WORTH THE TRIP
Minneapolis, Oct. 4-5; St. Louis, Oct. 6; Milwaukee, Oct. 10-11
Don’t expect success to soften the impact of Louie CK, whose new tour takes him to 24 cities for 68 shows over the next four months, with new material that mines his darkest thoughts on sex, race, fatherhood and the ravages of time. The Emmy-winning comic recently revealed to Elvis Mitchell on his podcast The Treatment that he revels in the “insane amount of power” he has over his audience during live shows. “I’m the only one who knows I have 50 fastballs coming, and they’re going to choke you.” It’s an apt analogy for a man whose work often triggers nervous laughter before clocking you in the head. Says CK, “I’m about to ruin your life with this material.”
Born To Sing: No Plan B, Van Morrison
Age hasn’t mellowed Van the Man, a fact that’s either disconcerting or reassuring, depending on your world view. The surly lyrics on Morrison’s 35th studio album lament consumerism, capitalism and the sorry state of his chosen profession, which he asserts in the title track probably more likely chose him. More uplifting is the acclaimed record’s jazzy, bluesy sound — and the mere endurance of the master’s signature growl. “When Plan A is this good,” as one reviewer wrote, “there's no reason to look any further.”
As Goes Janesville, Brad Lichtenstein PBS Independent Lens, Oct. 8
An entire town wakes up from the American Dream in a cold sweat. What happens next is the subject of this sobering documentary set in the blue-collar community of Janesville, Wis., (which, not incidentally, happens to the birthplace of Paul Ryan.) The filmmaker spent three years following panicked parents, warring politicians and flailing local leaders as they struggle to pick up the pieces after GM flees. Michael Moore, move over!
Bill and Hillary: Politics of the Personal, William H. Chafe
Mix the messiness of love with the ruthlessness of politics, throw it under the incinerating glare of the national spotlight and you’ve got … Mr. and Mrs. Bill Clinton. William H. Chafe, a Duke history professor, breaks down the forever-fascinating psychodynamics of the brilliant scoundrel and The Good Wife with grand ambitions of her own. Making a compelling case that the personal and political are inextricable, the author offers intriguing insights, including: “In the strangest of ways, Clinton's reckless sexual behavior actually enhanced their personal ties. … Arguably — and in the strangest irony of all — it was at the heart of their partnership.”
The Waiting Room
Three decades of laying carpet left Davelo Lujuan with debilitating bone spurs on his spine. Losing work, facing foreclosure, struggling to support a daughter and grandchild, he shows up in the emergency room of Oakland Highland Hospital — aka “the last resort.” In this verité film shot entirely inside the ER, documentarian Peter Nicks reveals the human consequences of the gaping holes in the health care safety net. The gripping film follows the heroics of doctors, nurses and hospital workers as well as the plight of patients like Lujuan as they cope with the brutal realities of what it’s like to be poor and in pain.
Pamela Miller is a freelance wrtiter who lives in Los Angeles.