it came out, only a year before Kennedy’s death, although as a thriller it isn’t as compelling as advertised. The greatest reason to see it is Angela Lansbury’s inspired turn as the soldier’s Machiavellian mother and John Frankenheimer’s brilliant direction in, among many other scenes, the famous dream sequence. (3733 North Southport Avenue, check the website for showtimes, $9.25)

Wednesday/April 9

Johnny Drummer dusts his broom at Buddy Guy’s Legends; somewhere, Muddy Waters is smiling. Born in Alligator, Mississippi, Drummer has been playing in Chicago since the early ’60s with greats like B.B. King, Eddie King, and Waters himself. In other words, he’s the real deal. (754 South Wabash, 9 p.m.­–1:30 a.m., price TBA)

The Music Box screens The Night of the Hunter, Charles Laughton’s terrifying flick about a murderous preacher played by Robert Mitchum, who stalks two children in the Southern gothic night. I don’t know how Robert Mitchum slept at night knowing Robert Mitchum was near. (3733 North Southport Avenue, check the website for show times, $9.25)

Thursday/April 10

Photographers Sebastian Lemm and Amanda Friedman capture the beauty of night in their pictures of trees on display at the David Weinberg Gallery. While Lemm used Photoshop to create his strange images of twisting tree branches, Friedman used natural light and long exposures to capture the trees’ bizarre nocturnal glow. (300 West Superior Street, 10 a.m.–5:30 p.m., free)