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Best of Chicago: Arts & Culture

The Editors | January 5, 2017 | Feature Features

Here, the chefs, shows, shops and more that truly make Chicago shine—plus, smart selections from you, our readers, in categories from cute boutiques to stellar spas.
Joe Swanberg's rich, eclectic projects can read like love letters to Chicago.

Joe Swanberg is a busy guy. The Chicago-based indie auteur has directed more than 30 titles in the last 13 years, and with Netflix’s release of Easy this past fall—an eight-part comedy-drama anthology written, directed, edited and produced by Swanberg—there’s no sign of him slowing down.

Heralded as a master of mumblecore—a style known for its microbudgets and laissez-faire storytelling—the young director got his start in 2005 with Kissing on the Mouth, a risqué drama whose five-person cast also doubled as its crew. Since then, Swanberg has gone on to big-screen breakouts like 2013’s Drinking Buddies, starring Olivia Wilde and Jake Johnson as a pair of flirty co-workers at a craft brewery.

As with many of Swanberg’s films, Chicago’s sidewalks and small businesses set the stage for the first season of Easy, which follows 10 quintessentially Chicago characters played by an all-star cast (Dave Franco is a wannabe brewmaster with a day job at Wicker Park’s Dark Matter Coffee; Marc Maron holds a reading of his graphic novel at Logan Square’s City Lit Books) in what can be interpreted as the director’s cinematic love letter to his hometown. “Joe is prolific, professionally dexterous and increasingly accomplished,” says Richard Moskal, director of the Chicago Film Office. “He’s never at a loss for street cred—like a modern-day Cassavetes. And what’s best about all that? He’s here in Chicago.”


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