Daily Archives: September 15, 2023


What makes Doppelganger my favorite of Naomi Klein’s books, maybe because it’s the most literary, appearing on the heels of her two previous masterworks (No Logo and The Shock Doctrine), is that she practices exactly what she preaches.

Offering a personal and autobiographical narrative that reads like a novel as well as like a slowly
unfolding argument, she creates a manifesto that’s roomy enough to include philosophy and metaphysics as well as politics while addressing us in the present. And meanwhile somehow managing to tell us something hopeful about our hopeless times. [9/15/23] Read more


From the Chicago Reader (July 11, 1995). — J.R.


If you gave up on writer-director Amy Heckerling after Look Who’s Talking and its sequel, this 1995 comedy — improbably but cleverly adapted by Heckerling from Jane Austen’s Emma — might get you interested again. As in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, her first feature, Heckerling displays a nice feeling for teenagers — teenage girls especially — and some flair for witty dialogue. Here she’s concentrating on the travails of a wealthy but good-hearted Beverly Hills consumer (Alicia Silverstone) as she tries to establish a romance between two of her teachers (Wallace Shawn and associate producer Twink Caplan), make over a new transfer student (Brittany Murphy) with the help of her best friend (Stacey Dash), pass a driving test, and lose her virginity. Though this drifts at times as storytelling, it’s mainly lightweight but personable fun. With Paul Rudd, Donald Faison, Elisa Donovan, Jeremy Sisto, Julie Brown, and Dan Hedaya. 97 min. (JR)

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Death and the Maiden

From the January 13, 1995 Chicago Reader. — J.R.


With the help of Rafael Yglesias and Ariel Dorfman, Roman Polanski has adapted Dorfman’s three-character play about a former political prisoner (Sigourney Weaver) kidnapping a doctor (Ben Kingsley) whom she believes was her torturer, while her lawyer husband (Stuart Wilson) serves as a go-between. Even though he’s psychologically expanded his source, the material is a bit too schematic to work as much more than a scaled-down thriller. By plunking three characters down in a remote location beside a body of water Polanski revives some of the triangular tensions found in his Knife in the Water and portions of his Cul-de-sac, but this comes across as a less personal work than either of those films or Bitter Moon, and is intermittently hampered by the mental adjustments that have to be made in order to accept English and American actors playing South American characters. Even so, Polanski certainly gets the maximum voltage and precision out of his story and actors, keeping us preternaturally alert to shifting power relationships and delayed revelations. It’s refreshing to see this mastery in a climate where there’s so little of it around. Water Tower.

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