NOTE: Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, this edition of Cine-File covers the two-week period from Friday, November 17 to Thursday, November 30. Crucial Viewing and Also Recommended listings include both weeks, so be sure to note the screening date(s); the More Screenings and Events listings are divided by week. Also, our apologies for the delay in getting the list out this week.
Nele Wohlatz’s THE FUTURE PERFECT (New Argentinean)
Facets Cinémathèque – Check Venue website for showtimes
German born and raised filmmaker Nele Wohlatz has been living and working in Argentina for several years, and has made all of her still small handful of films in that country, including this, her first narrative feature (just barely, at a trim 65-minutes). THE FUTURE PERFECT, which takes place in Buenos Aires, is a slightly fictionalized look at the life of 18-year-old Chinese immigrant Xiaobin (played by real-life Chinese immigrant Xiaobin Zhang), as she works, takes Spanish classes, re-connects with her family, and begins an awkward romance with Vijay, a young immigrant from India. The film is simple and charming (aided by Zhang’s shy performance). It is one of the many international films of recent years that relies on a quiet, unobtrusive observational style—foregoing visual excess in favor of letting the camera capture small moments and gestures in an almost cinema verité manner; letting the narrative accumulate elliptically. Sometimes that leads to overly-loose films that seem to not know what they want to be about; here, though, the style works, partly because of the groundwork Wohlatz and Zhang laid in their preparations, partly because the short running time keeps the story uncluttered. Despite these economies, Wohlatz raises several intersecting themes about language, time, and personal autonomy. Xiaobin slowly moves beyond the confines of being an immigrant, not knowing the language, silently chafing at her parents’ control, and uncertain about her own plans for her life. She gains some measure of control, and of possibilities, a change that is mirrored in the Spanish language classes, which move from past tense as the start of the film to the future conditional at the end. Showing with Wohlatz’s five-minute 2016 short THREE SENTENCES ABOUT ARGENTINA. (2016, 65 min, Video Projection) PF
Michael Glover Smith's MERCURY IN RETROGRADE (New American)
Pop-Up Film Festival at Oakton Community College (Footlik Theater, 1600 E. Golf Rd., Des Plaines) - Thursday, 2pm (Free Admission)
Two years ago, I praised Michael Glover Smith’s strong debut, COOL APOCALYPSE, for its subtle dissection of relationships in the inflexion point of their collapse. His sophomore feature, MERCURY IN RETROGRADE, builds upon and expands the earlier title’s strengths, presenting a nuanced and troubling portrait of six people who, over the course of a long weekend, quietly and privately reveal that they are in the process of exploding inside. It is a movie about three good-natured, loveable, charming men who each, in his own insidious way, is a manipulative, dehumanizing sexist, and the three spirited, jovial, smart women who have fallen for them. Built in two rough halves, the first part of MERCURY IN RETROGRADE shows us a deceptively idyllic group friendship, three couples who love one another, understand one another, and love being around one another. They eat, drink, joke, play, and seem to grow together as people. Everything feels wrong, but only with the the second part in mind do the tension lines in the first become clear. An extended pair of alcohol-fueled conversations, one all-male at the cabin and the other all-female at a nearby bar, are intricately intercut and woven together, cutting away the pretense of kindness, decency, and equality that the characters have worked so hard to convince themselves of. Set almost exclusively in a palatial cabin in the Michigan woods, the movie’s roving compositions, highly mobile camerawork, and idiosyncratic editing keep placing characters in off-putting juxtapositions, dividing spaces, preventing the six principals from ever fully integrating with the natural world they’re surrounded by. Instead, following Smith’s title, they spin around and are trapped by one another like celestial bodies mere moments before collision. The phrase ‘mercury in retrograde’ itself comes from a term of pseudoscientific bullshittery that attempts to explain away misunderstandings and conflict by blaming it on the different orbital speeds of Mercury and Earth, and is a neatly symbolic way of signalling the the viewer that the characters will both argue over important issues with one another and both misunderstand the nature of those arguments and be satisfied with papered-over illusions rather than actual resolution. Indeed, the narrative is awash in oddly revealing moments of internalized oppression and violence that are rationalized away as evidence of love: a throw-away comment one woman makes about convincing a partner to ‘let’ her have an abortion; another woman breaking out of a relationship of physical abuse only to pursue her abuser’s career path; a third whose desperate need to keep her history of violent exploitation, victimization, and addiction secret from her partner drives her to break years of sobriety. Many of the actors deserve special acclaim, especially Jack Newell and Alana Arenas, two local actors who play Jack and Golda, the one couple amongst the three to be married, inhabit their complex roles to a chilling degree. It’s one thing to play a dysfunctional couple, but another level entirely to play one that believes itself to be fully equal and loving. It is a trenchant, beautifully and disturbingly stylized look at misogyny and oppression, neither the first nor the last word on the subject by any means, but a modest and welcome addition to the conversation. Smith in person. (2017, 105 min, Digital Projection) KB
Walter Hill’s STREETS OF FIRE (American Revival) [70mm]
Music Box Theatre – Saturday, November 18, Midnight
When asked to explain what inspired STREETS OF FIRE—a big-budget action fantasy that failed to realize its blockbuster ambitions in the summer of 1984—co-writer/director Walter Hill (born 1942) said that he wanted to make what his teenaged self would have considered a perfect movie. STREETS OF FIRE would contain everything that was “great then and which I still have great affection for: custom cars, kissing in the rain, neon, trains in the night, high-speed pursuit, rumbles, rock stars, motorcycles, jokes in tough situations, leather jackets and questions of honor.” With this explanation, Hill summarizes both the film’s strengths and limitations: It was conceived as a collection of brilliantly stylized moments and things, not as a story with characters and a plot. The story is a basic rescue mission tale—a mercenary hero (Michael Paré) must rescue his rock singer ex-girlfriend (Diane Lane, 18 years old and clearly too young for the part) from a biker gang headed by Willem Dafoe—fleshed out with lots of action sequences, theatrical rock numbers (with original songs by Jim Steinman), and a good supporting cast that features Rick Moranis (cast against type as Lane’s cynical manager), Bill Paxton, Lee Ving, and Amy Madigan as a Hawksian female sidekick. What impresses most is the visual design: STREETS OF FIRE takes place in an imaginary city that’s a cross between 1950s Chicago and near-future Los Angeles, and the filmmakers have a good time realizing this city in all its particulars. The film’s premise that, in this world, rock bands are sort of like street gangs (and vice-versa) echoes Sam Shepard’s 1972 play The Tooth of Crime, but don’t expect anything like Shepard’s opaque mysteriousness—this is mostly superficial fun. STREETS may be the closest American equivalent to the “Cinéma du look” that was coming out of France around the same time (Jean-Jacques Beineix’s DIVA and THE MOON IN THE GUTTER, Luc Besson’s SUBWAY), not only in its overall approach to cinematic spectacle, but in its fetishistic use of music and neon. Maybe this would have been more successful if it had been marketed as an art movie? (1984, 93 min, 70mm) BS
Alfred Hitchcock's VERTIGO (American Revival) [70mm]
Music Box Theatre – Sunday, November 19, 11:30am
Despite its massive popularity and canonization as the classic film, VERTIGO remains one of the most insidious, disturbing movies of all time, particularly as it relates to the tortuous labyrinth of the psyche. Out of all the films in the Hitchcock oeuvre, VERTIGO resonates with the most Freudian overtones. Indeed, there exists a strong thematic thread between the two men: both are essentially concerned with peeling back the facade of normalcy to reveal something perverse lurking underneath. As with psychoanalysis, nothing is as it seems in VERTIGO. The story—about Scottie (James Stewart), a former detective being lured out of retirement to investigate the suspicious activities of Madeleine (Kim Novak), his friend's wife—is a pretense for an exploration into the (male) creation of fantasies, a subject that's integral to how we experience movies on the whole. From the very beginning of the film it's almost as if Scottie is subconsciously aware that Madeleine is an unattainable illusion. When he gazes at her in the flower shop, it feels as if the two are situated in different realms of reality. Even when Scottie and Madeleine are at their most intimate, he's kept at a distance by the enigma of her femininity. It's precisely because of this Delphic quality that Madeleine is elevated to the status of fantasy object after her death. In fact, her death only enhances her desirability, the notion that sex/Eros and death/Thanatos are intimately intertwined being one of Freud's most groundbreaking theories (though partial credit should be given to Sabina Spielrein, as David Cronenberg's A DANGEROUS METHOD suggests). Scottie's transformation of Judy into Madeleine in the second half of the film suggests that male desire hinges on the alignment of fantasy and reality; however, Judy is complicit in her metamorphosis from her true self into a fantasy object, evoking John Berger's supposition that "Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at." The famous silhouette shot of Judy in the hotel room emphasizes the bipartite nature of the female psyche—a woman might love you, but she'll simultaneously take part in a nefarious murder plot at your expense. In the end, Judy/Madeleine is anything but a certified copy—she's tainted, corrupt, and cheapened. VERTIGO suggests that one cannot (re)create something that never truly existed in the first place. As Slavoj Zizek puts it: "We have a perfect name for fantasy realized. It's called nightmare." (1958, 128 min, 70mm) HS
Anthony Mann’s THE TALL TARGET (American Revival)
Chicago Film Society (at Northeastern Illinois University, The Auditorium, Building E, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave.) – Wednesday, November 22, 7:30pm
Even as he ventured into Western territory, genre-adroit director Anthony Mann squeezed in a few trips back to the black-and-white underworld in which he’d previously resided. THE TALL TARGET, an uncanny little crime film tucked between DEVIL’S DOORWAY and BEND OF THE RIVER—both Westerns—demonstrates his masterful use of space against such broader endeavors. Dick Powell stars as John Kennedy, a New York police sergeant who’d once guarded Abraham Lincoln and is now compelled to single-handedly foil an Inauguration Day assassination attempt against the president-elect’s life. (A title card at the beginning of the film nebulously hints at it being based on the alleged Baltimore Plot, foreshadowing its mystifying timbre.) The entirety of the action takes place on a train headed towards the Charm City, filled with abolitionists and secessionists alike. I’ll confess that I wasn’t as enthralled with the story as New Yorker and PopMatters critics Richard Brody and Michael Barrett, respectively, the former asserting that it’s “very much a story of the fight for civil rights, and it depicts that fight as no mere rhetorical plea but a physical struggle in which physical defiance is indispensable and physical danger is inevitable,” while the latter declares it to be “One of the Best Thrillers Ever.” Whatever politics it can claim are snuffed out by the fulsomeness of mood, and while it’s effective as a thriller, the adventitious plot (who exactly was clamoring for a Lincoln-adjacent squeaker?) dulls its potency. Rather, I’d say it works best as a study of Mann’s ingenious compositions, his camera just as effectual in a small train car as it is the wide-open plains of Wyoming or the mountainous terrain of Oregon. Considering his predilection for more cerebral variations on timeworn themes, it’s no surprise that this is the case; “I tried to do a Hitchcock,” he said. “Or, if you will, an exercise in high voltage: the maximum suspense and tension in action that was very concentrated in time and space.” The film features Ruby Dee in an early role, and Adolphe Menjou delivers a good performance as a militia colonel who’s in on the action, both standouts amongst an otherwise middling cast. Paul Vogel’s chiaroscuro cinematography is reminiscent of John Alton’s own contrast-heavy aesthetic, the latter having worked with Mann on several of his early noirs; the angles are almost Wellesian, emphasizing the substratal anxiety of Kennedy’s predicament. Even its runtime lends itself to an efficacy of tone—coming in at just 78 minutes, neither its length nor its purview are constitutionally epic, but Mann’s prowess extends it even so. Preceded by Frank Tashlin’s 1937 cartoon PORKY’S RAILROAD (7 min, 16mm). (1951, 78 min, 35mm) KS
Warren Beatty’s DICK TRACY (American Revival)
Chicago Film Society at the Music Box Theatre – Monday, November 27, 7pm
I’ll admit that I expected—or at least hoped—to like THOR: RAGNAROK. I appreciate the absorbing earnestness with which Kenneth Branagh directed THOR, the first film of the franchise, and, after hearing from people whose opinion I respect that the third film was a hoot, I was anticipating something of a cross between Branagh’s dramaturgic solemnity (Taika Waititi helmed the most recent installment) and the humorous self-reflexiveness that’s lamentably trendy in superhero movies nowadays. I was thus disappointed to find that, to quote Susan Sontag’s seminal essay, it’s “Camp which knows itself to be Camp,” a send-up with so much humor that it lacks any of the juxtaposition needed to earn said humor’s potency. After revisiting Robert Altman’s POPEYE earlier this year and now Warren Beatty’s DICK TRACY, it suffices to say that they don’t make them like they used to—the modern comic adaptation is less an homage to its sources as it is a vehicle used to exploit its audience’s esurience for more, more, more, of anything and everything. It’s with this in mind that I’d consider DICK TRACY a remarkable achievement, if not a masterpiece, for more than just its distinctive aesthetic; it knows its place, so to speak, both in regards to its sincerity and its drollery, qualities instilled in it by its undersung auteur. It’s not a personal project inasmuch as it was serendipity that brought Warren Beatty to it—Steven Spielberg, John Landis, Walter Hill, and even Alain Resnais were all tapped to direct at some point before Beatty, himself a fan of the comic and having wanted to make a Dick Tracy film since the 70s, optioned the rights and came on as director, producer, and leading man. Its plot, devised by Jim Cash and Jack Epps, Jr., with Beatty and collaborator Bo Goldman significantly rewriting the dialogue, and recalling the comic strip’s pulpy origins, is simple enough, even with ten plus villains: Yellow-clad detective Dick Tracy relentlessly pursues “Big Boy” Caprice (Al Pacino in what might honestly be one of his best performances) and his awry rogues gallery all whilst being torn between his personal life (long-suffering girlfriend Tess Trueheart and The Kid, an orphan who’d witnessed Big Boy’s germinal onslaught) and his work (aforementioned rogues and Madonna’s Breathless Mahoney, a lounge singer who falls hard for Tracy’s noble character). The canonical nature of its plot is in arrant contrast to the overburdened storylines of contemporary comic adaptations. Good and evil are just that, and archetypes are valuable for their insular purity; anyone who disagrees should try to synopsize any recent comic adaptation, be it THOR or even that Archie-inspired television series, in so many lines. Pacino and Madonna are especially revelatory, though Beatty, whose performance wasn’t so well-received but I’d defend as demonstrating necessary restraint, and Glenne Headly as Tess are guilelessly amiable in what amounts to not-very-interesting characterizations. The film is also noted for its superior (almost to a fault) production design, its palette reportedly limited to just seven colors, the vivid costumes and gorgeous painted matte backdrops ironically reflecting the limited scope of comic art. Many critics accused the film of being too two-dimensional, but what’s the harm in that? What is DICK TRACY if not an exercise—or perhaps even a verdure exaltation—of Camp? To again quote Sontag, “Camp is a certain mode of aestheticism. It is one way of seeing the world as an aesthetic phenomenon. That way, the way of Camp, is not in terms of beauty, but in terms of the degree of artifice, of stylization.” Beatty’s visualization is just that—a veritable aesthetic phenomenon, a triumph of artistry not in spite of but because of its alleged failures. "Camp taste is, above all, a mode of enjoyment, of appreciation—not judgment,” Sontag asserted. “Camp is generous. It wants to enjoy...Camp taste doesn't propose that it is in bad taste to be serious; it doesn't sneer at someone who succeeds in being seriously dramatic. What it does is to find the success in certain passionate failures." It should say something about this film that the last point I’ll make in its favor is still far and above that of most other films—I’m referring to its soundtrack, with a score from Danny Elfman and five original songs by Stephen Sondheim. Beatty’s commitment to detail, which has proven to be an issue of contention between himself and those financing his films, from his allegiance to the source or inspiration, to various complementary elements, ranging from costumes to music, is the root of his auteurism. Born in a shadow cast by Tim Burton’s BATMAN a year prior, a lot of money, both on the production and marketing sides, went into making DICK TRACY the singular misadventure it’s remembered as today. Though part of its singularity likely stems from its patent declension (we cinephiles love a good underdog) and the doomed fate of a fabled sequel, one wonders how things might have been had the fortunes been reversed, if the overblown artistry of DICK TRACY had eclipsed the menacing excess heralded in by BATMAN. A girl can dream. Preceded by Frank Marshall and Rob Minkoff’s 1990 cartoon ROLLER COASTER RABBIT (7 min, 35mm). (1990, 105 min, 35mm) KS
Ettore Scola’s WE ALL LOVED EACH OTHER SO MUCH (Italian Revival)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) – Monday, November 27, 7pm
Two of the great cinematic rediscoveries of the decade have been UGLY, DIRTY AND BAD (1976) and A SPECIAL DAY (1977), both co-written and directed by Ettore Scola. The films couldn’t be any more different—one is a garish dark comedy about a large impoverished family, the other is a muted chamber drama about middle-class characters—yet both exhibit a distinct visual style that seems to emerge directly from the themes. (Scola had been a screenwriter for over a decade before he started directing, and his films, like Billy Wilder’s, have a way of drawing your attention to the brilliant conceits of the scripts.) They’re also piercing in their social insights, showing how social class can shape behavior, prejudices, even sexual attitudes; whether comically or tragically, the fates of the characters are determined by where they’re from. WE ALL LOVED EACH OTHER SO MUCH, made just a few years before the one-two knockout of UGLY and SPECIAL, shares those films’ social outlook if not their causticity. It’s a broad, sentimental work that looks back at the past 30 years of Italian history, shares some generalized observations of cultural currents, and indulges in lots of nostalgia. It centers on three friends who meet in the anti-fascist resistance: Gianni (Vittorio Gassman), a lumpenproletariat who marries into a wealthy industrialist family; Antonio (Nino Manfredi), a romantic, left-wing petit bourgeois who serves as the audience identification figure; and Nicola (Stefano Satta Flores), a buffoon of a Marxist intellectual. Each character develops in a way that mirrors the changes in his particular class, making strides at some times, experiencing frustration at others. Though the three come together only once every few years, they share in major political events and watch the same movies. WE ALL LOVED EACH OTHER SO MUCH uses movies as temporal markers: the characters discover social consciousness through the postwar masterpieces of Rossellini and De Sica, fall in love with Rome to LA DOLCE VITA, and look inside themselves after seeing L’ECLISSE. (The film sometimes feels like a big, sloppy kiss from Scola to the national cinema.) Their stories also crisscross with that of Luciana, an aspiring actress played by Stefania Sandrelli. Scola idealizes her to the extent that she seems less like a character than a symbol of hope, but Sandrelli is so radiant in the part that she pulls it off. The film isn’t all sunshine and roses, however; by the end all the major characters realize they’ve sacrificed their ideals as they’ve aged. This recognition of failure, with its attendant bitterness, makes WE ALL LOVED EACH OTHER SO MUCH something more than a stroll down memory lane. (1974, 124 min, 16mm) BS
Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s THE MARRIAGE OF MARIA BRAUN (German Revival)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) – Sunday, November 19, 7pm
Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s biggest commercial hit is in some ways uncharacteristic of his work. For one thing, Fassbinder didn’t write the screenplay (as he had done for all but one of his films before this); rather, he gave a treatment to two other writers, Peter Märthesheimer and Pea Fröhlich, and had them develop the structure, characters, and dialogue. The budget is also noticeably larger than what the director usually worked with, and he takes full advantage of it—the settings seem richer, more lived-in than they typically do in his films. Thirdly, there are fewer long-takes here than in most other Fassbinder works, with the director often cutting between medium close-ups during dialogue scenes. As a result, there are times when THE MARRIAGE OF MARIA BRAUN really looks and feels like a postwar Hollywood women’s picture, a genre that Fassbinder had invoked with such previous films as THE BITTER TEARS OF PETRA VON KANT, ALI: FEAR EATS THE SOUL, and FEAR OF FEAR. But where the style is more deeply indebted to classic Hollywood than ever before, the subject matter is distinctly German—not only that, it foregrounds its consideration of German history as no previous Fassbinder had done before (save for BOLWEISER, aka THE STATIONMASTER’S WIFE). One recognizes that Maria Braun’s development—from impoverished waif at the end of WWII to cynical, successful businesswoman by the early 1950s—is meant to mirror Germany’s postwar reconstruction, that the story is a historical fable about gaining material success but losing one’s ideals. The moral is distinctly Fassbinderian, as is the film’s attendant theme that happiness is at best a social bargain and at worst an illusion. Maria spends most of the picture waiting for her husband, Hermann, to come home—first from war, then from prison—and while waiting on happiness, she rises in the business world, amassing a fortune she hopes to one day enjoy with her man. Her real life put on hold, Maria becomes callous, miserly, even mean, yet Fassbinder never looks at her without sympathy. She’s one of the director’s most complex heroines, and Hanna Schygulla plays her for what she was meant to be: the role of a lifetime. (1979, 120 min, 35mm) BS
Dee Rees's MUDBOUND (New American)
iPic South Barrington – Opened Friday, November 17 – Check Venue website for showtimes
MUDBOUND, a powerfully crafted historical epic from director Dee Rees, may be a period piece, but when we look into it we Americans should see a mirror of ourselves—our own troubled times, our violence, our bonds and betrayals. Rees, who co-wrote the screenplay with Virgil Williams, has created a complex and personal adaptation of Hillary Jordan's shattering 2008 novel. Set mainly in the wake of World War II, the film is a nuanced saga of racism in the form of a tale of two families: the white McAllans, city slickers from Memphis and new landowners in the Mississippi Delta, and the black Jacksons, their share tenants. At two hours and 15 minutes, with its visceral combat scenes and forbidden loves, it's got the sweep and measured momentum of a smashing piece of popular art. Like the novel, the film deploys an unusually layered, multi-character narration, allowing Rees to break new ground by showing us the Jim Crow Delta from an African-American point of view. Mako Kamitsuna's editing is impressionistic, kaleidoscopic, almost stream-of-consciousness, which particularly suits the musical cadences of loquacious Hap Jackson, the preacher and farmer played uncannily by Rob Morgan. Mary J. Blige quietly inhabits the deep inner reserves of Florence, his wife. Proud, dapper Ronsel (Jason Mitchell, the fine young actor known for his Eazy-E in STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON), the oldest of their children, finds it difficult to resubmit to Jim Crow after proudly fighting for Patton in the segregated 761st Black Panther Tank Battalion. Carey Mulligan plays Laura McAllan, who'd been an English teacher on the cusp of becoming an old maid (that is, about to turn 30) before she met Henry (Jason Clarke), her optimistic, determined middle-aged husband. Only one character does not get his own inner voice: the McAllan patriarch Pappy, a vain, vicious racist played with relish by Jonathan Banks (the chilling but lovable fixer Mike on Breaking Bad). The movie eventually centers on Ronsel's taboo friendship with Henry's younger brother, Jamie (Garrett Hedlund), a dashing, outwardly cocksure ladies' man who'd wanted to be an actor, but who became a bomber pilot. In secret drinking sessions, they bond over shared traumas. With her painterly eye and a visual style she's said was influenced by Les Blank's films about the South, Rees, whose previous features include PARIAH and BESSIE, makes the muddy land itself, this raw Jim Crow soil, a central character in the ensemble (in the movie, Louisiana plays the Delta). In terms of character, Rees paints in shades of gray, in keeping with the film's subtle treatment of racism. It's all too easy to hate Pappy, but the film challenges our complacency: most of the whites in MUDBOUND aren't personally vicious. Rather, the film shows American racism as something more insidious, rooted in ordinary, "decent" white people, like Henry, who go along with the system of privilege because they benefit from it economically (then as now). Jamie wants to paper over the racial gap with friendship, to slough off his white skin power, yet his reckless insistence on Ronsel's sitting in the front of his truck with him, as an equal, precipitates the movie's bloody denouement. While we lose a memorable scene or two from the book, the film is remarkably faithful to the novel in spirit, especially in its carefully shaded, lovingly rendered characters. In Jordan's detailed yet concisely dispatched novel, the generosity of her empathy extends to all the characters, and Rees's sprawling vision perhaps even fleshes out this dimension of the work, adding a wonderful scene where Hap and Florence dance, underlining their closeness, and taking us inside Jamie and Ronsel's bonding sessions in the old sawmill. Today, the KKK is emboldened, worked up by Donald Trump. Those are the obvious manifestations of racism. MUDBOUND's mirror challenges us to look deeper, at structures, systems, ourselves. It wrings you out, but it's ultimately uplifting. Our time is high time for this story of love and survival—or, put another way, the survival of love. (2017, 134 min, DCP Digital) SP
James Ward Byrkit’s COHERENCE (Contemporary American)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) - Thursday, November 30, 9pm
James Ward Byrkit’s feature debut, COHERENCE, may seem like a simple, one-location film, but it’s ideas and execution make it so much more. When a group of friends gather together to have dinner, a comet passes overhead and strange occurrences start to transpire that only raise more mystery. As ambitious and taut as Shane Carruth’s PRIMER, COHERENCE is steeped in theoretical physics, with concepts like string theory and Schrödinger’s Cat playing heavily. These ideas of multiple realities coexisting simultaneously and their abilities to interact with one another create a mindfuck of a movie. Byrkit’s use of handheld cameras allows for a level of intimacy that heightens the emotions shared by the characters on screen as well as creating an arresting feeling of claustrophobia. In a sense, the camera allows the viewer to be the ninth member of the party. As the group falls into bouts of paranoia and question the nature of their longstanding relationships with one another, in addition to those with their ‘other’ selves, its impressive to learn that much of the film was improvised, with the actors only receiving ‘goals’ for what their character had to achieve. Due to this secretive approach, the distrust seen on screen is very much real. Byrkit is more than willing to subvert tropes here. In one such notable instance when a character suggests to the others that some of them should go investigate what’s happening outside the house while the others remain, he exclaims “We’re not splitting up; we’re just going into groups.” COHERENCE is a well-crafted, sci-fi mystery guided by Byrkit’s strong vision and as the pieces of the puzzle fall into place, it leaves the viewer only wanting more. (2013, 89 min, Digital Projection) KC
Roman Polanski's KNIFE IN THE WATER (Polish Revival)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) – Tuesday, November 28, 7pm
While it's worth reiterating that Roman Polanski's first feature is one of the most adept debuts in cinema—achieving a constantly escalating sense of dread with a minimum of means—it's also worth noting that the film owes its importance to more than beginner's luck. What's most remarkable about KNIFE IN THE WATER is that Polanski, at only 26, introduces in the film themes and tropes that he would build upon for the next 50 years. Set almost entirely on a yacht (which Polanski shoots ingeniously, from practically every conceivable angle), the movie creates a claustrophobic brand of suspense that would come to underlie all of Polanski's subsequent work. Likewise, the ever-shifting power dynamic between its three main characters (rooted in absurdist drama and carrying an undeniable erotic fascination) can be felt in Polanski's films, pretty much unceasingly, through THE GHOST WRITER. This remains Polanski's only Polish feature, and it's indicative of his contrarian nature that the film makes no reference to Communism nor, for that matter, to any political orientation (though it's possible to read the movie's materialistic central couple as a subtle critique of Poland's then-rising "Red Bourgeoisie"). This aspect of the film irked State authorities, who branded Polanski an "individualist pessimist" (not that far from the truth, actually) and gave him a proverbial slap on the wrist. Since Polanski was able to start working abroad on the international success of this feature, his troubles with the Communist state ended there. Nevertheless, a sense of persecution colors all of his best work (including this one), the most palpably paranoid movies outside of Alfred Hitchcock. (1962, 94 min, 35mm) BS
Alfred Hitchcock's REBECCA (American Revival)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) – Monday, November 27, 9:30pm
Following Joan Fontaine's death in 2013, Alfred Hitchcock's REBECCA has been referenced in most every write-up of the late actress's illustrious career, and for good reason. Hitchcock made the film under contract with producer David O. Selznick, who was working on REBECCA at the same time as he was tying up loose ends on his legendary 1939 film GONE WITH THE WIND, and Fontaine competed for the leading role in a race similar to that of Selznick's search for the perfect Scarlett O'Hara. Fontaine even competed against Vivien Leigh, who eventually won out as Scarlett and was also married to actor Laurence Olivier, the man chosen over Ronald Colman to play the male lead in Hitchcock's first joint venture with the infamously controlling Selznick. Fontaine was selected and she brings genuine curiosity to the unique role that is really two characters in one. The film, based on the eponymous novel by Daphne du Maurier, is about a young woman (Fontaine) who falls in love with a handsome widower and settles for a dull, but privileged life in the shadow of his late wife, Rebecca. The young woman's husband, Maxim, rarely mentions Rebecca, but his friends, family, and even the household staff, are deeply reverent of her memory and the impact her death supposedly had on Maxim. She never appears on screen, not even in a photograph or portrait, yet the book and film are titled after her; just as ironically, the first name of Fontaine's character is never mentioned and she's referred to only as Mrs. de Winter, just as Rebecca was called when she was alive. In an attempt to seem as lively and welcoming as the first Mrs. de Winter, Fontaine's character convinces Maxim to throw a costume ball like the one they used to have at Manderley (Maxim's estate) in gayer times, only to receive bad advice from the duplicitous housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers (played intriguingly by Judith Anderson and considered to be Hitchcock's only lesbian character). Danvers suggests that she copies the outfit of an ancestor whose portraits hangs in the house, after which it's revealed that Rebecca had adorned the same costume at the previous year's event. The portrait is not of Rebecca (it's of Maxim's ancestor, Caroline de Winter), but it acts as a representation of the deceased woman, and in being both unnamed and eventually recreating Rebecca's costume, Fontaine's character is also a representation of the conflicting character whose name is as much a presence as her living counterpart. It's no wonder then that, despite Maxim's later admissions of their marriage being a sham and his late wife as having been a promiscuous sociopath, critic Kent Jones, in his essay for the Criterion DVD release, would consider Rebecca to be "the film's real heroine." The film subconsciously suggests that, both in Rebecca's lasting effects on those she knew when she was alive, and those who came after. Hitchcock's first American film was not an entirely his own, with Selznick insisting upon as strict an adherence to the original material as censorship would allow, but scholar Robin Wood is correct when he declares this understated film as the "the most decisive single step both in Hitchcock's career and aesthetic evolution." Hitchcock would use similar themes in later films; for example, in VERTIGO (1958), he adapts another story in which a woman with multiple identities causes a male lead great distress. (Also, the first part of VERTIGO revolves around a painting and the woman who is imitating it.) Wood argues that "[S]kepticism about male-female relationships under patriarchy is central to Hitchcock's importance to us today," and that REBECCA is the first example of this enduring theme in Hitchcock's work. Despite Hitchcock's tempestuous relationship with Selznick, REBECCA reflects a turning point in the iconic director's career that foreshadows some of his best films. (1940, 130 min, 35mm) KS
Hiroshi Teshigahara's ANTONIO GAUDI (Documentary Revival)
Gene Siskel Film Center – Friday, November 24, 4pm and Saturday, November 25, 3pm
By now nearly a timeworn tradition, the Siskel's late-December run (moved up a month for a pair of shows only, as the Siskel is closed for renovations in December—ed.) of Hiroshi Teshigahara's meditative and enigmatic ANTONIO GAUDI annually attracts a respectable and respectful crowd, with its fair share of SAIC architecture students done with finals and therefore blazed. In this film--devoid as it is of narration until the very end--every visual texture possesses its own subtle, droning sound: a particular class of curvature will produce an otherworldly gong-like shimmering; a long shot of Barcelona is accompanied by a low rumble. Anything involving intricate metalwork is, sonically, inexplicably menacing. Unless one is already ultra-familiar with Gaudi's oeuvre the viewer generally has no idea what they are looking at, where it is, or when it was constructed, and are thus transported to experiencing the cryptic persuasiveness of man-made structures before an age of writing and reading: to a time in which there may not have ostensibly been an explanatory narrative (or even a subtitle) for every surface. (1985, 72 min, 35mm) MC
Hayao Miyazaki's SPIRITED AWAY (Japanese/Animation Revival)
Gene Siskel Film Center – Saturday, November 18, 2pm and Tuesday, November 21, 6pm
For evidence that Hayao Miyazaki works from a different playbook than his Disney counterparts, look no further than the dynamic, kaleidoscopic world of SPIRITED AWAY. In this coming of age story set in a modern day wonderland, the animation grandmaster creates a detail-rich realm of the spirits where the only rule seems to be that the rules can always change. Here, physiologically impossible characters shape shift through various forms, villains quite suddenly prove themselves to be friends, and the plot itself refuses to settle into a groove, redefining the boundaries the moment we become aware of them. What begins as a spectral plunge down the rabbit hole takes an abrupt shift the moment young Chihiro lands on her feet, and it's not long before she is neck-deep in the politics of the magical bathhouse at the center of this world. She is tugged at in all directions by the denizens therein, including the disproportioned governess, Yubaba, the dragon-boy, Haku, and the ghostly No-Face, whose part in the story temporarily takes us into horror movie territory, and lest we think the world of SPIRITED AWAY is confined to this singular, vibrant location, the final chapter opens the world even further, allowing neither Chihiro nor the viewer to grow too complacent. The film, like any great imagination, knows no bounds, and its scope and soaring ambition have rightly marked it as Miyazaki's masterpiece. In Japanese with English subtitles. Film scholar Donald Crafton lectures at the Tuesday show. (2001, 125 min, 35mm) TJ
Ruben Östlund's THE SQUARE (New Swedish)
Music Box Theatre – Continues Friday-Thursday, November 17-23 – Check Venue website for showtimes
In Ruben Östlund's THE SQUARE, Claes Bang gives an exceptional comic and dramatic performance as Christian, the long-suffering, hapless director of a contemporary art museum in Stockholm. The movie is a wild, suspenseful satire of the art world that's also a cringe comedy: Östlund, the audacious provocateur who most recently gave us FORCE MAJEURE, a withering comedy of manners about masculinity, cheerfully accepts a definition of his aesthetic as a cross between Larry David and Michael Haneke. As we meet Christian, his museum has acquired a new installation: a "relational aesthetics" piece entitled The Square, to be carved into the cobblestones in front of the museum. A plaque reads, "The Square is a sanctuary of trust and caring. Within it we all share equal rights and obligations." Based on an exhibition Östlund actually co-mounted at Sweden's Vandalorum museum, the Square is an imagined "free zone" of humanitarianism, where if you ask for help, passersby must give it—where you could, say, leave your luggage if you're tired, without fear of its being stolen. Of course, the principles of the Square are the ones most often violated in public encounters, where structural societal inequities result in people living such different lives—lives freighted with material hierarchies that neither the Square, nor liberal niceties, can paper over. In fact, modern social convention dictates distrusting others, and tuning out cries for help, especially from the homeless, interactions with whom make up some of this movie's most memorably ironic scenes. Since the sense that anything can happen is a chief pleasure of the film, I'll restrict the plot summary to just a taste: to retrieve stolen items tracked to an apartment complex in a rough part of town, Christian's friend/employee (Christopher Læssø) hits on a brilliant, if ill-advised, scheme: they'll drop a threatening letter through each mail slot in the building. It's a lark, really, but the plan quickly goes south, and keeps going. At two-and-a-half hours, this big movie, winner of the Palme d'Or at Cannes, certainly takes its time to hoist Christian on his petard, yet it's so well-paced, and Östlund so deft at playing with our minds, that we're always engaged. It helps that Bang is so spot-on and charismatic: Christian may be a bit of a fraud, but he's good-humored and, really, rather sympathetic: he just never really expected to find himself put on the spot. Gradually, he becomes aware of the fear and prejudices underlying his own veneer of sheltered, well-heeled liberalism. Some set pieces are so crazy we sense they could only be based on real life, as in the scene where a ballroom full of guests, including Dominic West as a visiting artist, is terrorized by a performance artist pretending to be a monkey (Terry Notary of the PLANET OF THE APES reboots): it's based on a Ukrainian performance artist who, playing a dog, went around actually biting people at a gala. That scene allows Östlund to examine the bystander effect, as well as to forgo realism altogether, as he does in a gobsmacking sex scene with a journalist played by Elizabeth Moss (what a whip-smart actress, what timing). If THE SQUARE is occasionally slightly pat and even facile, as a satire on the breakdown of the social contract, its aim is true. At its best, the skewering bears a dark moral complexity and the knowing gimlet eye of the insider. In fact, I suspect the people who get the biggest kick out of it will be folks who work at contemporary art museums themselves. (2017, 151 min, DCP Digital) SP
Kelly Richmond Pope’s ALL THE QUEENS HORSES (New Documentary)
Gene Siskel Film Center – Continues Friday-Wednesday, November 17-22 – Check Venue website for showtimes
The thing I appreciate most about Kelly Richmond Pope’s ALL THE QUEENS HORSES is the straightforward manner in which Pope presents the material. An associate professor at DePaul University, Pope is also a certified public accountant with a PhD in accounting; she participated in the inaugural Diverse Voices in Docs fellowship program at Chicago’s esteemed Kartemquin Films—all facts that likely contribute to the directness and socially minded perspective with which the subject matter is conferred. In 2012, Rita Crundwell, the comptroller and treasurer of Dixon, Illinois (a small town of just 16,000 people almost two hours west of Chicago), was arrested after it was discovered that she’d been embezzling from the city for more than 20 years—to the tune of $53 million. Although the details of Crundwell’s larceny were highly publicized at the time, Pope and her crew of KTQ-adjacent filmmakers present a deep dive into both Crundwell and Dixon’s worldviews, from the former’s penchant for expensive quarter horses and other such luxuries to the latter’s laissez-faire method of governing. Perhaps unintentional is the bitter irony to be found in the situation: Dixon’s former mayor Jim Burke not only described the small town as being “a kind of conservative county, in a way,” but it’s also the hometown of trickle-down mountebank President Ronald Reagan. Small government proves ineffective in the face of brazen avarice, taking all the queen’s horses (Crundwell’s stable was sold off to recoup what she stole) and all the more men (the city voted to restructure their local government, thus dividing responsibility between more departments), to put Dixon back together again. (2017, 71 min, DCP Digital) KS
Richard Ayoade's SUBMARINE (New British)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) – Thursday, November 30, 7pm
If you're tired of film reviews reducing movies to simplistic comparisons of other movies (X plus Y equals Z), then you'll have to pardon SUBMARINE for surely inspiring a whole outbreak of them. While it's true that a lot of films are derivatives of other movies, their reduction to just elements of other films can miss the fact that, sometimes, they're trying to create something altogether new from some old recipes. Such is the case of SUBMARINE, of which you can safely say something like: it's GODARD + RUSHMORE + THE 400 BLOWS + HAROLD AND MAUDE + NAPOLEON DYNAMITE, and actually summarize the whole thing rather neatly. (Actually, it's the story of a teen looking to get laid and to break-up his mother's developing on-again romance with a former lover.) SUBMARINE can be placed somewhere between the direct referencing found in comedies like SCARY MOVIE (where the joke is based entirely on getting the reference) and film-geek referencing found in the movies of Quentin Tarantino, et al (where references are worn cockily on the sleeve). SUBMARINE's most original aspect is the degree to which it makes references while also asking us to go along with it; it's showing off a bit, but stays away from both the one-liner gags and the condescension. Unlike many of its contemporaries, it's got a good step to it, it's well cast and acted, and it translates some of the original pleasure from its cinematic sources. (2011, 97 min, 35mm) KH
Michael Dudok de Wit’s THE RED TURTLE (New Animation)
Gene Siskel Film Center – Saturday, November 25, 6:45pm and Tuesday, November 28, 6pm
Over the course of its thirty plus year existence, Studio Ghibli has been celebrated for its anime releases, but in that time, have never produced a non-Japanese film. Hayao Miyazaki was so impressed by Michael Dudok de Wit’s FATHER AND DAUGHTER that he had his studio reach out to the Dutch director to collaborate, and THE RED TURTLE was born. This taut, dialogue-free film depicts a shipwrecked sailor marooned on a tropical island. After a mysterious red sea turtle prevents his numerous attempts to flee the island, he flips the creature onto its shell and leaves it to bake in the sun on the beach. When the animal dies, the body is seemingly replaced with that of a red haired woman, and the man gains a companion. Many of the themes of THE RED TURTLE revolve around loneliness, acceptance, and man’s will to survive and, coupled with its basic narrative premise, draw an easy comparison to Robinson Crusoe. The film’s color palette is vibrant and lush and this brightness instills a sense of vitality and tranquility that invites the viewer to imagine the warm breezes rustling through the trees and the cool water lapping along the shores. There is a sense of whimsy that pervades the film and juxtaposed with the lack of dialogue, attunes the eye to the subtleties of the gorgeous animation and the mind to the minimalist, but affecting, story. Film scholar Donald Crafton lectures at the Tuesday show. (2016, 80 min, DCP Digital) KC
Raoul Peck's I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO (New Essay/Documentary)
Chicago Cultural Center – Saturday, November 18, 2pm (Free Admission)
If the role of the public intellectual is to speak truth to power, then James Baldwin was one of the greatest America ever produced. A searing and compassionate social critic, he was equally penetrating when he turned his novelist's gaze toward film, as this galvanizing, heartbreaking essay/documentary by Raoul Peck demonstrates. Its voiceover is in Baldwin's own words, the beautiful music of his language measured out by Samuel L. Jackson in an intimate spoken-word performance. In televised interviews and debates from the 1960s, Baldwin is pensive and incendiary, and the film cuts between his embattled times and our own. Baldwin investigated the mystery of the fathomless hatred of white Americans for blacks, and while his analysis was economic, it also involved a kind of psychoanalysis of the American psyche. This film's jumping-off point is Remember This House, his unfinished manuscript about the intertwining lives, and violent deaths, of his friends/foils Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr. and Medgar Evers. Soon it turns to The Devil Finds Work, his earthy, shattering essay about growing up a child of the movies. Baldwin understood cinema as "the American looking glass," and he wrote with such lucidity, and such painful honesty, about what he saw reflected there, about himself, race, and his country. "To encounter oneself is to encounter the other," he wrote, "and this is love. If I know that my soul trembles, I know that yours does, too: and, if I can respect this, both of us can live." Viewer identification is complex: as a youngster whose heroes were white, who rooted for Gary Cooper, it came as a huge shock for him to realize "the Indians were you"—and these heroes aimed to kill you off, too. Peck has called his film an essay on images, a "musical and visual kaleidoscope" of fiery blues, lobotomized mass media, classic Hollywood, TV news, reality TV, and advertisements. He causes a government propaganda film from 1960 about U.S. life, all baseball games and amusement parks, to collide with the Watts uprising; a Doris Day movie meets lynched bodies. The point is not even that one is reality and the other is not. It's that these two realities were never forced to confront each other—and they must, because one comes at the other's expense. When Baldwin speaks of the "death of the heart," of our privileged apathy, of an infantile America, an unthinking and cruel place, he could be speaking of the Trump era. He feared for the future of a country increasingly unable to distinguish between illusion, dream, and reality. "Neither of us, truly, can live without the other," he wrote. "For, I have seen the devil...[I]t is that moment when no other human being is real for you, nor are you real for yourself." Let this movie inspire today's young dissenters, and let James Baldwin be our model of oppositional, critical thinking as we raise our angry voices against Donald Trump and everything he stands for. (2016, 95 min, Video Projection) SP
MORE SCREENINGS AND EVENTS: NOVEMBER 17-23
Digital Art Demo Space (2515 S. Archer Ave.) presents John Fell Ryan’s 2011 film THE SHINING FORWARDS AND BACKWARDS (104 min, Video Projection) on Tuesday at 8pm. The program also includes a selection of short works by Ryan. Free admission.
The Nightingale (1084 N. Milwaukee Ave.) presents This Structure Exists in Real Life: Digital Video Work by Orr Menirom (2009-17, approx 65 min total, Digital Projection) on Monday at 7pm, with Menirom in person.
The Blue Fish Japanese Environmental Documentary Film Festival presents Masayuki Tÿjÿ’s documentary THE OCEAN’S BLESSING (Unconfirmed Year and Running Time) on Sunday at 7pm at the Nightingale (1084 N. Milwaukee Ave.). More info at www.artunionhumanscape.net.
The Polish Film Festival in America continues through November 19. Full schedule at www.pffamerica.org.
The Film Studies Center (at the Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E. 60th St., University of Chicago) presents An Evening at Chez Nous on Saturday at 7pm. The evening will include footage of the famed West Berlin nightclub, legendary performer Marlow La Fantastique reminiscing about her time there, and local performer Darling Shear recreating one of Marlow’s dances. Free admission.
Also at the Gene Siskel Film Center this week: Petra Volpe’s 2017 Swiss film THE DIVINE ORDER (96 min, DCP Digital) begins a two-week run; and Viktor Jakovleski’s 2017 US/Mexican documentary BRIMSTONE & GLORY (67 min, DCP Digital) and Andrei Konchalovsky’s 2016 Russian/German film PARADISE (132 min, DCP Digital) both play for a week. The Film Center is closed on Thursday, November 23.
Also at Doc Films (University of Chicago) this week: Josh and Ben Safdie’s 2017 film GOOD TIME (101 min, DCP Digital) is on Friday at 7 and 9:15pm and Sunday at 3:30pm; Marco Ferreri’s 1973 Italian film LA GRANDE BOUFFE (130 min, DCP Digital) is on Monday at 7pm; Andrzej Zulawski’s 1971 Polish film THIRD PART OF THE NIGHT (105 min, DCP Digital) is on Tuesday at 7pm, with an introduction by scholar Daniel Bird; and a LATE EDITION to Doc Film’s schedule is Borowczyk: Newsreels and Commercials, a program of recently restored short works by Polish filmmaker Walerian Borowczyk, is on Monday at 9:30pm, also with an introduction by scholar Daniel Bird (free admission for this event).
Also at the Music Box Theatre this week: Robin Campillo’s 2017 French film BPM (140 min, DCP Digital) opens; Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman’s 2017 UK/Polish animated film LOVING VINCENT (94 min, DCP Digital) continues; Ai Weiwei’s 2017 documentary HUMAN FLOW (140 min, DCP Digital) is on Saturday and Sunday at 11am only; and Dean Parisot’s 1999 film GALAXY QUEST (101 min, 35mm) is on Tuesday at 7:15pm, as part of critic Mark Caro’s “Is It Still Funny?” series.
Facets Cinémathèque plays Ana Asensio’s 2017 film MOST BEAUTIFUL ISLAND (80 min, Video Projection) and Marianna Palka’s 2016 film BITCH (93 min, Video Projection) for week-long runs; and screens Benjamin Geissler’s 2003 Germany documentary FINDING PICTURES (106 min, Video Projection) on Sunday at 7:30pm (free admission for this screening). Facets is closed on Thursday, November 23.
Sinema Obscura presents TV Party 11 on Monday at 7:30pm at Township (2200 N. California Ave.).
MORE SCREENINGS AND EVENTS: NOVEMBER 24-30
The Chicago Film Society (at Northeastern Illinois University, The Auditorium, Building E, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave.) screens Alfred Werker’s 1933 film IT’S GREAT TO BE ALIVE (69 min, Restored 35mm Archival Print) on Wednesday at 7:30pm. Preceded by Dave Fleischer’s 1931 cartoon ANY LITTLE GIRL THAT’S A NICE LITTLE GIRL (7 min, 16mm).
The Film Studies Center (at the Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E. 60th St., University of Chicago) presents Project for a Masquerade (Hiroshima) and At Twilight, with artist Simon Starling in person presenting the video sections of two of his multi-media installations, on Thursday at 7pm. Free admission.
The Pop-Up Film Festival at Oakton Community College takes place Tuesday, November 28 through Friday, December 1, with Jennifer Reeder’s 2017 film SIGNATURE MOVE (80 min, Digital Projection) on Tuesday at 2pm (Reeder in person), Gabe Klinger’s 2016 film PORTO (86 min, Digital Projection) on Wednesday at 12:30pm (Klinger in person), and Michael Smith’s 2017 film MERCURY IN RETROGRADE (105 min, Digital Projection) on Thursday at 2pm (Smith in person), and the shorts program Women in Danger on Friday at 12:30pm. Included are Clare Cooney’s RUNNER and Layne Marie Williams and Lonnie Edwards’ AN ATRAMENTOUS MIND, with all three in person, plus a TBA title. Screenings take place at the Footlik Theatre (1600 E. Golf Rd., Des Plaines, IL). Free admission.
At the Northbrook Public Library (1201 Cedar Lane, Northbrook) this week: Frank Capra’s 1938 film YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU (126 min, DCP Digital) is on Wednesday at 1 and 7:30pm. Free admission.
The Art Institute of Chicago (Price Auditorium) screens M.F. Husain’s 1967 Indian film THROUGH THE EYES OF A PAINTER (approx. 17 min, Unconfirmed Format) on Wednesday at Noon. AIC curator Madhuvanti Ghose introduces the screening. Free with museum admission.
The Chicago Serbian Film Festival opens on Wednesday, November 29, and continues through December 4. More information and complete schedule at www.serbianfilmfest.com.
The Park Ridge Classic Film Series at the Pickwick Theatre (5 S. Prospect Ave., Park Ridge) screens Chris Columbus’ 1990 film HOME ALONE (103 min, Video Projection) on Thursday at 7pm. http://parkridgeclassicfilm.com
Also at the Gene Siskel Film Center this week: Bobbi Jo Hart’s 2016 Canadian documentary REBELS ON POINTE (90 min, DCP Digital), Jason Sussberg and David Alvarado’s 2017 documentary BILL NYE: SCIENCE GUY (97 min, DCP Digital), and Neil Berkeley’s 2017 documentary GILBERT (99 min, DCP Digital) all play for a week; and Petra Volpe’s 2017 Swiss film THE DIVINE ORDER (96 min, DCP Digital) concludes a two-week run.
Also at Doc Films (University of Chicago) this week: Martin Brest’s 1992 film SCENT OF A WOMAN (156 min, 35mm) is on Wednesday at 6 and 9pm.
Also at the Music Box Theatre this week: Sing-A-Long Sound of Music is on Friday-Sunday (check website for showtimes); Joe Johnston’s 1989 film HONEY, I SHRUNK THE KIDS (93 min, 35mm) is on Tuesday at 7pm, with an introduction by The Field Museum evolutionary biologist Shauna Price; Christopher Guest’s 2000 film BEST IN SHOW (90 min, 35mm) is on Wednesday at 7:30pm; Tim Burton’s 1988 film BEETLEJUICE (92 min, 35mm) is on Friday and Saturday at Midnight, and Monday and Wednesday at 9:30pm; Tyler MacIntyre’s 2017 film TRAGEDY GIRLS (90 min, DCP Digital) is on Friday and Saturday at Midnight; and James Franco’s 2017 film THE DISASTER ARTIST (98 min, DCP Digital) has two screenings on Thursday at 7 and 10pm, before its official opening on December 1; and check the MB website for any hold-over or added screenings.
Facets Cinémathèque plays Lana Wilson’s 2017 documentary THE DEPARTURE (87 min, Video Projection), Nele Wohlatz’s 2016 Argentinean film THE FUTURE PERFECT (65 min, Video Projection; showing with Wohlatz’s five-minute 2016 short THREE SENTENCES ABOUT ARGENTINA), and Albert Birney and Kentucker Audley’s 2017 film SYLVIO (80 min, Video Projection) for week-long runs.
The Chicago Cultural Center presents Ina Weisse’s 2017 documentary THE NEUE NATIONALGALERIE (49 min, Video Projection) on Thursday at 6:30pm. Free admission.
Comfort Film at Comfort Station Logan Square (2579 N. Milwaukee Ave.) screens Chuck Vincent’s 1989 film CLEO/LEO (93 min, Digital Projection) on Wednesday at 8pm in their “Released and Abandoned” series. Free admission.
The Gorton Community Center in Lake Forest (400 E. Illinois Rd., Lake Forest, IL) Chris Columbus’ 1990 film HOME ALONE (103 min, Video Projection) on Friday at 1pm.
** NOTE that the Conversations at the Edge program Coco Fusco: Cuba Portraits, scheduled for Thursday, has been cancelled. CATE hopes to re-schedule this at a later date.
ONGOING FILM/VIDEO INSTALLATIONS
Currently on view at the Art Institute of Chicago: Elizabeth Price’s 2015 video installation K (7 min loop) in Gallery 186; Frances Stark’s 2010 video installation NOTHING IS ENOUGH (14 min loop) in Gallery 295C; and Nam June Paik’s 1986 video sculpture FAMILY OF ROBOT: BABY in Gallery 288.
The SAIC Sullivan Galleries (33 S. State St., 7th Floor) presents Apichatpong Weerasethakul: The Serenity of Madness through December 8. The show features many short films and video installations by the SAIC graduate, along with a selection of photography, sketches, and archival materials.
The Graham Foundation presents David Hartt’s installation in the forest through January 6 at the Madlener House (4 W. Burton Place). The show features photography, sculpture, and a newly commissioned film.
CINE-LIST: November 17 - November 30, 2017
MANAGING EDITOR // Patrick Friel
ASSOCIATE EDITORS // Ben Sachs, Kathleen Sachs, Kyle A. Westphal
CONTRIBUTORS // Michael Castelle, Kyle Cubr, Kalvin Henley, Tristan Johnson, Harrison Sherrod, Scott Pfeiffer