CO-PRESENTED BY CINE-FILE CHICAGO
Jane Campion’s HOLY SMOKE! (Australian/US Revival)
Chicago Film Society (at Northeastern Illinois University, The Auditorium, Building E, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave.) – Wednesday, 7:30pm
Of all the things I disliked about WONDER WOMAN—the uneven script, the atrocious editing, the infantilization of a legit progeny of the gods—perhaps the thing that irked me the most was that all the other characters spent the majority of the film not believing the titular hero when she said she had to kill Ares in order to end the war. Bruce Wayne uses his immense fortune to fight villians in a bat costume and Superman is allergic to alien material all the while somehow being indistinguishable from his buff-nerd alter ego, but sure, it’s Wonder Woman’s beef with the Greek god of war that crosses the line. But I digress. I had this in mind while watching Jane Campion’s underrated and oft-maligned 2000 film HOLY SMOKE!, which is about a young Australian woman, Ruth (Kate Winslet), whose family hires a middle-aged cult exit counselor, PJ Waters (Harvey Keitel), to deprogram her after she goes to India and joins up with an elderly guru. The relationship between Ruth and PJ soon devolves into a battle of the sexes and then an all-out sexual farce after the two consummate their frustration. When summarized, the premise sounds questionable, if not outright problematic. Winslet was only 24 at the time; Keitel was 60. Yet, as is typical of Campion’s work, the film not only resists simplification, it transforms one’s perception of its underlying trope (consider how Campion likewise puts a spin on the domestic drama in SWEETIE, the period piece in THE PIANO and THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY, the biopic in AN ANGEL AT MY TABLE and BRIGHT STAR, and police procedurals in IN THE CUT and Top of the Lake). Though PJ and her family express concern that Ruth has been brainwashed, Campion’s lens never reveals her as anything less than a righteously indignant—and rightfully confused—young woman. To wit, Campion takes her seriously, even in all the character’s and the film’s silliness, something that, ironically, can’t be said of the aforementioned superhero comic book adaptation. "I'm not saying she isn't involved in a cult," Campion told LA Weekly in 2000. "I'm not sure. But I'm not sitting in judgment of any of them, because I do think that everybody has to address the situation of their spirit in their own time, and try to find some inspiration to follow, something to lead you. Some people do it by joining a very full-on religion, and they get lost in it, and some people do the same thing and just use it for what it's worth. What the film tries to say is that there isn't a simple solution to it.” Far and above the script, which Campion co-wrote with her sister Anna, is her sublime skills as a filmmaker; sort of a spiritual sequel to SWEETIE, which featured similarly quirky familial dynamics, HOLY SMOKE! embodies much of what I love about Campion’s films, from her distinctly Australian vagary to an uncanny eye for framing, particularly of indigenous landscapes, to strong female characters whose very flaws are often their greatest strengths. Also interesting about the film are its supporting cast, which includes amateur actors from Australia and bit roles played by the likes of Pam Grier and Dhritiman Chaterji (who appeared in Satyajit Ray's PRATIDAWNDI), and Angelo Badalamenti's soundtrack. Dion Beebe’s acidic cinematography beautifully complements Campion’s vision with an aesthetic that’s both reminiscent of Sally Bongers’ for SWEETIE, namely in regards to composition, and looks forward to his later work on IN THE CUT. (Beebe also did the cinematography for Michael Mann’s COLLATERAL and MIAMI VICE, both of which exemplify the saturated color schemas that distinguish his artistry.) It’s unlikely that Campion would ever direct a superhero movie, but she needn’t do so to depict people—especially women—who are worthy of avowal in spite—and perhaps even because of—those very idiosyncrasies that might otherwise make them unbelievable. They’re unbelievable, for sure, but in the best sense of the word. Campion believes in them, and you will, too. Preceded by Dave Fleischer’s 1936 Popeye cartoon NEVER KICK A WOMAN (7 min, 16mm). Introduced by Cine-File Associate Editor Kathleen Sachs. (1999, 115 min, 35mm) KS
Theo Anthony's RAT FILM (New Documentary)
Facets Cinémathèque – Check Venue website for showtimes
Theo Anthony's RAT FILM is a quiver-inducing, imaginative—cosmic, even—essay about the war on rats in Baltimore and the city's concomitant history of racial segregation. A devastating illustration of redlining uses today's maps to show how urban ills are concentrated in neighborhoods (largely black) that a 1937 map coded to be avoided for loans. We tag along with rat hunters in those neighborhoods today, including a jovially philosophical middle-aged exterminator, and guys who "rat-fish" in an alley. The fanciful, meditative narration invents a creation myth starring rats—these symbols of plague can even be beloved pets. Scientists investigating behavior created an overcrowded rat dystopia; other simulated environments include Francis Glessner Lee's fascinating miniature dioramas of unexplained death, and an eerie 3D virtual Baltimore. Anthony shares Werner Herzog's knack for spinning yarns into "poetic, ecstatic truth," showing how the urban present is a palimpsest of past injustices. (2016, 83 min, Video Projection) SP
Joe Sarno’s VIBRATIONS (American Revival)
Gene Siskel Film Center – Friday, 6pm and Wednesday, 8:15pm
VIBRATIONS was made near the end of the pre-hardcore era of erotic cinema, and it prefigures the pornographic films of the 1970s and beyond in its matter-of-fact depictions of group sex, bisexuality, and incest. What distinguishes it from many of the movies that followed is its emphasis on psychology and conversation. Joe Sarno presents several of the dialogue scenes in unbroken, static two shots that display the influence of Ingmar Bergman (indeed he was often described as “the Ingmar Bergman of 42nd Street”) and consider how relationships can evolve over the course of candid discussions. He also displays sensitivity to his characters’ anxieties and feelings of disillusionment, from which sex allows them a momentary escape. VIBRATIONS centers on two sisters who had an incestuous relationship as children; one has grown up to be promiscuous, the other now represses her sexual longings. Living together in a cramped New York apartment, they both become fascinated by the sexual goings-on they overhear in the flat next door. The bolder sister goes to investigate, while the other guiltily eavesdrops; eventually both get involved with the trio that sparked their voyeuristic interest. In between the prurient scenes, Sarno shows the sisters’ daily lives in mundane detail, grounding the sexual fantasies in a realistic context. The promiscuous sister is unemployed and spends much of her time taking walks around Manhattan (the film now serves as a time capsule of late-60s New York streets); the other, who harbors literary aspirations, earns her keep by typing manuscripts. Sarno treats both women’s activities seriously, noting their loneliness and desire for better things. In fact, the film paints such a vivid picture of urban young adulthood that the sex scenes feel almost secondary. (1968, 75 min, ProRes Digital) BS
Tarik Saleh's THE NILE HOTEL INCIDENT (New Swedish/German/Danish)
Gene Siskel Film Center – Check Venue website for showtimes
In the world of Tarik Saleh's gripping, gritty Egypt-set crime thriller, THE NILE HOTEL INCIDENT, everything depends upon keeping one's footing on shifting sands of loyalty, betrayal, and even reality itself, which is whatever people with power and money say it is. In a room in the titular hotel in Cairo (played, in the film, by Casablanca), a nightclub singer is found with her throat cut. The Swedish-Lebanese actor Fares Fares stars, with a kind of wounded pride, as the investigating officer, an unhappy police captain, lonely and stressed-out. (In the great noir tradition, he smokes even more than he talks.) He's about as corrupt as the next official, collecting payoffs, taking bribes, pocketing crime-scene cash. In a land where "investigation" is not about getting to the truth, so much as it's about greasing palms and cover-ups, Fares is put on the case by his boss and "uncle" (Yasser Ali Maher), with the understanding he'll treat it with "silk gloves." Once Fares finds himself in possession of compromising photos of the dead woman with a powerful developer (Ahmed Selim), though, he foolhardily starts asking real questions, inconvenient ones. There was one witness: a poor Sudanese maid (Mari Malak). Soon, she and Fares get swept up into a blackmail plot in ways neither they, nor the plotters, ever expected. The action begins on January 15, 2011. The Nile Hotel is on Tahrir Square, where we know that, 10 days hence, revolution will break out. For now, Mubarak's Egypt is still a land of oppression. Everyone's afraid—of the police, not least. Women, as society's most powerless, are everyone's pawns in the bigger game. I won't soon forget a nightclub scene where a would-be chanteuse (Hania Amar) sings the dead woman's song—nor the way she leaves Fares with a mysterious word, which I learn is German: "Wissen." Saleh, a Swedish director of Egyptian descent (METOPIA, TOMMY), wrote and directed this winner of the Dramatic Grand Jury Prize in world cinema at this year's Sundance. He tells his story with novelistic detail. One example: rank-and-file cops doffing their helmets after their cowardly bosses disperse demonstrators by shooting at them. Their eyes say they disapprove of the shooting, as well. Another detail involves a suspect's gold watch, and what he says about the Islamic proscription against men wearing gold; it dovetails nicely with what a fated woman, later, says about a "golden cage." Saleh puts us in Fares’ shoes, tracking him in slightly unsteady widescreen, so that we experience the investigation with him as it unfolds, as well as his dawning revelation he's being played for a sucker. By defamiliarizing classic, even timeworn, crime-movie elements by moving them to North Africa, and to a Muslim nation, Saleh sharpens them. What's more, by setting his fictional story against the backdrop of the real-life Arab Spring, he gives his tale of intimate betrayal an epic sweep, reminding me of Michael and Fredo Corleone against the backdrop of the Cuban Revolution. What makes this man, so thoroughly compromised, decide to stick his neck out? Maybe he wants to convert a certain fastidious vanity—a few times, we see him grooming his eyebrows—into real dignity. Or perhaps it's a sense of guilt, with which he's weighted no less than he is with a sense of fate. I was completely absorbed, watching him scrape for a toehold on the banks of his slippery slope. For him you feel, almost from the beginning, like it's too late. (2017, 111 min, DCP Digital) SP
George Fitzmaurice’s THE SON OF THE SHEIK (American Silent Revival)
Gene Siskel Film Center – Saturday, 2pm and Monday, 6pm
Released posthumously just two weeks after its esteemed star’s death, THE SON OF THE SHEIK finds Rudolph Valentino playing a dual role as the titular character and as the sheik’s father in what was supposed to be his comeback film following a string of unsuccessful titles. A sequel to 1921’s THE SHEIK (both films based on two separate Edith Maude Hull novels), bullheaded Ahmed (Valentino) falls for an exotic dancer named Yasmin (Vilma Banky), who supports her father and his gang through her trade. While the new lovers are meeting secretly one night, Ahmed is captured and tortured by the aforementioned gang for not revealing who he is or who his family is. Believing Yasmin betrayed him, Ahmed sets out for revenge. Valentino’s presence and charisma dominate the film from start to finish. His onscreen chemistry with Banky lends itself well to the film’s erotic (for its time) undertones. Mixing beautiful set pieces, just a dash of slapstick humor, and an enthralling script, director George Fitzmaurice’s production outshines the original. Some of the sequences in which both of Valentino’s characters appear on screen together through some camera trickery are particularly impressive. THE SON OF THE SHEIK makes for compelling drama and acts as the perfect swan song for one of the silent era’s most recognizable sex symbols. (1926, 68 min, DCP Digital) KC
Lotte Reiniger’s THE ADVENTURES OF PRINCE ACHMED (Animation Revival)
Gene Siskel Film Center – Saturday and Tuesday, 6pm
What is it specifically that draws the eye to silhouettes? From the groundbreaking early 20th century filmmaker Lotte Reiniger to contemporary artists such as Chicago-based multi-media group Manual Cinema and subversive silhouettist Kara Walker, there’s no denying that this art form, originating as far back as the 1st millennium BC with traditional shadow puppetry, is as complex in the way it’s created and the reactions it can evoke as it is simple in how it might appear to the casual observer. (Reiniger once referred to herself a “primitive cavemen artist,” speaking to the apparent simplicity of her modestly intricate cut-outs.) THE ADVENTURES OF PRINCE ACHMED is not just a prime example of the art form, but it also has the distinction of being the oldest surviving feature-length animation, a consequence worthy of Reiniger’s achievement, even if a technicality. With a picaresque story derived from Arabian Nights, the German filmmaker’s precise cut-outs—made using a variety of materials, including regular and tissue paper, cardboard, and metal—depict the eponymous Prince Achmed as he embarks on a multinational adventure, complete with evil demons and sexy princesses, following a run-in with a sorcerer and his flying horse. Textured, colored tinting backlight the filigreed silhouettes, making it look all too modern for a film that predates Disney’s SNOW WHITE by more than a decade. Reiniger made it over the course of four years using a painstaking technique similar to what’s now recognized as stop-motion animation—if the cinema is truth twenty-four times per second, imagine how honest she had to be to photograph it, frame by frame. Even more intriguing than Reiniger’s output is her background; having worked under famed theater director Max Reinhardt and expressionist filmmaker Paul Wegener, her sensibility is thus rooted more so in the avant-garde than any traditional mode. This makes THE ADVENTURES OF PRINCE ACHMED all the more exciting, likewise canonical and experimental, reflecting both Reiniger’s clear legacy and her shadowy legend. Film scholar Donald Crafton lectures at the Tuesday screening. (1926, 67 min, DCP digital.) KS
William A. Wellman’s BEGGARS OF LIFE (Silent American Revival)
Northbrook Public Library (1201 Cedar Lane, Northbrook) – Wednesday, 1 and 7:30pm (Free Admission)
A young girl kills her stepfather, dresses up as a hobo and runs away to ride the treacherous rails. The girl, of course, is Louise Brooks (who else could it be?) and the film, coming just before her career-redefining collaborations with G.W. Pabst (e.g. PANDORA'S BOX), is both her best American picture and the best of William Wellman's silent films (if not his greatest overall). Part fairy tale, part picaresque, part documentary, BEGGARS OF LIFE features actual hobos in bit parts and a story co-written by the hobo memoirist Jim Tully, but its strongest points emerge from the strange cocktail of Brooks' mysterious femininity and the cocky masculine ego standard to Wellman's direction. With live accompaniment by David Drazin. (1928, 100 min, DCP Digital) IV
Bill Morrison's DAWSON CITY: FROZEN TIME (New Documentary)
Gene Siskel Film Center – Friday, 2pm, Saturday, 5pm, Tuesday, 8:15pm, and Wednesday, 6pm
If you're familiar with Bill Morrison's work, particularly his major experimental features DECASIA and THE GREAT FLOOD, the opening minutes of his latest effort, DAWSON CITY: FROZEN TIME, may come as a shock: in place of the usual distressed nitrate imagery, we see clips from "High Heat," a cable television baseball talk show from 2014, a late 1970s Canadian Broadcasting Corporation newscast, and even a conventional talking head interview recorded at the home of two retired curators, complete with visible lav mics and all. Has Morrison found work at PBS? Over the course of two hours, DAWSON CITY: FROZEN TIME becomes something else, with Morrison's characteristic obsessions peeking through the topsoil of the orderly, televisually sterile contemporary documentary template. Morrison sketches a story familiar to film archivists of a certain age, and obscure to most everyone else: the 1978 discovery of over 500 reels of nitrate film under the permafrost of a demolished hockey rink in Yukon Territory. The scope of DAWSON CITY is more expansive and unruly than that: it encompasses the history of Dawson City's indigenous Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in people, the 1919 World Series, a trove of glass plate negatives used as cabin insulation, the Canadian banking system, the murder of one-time "Yukoner" William Desmond Taylor, and the tawdry origins of Donald Trump's family fortune. (It goes without saying that if the Trump "golden shower" tape referenced in the Steele dossier actually exists, Morrison should have right of first refusal to incorporate it into his next film.) Each digression seems gratuitous and shapeless at first, but emerges as part of a grander design. Dawson City, a boom town that reverted to its humbler origins within a few years, is the land of eternal returns: sooner or later, the cycle of fire—some incidents nitrate-inflicted, but many not—will come for your theater, your hotel, your casino, your library. Real estate contracts, telegrams, photographic records, and newspaper listings reverberate through the years, their implications not fully understood for decades. Morrison's form is something of a reclamation, too: reviving the intertitle as a unit of construction and a suggestive promise, DAWSON CITY is the last silent film, a finale a century in the making. (The score, by Alex Somers, leans on sound effects that amount to atmospheric Mickey Mousing, but that comes with the territory.) Incorporating clips from newsreels, serials, and features pulled out of the ground (including work by major talents like Lois Weber, Maurice Tourneur, and Alice Guy Blaché), as well as Hollywood films depicting the Klondike (Chaplin's THE GOLD RUSH, Handschiegl footage from THE TRAIL OF '98), DAWSON CITY's major act of cinematic historiography is Morrison's elevation of CITY OF GOLD, a nearly-forgotten National Film Board of Canada production from 1957 that apparently inaugurated the now-standard documentary technique of zooming and panning across historical photographs. The revelation of the NFB film, which predates Ken Burns' influential documentaries by three decades, reorients our relationship to Morrison's seemingly straightforward DAWSON CITY aesthetic; everything was new once if you burrow deep enough. (2016, 120 min, DCP Digital) KAW
Kogonada's COLUMBUS (New American)
Music Box Theatre – Check Venue website for showtimes
I cherish Kogonada's COLUMBUS for what it values, and questions, in architecture and cinema both. At the same time, it's a thoughtful, moving story of a budding friendship that becomes a form of love, and a middle-aged man contemplating a parent's mortality. Kogonada is a justly celebrated video essayist; I highly recommend you visit his site, kogonada.com, and check out his beautiful, exhilarating video essays on the likes of Ozu, Godard, Bresson, Bergman, Malick, Kubrick, Hitchcock, Tarkovsky, and Kore-eda. He wrote, directed and edited this dramatic feature debut, and he's filled it with compositional homages: Kubrick's one-point perspective, Ozu's passageways, Bergman's mirrors. It's about a pensive, melancholy middle-aged man (John Cho) who arrives in Columbus, Indiana, from Seoul, after his estranged father, a noted professor of architecture, falls into a coma. Columbus is a small, rural midwestern town that also happens to be a kind of open-air museum, where some of the greatest figures in Mid-Century Modern architecture created masterpieces of the form. (Just for starters, there's First Christian Church by Eliel Saarinen, North Christian Church by his son Eero, and Michael Van Valkenburgh's beautiful Mill Race Park, with its covered bridge and lookout tower.) While waiting on the fate of his father, Cho forms a friendship with a bright, young working-class woman (Haley Lu Richardson), an "architecture nerd" who's stayed in town a year after high school because she's essentially a mother for her own mother, a recovered meth addict (Michelle Forbes). He also gets reacquainted with his father's protégé (Parker Posey), who's just a couple years older than he. We only see his father, truly, at the beginning: from a distance, standing with his back to us in the gardens of Eero Saarinen's famous Miller House. (Watch for, and think about, how this sequence is mirrored later in the film.) Yet his father's absence is seen and felt throughout, as Cho moves through the man's vacated rooms at the historic Inn at Irwin Gardens: in a game of Chinese checkers with the absent man, in his hat on a chair. (Kogonada frequently deploys still-life views, absent of the people who were present before, or will be later.) The movie features beautifully-played interaction by the actors, as they circle and discover one another and make, or miss, connections. (As in Bresson, Kogonada's characters express feelings beyond words with hands: a squeeze, a caress.) Previously known for comedy, Cho gives a fine dramatic performance. Richardson is amused by other people, and I enjoyed watching that amusement break over her face, as well as the wonder when she engages the buildings, tracing their contours with her hand. She's also good at showing the wrenching burden for a young person of carrying the world on her shoulders. At the local library, designed by I.M. Pei, she shelves books alongside her co-worker, a thoughtful grad student who's not quite her boyfriend (Rory Culkin, who tickled me, as he does her, with the earnest way he engages ideas.) At the Republic newspaper offices, a historic building designed by Myron Goldsmith, Richardson applies for a newsroom job; this also happens to be where her mother cleans at night. This gets to the crux of Kogonada's concerns. What is the effect of these buildings, if any, on contemporary everyday life? What is the legacy for modern human beings of the modernists' promise that architecture could change the world? That, as Polshek believed, architecture is the healing art, the one that has the power to restore? If the buildings are just the unnoticed, almost unseen, places where people live and work, whose failure is it, if anyone's? As shot by Elisha Christian, Columbus is a magical place, but there's something forlorn about it, as well, as if the buildings are telling their own story about the way their spirit has been abandoned. For her part, Richardson likes to park her car in the middle of the night and sit in front of Deborah Berke's Irwin Union Bank, glowing ghostly in the darkness. She tells Cho the story of how she'd probably seen it a thousand times, until the day, near her darkest hour, when she finally saw it. Suddenly, the place she'd lived her whole life felt different. There is a vision here, of art as comfort, and maybe even life-saver, that at least begins to answer some of the questions the film’s asking. (2017, 104 min, DCP Digital) SP
Andrei Tarkovsky’s SOLARIS (Soviet Revival)
Gene Siskel Film Center – Sunday, 2pm, Monday, 6:30pm, and Thursday, 7:45pm
In Tarkovsky’s luminescent and beautiful adaptation of Stanislaw Lem’s novel, Kris Kelvin, a psychologist, has been sent to a space station orbiting the mysterious planet Solaris, which is covered entirely by a potentially sentient ocean. Kelvin is to take charge of the station and either close it down or take drastic, violent measures against the ocean in order to generate scientific data. When he arrives, though, he discovers that the station is regularly populated with ‘visitors,’ people seemingly generated out of thin air while one sleeps, who are manifestations of one’s own memories and dreams. In adapting Lem’s book, Tarkovsky develops a complex structure of flashbacks, dream sequences, and fantasies that are at times indistinguishable from the ‘actual’ events of the plot, and alternates between color and black-and-white cinematography to further alienate us from the narrative flow. The way he shoots Natalya Bondarchuk, uncannily incandescent in nearly every shot as she ethereally wafts through the sets, is in direct conflict with the staid, weathered and deeply conflicted Donatas Banionis, questioning her very existence. While the novel is set solely on the space station, Tarkovsky developed a crucial prologue set on Earth, in which the philosophical and aesthetic issues are introduced that will later play out in dramatic form. It is there that Burton appears, a retired scientist who is the only one we meet to have actually returned from the mysterious planet. It is Burton who gives voice to a potential thesis of the film, that “knowledge is only valid when it is based on morality,” when he learns of the potentially destructive nature of Kris’ mission. Burton’s shadow hangs low over the film, over the violence that the story heaps on the body of Hari, Kelvin’s lost love reborn. If Burton is right, what are we to make of Kelvin’s own understanding of his relationship with her, which is based on betrayal and pain? What conclusions are we to draw on the apparent attempts by Solaris itself to study the scientists by means of the ‘visitors,’ when their inevitable result is heartbreak? Late in the film, the camera lingers on a print of Breughel’s “Hunters in the Snow,” a painting that seems to imply that the titular hunters, instead of returning home empty-handed, are instead on the trail of the ice-skating children in the distance. It is an invocation of the untamable nature of violence, which once released can never be controlled. Kelvin’s reaction to his first ‘visitor,’ the first appearance of Hari, is to attempt to destroy her. Breughel’s hunters with their ambiguous target are mocking commentaries on Kelvin’s own predetermined failure as a scientist and as a human being. Like them, his inability to come to terms with his own nature leads him to lash out against those closest to him, and in so doing to destroy himself. When, in the end, he returns to a heavily ironic homecoming with his surely deceased father, it is with a sense not of a journey completed, but of a cycle repeated, with inevitable tragedy and with inescapable loss that he can never come to terms with. (1972, 166 min, DCP Digital) KB
Ridley Scott's BLADE RUNNER: THE FINAL CUT (American/British Revival)
Northbrook Public Library (1201 Cedar Lane, Northbrook) – Tuesday, 7pm (Free Admission)
Seen in any version (there are at least seven), BLADE RUNNER is a monstrous mess—a mélange of film noir, Philip K. Dick, action-heavy cineplex sadism, and horny chinoiserie. A critically-derided flop upon its initial release, BLADE RUNNER carries the uncanny suggestion that its story not only revolves around androids, but may actually have been conceived and shaped by non-human intelligence—a quality it shares with that other misunderstood Summer of '82 sci-fi spectacular, TRON. When viewed alongside director Ridley Scott's prior effort, the masterfully controlled and minutely calibrated terror show ALIEN, BLADE RUNNER feels programmatic and kludgy, as if all decisions about staging, atmospherics, and rhythm were simply fed into an overheated circuit board. (The original ending—an improbably sunny coda repurposed from second-unit outtakes from THE SHINING—plays like the product of an inelegant Surefire BoxOffice algorithm.) It's not so much that art direction, set design, cinematography, editing, music, and acting are working at cross-purposes—instead, they're merely zipping along semi-autonomously, without being shaped into a grammatical whole. So, it's odd and kind of touching that Ridley Scott has repeatedly re-asserted his authorship of this unruly, seemingly author-less masterwork—first in a hastily-produced 'Director's Cut' in 1992, subsequently in a 'Final Cut' released in 2007. (If Scott follows Oliver Stone's example with ALEXANDER, the 'Final Cut' need not really be final; there's always the promise of an 'Ultimate Cut' peeking out over the smoggy horizon.) It now takes on the impossible grandeur of a medieval saga, a lumbering epic embroidered and corrupted by countless textual variants. Most of the major changes were performed for the so-called Director's Cut: Harrison Ford's sleepy voice-over is gone, an origami unicorn rhymes with and undercuts a re-inserted dream sequence, and the freak ending is excised. The Final Cut, by contrast, services superfans, correcting gaffes imperceptible to the uninitiated: matte lines are cleaned up, lip sync is fixed with lines re-dubbed by Ford's son, Joanna Cassidy's face is digitally plastered over the body of a stunt double, Rutger Hauer treats his father more decorously. I still prefer the original 1982 theatrical cut above all others—it really heightens the contradictions, as the student Marxists used to say. But the Final Cut is still queer and ungainly enough to slosh around in. (1982/2007, 117 min, Unconfirmed Format) KAW
MORE SCREENINGS AND EVENTS
Thai filmmaker and SAIC grad Apichatpong Weerasethakul presents a Visiting Artist Program Distinguished Alumni Lecture at SAIC’s Rubloff Auditorium on Tuesday at 6pm. Free admission.
Lampo and the Graham Foundation present the video/analog synthesizer performance duo LoVid on Saturday at 8pm at Madlener House (4 W. Burton Place). LoVid will perform “Mesh Extenders,” a group of “interconnected compositions made for their handmade analog synthesizers along with video.” Free admission, but reservations are required. RSVP at http://grahamfoundation.us6.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=073b7abdf4d4a7eee3270de4a&id=9f782d9df5&e=65ffc96c9
Reeling: The Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival opens on Thursday, with a screening of Tom Gustafson’s 2017 film HELLO AGAIN (105 min, DCP Digital) at the Music Box Theatre at 7pm (separately ticketed reception at 6pm), with director Gustafson, screenwriter Cory Krueckeberg, and actor Tyler Blackburn in person. The festival continues September 22-28 at the Landmark’s Century Centre Cinema. Full schedule at www.reelingfilmfestival.org.
Block Cinema (Northwestern University) presents Films Division Shorts on Thursday at 7pm, as part of a two program series titled “Ministry of Light: Experimental State-Sponsored Films from India, 1968-1975” (see next week’s list for the second program). Screening in this program are: THIS BIT OF THAT INDIA (S.N.S. Sastry, 1975, 20 min), I AM 20 (S.N.S. Sastry, 1967, 19 min), THOUGHTS IN A MUSEUM (S. Sukhdev, 1968, 19 min), AND I MAKE SHORT FILMS (S.N.S. Sastry, 1968, 16 min), AND THE STARTS LOOK ON (Omprakash Mehra, 1968, 12 min), YET IN HIM WE TRUST (S.N.S. Sastry, 1966, 1 min), EXPLORER (Pramod Pati, 1968, 7 min), and CLAXPLOSION (Pramod Pati, 1968, 2 min). Unconfirmed Formats. Followed by a discussion between Simran Bhalla (series curator and PhD student in Screen Cultures at NY) and Rochona Majumdar (Associate Professor of South Asian Languages and Civilizations and Cinema and Media Studies, University of Chicago). Free admission.
Asian Pop-Up Cinema presents MeiJuin Chen’s 2017 Taiwanese film THE GANGSTER’S DAUGHTER (104 min, Digital Projection) on Wednesday at 7pm at AMC River East (322 E. Illinois St.), with Chen in person.
Elevated Films Chicago presents an advance screening of Sean Baker’s 2017 film THE FLORIDA PROJECT (115 min, Video Projection) on Tuesday at 7pm, with Baker in person. The screening takes place on the roof at the Ace Hotel Chicago (311 N. Morgan St.). The screening is preceded at 6pm by a performance by Musical Guest and followed at 9pm by a Q&A with Baker moderated by local filmmaker and Northwestern University professor Spencer Parsons. Tickets are available at www.eventbrite.com/e/the-florida-project-film-event-tickets-37632774642.
The Graham Foundation (at their Madlener House, 4 W. Burton Place) presents Sam Wainwright Douglas’ 2017 documentary THROUGH THE REPELLENT FENCE: A LAND ART FILM (74 min, Video Projection) on Wednesday at 6pm. Free admission.
Black Cinema House at the Stony Island Arts Bank (6760 S. Stony Island Ave.) presents Love Under Pressure, a program of short films by local filmmakers Chan C. Smith and Raphael Nash. With Smith and Nash in person. Free admission.
Also at the Gene Siskel Film Center this week: Dominique Abel and Fiona Gordon’s 2016 French/Belgian film LOST IN PARIS (83 min, DCP Digital) plays for a week; John Griesser, Jean Griesser, and Lauren Ross’ 2017 documentary HARE KRISHNA!: THE MANTRA, THE MOVEMENT AND THE SWAMI WHO STARTED IT ALL (90 min, DCP Digital) is on Friday at 7:45pm, Saturday at 8pm, Sunday at 5:15pm, and Wednesday at 8:15pm; and Allan Dwan’s 1916 silent western THE HALF-BREED (73 min, DCP Digital) is on Saturday at 3:30pm and Thursday at 6pm.
Also at the Music Box Theatre this week: Martin Provost’s 2017 French film THE MIDWIFE (117 min, DCP Digital) and Quentin Tarantino’s 1992 film RESERVOIR DOGS (99 min, New 35mm Print) both open; Scott Drucker’s 2017 documentary WHO IS ARTHUR CHU? (90 min, DCP Digital) is on Saturday at 2pm, with Drucker in person; Phil Nibbelink and Simon Wells’ 1991 animated film AN AMERICAN TAIL: FIEVEL GOES WEST (75 min, 35mm) is on Saturday at 11:30am; Michael Lehmann’s 1988 film HEATHERS (100 min, DCP Digital) is on Friday and Saturday at Midnight; Briar Levit’s 2017 documentary GRAPHIC MEANS: A HISTORY OF GRAPHIC DESIGN PRODUCT (80 min, DCP Digital) is on Tuesday at 7pm; and Andrew P. Quinn’s 2017 documentary PRESSING ON: THE LETTERPRESS FILM (105 min, DCP Digital) is on Tuesday at 8:30pm.
Also at Facets Cinémathèque this week: Jérôme Reybaud’s 2016 French film 4 DAYS IN FRANCE (141 min, Video Projection) plays for a week; and Drew Xanthopoulos’ 2017 documentary THE SENSITIVES (83 min, Video Projection) has a single screening on Sunday at 4pm.
The Instituto Cervantes (31 W. Ohio St.) screens David Ttrueba’s 2013 Spanish film LIVING IS EASY WITH EYES CLOSED (108 min, DVD Projection) on Thursday at 6pm. Free admission.
At the Chicago Cultural Center this week: Cinema/Chicago presents a screening of Hugo Rodríguez’s 2015 Mexican film SHE’S RAMONA (83 min, Video Projection) on Wednesday at 6:30pm. Free admission.
At Comfort Film at Comfort Station Logan Square (2579 N. Milwaukee Ave.) this week: Tom McLoughlin’s 2008 made-for-television film FAB FIVE: THE TEXAS CHEERLEADER SCANDAL (88 min, Video Projection), with live commentary by the AV Club's Katie Rife and a TBA guest, is on Tuesday at 8pm; and Little Mexico Film Festival Presents: Programmer's Cut Uncensored (2014-16, 92 min total, Video Projection) is on Wednesday at 8pm. Free admission.
Sinema Obscura at Township (2200 N. California Ave.) screens Dustin Puehler’s 2017 film/webseries REALITY (80 min, Digital Projection) on Monday at 7pm. Preceded by Sean Richard Budde’s 2012 short film DEPRESSING NEWS. Free admission.
The Gorton Community Center in Lake Forest (400 E. Illinois Rd., Lake Forest, IL) screens Jeff Orlowski’s 2017 documentary CHASING CORAL (93 min, Digital Projection) on Tuesday at 7pm.
ONGOING FILM/VIDEO INSTALLATIONS
The SAIC Sullivan Galleries (33 S. State St., 7th Floor) presents Apichatpong Weerasethakul: The Serenity of Madness through December 8. The exhibition opens on September 16, and there is an Opening Reception on Friday from 6-9pm. The show features many short films and video installations by the SAIC grad, 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.
At the Art Institute of Chicago, British artist and filmmaker Steve McQueen’s video installation work END CREDITS (2012-ongoing), which is currently comprised on nearly 13-hours of footage and 19-hours of soundtrack, is on view until October 1.
The Art Institute of Chicago (Modern Wing Galleries) has Dara Birnbaum’s 1979 two-channel video KISS THE GIRLS: MAKE THEM CRY (6 min) currently on view.
CINE-LIST: September 15 - September 21, 2017
MANAGING EDITOR // Patrick Friel
ASSOCIATE EDITORS // Ben Sachs, Kathleen Sachs, Kyle A. Westphal
CONTRIBUTORS // Kian Bergstrom, Kyle Cubr, Scott Pfeiffer, Ignatiy Vishnevetsky