On episode #10 of the Cine-Cast, associate editor Kathleen Sachs and contributor John Dickson discuss the Christian Petzold matinee series and the Harmony Korine retrospective at the Music Box Theatre; Sachs, Dickson, and contributors JB Mabe and Alexandra Ensign chat about the Onion City Film Festival, taking place through March 24, and the Chicago European Union Film Festival, going through April 4 at the Gene Siskel Film Center; and, finally, all the participants discuss the 91st Academy Awards.
Listen here. Engineered by contributor Harrison Sherrod. Produced by Mabe and Sachs.
The introductory theme is by local film composer Ben Van Vlissingen. Find out more about his work here.
EUROPEAN UNION FILM FESTIVAL
at the Gene Siskel Film Center
Pantelis Voulgaris’ THE LAST NOTE (Greece)
Friday and Tuesday, 8:15pm
A harrowing and intense look at the atrocities of World War II, THE LAST NOTE depicts the imminent execution of 200 Greek inmates in Kaisariani as retaliation for the execution of a Nazi general by Greek resistance fighters. The film in centered on Napoleon (Andreas Konstantinou), a man who unwittingly becomes an interpreter for the camps fiendish commander, Karl (André Hennicke). THE LAST NOTE is told non-linearly, jumping between the pasts of Napoleon, his life, and fellow inmates, while returning to the present to build the narrative towards the ever-looming execution day. Director Pantelis Voulgaris tactfully balances the brutalities of camp life with the tenderness of home life, maintaining the prisoner’s sense of grace while they literally and figuratively stare down the barrel of a gun. Full of impossible choices and an ending that’s simultaneously moving and heart wrenching, THE LAST NOTE is a World War II prison camp film that faithfully preserves the memory of the ill-fated with resolved honor. (2017, 117 min, DCP Digital) KC
Bruno Dumont's COINCOIN AND THE EXTRA-HUMANS (France)
Saturday, 2pm and Thursday, 6pm
COINCOIN is cray cray! For the past few years, every spring has brought a new, and increasingly cracked, Bruno Dumont picture to these shores. Now, he's back with the freewheeling, riotous COINCOIN AND THE EXTRA-HUMANS, the second season of the TV miniseries that solidified his tilt toward comedy, LI'L QUINQUIN (2014). It's another riff on the police procedural, a pileup of facial tics and crazy driving that must be seen to be believed. When extraterrestrial gunk begins falling from the skies, extremely silly gendarmes Van der Weyden (Bernard Pruvost) and Carpentier (Philippe Jore) face their toughest case yet. Soon, they find themselves contending with a mystical body-snatching light-form and a veritable invasion of clones and zombies. Who better, though, to face the Apocalypse than these two bickering, bantering, bumbling-but-intrepid inspectors: hapless, long-suffering Carpentier and his oblivious boss, Van der Weyden, who regards himself as a sly Poirot—and a bit of a dangerous intellectual—though everyone else regards him as skewing closer to Clouseau. Everyone, that is, expect the loyal Carpentier (and even he occasionally has his doubts). Once again, the setting is the rural seaside village of Audresselles in northern France. Alane Delhaye is young Quinquin, a sensitive soul behind a great pugilist's mug. No longer so little, his nickname now is "CoinCoin." The first series chronicled the prepubescent love between him and Eve (Lucy Caron). Now, Eve has a girlfriend, Corrine (Priscilla Benoist), and CoinCoin has taken up with lolling, sloe-eyed Jenny (Alexia Depret). Also on hand is Julien Bodard as CoinCoin's old chum Fatso, as well as Nicolas Leclaire, so funny as the clumsy teenage uncle in last year's JEANETTE: THE CHILDHOOD OF JOAN OF ARC. The tone is a kind of deadpan, silent-film slapstick, a merry and thoroughgoing rejection of realism. Guillaume Deffontaines' widescreen cinematography vividly renders Dumont's landscapes and portraits of these unforgettable, imperfect visages. This is a bravura piece of work, funny as hell, though if someone wanted to argue that, taken in one big 3½-hour dose, it gets old, I can only say that I could watch Jore-as-Carpentier's reaction shots all day. Dumont seems genuinely to like his odd characters. What's more, the film skewers the tragedy of modern French fascism (aka "nationalism"), satirizing its tendency to fear immigrants as "aliens," literally: if you're not local, you must be an extraterrestrial. It's true that by going sci-fi and jettisoning the serial-killer mystery of LI'L QUINQUIN, Dumont loses a bit of the cop-genre satire, not that being a straight-up mystery was ever really this project's raison d'être. In its own outlandish way, COINCOIN's vision of the end-times is one of the merriest dances of life since 8½, an unhinged second line parade carrying all of humanity's suffering and pageantry. (2018, 205 min, DCP Digital) SP
Balázs Lengyel’s LAJKÓ - GYPSY IN SPACE (Hungary)
Saturday, 8:30pm and Thursday, 8:15pm
Stereotypes, jet-black humor, and the outrageous abound in LAJKÓ - GYPSY IN SPACE. Set in 1950’s Hungary, the film is about Lajkó (Tamás Keresztes), a crop-dust pilot and gypsy who’s dreamed of the stars and going to space his entire life. With the help of his uncle, he tries to reach the stratosphere in a hot air balloon before being shot down by the Soviets who immediately capture him and sentence him to death. Lajkó is taken to prison and tortured, but in a stroke of good fortune, his ability to withstand the abuse with great fervor makes him an ideal candidate for the Soviet’s space program. With his lifelong dream a possibility, Lajkó joins a colorful cast of other prisoners whom the Soviet’s deem ‘expendable’ in their pursuit of sending the first cosmonaut in space. LAJKÓ respects no boundaries in its satirical approach to humor. From the bodily fluid-filled death of his mother that absurdly occurs from an explosive incident with an outhouse to the repressed homosexuality of the Soviet officers that ‘inspired’ the Socialist fraternal kiss, LAJKÓ - GYPSY IN SPACE is a comedy that seeks to offend all in stylings that are reminiscent of South Park and the writings of Armando Iannucci. (2018, 90 min, DCP Digital) KC
Niels Bolbrinker and Thomas Tielsch’s BAUHAUS SPIRIT: 100 YEARS OF BAUHAUS (Germany/Documentary)
Sunday, 3:15pm and Wednesday, 6pm
BAUHAUS SPIRIT: 100 YEARS OF BAUHAUS is a documentary that focuses more on the ideas and principles than the straightforward history of the Bauhaus, a fitting approach to celebrating a school that encouraged innovation, interdisciplinary approaches, and a distinct aesthetic to art and design in many ways, but most notably through architecture and industrial design. The film begins with a window into the origins of the Bauhaus school in Weimar, Germany, in 1919, founded by Walter Gropius. In its heyday, the Bauhaus boasted instructors Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, and Mies Van Der Rohe. (Chicagoans will be particularly familiar with the aesthetic of the latter—Van Der Rohe emigrated to Chicago after the rise of Nazi Germany and founded a new Bauhaus school here, in addition to designing several iconic, severe, minimalist buildings throughout the city.) Rather than focusing solely on historical narrative, however, BAUHAUS SPIRIT is divided by principle and displays with elegant superimposed animations how the Bauhaus aesthetic can inform modern dance, an experimental Swedish elementary school, affordable housing, and urban design. The films creates an interesting tension around the inevitable short-sightedness of the Bauhaus philosophy, which excelled at anticipating every need and streamlining interior space (vividly demonstrated in a kitchen designed by Le Corbusier), but could not predict the societal needs of urbanization (shown with a panorama of shuttered storefronts in an under-utilized apartment complex in a French suburb). The film closes with a segment on the Urban Think Tank, an organization that aims to bring sophisticated, socially-integrated urban planning to low-income residents in exploding cities in South America, an innovation very much in the spirit of the Bauhaus. (2018, 90 min, DCP Digital) AE
Anna Viduleja’s HOMO NOVUS (Latvia)
Sunday, 5:30pm, and Wednesday, 6pm
The time is the 1930s. Juris Upenājs (Igors Šelegovskis), an eager young painter fresh out of a provincial art school, steps off a train in Latvia’s capital, Riga, and straight into the free-wheeling world of the professional art scene he hopes to join. Along the way, he rubs elbows with some of his idols, a few wealthy patrons, an art gallery owner, an art critic who greases the way for him to succeed, and, of course, a mysterious woman (Kristīne Krūze). This thoroughly charming portrait of the artist as a young man tells a familiar story with the usual assortment of spirited kooks, but the telling feels fresh, with an interesting pace that communicates the excitement—and then the reckoning—our hero feels as his fortunes rise and fall and rise again. The comedic cast, including Andris Keišs as mad genius Salutaurs, Kaspars Znotiņš as critic/gadfly Kurcums, and Kaspars Zvīgulis as Eižēns Žibeika, a successful artist hoping to rest on his laurels and sizable inheritance, keeps this tale spinning. The film is also a fascinating tour through Latvia’s art scene during the 1930s, with paintings by Jānis Tidemanis, Skulme Uga, Kārlis Padegs, Valdemārs Tone (his stunning portrait, “Anna,” is a highlight), and others masquerading as the work of our fictional artists. Stay through the credits to learn the real artists behind the art. (2018, 90 min, DCP Digital) MF
Benedikt Erlingsson’s WOMAN AT WAR (New Icelandic)
Music Box Theatre — Check venue website for showtimes
Can one person make a real difference in the world? That is the central question of Icelandic director Benedikt Erlingsson’s unusual thriller, WOMAN AT WAR. Halla (Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir) is a single, middle-age choir director in Reykjavík who secretly carries out acts of sabotage to disrupt the industrialization of Iceland. The thrilling opening scene in the breathtaking Icelandic landscape shows us just how resourceful and determined Halla is to focus people’s attention on the existential threat posed to future generations by climate change and environmental pollution. She is a lone crusader, however, and the authorities are hot on her heels. Further, she learns that after four years of waiting— a lifetime ago for Halla, given the turn her life has taken— she has been approved to adopt a Ukrainian orphan. Geirharðsdóttir plays dual roles as Halla and her identical twin, Ása, a yoga instructor who chooses to save the world by exploring her innerspace, thus presenting the dichotomy of public versus private action in service of the greater good. The philosophical underpinnings of WOMAN AT WAR are well served by the smart, well-constructed script by director Erlingsson and co-screenwriter Ólafur Egilsson that positions Halla as a brave, but very human eco-warrior, emphasized amusingly by having an on-camera trio of musicians provide the music cues that would be a heroic, fully orchestrated soundtrack in a more conventional film. And unlike a conventional film, the feel-good ending is undercut by the realization that nothing we have seen in the film has stopped the encroaching flood. (2018, 100 min, DCP Digital) MF
CHRISTIAN PETZOLD X 2
Music Box Theatre — (JERICHOW) Saturday and Sunday, 11:30am and (TRANSIT) check venue website for showtimes
Christian Petzold’s JERICHOW (German Revival)
Thomas (Benno Fürmann) needs money. His mother is dead; his "friends" have collected the debt he owed them. All his has is a rickety house and the clothes on his back. Walking with his food stamp groceries home one day, he spots a car that's driven into the ravine. Its drunken owner, Ali (Hilmi Sözer), loses his license and hires Thomas as his driver. Of course Ali has a beautiful wife—Laura (Nina Hoss), a former bartender who married Ali because he promised to pay off her debts. She's been to prison; Thomas was dishonorably discharged from the Army. It's a simple set-up: the monstrous lovers held prisoner by an innocent. Simple and tense. JERICHOW is romance without dreams. There are only goals: a husband must be cuckolded, a debt must be paid, a man must be killed. The result isn't something doomed or "fated": just a natural progression, which is even more dreadful. (2008, 93 min, 35mm) IV
Christian Petzold’s TRANSIT (New German/French)
An antifascist German’s desperate flight from Paris to Marseilles as the Nazis start to overrun France becomes a metaphysical journey in which his very identity is subsumed to the needs of the wife (Paula Beer) of a writer who, unbeknownst to her, committed suicide when she abandoned him in Paris. The man (Franz Rogowski) assumes her husband’s identity and lets go of self-interest to secure her transit documents to escape Marseilles, where other refugees are waiting fruitlessly to be delivered from evil. There is much in TRANSIT that will remind viewers of CASABLANCA (1942), thus continuing director Christian Petzold’s riffs on cinematic history—Herk Harvey’s CARNIVAL OF SOULS (1962) and Georges Franju’s EYES WITHOUT A FACE (1960) are clear inspirations for his YELLA (2007) and PHOENIX (2014), respectively. However, Petzold’s source material is Anna Seghers’ Transit, a renowned 1944 novel based on her own experience as a German exile trapped in Marseilles in 1940–41. His recurring themes of the permeability of identity, betrayal, the complex nature of love, and the ghosts that haunt humanity are married to a sympathetic examination of the current refugee crisis in Europe by setting his film in the present and populating it with Arab refugees. By straddling the present and the past, he effectively renders history and our willful amnesia accomplices to atrocity. (2018, 101 min, DCP Digital) MF
Read our interview with TRANSIT star Franz Rogowski on the blog.
Gordon Quinn’s ’63 BOYCOTT (New Documentary)
Chicago Cultural Center — Saturday, 2pm (Free Admission)
’63 BOYCOTT is a timely look backward as the U.S. public education system stands vulnerably in the crosshairs of public officials who seem determined to destroy it. Archival footage and current interviews with some of the organizers of and participants in the boycott tell the story of a separate and unequal Chicago Public Schools (CPS) system they maintain was created and perpetuated by then Mayor Richard J. Daley. Schools in black neighborhoods were overcrowded and underresourced. Black students used outdated textbooks, and adding insult to injury, they had to share them. Modern scientific equipment and teaching aids found in white schools stood in stark contrast to the lack of any equipment available to black students. The final outrage was the appointment of Ben Willis as Superintendent of Schools. Accused of being a segregationist and a racist, Willis proposed to “relieve” overcrowding not by moving black students to nearby white schools, but rather by turning mobile homes into classrooms situated in school parking lots. Under pressure to resign over this “Willis wagon” plan, his probably insincere offer to step down was rejected by the school board. The time to boycott—and cost CPS hundreds of thousands of dollars in state aid—had arrived. ’63 BOYCOTT offers footage and still photos of various activists and activities, including the sit-in at the Board of Education and alternative Freedom Schools set up to teach black history. These images are intercut with footage of protests that broke out in 2013 when Mayor Rahm Emanuel ordered the closing of 54 schools, the bulk of which served students of color. The images are remarkably similar, sadly emphasizing that battles fought years ago have never really been won. Still, it is worth taking heart. Sandra Murray, a bright African-American student in 1963 who was told to forget her ambition to be a research scientist went on to earn a doctorate in biology, win National Science Foundation grants for research into cell biology and endocrinology, and taught in various universities in the United States and in Ethiopia. Followed by a panel discussion with Gordon Quinn and others. (2016, 30 min, Digital Projection) MF
Jean Renoir’s THE RULES OF THE GAME (French Revival)
Park Ridge Classic Film Series (at the Park Ridge Public Library, 20 S. Prospect Ave., Park Ridge) — Thursday, 7pm (Free Admission)
Jean Renoir’s masterpiece remains the gold standard against which all ensemble dramas are measured. Renoir juggles a number of major characters and honors each one’s perspective, resulting in a group portrait in which every character is sympathetic while remaining poignantly fallible. Adding to the film’s polyphonic quality is the way Renoir moves so lissomely between tones. Even after multiple viewings, you may have trouble anticipating when Renoir will take a farcical or bittersweet approach to the material—his stance often evolves within scenes (or sometimes within shots). The liberty of the filmmaking anticipates the New Wave movements of the 1960s—not for nothing did Renoir dedicate his autobiography to the Nouvelle Vague filmmakers, noting that their concerns were the same as his—though THE RULES OF THE GAME is also an extraordinary document of French high society on the eve of World War II. The romantic entanglements, the gossip, the general frivolity all have a despairing undertone, as one senses that the lifestyles portrayed herein are not meant to last. (The film’s tragic conclusion, however surprising, has an air of inevitability about it, which is precisely what makes it so devastating.) For almost two decades after its disastrous premiere, it seemed that RULES too wouldn’t last. The French government, claiming the film to be “bad for morale,” banned it a month after it came out; when the Nazis took over France, they banned the movie again. Over 20 minutes of footage were considered lost until 1956, when technicians restored Renoir’s original cut. By the start of the following decade, it rightly gained its reputation as one of the greatest films ever made. (1939, 110 min, Video Projection) BS
MORE SCREENINGS AND EVENTS
The Onion City Experimental Film & Video Festival continues Friday through Sunday at Chicago Filmmakers (5720 N. Ridge Ave.) with eight additional programs and three on-site installations. More info at full schedule at www.onioncityfilmfest.org.
The Chicago Film Society (at the Music Box Theatre) screen Terry Zwigoff's 2001 film GHOST WORLD (111 min, 35mm) on Monday at 7pm. Preceded by Heather McAdams and Chris Ligon's 1995 short CARTOON GIRL (12 min, 16mm).
The Conversations at the Edge series (at the Gene Siskel Film Center) presents Disorienting Diasporas (1998-2015, approx. 60 min total, Various Formats) on Thursday at 6pm. The program was curated by the Queer Media Database Canada-Québec Project and Taklif: تکلیف, and includes work by Atif Siddiqi, Hejer Charf, Ari Nooranii, Kevin d’Souza, Farrah Khan, Sharif Waked, Fawzia Mirza, 2Fik, and Safiya Randera. With Nima Esmailpour from Taklif: تکلیف and Jordan Arseneault from the QMDCQ in person.
Flashpoint Chicago (28 N. Clark St., Ste 500) and IFP Chicago present a rough-cut screening of Rob Christopher's in-progress documentary ROY'S WORLD: BARRY GIFFORD'S CHICAGO on Monday at 6:15pm, with Christopher and producer Michael Glover Smith in person (both of whom are Cine-File contributors!). Free admission.
The Chicago Underground Film Festival/IFP Chicago present D.P. Carlson's 2018 documentary JOE FRANK - SOMEWHERE OUT THERE (86 min, Digital Projection) on Sunday at 7pm at the Davis Theater, with Carlson in person.
The Beverly Arts Center presents a Local Shorts Program (approx. 80 min total, Digital Projection) on Wednesday at 7:30pm. Included are works by Tommy Heffron, Damon Griffin, Josh Mabe, Eddie Rybarski, Spencer Parsons, Laura Harrison, Joan Carles Martorell, and Jeremy Handrup. Select filmmakers in person.
Heaven Gallery (1550 N. Milwaukee Ave, 2nd Floor) hosts Moving_Image_00:05 on Friday at 7pm. This one-day festival includes work by local filmmakers Doug DeWitt, Hale Ekinci, Paige Taul, Kioto Aoki, Yao-Yi Wang. Nayeon Yang, Leslie Baum and Fred Wells, Ke Lui, Jon Chambers, Jesse Malmed, Eunhye Shin, Cherrie Yu, Iris Bernblum, Rebecca Nakaba, and Madeline Finn. Free admission.
The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago screens Laurie Simmons’ 2016 film MY ART (86 min, Unconfirmed Format) is on Tuesday at 2pm (with additional showings through April 9). Free with museum admission; and Nellie Kluz presents a rough cut her short documentary IF YOU LIVED HERE YOU'D BE HOME BY NOW on Tuesday at 6pm in the museum's "In Progress" series. Free admission.
Asian Pop-Up Cinema presents Ryon Lee's 2016 Hong Kong/Malaysian film SHOW ME YOUR LOVE (98 min, Digital Projection) on Tuesday at 7pm at AMC River East 21, with actress Nina Paw Hee-ching in person; Bon An's 2017 Taiwanese film SEN SEN (112 min, Digital Projection) on Wednesday at 7pm at AMC River East 21, with director Bon An and actress Nina Paw Hee-ching in person; and Chuang Ching-shen's 2018 Taiwanese film HIGH FLASH (110 min, Digital Projection) is on Thursday at 7pm at AMC River East 21, with director Chuang Ching-shen and actor Chen Chia-kuei in person.
The Rebuild Foundation (at the Stony Island Arts Bank, 6760 S. Stony Island Ave.) screens Daniel Petrie's 1961 film A RAISIN IN THE SUN (128 min, Video Projection) on Sunday at 2pm. Followed by a discussion. Free admission, but RSVP at https://bit.ly/2UEWpIG.
The Alliance Française (54 W. Chicago Ave.) screens Francois Girard's 2017 Canadian film HOCHELAGA, LAND OF SOULS (100 min, Video Projection) on Tuesday at 6:30pm; and Catalin Bugean's short film MY BEST FRIEND (30 min) is showing as part of an evening of Romanian arts and culture, beginning at 6:30pm. Free admission for both.
The Northbrook Public Library (1201 Cedar Lane, Northbrook) screens Barry Jenkins' 2018 film IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK (119 min, Digital Projection) on Wednesday at 1 and 7pm and Thursday at 1pm. Free admission.
Also at the Music Box Theatre this week: Panos Cosmatos' 2010 film BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW (110 min, 35mm) is on Friday and Saturday at Midnight; Tommy Wiseau's 2003 film THE ROOM (99 min, 35mm) is on Friday at Midnight; and Jim Sharman's 1975 film THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW (100 min, 35mm) is on Saturday at Midnight.
Facets Cinémathèque plays Gabrielle Brady's 2018 German/UK/Australian documentary ISLAND OF THE HUNGRY GHOSTS (98 min, Video Projection) for a week-long run.
Comfort Film at Comfort Station Logan Square (2579 N. Milwaukee Ave.) screens Jason Barker's 2011 documentary MARX RELOADED (52 min, Video Projection) is on Wednesday at 8pm. Free admission.
ONGOING FILM/VIDEO INSTALLATIONS
Isaac Julien’s 2007 video installation THE LEOPARD (WESTERN UNION: SMALL BOATS) is on view at the Block Museum (Northwestern University) through April 14.
Currently on view at the Art Institute of Chicago: Naeem Mohaiemen’s 2017 three-channel video installation TWO MEETINGS AND A FUNERAL (88 min) is on view through March 31 in the Stone Gallery; Martine Syms' SHE MAD: LAUGHING GAS (2018, 7 min, four-channel digital video installation with sound, wall painting, laser-cut acrylic, artist’s clothes); and Dara Birnbaum’s KISS THE GIRLS: MAKE THEM CRY (1979, 6 min loop, two-channel video) is in the second floor corridor.
CINE-LIST: March 22 - March 28, 2019
MANAGING EDITOR // Patrick Friel
ASSOCIATE EDITORS // Ben Sachs, Kathleen Sachs, Kyle A. Westphal
CONTRIBUTORS // Kyle Cubr, Alexandra Ensign, Marilyn Ferdinand, Scott Pfeiffer, Ignatiy Vishnevetsky