On episode #11 of the Cine-Cast, Cine-File contributors take it on the road with this remote-heavy edition. On this episode, contributor Marilyn Ferdinand discusses filmmaker Patrick Wang and his latest film A BREAD FACTORY, playing at the Gene Siskel Film Center and Block Cinema (May 4), and contributor Michael Metzger interviews filmmaker Nellie Kluz at the Onion City Experimental Film & Video Festival!
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.
Aki Kaurismäki’s DRIFTING CLOUDS (Finnish Revival)
Chicago Film Society (at Northeastern Illinois University, The Auditorium, Building E, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. — Wednesday, 7:30pm
Aki Kaurismäki’s DRIFTING CLOUDS may be about Europe’s recession of the 1990s, but it often resembles Hollywood romances from the Great Depression. This was probably intentional on Kaurismäki’s part, as the Finnish writer-director has always been a consummate cinephile. For evidence of his movie love, check out the posters for L’ATALANTE, L’ARGENT, and NIGHT ON EARTH conspicuously displayed in the lobby of the movie theater that the main characters of CLOUDS frequent throughout the film—or, for that matter, consider that Kaurismäki has his characters frequent the cinema as part of their weekly routine. Movies are simply part of life for this filmmaker: not only do they reflect the zeitgeist; they help us cope with it and imagine solutions to the problems it throws at us. Kaurismäki’s films contain laughs even when they present sad situations, and their tidy, subtly stylized compositions encourage viewers to see beauty in the mundane. The mise-en-scene of CLOUDS is exuberantly colorful in addition to being well-organized; in fact this may be Kaurismäki’s best-looking work. But where the colors exude sunniness, the story is consistently gloomy. The central couple, Ilona (Kati Outinen) and Lauri (Kari Väänänen), experience one misfortune after another, losing their jobs, their savings, and very nearly their self-respect. What makes the film so winning—in addition to Kaurismäki’s gentle depictions of workaday life and pavement-pounding—is that Ilona and Lauri never lose each other. These characters love one another through thick and thin: you can see it in the way Ilona kisses her husband as though it’s second nature in the first scene where they appear together (she’s boarding the trolley car he drives near the end of his shift) or when Lauri comes home with flowers and cutlets after he secures a job interview midway through the film. Gestures like these feel especially pronounced within Kaurismäki’s minimalist aesthetic, which suits these dutiful, hard-working heroes like your favorite old coat. Preceded by Kaurismäki’s 1986 short ROCKY VI (9 min, 35mm). (1996, 95 min, 35mm) BS
Khalik Allah’s BLACK MOTHER (New Documentary)
Facets Cinémathèque — Check Venue website for showtimes
In order of success, from total to partial: Khalik Allah’s BLACK MOTHER is a work of expanded portraiture, a home movie, a free-flowing landscape study, a cultural survey of contemporary Jamaica, and a polyvocal essay about Black femininity. It adds up to something spellbinding and unique in documentary (the closest connections I could draw, tenuously, are to passages in Bruce Baillie’s QUIXOTE), but it’s worth exploring these facets in turn. Allah’s wild gift for portraiture comes as little surprise to anyone familiar with his previous work in film and street photography: with an eye at once warm and unflinching, the artist dilates moments of mutual observation between his subjects—some family, some friends, many strangers—and his camera. A few of these ecstatic encounters yield smiles more effortless than I’ve come to expect from cinema—or from the world, for that matter. Allah’s soundtrack tempers the immediacy of these gazes, constructing a fugue of Jamaican voices (non-islanders shouldn’t expect subtitles to help with the heavier patois) whose relation to the image drifts from near-illustration to counterpoint to something more diffuse entirely. When Allah’s frames, shot in super-8, 16mm, and HD, move away from the human face to encompass vaster, more elemental scenes, his voices coalesce to offer a collective testimony of the island itself. Sometimes, intuitively, we attribute specific voices to faces, grasping subconsciously for the textures of age and personality they share. Just as the grain of film stock, deeply saturated and often impasto-thick, is critical to Allah’s aesthetic of near-terminal exaltation, the grain of the voice is everything in BLACK MOTHER, especially that of Allah’s grandfather. Spoken in a sagelike wheeze brined by decades of ministering to a troubled nation, the grandfather’s memories anchor this film in Jamaica’s spiritual identity, and in the New York-born Allah’s intimate family connection with it. One of the central revelations of BLACK MOTHER is its insight into to the ways that religion flows into every aspect of Jamaican consciousness. The film’s lulling visual and verbal rhythm belies the deftness of Allah’s montage, which steers through theological oxbows linking diet to child-rearing to courtship to sex. Juxtaposing frank profiles of the island’s sex workers—and, indirectly, its johns—with reverential odes to womanly virtue, BLACK MOTHER neither condemns nor affirms the ever-persistent Christian dichotomy of the mother and the whore. The nonjudgmental quality that defines Allah’s cinematography extends to his treatment of the island as a whole, frustrating any desire for critical distance that we may expect from the cinematic essay form. Organizing the film around a cycle of death and rebirth likewise threatens to render Jamaican identities, particularly those of women, as static and timeless. But Allah’s keen attention to intergenerational dynamics, his deep understanding of island’s long history of colonialism and rebellion, and his fundamental sensitivity to the element of contingency—as expressed in both the act of creating life and capturing it on camera—instead offer an image of a nation in a constant state of rebirth. (2018, 77 min, Video Projection) MM
Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s MILLENNIUM MAMBO (Taiwanese Revival)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) — Thursday, 7pm
After its premiere at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival, Hou Hsiao-Hsien cut MILLENNIUM MAMBO by about 15 minutes, excising much of the subplot in which the young heroine, Vicky (Shu Qi), travels to northern Japan on a whim. This passage makes a great impression in the subsequent version, even though—or perhaps because—it seems so fleeting. The heroine registers the change in landscape enough to comment on it in her narration, but she doesn’t internalize it; maybe it’s a result of having felt so transient for so long. In any case, the Japanese visit doesn’t interrupt the film’s hypnotic flow, which is tied to both Vicky’s experience (as a passive, drug-addled raver in turn-of-the-millennium Taipei) and the techno music that drives the soundtrack. Hou’s perspective feels detached in MILLENNIUM MAMBO, despite the fact that he shoots much of the action in medium shot and frequently moves the camera to observe people in motion. That he and screenwriter Chu T’ien-wen have Vicky narrate the story from ten years in the future heightens one’s sense of distance. Adding a layer of mystery to the story, Vicky doesn’t divulge what she’s doing in 2011; one simply gathers that she’s a different person at this point and that she views her young adulthood with feelings of loss. Her experience as a young adult is certainly lamentable: a high school dropout, she moves to Taipei with her boyfriend Hao-Hao to immerse herself in the city’s rave scene. Hao-Hao is often high and abusive, driving Vicky to flee their tiny apartment and take solace with an older gangster named Jack (who may care for her, but doesn’t try to convince her to leave her boyfriend for good). She returns to Hao-Hao a few times, however, drawn to him by some mutual self-annihilating impulse. That impulse provides the film with its dark heart—it’s a movie about the desire to lose yourself and the emotional baggage you still can’t get rid of in the process. (2001, 101 min, 35mm) BS
Fritz Lang’s RANCHO NOTORIOUS (American Revival)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) — Friday, 7 and 9:30pm, Sunday, 1:30pm
“HATE! MURDER! REVENGE!” A folk ballad, haunting and surreal, with moments of lyrical narration as sardonic as anything in THE BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS, the words functioning as artificially as the painted backdrops standing in for the outdoor sky; lyrics and atmosphere so hyperreal their artificiality becomes a sort of poetry, a space made up of Cubist planes and shapes forming a world outside of reality. This surface-level nature informs Fritz Lang’s love-sick characters: Vern, Frenchy, and Altar, who operate less as character’s drawn from psychological realism’s worn couch, and more from Lang’s own symbolic concepts of humanity. Lang had dabbled in the western genre before with WESTERN UNION and THE RETURN OF FRANK JAMES, but he had never depicted a Western such as this. Marrying the romantic fatalism last seen in YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE, the director finds within RANCHO NOTORIOUS the perfect union of the classic western film and his totemic approaches to star-crossed lovers, out of sync with time and the universe around them. No less nightmare-ish than his previous excursion into similar oil-dark waters, the pitch-black HOUSE BY THE RIVER, RANCHO NOTORIOUS takes on a hypnotic energy all its own, aglow in stained glass claustrophobia. The film’s opening shot of two lovers framed in a mirage of movie romance, almost too idyllic to last, signals the film’s intense preoccupation with the circular nature of time, allowing the two-shot of the couple to resemble more a typical Hollywood-style ending, rather than beginning. When Vern, one of the paradisal lovers, leaves his fiancé Beth after their picture-perfect embrace, Beth is accosted by a robber, who proceeds to rape and murder her. Upon returning to her lifeless body, her hand hideously clenched into a bloody claw, Vern sets out across landscapes of studio backlot hillsides at dusk, into a realm of lost souls wandering in circles in and out of time. “Time is what binds us, time is stronger than a rope”, are the words Frenchy, another unfortunate spirit lost between the propelled winds, tells Altar Keane, played by Marlene Dietrich. Altar is the owner of an outlaw hideout called Chuck-a-Luck, the location where she and Frenchy have played out their love affair for years. Frenchy, though, senses Altar’s affections drifting elsewhere, towards the newest outlaw to join the gang, Vern, who is there for an entirely different purpose. Far from the reverie he was experiencing in the film’s opening, Vern is trying to gain the trust of Altar and Frenchy’s band of thieves, in order to find the rapist/murderer of his fiancé. He works his way into the Altar’s affections. “I wish you’d go away and leave me alone. I wish you could come back ten years ago,” Altar tells Vern in the wake of a deliriously artificial setting sun, the fear of time gone and lost inside a prism she cannot leave. Time, and the men that surround her, cruelly play with Altar’s hopes and fears like the spinning fortune wheel that put her in Frenchy’s orbit in the first place. Every character talks of the past, even when they are simply just relaying information; hardly a one of them can resist a moment to revel in the halcyon days past. When Vern arrives at the Chuck-a-Luck, we are treated to a major inverse of the western genre, one that typically favors strangers coming together to form a sort of community. In RANCHO NOTORIOUS, where every perceived moment of bonds being formed is underlined by the inherent necessity of deception, the audience’s awareness of Vern’s real intentions become blurred. Vern has been eaten away by so much hate that he almost risks his entire mission at one point, and his own life. His insular feelings contrast so intensely with the faces of those around him that the film feels dizzyingly complex at times; Lang emphasizes the surrounding faces with so much humanity, yet cloaked in his own modernist approach towards people only as real as symbols in dreams. The stares emitting from these faces can also be the most horrifying moments in the film. The eyes of his fiancé’s murderer, contorted into a look of pure terror that Lang captured so menacingly many times before, pierces straight through to the heart as if directly from the eyes of Mabuse himself. Lang’s world is a nightmare, always, and these haunting images of madness linger so long that you begin to notice how every time a man tries to touch Altar, she pulls away. This is a Western only Lang could tell. He upends many of the genre’s steadfast rules about its characters and even though our “hero” Vern goes undercover to infiltrate the gang that killed his lover (not unlike previous Lang antiheroes such as Glenn Ford’s detective in THE BIG HEAT), his moral compass shifts well beyond the act of infiltration and deception, to the point where you almost forget where his story began. He becomes a stranger as much to the audience as he is to Marlene Dietrich and her gang of outlaws. Lang allows you to see past the myth of the West and into a morally confused galaxy of lives fatefully intertwined. RANCHO NOTORIOUS is over before you realize it; very fitting for a movie so obsessed with the complex and narrow pathways of time. (1952, 89 min, 35mm) JD
The Sun in the Belly: Indian Artist-Bureaucrat S.N.S. Sastry (Documentary Revival)
The Film Studies Center (at the Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E. 60th St., University of Chicago) — Friday, 7pm (Free Admission)
S.N.S. Sastry was a filmmaker working for the government-run Films Division in India in the 1960s and 70s, directing short documentaries that advanced governmental policies and positions. I have very little knowledge about his larger body of work and the full scope of films made at the Films Division, but based on this small selection it's evident that Sastry approached his functionary task with a certain amount of flair, sometimes seemingly struggling with balancing his artistic ambitions with the propagandistic mandate of these films, sometimes breaking out and creating some stunning work. The four 1970s films on the program—KEEP GOING (1971), THIS BIT OF THAT INDIA (1972), OUR INDIRA (1973), and WE HAVE PROMISES TO KEEP (1975)—are the least successful cinematically, but they remain fascinating in their tension between art and message. They use a kinetic sound and image collage style, as do the two earlier films, to create impressionistic mosaics of their subjects, though the heavy-handed overt political messages and hagiography of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi limits their interest as artistic productions. Not so with the earliest two films showing. I AM 20 (1967) recalls Paul Almond's 1964 British documentary SEVEN UP! (the first in the UP series that would be continued by Michael Apted) in it's age-specific criteria for its interviewees and also the classic French cinema verite films CHRONICLE OF A SUMMER (1961, Jean Rouch and Edgar Morin) and LE JOLI MAI (1963, Chris Marker and Pierre Lhomme). Sastry intercuts interviews with a range of 20-year-olds across social, economic, cultural, and geographic lines on a host of topics. The intimacy and authenticity of their voices gives the film an openness that is missing from the later, more proscriptive films. The highlight of the program is AND I MAKE SHORT FILMS (1968), which is the only one that doesn't have at least some kind of official purpose. It's a freewheeling assemblage of images and sounds, often working is humorous or ironic counterpoint, that resembles work by Arthur Lipsett or Stan VanDerBeek. It's a self-reflexive metafilm on being a shorts filmmaker making a short film. It feels like a goof—like Sastry and his colleagues having a bit of fun off-the-clock perhaps—but it was produced and released by the Films Division, and has become the best-know film from the FD. Sastry's collage style is in use in all these films, but here is where it shines. SHORT FILM is a kaleidoscopic edit of what seems to be outtakes or borrowed material from other productions (much like the work of Lipsett), with an energy and delight in the kinetic possibilities of montage. Though I'd recommend the later shorts more for their historical interest, I AM 20 and particularly AND I MAKE SHORT FILMS are both substantial works. (19967-75, approx. 90 min, Digital Projection) PF
William S. Hart's BRANDING BROADWAY (Silent American Revival)
Given the stature William S. Hart had as a star during the silent era, and his pivotal role in shaping the western as a genre during its formative years, it's surprising (and frustrating) how few of his surviving films are available in good home video editions (more are available in mediocre quality grey-market discs or as bad YouTube uploads than have received proper DVD or Blu-Ray releases). So this revival of one of his rarer, and less characteristic, films is a treat. For a little over a decade (1914-25), Hart forged his now-iconic image of bad-guy-who-goes-good. His films shared the gritty, darker themes and sensibilities of many 1910's social issue films (he worked early on for Thomas Ince) and the lingering Victorian morality most often associated with D.W. Griffith. BRANDING BROADWAY (1918) is something of an anomaly in his career—a lighter, more comedic work that is also an early example of the narrative conceit of the cowboy going to the big city. Hart plays a rowdy cowhand who is run out of his Arizona town and winds up in New York City where he becomes the "guardian" to the spoiled, young-adult son of a millionaire who likes to drink and start brawls. Hart's character here is softened considerably from his usual ones, so his eventual change of ways is less radical—a romantic comedy move from swaggering prankster to love-struck gentleman rather than an epiphanal, fundamental transformation (though still one motivated by a woman). If BRANDING lacks the bite and more overt redemption story of HELL'S HINGES, for example, it's still a solid showcase for Hart's seemingly innate understanding of screen performance and the power of film. For a theater-trained actor, Hart displays a remarkable subtlety in his performances, here and elsewhere. Though he, like Buster Keaton, is often thought of as an impassive and unemotive actor (a style cultivated to match his enigmatic characters), he (and Keaton) could convey more emotion though small gestures and facial expressions than most others of their generation. Hart's face is a mesmerizing topography; craggy and worn, hard and granite-like at times, but also richly expressive and human. Preceded by Hart's 1915 short ANGEL OF HELL'S KITCHEN (aka MR. 'SILENT' HASKINS) (approx. 10 min, 35mm archival print). Live accompaniment by Dennis Scott. (1918, 53 min, 35mm) PF
Patrick Wang's A BREAD FACTORY (New American)
Block Cinema (Northwestern University) - Saturday, 12:30pm (Free Admission)
A site-specific work of art that bequeaths new meaning to the term, Patrick Wang's two-part, Super-16mm epic A BREAD FACTORY is a film that practices what it preaches. Shot on location at the bread factory-turned-multi-disciplinary arts facility Time & Space Limited in Hudson, New York, here lightly disguised as The Bread Factory with Tyne Daly and Elisabeth Henry standing in for TSL principals Linda Mussmann and Claudia Bruce, Wang's film is, yes, an unruly, polyphonic state of the union address encompassing the perilous reality of humanities funding, the vicissitudes of small town life, the long shadow of late capitalism, the dazed intersection between theater and life, the whispered and ungainly rewards of a long marriage, and the evergreen, irascible endurance of the free press. Yes, all those things, and perhaps half a dozen more—an American tapestry descended from Thornton Wilder and Robert Altman and Frederick Wiseman, but quick to elevate the anonymous prose of a product warranty over the poetry of William Faulkner. But we shouldn't overlook the way A BREAD FACTORY—which skipped fall festivals, premiered at TSL, garnered some of the year's most rhapsodic reviews, and trickled down through the rivulets of America's cinematheques, museums, microcinemas, galleries, and backyards over the last seven months with scarcely a handful of regular theatrical engagements—stands as its own best argument, a map of a promised land already underfoot. (A secret memo to my friend Glenn Webb: A BREAD FACTORY hasn't yet played at Boulder's Dairy Center for the Arts, another fantastic multi-disciplinary venue that makes its home in a former milk mill. Why not?) One can quibble around the edges (for my taste, the controversial musical numbers in the second part are essential, while the somewhat generic teen breakup subplot in the first half strikes a much more discordant note), but this titanic monument to the submerged continent of meaning under American vernacular speech is marvelously, fractiously whole. Suffice it to say, anyone who's ever worked as an arts administrator, curator, teenage projectionist, theater director, diner manager, or community fulcrum will see their life right there on the screen; for everyone else, A BREAD FACTORY is akin to claiming the spot reserved for a new congregant in the church parking lot and settling in for a marathon service on a slightly ragged cushion. Either way, you'll emerge changed and, perhaps, saved. (2018, 242 min, DCP Digital) KAW
Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s CURE (Japanese Revival)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) – Sunday, 7:30pm
Identity as a motif has preoccupied numerous filmmakers, from Ingmar Bergman (PERSONA) to Monte Hellman (ROAD TO NOWHERE) and Abbas Kiarostami (CLOSE-UP). Identity is often tied up with psychosis, and psychotics frequently feature in horror and suspense films because they channel the restless, faceless Id that resides in all of us. The idea that any one of us could become a gruesome killer if someone or something pierced our social conditioning is at the heart of Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s CURE. Kurosawa, interested in the shocked comments people invariably make after a neighbor or acquaintance commits a brutal murder (“He was such a nice man. They were an ordinary couple.”), explores the nature of identity and whether our bodies and minds are mere vessels waiting to be filled. On a busy street in Tokyo, a man (Ren Ohsugi) walks through a damp tunnel as cars pass on his right. A fluorescent light illuminating the tunnel blinks and buzzes. We next see the man in a hotel room with a naked prostitute. He is moving about the room, and she is sitting up in bed. Suddenly, he grabs a pipe and bashes her twice on the head. When next we enter the room, it is filled with police investigators. The lead detective, Kenichi Takabe (Kôji Yakusho), observes that a deep “x” has been cut across the prostitute’s neck and chest. The man is found naked, hiding in an air duct in the hallway. When he is questioned at police headquarters by Takabe and police psychiatrist Makoto Sakuma (Tsuyoshi Ujiki), the man has no idea why he killed the woman. Takabe will have several more such murders to investigate as the film goes on, but he must balance this puzzle with the increasing burden posed by his wife Fumie’s (Anna Nakagawa) mental deterioration. As other “x” cases come to the fore, we and Takabe slowly discover what links them together: a young amnesiac who is soon identified as Kunio Mamiya (Masato Hagiwara), a medical school dropout whose disheveled home reveals shelves of books about psychiatry, psychosis, and works about and by Franz Mesmer, a German physician who developed the idea of animal magnetism, or in the term used in the film, hypnosis, to influence behavior. As with most detective-centered stories, Takabe is no ordinary cop. Mamiya entices him with an accurate assessment of the detective’s torment. It is Mamiya’s conviction that most people don’t know themselves, the many selves hidden under the surface, the duality of their generous and vicious impulses. He considers Takabe extraordinary, like himself, for recognizing the split in himself. Kurosawa’s camerawork is beyond good. He scouted locations in and around Tokyo that reek of decay, giving us a fair approximation of a haunted house in the penultimate scene where the final showdown between Takabe and Mamiya takes place. He combines handheld work with static long shots of great beauty and atmosphere. He knows how to create tension by considering the images outside the frame, for example, having Sakuma enter Mamiya’s cell, which has a short wall hiding the toilet area in which Mamiya is standing. We don’t see the prisoner, but we know what he’s capable of, and the fear of actually looking at him infuses this scene powerfully. Indeed, Mamiya is rather like a filmmaker, bringing us under his spell, finding our triggers, and conjuring images through exposition and suggestion. With CURE, Kurosawa has created a powerhouse of psychological horror. (1997, 111 min, 35mm) MF
Penny Lane's HAIL SATAN? (New Documentary)
Music Box Theatre - Check Venue website for showtimes
From the incredibly talented experimental documentarian who brought us the features OUR NIXON and NUTS, and notable shorts like THE VOYAGERS and (my personal favorite) THE COMMONERS, HAIL SATAN? is a delightful and surprisingly un-experimental documentary about the Satanic Temple. Not to be confused with the Church of Satan, the Satanic Temple is a nontheistic religious organization (think "secular humanism," but with cool tattoos and black t-shirts) that aims to illustrate, through wildly entertaining satire and literal interpretations of first amendment rights, what should be obvious: church and state should be kept separate, and Christianity is not the national religion. This, of course, drives the religious right nuts, and we get to watch the outrage unfold. Indeed, the subject matter of HAIL SATAN? is almost too easy to enjoy, and could perhaps have benefitted from a bit more of the pluralism the Satanic Temple asserts forms the core of our democracy. What do the atheists think? The (less fun) secular humanists? They don't seem to have a voice in HAIL SATAN?, but we do hear from lawmakers and protesters on the religious right who speak with passionate candor about how much they hate these damn Satanists. That is the only critique I have of this fantastic documentary, though—the tone is pitch perfect, as one would only expect from Penny Lane. Her expert interviewing skills draw out her subjects and animate the Temple's increasing media attention and civil actions with wry humor. Her creative use of archival footage is much less prominent than in her previous work, with so much content already at hand in archival news and phone footage, but vintage religious films and an irresistible clip of Tim Curry from LEGEND are always apt and quite funny. By the time the credits roll, HAIL SATAN? makes the Satanic Temple so disarmingly charming, you might very well end up wanting to join this quite reasonable non-religious crusade. Is there a mailing list I can sign up for? (2018, 95 min, DCP Digital) AE
Lori Felker’s FUTURE LANGUAGE: THE DIMENSIONS OF VON LMO (New Experimental Documentary)
Music Box Theatre — Tuesday and Wednesday, 9:30pm
Most modern documentaries about eccentrics, forgotten geniuses, and cult heroes are about as adventurous as a Disneyland jungle cruise. Suffocated by voice-overs, clogged by talking heads, and bloated with cloying AfterEffects photomontages, they aspire to a one-size-fits-all competence that evacuates the strangeness of their subjects even as they turn that strangeness into a commodity. Conceivably, such films will one day be made entirely by algorithms and a few Wikipedia links. But FUTURE LANGUAGE: THE DIMENSIONS OF VON LMO is the only documentary that could be made about Frankie Cavallo, aka VON LMO, irrepressibly bent noise musician and space refugee from the planet Strazar—and Chicago-based filmmaker Lori Felker is the only person who could have made it. Ask LMO why it had to be Felker, and he might talk about their shared “extraterrestrial hybridity,” or about their past lives together, perhaps as two ingredients in an 18th-century salad. The filmmaker certainly has gift for entering what Steven “Laserman” Cohen, VON LMO collaborator and inventor of the “Gimbaled Laser Bongo,” describes as a “mindlocked brainfuck” with the post-punk icon: throughout FUTURE LANGUAGE, Felker tunes us to station WLMO by way of pixel-frying video effects, Martian-time-slip montage, and sheer sonic attack. Something of a stylistic factotum in her experimental film and video work, Felker’s got enough technique to be exactly as weird as she wants to be, maneuvering between interviews, candid camera phone footage, animation, live performances, and blizzards of CRT noise with exhilarating confidence. Clearly her subject is impressed: after seeing one of his acid trips woozily brought to life in Mike Lopez’s cartoon recreations (sequences which serve as color-coded act breaks in an otherwise very freewheeling film), VON LMO lets out an unbridled shout of recognition that conveys as much joy on screen as I’ve seen in eons. In these moments when FUTURE LANGUAGE circles back on itself, revealing the seven (hundred?) year process of portraying a bizarre and troubled life, we see Felker’s fandom take on the gravity of real friendship, but this film is really an extended dialogue between two artists, and only an artist of her ingenuity and idiosyncrasy could slingshot around this “intergalactic superstar” without burning out. Though an undeniably affectionate, sometimes awestruck tribute, the film wisely describes a more elliptical orbit around its subject than most rock profiles—over the years, VON LMO seems to come in and out of focus not only to Felker and to us, but to himself. Her trajectory not only helps shield the filmmaker from her subject’s sometimes disturbing volatility, it also lends FUTURE LANGUAGE a peculiar rhythm, one that mirrors the flux of its own making. Most importantly, her ability to step back preserves the quantum of VON LMO’s essential strangeness, which utterly confounds conventional rise-and-fall-and-rise biographical structures anyway. Thrilling and sometimes frightening up close, the dimensions of VON LMO become both more spooky, and more affecting, at a distance. Felker in person. (2018, 87 min, Digital Projection) MM
Satyajit Ray's CHARULATA (Indian Revival)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) — Wednesday, 7 and 9:30pm
Though his name is familiar to American cinephiles and his debut feature, PATHER PANCHALI, has been a staple of film school curricula for decades, Satyajit Ray remains something of an unknown quantity in the United States: a writer and filmmaker with a vast and diverse body of work who is known chiefly for a handful of early features. If you only known Ray for his Apu trilogy—or for his reputation as a dude who, like, made some important movies—then this nuanced masterpiece about a lonely, neglected upper-class housewife in 19th century Calcutta should be an eye-opener. The son and grandson of illustrators, Ray had a background in graphic design (PATHER PANCHALI was adapted from a novel for which Ray has designed the cover), and his masterful sense of visual composition comes to the forefront in CHARULATA, a film where the visible—the framings, the careful dolly movements, even the wallpaper—somehow communicates invisible undercurrents and subtexts. The gorgeous score—composed by Ray himself—is nothing to sneeze at either. (1964, 117 min, 35mm) IV
Nuri Bilge Ceylan's THE WILD PEAR TREE (New Turkish)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) — Saturday, 7pm and Sunday, 4pm
Celebrated Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan's THE WILD PEAR TREE is a sly, almost numinous three-plus hour drama that will cast a spell on those oriented to cinema's rich, talky side. Co-writing with his wife Ebru, Ceylan crafts a story about callow, earnest, bookish would-be novelist Sinan (Aydın Doğu Demirkol), who comes home to the little village of Çan after graduating from college in Çanakkale, near the site of ancient Troy. We meet Sinan's feckless, constantly chuckling father Idris (Murat Cemcir), a rascal who spends all the family's money betting on horses. "Dad's thing is a revolt against the absurdity of life," says Sinan, who doesn't respect the man, calling him "Mr. Loser." Idris' lifetime project, never finished, is the seemingly Sisyphean task of digging a well, searching for water where none perhaps exists. What we have with this movie is essentially a series of dialogues in which Sinan meets people who subscribe to various versions of reality and life's meaning. All the while, he's trying to raise money to publish his book. Almost invariably, he finds a way to piss his interlocutors off. Sinan can’t really help being condescending and pretentious. A bit of a sneer tends to play about his face, and he's got a misanthropic streak: he feels like he's at odds with "normal people," that he never fit in with his hometown and its "small-minded, bigoted" denizens. (In other words, he's in his twenties.) The film is expansive and patient. It should feel slow or desultory—and it will to some—but I was never less than amused. The movie is a feast for the eyes, too. Gökhan Tiryaki's atmospheric landscape cinematography is sumptuously textured. The sound design is exquisite, creating its own ambient world from the call of gulls, the wind in the trees, the rain outside a bookstore. Sinan meets Hatice (Hazar Ergüçlü), a young woman he grew up with, in a sun-dappled walnut field. So much life suffuses this beautiful little scene, with its elegant zooms and dollies. Ceylan makes the unveiling of Hatice's hair a truly radiant moment. In another scene, Sinan buttonholes an established novelist (Serkan Keskin) and manages to incense the man entirely, while absolutely failing to say what his novel is about, variously describing it as a kind of fictionalized memoir, a "quirky meta-novel,” or "intimate confessions." He importunes the town mayor and the fellow who runs the sand quarry. He meets two young imams nicking from an apple tree, who immediately fall into an intense, entertainingly-acted theological debate. He has long talks with his mom (Bennu Yildirimlar), who loves her somewhat tragic husband, despite it all. For many, though (myself included), the film will turn on a few surreal, inexplicable moments. One of these involves Idris' beloved dog, which Sinan, unbeknownst to his father, sells to finance the publication of his novel. Another occurs in a poignant late scene, where estranged father and son, played so note-perfectly by Demirkol and Cemcir, come to a kind of understanding. See what you think; for me, the imagery seems to contrast a vision of defeat, of succumbing to despair, with one of renewing the struggle, of never giving up the search for what may not even exist. Call me odd, but my idea of a good time—or at least one of my ideas of a good time—is to experience a work that's attempting a deep, difficult exegesis on important human questions. THE WILD PEAR TREE is that kind of experience, and that's why it entertained me throughout. (2019, 188 min, DCP Digital) SP
Brian De Palma’s DRESSED TO KILL (American Revival)
Music Box Theatre – Friday and Saturday, Midnight
DRESSED TO KILL opens like a diamond reflecting light in many directions, inside the Day-Glo ambience of a bedroom, bathed in the immortal sound-sphere of Pino Dinnaggio’s soft-core string arrangements; the mind is where this film begins and ends. The glare of light pierces through the skin of this film like a sharpened razor, tearing at the fabric of the illusion. No other filmmaker, other than Godard, has played so much with what we as viewers perceive as the surface, or surfaces of films, revealing their layers into a sinking hole, like mirrors reflecting into themselves. This is the start of what we have come to know as Brian De Palma. While his previous films pointed towards the direction this film would take audiences, this is the film from which the rest follows. The layers of reality are just as buried as the more “obvious” BODY DOUBLE years later, and this work cements the filmmaker as the premiere Master of Subversion. While its tempting for critics to dish out weak cases in the trial of “Is De Palma the new Hitchcock?” maybe we as viewers, in our own times, should better ask the question “Is De Palma the new Buñuel?” A great deal could be said on that point, avoiding the narrow view to which we compare De Palma to Hitchcock; but what will this serve other than a base entry-way into De Palma the filmmaker? Maybe this is the ultimate juncture where PSYCHO and BELLE DE JOUR meet? Maybe De Palma better illustrates the similarities between Buñuel and Hitchcock? Or maybe De Palma is just De Palma and we’d serve his work, and ourselves, better if we proceeded as such? Yes, this film is an almost reimagining of PSYCHO, more so, an examination of the Hitchcock film itself, in which all the elements from the 1960 classic are fleshed out in the most literal sense: there is the murder of an innocent woman trying to regain her moral compass, her discussion with the unknowing murderer about her position in life, a killer with multiple personalities, a relative of the victim investigating the murder, the psychologist’s explanation, nefarious showers, and cross-dressing. De Palma seems to be daring critics and viewers to make the obvious comparisons, as he would do so more graphically the rest of his career. There may be no greater filmmaker, sans Griffith, to truly develop/invent the cinema like Hitchcock (certainly directors like Scorsese and Polanski “rip off” or “pay homage” to Hitchcock as much) and De Palma understands Hitchcock’s position as bedrock in the proliferation of the cinematic language. He understands that to try to avoid imitating Hitchcock within the “thriller genre” is almost as foolish as someone simply trying to BE Hitchcock. Its of note to mention the emotional connection that runs throughout the film, that of a boy being separated from his mother. While the emotions are less obvious than they are in an emotionally fuelled work like CARLITO’S WAY, they are not simply absent. Over the course of the film, the boy’s obsession with solving his mother’s murder, transitions into the fascination of using the eye of a camera to better establish a long-sought truth, one that will become more refracted and oblique as the investigation proceeds. As in a film like Michelangelo Antonioni’s L’AVVENTURA, the original objective of the investigation is but a mere side-entrance into the connection between two lost souls as they solve the mystery together. This film is no more a horror film than the opening of BLOW-OUT is, and yet simply reducing the film to a mere commentary on genre, is completely missing the point. The ending of this film splits, like male and female, into two different planes of view, as we now get the voyeur perspective more explicitly, à la mental institution patients and customers at a posh Manhattan restaurant. To be more revealing about its conclusion is not so much an avoidance of things being spoiled, but more of things being discovered; this is not a film that sits neatly into the category of “well-defined,” but one that reveals itself over time, as it sweeps you up in the fantastical joys of how a film speaks to an audience and how an audience speaks to a film. (1980, 105 min, 35mm) JD
Michael Glover Smith's RENDEZVOUS IN CHICAGO (New American)
Chicago Filmmakers (5720 N. Ridge Ave.) - Saturday, 7pm
At a time when our leaders prey on, and feed off, the worst parts of ourselves, it couldn't be a more necessary time for an homage to Éric Rohmer. That's just what my friend, Cine-File's own Mike Smith, has given us with his third feature, the sweet, delightful, humanistic rom-com RENDEZVOUS IN CHICAGO. It celebrates love and intelligence—that is to say, the best in us. Smith has taken the basic form of Rohmer's RENDEZVOUS IN PARIS—three sketches united by their setting in one of the world's great cities—and added his own original agenda, which encompasses feminism and a pro-gay vision. He's even shot the movie in Rohmer's favored boxy Academy aspect ratio. Smith's script, based on stories he dreamed up with Jill McKeown (his wife and also a friend), shows his knack for the simple yet elegant structure: the three chapters correspond to the beginning, middle, and end of love, respectively, with the end cycling back into the beginning. Coming out of acting retirement after 37 years, Haydée Politoff, from Rohmer's touchstone LA COLLECTIONNEUSE (1967), performs a place-setting Hyde Park prologue. She's the faculty adviser to U of C doctoral candidate Delaney, wittily played by Clare Cooney. The first vignette, The Brothers Karamazov, takes place in a little candlelit wine bar. If I say it's a bit of a Kubrickian/Lynchian antechamber, that belies how cozy it actually is. It's a lonely Sunday night and whip-smart Delaney is working on her thesis. Suddenly, she finds herself being hit on, not entirely unwelcomed, by the only other patron: none other than Paul, the likably pretentious aspiring writer from COOL APOCALYPSE, Smith's debut. (Amusingly, when we get a glimpse of what Paul's writing, it's the end of MERCURY IN RETROGRADE, Smith's second feature.) Once again, Paul is played by the funny Kevin Wehby, who's emerging as Smith's Jean-Pierre Léaud, or Kyle MacLachlan. Delaney proposes a naughty little game, which quickly hoists Paul with his own male petard. The second sketch, Cats and Dogs, is my favorite. Achieving an effortless Linklater-ian tone, it follows a gay couple, Andy and Rob, as they walk from their Rogers Park home to the shores of Lake Michigan. Smith sets the scene with glimpses of the Essanay and Selig Polyscope buildings, nods to Chicago's rich film history, a subject on which he literally wrote the book. We know, but Andy doesn't, that Rob has a question to pop, but look out—as they meet the neighborhood's dogs, it emerges that Andy's more of a cat person, whereas Rob's a dog guy! As Andy and Rob, respectively, Rashaad Hall and Matthew Sherbach are so natural, charming, and funny that I not only wanted them to be a real couple, I wanted to be their friend. They run into Tess from COOL APOCALYPSE (Chelsea David), who's out walking Sophie the Shih Tzu, playing herself in a flawless method performance. When the gents get to the beach, there's a moving homage to the immortal "Lake Shore Drive" by the late Skip Haynes, to whom the film is dedicated. The third sketch, The End Is the Beginning, is the most minimalist. It features Nina Ganet, back as Julie from COOL APOCALYPSE. After a sudden, tumultuous rom-com breakup with Wyatt from MERCURY IN RETROGRADE (Shane Simmons), Julie finds herself alone again, but for us. Warming to us, she begins to fall in love with the camera itself: that is to say, with you and me. Since she's played by the sunny, freckle-faced Ganet, how can we resist falling in love back, at least a little? It's a remarkably benign, even celebratory, view of "the gaze." As Julie takes us in her arms to dance, we spin round and round, dizzy on the cusp of new love. As an Ohio boy who's lived in Chicago for 25 years now, I love the idea of doing for my adopted city what Rohmer did for Paris. My personal feeling is that the magic is always there in Chicago: you just need to know how to look. Perhaps the most valuable thing RENDEZVOUS IN CHICAGO did for me is to renew that feeling, after all these years. It's a vision to treasure: heaven might just be a beach on the shores of Lake Michigan, lolling away the afternoon with someone you love, in Chicago, Illinois. Smith and select cast in person. (2018, 69 min, Digital Projection) SP
Claire Denis’s HIGH LIFE (New International)
Music Box Theatre — Check Venue website for showtimes
“Beauty pisses me off,“ Claire Denis once said. No wonder Monte, the protagonist of HIGH LIFE, was first inspired by the greasily gaunt Vincent Gallo, Denis’s one-time muse of American scumminess, and subsequently developed for Philip Seymour Hoffman, whose mass of gut, skin, and stubble always felt tailored to fit a personal core of self-loathing. In the intervening years as the project sought funding, Gallo would burn out in a manner clownishly characteristic of the lowlifes he had played, while Hoffman would check out tragically so. Fifteen years on, HIGH LIFE comes to us at last, but in a fashion unimaginable at its time of origin. Claire Denis has officially broken out. Someone I met at a recent screening of L’INTRUS drove this home upon remarking the high volume of “youngs” in attendance. Robert Pattinson is one of these “youngs,” as are other members of the ensemble gathered around him here: Mia Goth, Ewan Mitchell, Claire Tran, and Gloria Obianyo—all in their twenties or early thirties. These millennials comprise one half of the crew that mans the spacecraft in HIGH LIFE. An older half consists of André Benjamin (yes, that André), Agata Buzek, Lars Eidinger—all early forties—and Juliette Binoche, the oldest at 55. I list the whole cast, leaving aside one key character, to emphasize how Denis has adapted her vision generationally to fit her leading man. The 32 year-old Pattinson has come to epitomize the current state of the film industry, where star actors pursue their personal favorite auteurs in an art house cinema version of millionaire spelunking. He has already drawn much deserved praise for the fierce commitment he brings to HIGH LIFE, but I’ve seen few considerations of how his presence, with all it implies, affects the ecological balance of Denis’s art and, more importantly, how she responds to it. This is not a matter of pop cultural status alone. It’s a matter of a certain type of beauty, the beauty Denis once reviled, as well as of youth. The director’s previous films are filled with both youth and beauty of course. Young, beautiful bodies, and the sense of temptation and taboo they invite, have animated Denis’s cinema from CHOCOLAT to 35 SHOTS OF RUM, but no actor Denis has previously engaged exudes the ethereal, almost sacred beauty of a Hollywood star like Pattinson, and Monte was not originally supposed to be young. Denis wanted Hoffman for Monte, because he seemed “tired of life.” The story she would tell around this tired man involved a failing spaceship light-years from earth, a morgue filled with dead bodies, and a newborn baby. Through flashback, it would emerge how the crew, death row convicts on a suicide run to a black hole, had self destructed under the mental and physical strain of their circumstances, leaving only this man caring for this baby, the spawn of kinky fertility experiments. HIGH LIFE preserves the outline, but embodied by Pattinson, Monte becomes less a figure of age and waste than of wasted potential and stunted growth. His youth and the youth of his fellow convicts suggest a surrogate family of orphans in juvenile detention, the older inmates Benjamin and Buzek—ship’s gardener and pilot respectively—surrogate older siblings, and Eidinger and Binoche—captain and doctor—their surrogate parents. For HIGH LIFE is a film about family, how a family forms between bodies in space, specifically when that space is a prison. Denis displays little interest in man’s relationship to technology or the possibility of the infinite, the major themes of nearly all space science-fiction since 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. The spacecraft she conceives is a low-tech system of interconnected rooms organized along an inescapable corridor. The space beyond is an implacably black void promising nothing but descent. Here there is only the body, its needs and desires, and the space that maintains and preserves it, while also regulating, restraining, even satisfying it, without accommodation for pleasure. This focus on body matters has led many to draw a connection with Ridley Scott’s ALIEN and its related vision of space as a source of genetic hostility, but the comparison only functions on a conceptual level. The sensations of HIGH LIFE feel closer to Mario Bava’s ALIEN precursor PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES with its psychedelic eroticism, albeit channeled through the environmental existentialism of Andrei Tarkovsky’s SOLARIS. As in Bava, color filtered lights seem to encase the characters in an almost tangible manifestation of their repressed urges, and, as in Tarkovsky, the fecundity of earth, here represented in remnant form by the ship’s greenhouse, returns them briefly to the memory of home. At a more basic level, the signature physicality of Denis’ art achieves a greater concentration in this setting than her previous earth-bound projects ever permitted. The force of mere looks, gestures, and poses of the body in HIGH LIFE restores something of the formal balance between the abstract and the concrete that Howard Hawks perfected under the studio system in films like ONLY ANGELS HAVE WINGS and RIO BRAVO. And just as Hawks required the muscular presences of Cary Grant and John Wayne to hold the center of mythic constructions, Denis needs Pattinson in HIGH LIFE for his iconic potency. Again and again, Denis cuts to images of her star’s head, shaven, shapely, in terrifyingly intimate close ups. These shots register the repressive effect of each new trauma Monte witnesses, each new indignity he endures, over the course of this most perverse space odyssey. By the film's end, it seems we have spent a lifetime with this once young man, drawn by the decay of time, the weight of gravity, the predations of people, in this prison of space. (2018, 110 min, DCP Digital) EC
Buster Keaton and Clyde Bruckman’s THE GENERAL (Silent American Revival)
Beverly Arts Center - Wednesday, 7:30pm
Lauded by many as one of the greatest films, silent or otherwise, of all time, Buster Keaton’s THE GENERAL (1926) is a masterwork of stunning physical comedy, lavish set pieces, and the culmination of all his directorial ingenuity from his years as an independent filmmaker. Based upon a true story set in Georgia, railroad engineer Johnnie Gray (Keaton) has two loves: Annabelle (Marion Mack) and his train, nick-named ‘The General,’ When the Civil War breaks out, Johnnie tries to enlist in the Confederate Army but is rejected due to the importance placed on his current job. Things don’t bode well for Johnnie as Annabelle and her father believe that he is shirking his patriotic duty. A year later, a series of events unfolds in which the General is stolen by the Union Army and Annabelle is taken prisoner. Johnnie takes chase after his two beloveds. THE GENERAL was one of Keaton’s highest budgeted works and it shows. Elaborate outdoor sets, functioning cannons, and nearly twenty freight cars, help to establish the fog of war as Keaton charmingly bumbles his way through. Keaton’s physical gags are in peak form here and feature some of his most dangerous stunts (this is the film where he broke his neck, not realizing it until years later), including a great one in which he sits on the cowcatcher of the General and throws a railroad tie at a loose one blocking the tracks. Sadly for Keaton, the film was not appreciated in its time and resulted in the cinematic wing clipping of his talents when he was made to sign a contract with MGM. Thankfully, nearly 100 years later, cinephiles old and young can still appreciate the majesty of what is arguably the Great Stone Face’s final masterpiece. Preceded by Buster Keaton and Malcolm St. Clair's 1921 silent short THE GOAT (23 min). (1926, 80 min, Digital Projection) KC
D.A. Pennebaker's DON'T LOOK BACK (Documentary Revival)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) - Thursday, 9:30pm
A driving force in the Direct Cinema movement, documentary director D.A. Pennebaker made his reputation with this 1967 film about Bob Dylan on the road in England. Taking place almost exclusively in hotel suites, green rooms, and the crowded back seats of taxis, we simply stand in the corner and watch. Since we don't see too much of the streets, its as if we jump from city to city, and one night is only differentiated from the others by the cast of characters and the choice of liquor. The Star holds court with soon-to-be ex-girlfriend Joan Baez, Alan Price (the Animals), and most iconically, a young Donovan, who is put firmly in his place as a lesser artist when Dylan's insecurity and arrogance manifest themselves on screen. The film takes us along for the ride as the camera rolls without much intervention, and we march towards a final concert at the Royal Albert Hall. Scenes play out slowly, and we often don't notice the tension building as Pennebaker's deft editing makes it seem like real time. It is a simple portrait of the artist at 23, and it gave the public a taste of life on the road with Dylan without shying away from his negative traits. Dylan now claims he was acting throughout the film, but eloquently sums up the Pennebaker approach to documenting when he tells a Time magazine reporter "The truth is just a plain picture." (1967, 96 min, DCP Digital) JH
MORE SCREENINGS AND EVENTS
Also presented by the Film Studies Center (at the Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E. 60th St., University of Chicago) this week: Selves and (M)others: Self-Portrait Short Films (56 min total, Digital Projection) is on Thursday at 7pm. Screening are: Zackary Drucker's UNISON (2018) and SOUTHERN FOR PUSSY (2015), Mx.Enigma and Hazel Katz’s BUBBY & THEM (2017), Chase Joynt’s AKIN (2012), and Vivek Shraya’s HOLY MOTHER, MY MOTHER (2014) and I WANT TO KILL MYSELF (2017), with Drucker, Joynt, and program curator Nicole Morse (Florida Atlantic University) in person. Free admission.
Also at Block Cinema (Northwestern University) this week: ...Is Never Done: Films on Gender and Labor (72 min total, Digital Projection except where noted) on Friday at 7pm, co-presented and curated by Channels: A Quarterly Film Series (Josh B. Mabe and Erin Nixon). Screening are Nazli Dinçel’s HANDS:OXES (2017), Abigail Child’s SURFACE NOISE (2000, 16mm), Maia Cybelle Carpenter’s THE SHAPE OF THE GAZE (2000, 16mm), Chi-Jang Yin’s LIGHTHOUSE (2009), Janie Geiser’s VALERIA STREET (2018), Katherin McInnis’ EYE OF A NEEDLE (2018), Kelly Egan’s ATHYRIUM FILIX-FEMINA (FOR ANNA ATKINS) (2016, 35mm), and Cristiana Miranda’s ABOUT SOMETHING THAT CONCERNS US ALL (2016, 16mm), with Mabe and Nixon in person. Free admission.
The Chicago Film Archives presents the 2019 CFA Media Mixer on Thursday at 8:30 pm at Constellation (3111 N. Western Ave.). The event features new work made from footage in the CFA's collection by three pairs of filmmakers and musicians/audio artists: Brian Ashby and Bill MacKay, Emily Eddy and Natalie Chami (TALsounds), and Amir George and Lilianna Zofia Wosko. The audio for each work will be performed live.
Filmfront (1740 W. 18th St.) presents Some Films: The Sound of Vision on Saturday at 7pm. The program includes John Cage and Henning Lohner's 1992 work ONE11 (90 min, Digital Projection) plus and unspecified short film by Stan Brakhage and an excerpt from an unspecified film by Phil Niblock. Introduced by series curator Adam Sonderberg.
South Side Projections and the DuSable Museum (at the DuSable) screen Geri Ashur’s 1976 documentary ME & STELLA (26 min, Digital Projection) and David W. Powell's 1971 documentary ROBERTA FLACK (30 min, 16mm archival print) on Tuesday at 7pm. Post-screening discussion led by storyteller, musician, and artist Shanta Nurullah.
Comfort Film at Comfort Station Logan Square (2579 N. Milwaukee Ave.) presents a program of shorts selected by Zachary Hutchinson in the ongoing Guest Curator Series on Wednesday at 8pm. Screening are: ✧✿✖❥˄·͈༝·͈˄♡ෆ͙⃛♥•·̫•ฅ❀✧ (clanky, 2019, 5 min), SHE INCHES GLASS TO BREAK (Liang Luscombe, 2018, 14 min), HOW TO SURVIVE AND INSTITUTION (Aalap Bommaraju, Arthur Menezes Brum, and Liz Cambron, 2019, 15 min), HAILEY (Caitlin Ryan, 2017, 7 min), and Hutchinson's own 2019 short I LIKE CHICAGO (1 min). Free admission.
Transistor (5224 N. Clark St.) screens Craig James' 2018 film DIRECTIONS TO YOUR ROOM (77 min, Video Projection) on Wednesday at 7pm.
The Midwest Independent Film Festival (at the Landmark’s Century Centre Cinema) screens Scott Diener’s 2019 documentary POOH: THE DERRICK ROSE STORY (100 min, Digital Projection) on Tuesday at 7:30pm. Preceded by a reception at 6pm and a producers panel at 6:30pm.
Cuban Visions, a five-program series continuing throughout the year, presents Economics 101 on Sunday at 2pm at the Athenaeum Theatre (2936 N. Southport Ave.). Screening is Ricardo Figueredo Oliva's 2016 documentary THE UNIQUE STORY OF UNLUCKY JUAN (52 min, Video Projection). Followed by a discussion led by Cuban journalist and blogger Harold Cárdenas. More info at www.fullspectrumfeatures.com/cuban-visions.
Arts Bank Cinema at the Stony Island Arts Bank (6760 S. Stony Island Ave.) screens Ronit Bezalel's 2015 documentary 70 ACRES IN CHICAGO: CABRINI GREEN (56 min, Video Projection) and the 1968 Newsreel short THE CASE AGAINST LINCOLN CENTER (12 min, Video Projection) on Saturday at 3pm. Free admission.
The Italian Film Festival USA continues through Saturday at Columbia College’s Hokin Hall (623 S. Wabash Ave.) and Film Row Cinema (1104 S. Wabash Ave., 8th Floor). Screening are: Short Film Program (82 min total) on Friday at 5:30pm (Hokin); Dario Albertini’s 2017 film MANUEL (97 min) on Friday at 8pm (Hokin); Cristian Mattheis’ 2018 film UN AMORE COSI GRANDE (94 min) on Saturday at 5:30pm (Film Row); and Giancarlo Fontana and Giuseppe Stasi’s 2018 film PUT GRANDMA IN THE FREEZER (100 min) on Saturday at 8pm. All video projection. More info at http://italianfilmfests.org/index.html.
The Goethe-Institut Chicago, Chicago Women in Architecture, and Docomomo present a segment from Paul Wolff, Jonas Geist, and Joachim Krausse's 1985 documentary THE NEW FRANKFURT on the "Frankfurt Kitchen" (35 min, Video Projection) on Thursday at 5:30pm at Eggersmann Kitchen | Home Living (300 W. Hubbard St., 4th Floor). With architect and professor Kristin Jones and independent curator and consultant Aidan O'Connor in person. Free admission.
The Park Ridge Classic Film Series (at the Park Ridge Public Library, 20 S. Prospect Ave., Park Ridge) screens Federico Fellini's 1954 Italian film LA STRADA (108 min, Video Projection) on Thursday at 7pm. Free Admission.
At the Gene Siskel Film Center this week: Garth Davis' 2018 UK/Australian/US film MARY MAGDALENE (120 min, DCP Digital) and Robert Budreau's 2018 Canadian/US film STOCKHOLM (92 min, DCP Digital) both play for a week; V. Scott Balcerek's 2018 documentary SATAN & ADAM (78 min, DCP Digital) has five screenings Friday-Monday, with Balcerek in person at the Saturday show; Roy Rowland's 1953 film THE 5,000 FINGERS OF DR. T (89 min, 35mm) is on Friday at 6:15pm and Sunday at 5pm; Can Ulkay's 2019 Turkish film TURKISH ICE CREAM (123 min, DCP Digital) is on Saturday and Monday at 8pm; Orson Welles' 1978 documentary FILMING OTHELLO (84 min, Digital Projection) is on Tuesday at 6pm, with a lecture by Jonathan Rosenbaum; and the first two of four days of SAIC Film, Video, New Media, Animation Show programs of student work are on Wednesday (5pm, 7:30pm, 9:15pm) and Thursday (5pm, 7:15pm, 9pm). The SAIC shows are free admission.
Also at Doc Films (University of Chicago) this week: Claude Chabrol's 1974 French film WEDDING IN BLOOD (95 min, 16mm) is on Monday at 7pm; and King Vidor's 1955 film MAN WITHOUT A STAR (89 min, Digital Projection) is on Tuesday at 7pm.
Doc has rescheduled Andrew Dominik’s 2007 film THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD (160 min, 35mm) for Saturday at 3:30pm.
Also at the Music Box Theatre this week: John Huston's 1948 film KEY LARGO (100 min, 35mm) is on Sunday at 11:30am; Sydney Pollack's 1969 film CASTLE KEEP (107 min, 35mm) is on Tuesday at 7pm; Patrick Creadon's 2018 documentary HESBURGH (104 min, DCP Digital) is on Saturday and Sunday at 11:45am; and Lukas Feigelfeld's 2017 German film HAGAZUSSA: A HEATHEN’S CURSE (102 min, DCP Digital) is on Friday and Saturday at Midnight.
Also at Facets Cinémathèque this week: Liam O Mochain's 2017 Irish film LOST & FOUND (96 min, Video Projection) both have week-long runs; and Michaël Dacheux's 2018 French film LOVE BLOOMS (83 min, Video Projection) is on Wednesday at 6:30pm, with Dacheux in person. LOVE BLOOMS is free admission.
ONGOING FILM/VIDEO INSTALLATIONS
Local videomaker, artist, writer, activist, and educator Gregg Bordowitz is featured in a career retrospective exhibition, I Wanna Be Well, at the Art Institute of Chicago through July 14.
Also on view at the Art Institute of Chicago: Martine Syms' SHE MAD: LAUGHING GAS (2018, 7 min, four-channel digital video installation with sound, wall painting, laser-cut acrylic, artist’s clothes).
CINE-LIST: May 3 - May 9, 2019
MANAGING EDITOR // Patrick Friel
ASSOCIATE EDITORS // Ben Sachs, Kathleen Sachs, Kyle A. Westphal
CONTRIBUTORS // Kian Bergstrom, Edo Choi, Kyle Cubr, John Dickson, Alexandra Ensign Marilyn Ferdinand, Jason Halprin, Michael Metzger, Scott Pfeiffer, Ignatiy Vishnevetsky