On episode #7 of the Cine-Cast, Cine-File associate editor Ben Sachs and content producer JB Mabe chat about Chicago movie-going in October, from the Johnnie To series at Doc Films to Conversations at the Edge at the Siskel Film Center; contributor Kyle Cubr interviews MINDING THE GAP director Bing Liu; Mabe talks with Julia Gibbs, assistant director of the Film Studies Center at the University of Chicago, about their fall schedule; and Sachs, Cubr, and contributor Michael Smith talk about the 54th Chicago International Film Festival, which runs through October 21.
Listen here. As always, special thanks to our producer, Andy Miles, of Transistor Chicago.
Edward Bland’s THE CRY OF JAZZ and Harley Cokeliss’ CHICAGO BLUES (Documentary Revivals)
More than half a century after it was made, THE CRY OF JAZZ still feels audacious. It takes place at a small gathering on the south side of Chicago where about a dozen jazz aficionados—some black, some white—discuss the history of the music they love and get into a heated debate on American race relations. The subjects of music and black history are intertwined from the get-go, as the group pedant (who also serves as the film’s narrator) describes each development in jazz as it corresponds to a different aspect of black American experience. As he explains, the paradoxical nature of jazz—in which players improvise within and around a fixed musical structure—reflects the inherent contradiction of black American life. Because American culture denies blacks a sense of past and future, black life is, by definition, stagnant; yet the fact that it persists allows for moments of joy and celebration. Some of the whites in the room argue against the pedant, who believes that blacks have suffered more than anyone else in American history and that they represent the neglected conscience of white America. Co-writer-director Edward O. Bland privileges the narrator’s position, but he grants more than adequate time to the rebuttals, giving the film the flow of a genuine rap session. Implicit in this organization is that for any meaningful change to occur with regards to race relations, people of different races need to have more conversations like this. Bland’s editing is impressive as well, illustrating the musical and history lessons with a dense montage that alternates images of jazz musicians in concert with images of black poverty and other social ills. Though some of these images can be difficult to look at, the film’s overall effect is stirring. (1959, 34 min, Newly Restored 35mm Print) BS
The thread that runs from poverty-stricken, oppressed blacks from the rural South to those living in the just-as-oppressive urban North weaves through American expatriate Harley Cokeliss’ 1972 documentary, CHICAGO BLUES. Tellingly, this brief look at blues musicians working in Chicago opens with black activist Dick Gregory talking about the hope southern African-Americans had in making the Great Migration that they would have the political muscle to survive and thrive in urban centers like Chicago. As CHICAGO BLUES introduces us to such luminaries of the Chicago blues music scene as Muddy Waters, Junior Wells, J.B. Hutto, Buddy Guy, and Delmark Records founder Bob Koester, voiceover narration by Cokeliss—raised in Chicago but now thoroughly British—informs us of the dire statistics about housing, health, and economic opportunity for the black community. Renowned cinematographer Tak Fujimoto, in charge of shooting his very first film, fixates on images of the “L,” bombed-out neighborhoods, and the prisonlike Robert Taylor Homes along the Dan Ryan Expressway that were finally put out of their misery after decades of neglect by 2007. People across the pond seem endlessly fascinated with the misery of poor Americans, so the tone of this film isn’t really surprising. Fortunately, the musical interludes relieve the gloom and amply show the evolution of acoustic country blues and gospel into the energetic, electrified sounds that arose to match the urban landscape. Particularly interesting is Mississippi native Muddy Waters’ claim that he invented Chicago blues, and his boastful performances in this film reflect his personality and demonstrate that the blues—indeed, the lives of a proud black community that proclaimed its power and significance on the briefly glimpsed Wall of Respect and Wall of Truth—aren’t confined to lamentation. It’s a shame Cokeliss decided not to turn his camera on prominent female blues artists I enjoyed watching in the ’70s, including Koko Taylor and Big Time Sarah, whose stories would have expanded and illuminated his story. (1972, 50 min, Digital Projection) MF
Designers in Context: Film, Advertising, and Modernism (Experimental Revival) / Color and Line: Mid-Century Animation (Experimental Revival)
Block Cinema (Northwestern University) — Designers in Context: Friday, 7pm (Free Admission) / Color and Line: Saturday, 1pm (Free Admission)
This weekend the Block Museum presents two programs of films in conjunction with its gallery show, Up Is Down: Mid-Century Experiments in Advertising and Film at the Goldsholl Studio. The first program features one sponsored film from the Goldsholl Studio—FOOTE, CONE & BELDING-25TH ANNIVERSARY PRESENTATION REEL (1967, 3 min, Digital Projection)—that situates the couples' practice within the simultaneously innovative and blasé world of 20th century advertising, though the Goldsholls' montage effects are an order of magnitude more artful than the cosmetics spreads and beer ads their work celebrates. A more ambiguous case is Francis Thompson's N.Y., N.Y. (1958, 15 min, 16mm). In its heyday, Thompson's film played endlessly at Cinema 16 and film societies around the country. Had N.Y., N.Y. remained a camera club lark, the ultimate amateur treasure stuffed under a bed, it would play differently today than it does, straining somewhat under its reputation as the most celebrated and influential American experimental film of the 1950s. It feels today more like a dead end, or an off-ramp to a more suburban branch of bohemia. Thompson's work continues the city symphony genre of the 1920s, but with a crucial deviation. Despite all their trick photographic effects, Vertov and Cavalcanti were fundamentally interested in the character and rhythm of urban life; Thompson was not, refracting most every shot through a kaleidoscopic lens, presenting a wild tourist's-eye-view of his chosen metropolis. It's the difference between a sociologist with a camera and an engineer with a prism. (The gap in observation and texture between N.Y., N.Y. and Brakhage's near-contemporary THE WONDER RING is instructive.) The most durable branch of American avant-garde filmmaking from the 1950s onwards challenged its audience to discover a new way of seeing; Thompson promised a hip way of seeing, which remains the volatile fault line that the better advertising films managed to tiptoe with more finesse. Fred Mogubgub's THE POP SHOW (1966, 7 min, 16mm) is a rougher, less precise work that nevertheless successfully merges ad chic, visual satire, pop art, bad taste, and juvenile obsessions into an antic roundelay. It suggests a throughline between old movies on TV, dopey commercials, and modern art, and undercuts all of them by pitching them at precisely the same level. Many of the other films in this program aspire to collapse the distinction between art and advertising, but THE POP SHOW works because it's content to throw both poles of culture in the garbage. Also on the program: Saul Bass's FROM HERE TO THERE (1964, 9 min, Digital Projection), Charles and Ray Eames's INFORMATION MACHINE (1958, 10 min, 16mm), Chick Strand, Pat O'Neill, and Neon Park's SEARS SOX (1969, 5 min, 16mm), and Saul Bass's WHY MAN CREATES (1968, 25 min, 35mm). Introduced by NU professor Lynn Spigel. KAW
When talking about the history of American animation, it's useful to divide our subject into two eras: pre-UPA and post-UPA. United Productions of America was formed in 1943 by John Hubley and staffed by comrades discharged from the Disney studios; within a decade of its incorporation, UPA would change the face of studio animation, bringing a mid-century modern aesthetic—spun as individualistic, sleek, and 100% American—to a field hitherto marked by feudal ideas and labor practices. To look upon pre-UPA output from Warner Bros. and Disney is to glimpse a 20th Century Chartres—endlessly detailed altarpieces whose production and existence strains credulity. The stuff churned out by the Hollywood studios after the ascent of UPA's aesthetic is generally looser, mangier, and cheaper. (Even Disney would avail itself of the Xerox process to multiply its 101 DALMATIONS.) But the pre-/post- UPA split is also an instructive way to look at avant-garde animation, which struggled to carve out a comprehensible space for itself before UPA opened the floodgates. To look upon a film like Oskar Fischinger's COMPOSITION IN BLUE (1935, 4 min, 35mm) is to witness the work of a desperately lonely man, a genius destined to be flung from one Hollywood studio to another, each more unprepared for his work than the last. Len Lye achieved a marginally more stable position in the UK under the aegis of John Grierson's film unit at General Post Office, where he was given a freer hand but for the requirement that he advertise transit times, mail rates, and the like. Lye's TRADE TATTOO (1937, 5 min, 16mm) is unlike anything else in '30s animation, boasting an attention to materiality, delicate interplays of texture, and brazen colors that scarcely existed in English cinema (or English life) prior. (Lye even unraveled the basic idea behind the three-strip Technicolor process to impart stock footage with radical, disorienting new hues.) Yet neither Fischinger nor Lye enjoyed the broad popularity achieved by Norman McLaren, whose animations circulated to schools, churches, film clubs, and sundry other operations through the beneficence of the National Film Board of Canada, itself one of cinema's most effective propaganda operations. McLaren and Evelyn Lambart's BEGONE DULL CARE (1949, 8 min, 16mm) takes the Lye formula and outfits it with a more post-war, explicitly internationalist justification—a kind of animator's Esperanto. It's in the post-UPA era that more resolutely personal work is championed—witness such unconventional Oscar winners of John and Faith Hubley's THE HOLE (1962, 15 min, 35mm) and Frank and Caroline Mouris' FRANK FILM (1973, 9 min, DCP Digital), which brought experimental animation as close as it would get to the American mainstream. The latter remains a cunning fusion of experimental diary film, pop collage, and fractured autobiography. Like the Mourises, Robert Breer—represented here by the rarely revived early work FORM PHASES IV (1954, 3 min, 16mm)—eventually found his way to indoctrinating American school children in the grammar of underground moviemaking by contributing shorts to the Children's Television Workshop, producers of Sesame Street. By then, mid-century animation had been assimilated and elevated to the pedestal in American culture it should have occupied all along. Also on the program: Norman McLaren and Grant Munroe's NEIGHBORS (1952, 8 min, 35mm), John Whitney’s CELERY STALKS AT MIDNIGHT (1951, 3 min, 16mm), Caroline Leaf's SAND, OR PETER AND THE WOLF (1969, 10 min, 16mm), and Goldsholl Design & Film Associates' ENVELOPE JIVE (c. 1963, 10 min, 16mm). Introduced by filmmaker and NU professor Eric Patrick. KAW
Robert Florey’s MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE (American Revival)
Music Box Theatre — Saturday and Sunday, 11:30am
Edgar Allan Poe’s three stories featuring Auguste Dupin are quite justifiably considered to be foundational landmarks in detective fiction. This adaptation of the first of the stories bears only occasional resemblance to the narrative of Poe’s story but deeply engages with Poe’s themes and work to a degree I’ve not seen in any other film. Florey had been taken off the FRANKENSTEIN project in pre-production and given relatively free reign on MURDERSA as compensation, and I imagine that when the producers saw what Florey had done with the film they must have been in full-scale panic mode. Reshoots were ordered and the film was re-edited to the point of total incoherence. Nevertheless, even in the compromised state it exists in now, it is hard to believe a movie this perverted and nasty could ever have been produced and released. Florey and his cinematographer, Karl Freund, fill their version of 1845 Paris with fog, arcane camera angles, sourceless shadows, and one of the most casually blasphemous moments 1930’s cinema ever saw. This is a movie that practically begins with a BDSM joke, has a coroner assume the protagonist has come to visit him for necrophiliac reasons when really he’s only there to illegally buy a jar of corpse blood, and has Lugosi murder a series of women by injecting them with gorilla blood because the main plotline is literally about him trying to find a human woman for his pet primate to fuck. Roiling under the surface of all this is a detailed examination of one of Poe’s central concerns: the filthiness of polluted blood. Poe’s horror of miscegenation wasn’t nearly as visceral as, for example, H. P. Lovecraft’s, but Poe’s racism plays a crucial part in most of his work, and while the original Murders in the Rue Morgue wasn’t anywhere near as virulent or explicit as he was in other works (I’m looking at you, Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym), the ourang-outang of the story is an obvious stand-in for the non-white ‘savages’ that seemed to Poe mere moments away from overwhelming civilization and sending white people to barbarism. Florey takes Poe’s racist subtext and makes it disturbingly blatant here. The opening scene is at a carnival in which Lugosi’s mad scientist, Dr. Mirakle, is exhibiting his gorilla which, he claims, is as intelligent as a man and whose language Mirakle has learned to speak, alongside sensually dancing, barely-clothed women from Polynesia. When Mirakle tests a prostitute’s blood to see if she would make a good mate for his gorilla and finds that it won’t, he furiously berates her that she has ‘rotten blood’ that is ‘black as your sins!’ Florey’s film doesn’t manage to rise above its limitations—it’s performances are weak, its romantic subplot is incredibly tedious, and its climax is deeply unsatisfying—but it turns Poe’s story into a remarkable opportunity to explore both the bigotry and the horror of unrestrained sexual appetites that lay unspoken inside it. (1932, 61 min, 35mm) KB
Milos Forman’s THE FIREMEN’S BALL (Czech Revival)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) — Friday, 7 and 9:30pm
Milos Forman (LOVES OF A BLONDE) was the most important director of the Czech New Wave and THE FIREMEN’S BALL, his last Czech film before departing for a successful career in America, just might be his masterpiece. It’s an amazingly subversive black comedy about a fire brigade in a small Czech town holding their annual ball, during which time the members plan on staging their first ever “beauty contest” (whose contestants turn out to be unwilling female ball attendees) and honoring the 86th birthday of their former chairman. Perhaps the definitive Prague Spring movie, THE FIREMEN’S BALL clearly views the fire brigade at its center as a microcosm of Czechoslovakia’s then-Communist government: an inefficient bureaucracy presided over by incompetent old men whose approach to organizing the ball is to essentially make up everything as they go along. It’s unsurprising then that the film was banned “permanently and forever” by the Czech authorities shortly after its premiere. Seen today, THE FIREMEN’S BALL is still uproariously funny as satire, a vital film that should come as a revelation to those who only know its director as a man who wound down his career making generic biopics in Hollywood. (1967, 73 min, 35mm) MGS
Adam Khalil and Zach Khalil's INAATE/SE (IT SHINES IN A CERTAIN WAY. TO A CERTAIN PLACE./ IT FLIES./ FALLS./) (New Experimental)
Filmfront (1740 W. 18th St.) — Thursday, 7:30pm
If you’re having trouble understanding why Elizabeth Warren’s recent DNA test fiasco has been so roundly criticized by Native American communities, you need to see THE VIOLENCE OF A CIVILIZATION WITHOUT SECRETS (2017, 10 min), an incisive visual essay by Indigenous filmmakers Adam Khalil, Zach Khalil (Ojibway) and Jackson Polys (Tlingit) screening Thursday at Filmfront. The video examines, through layers of self-shot, borrowed, detourned, and computer-generated imagery, the 1996 discovery of a 9,000-year-old body buried near the banks of the Columbia River in Kennewick, WA. In violation of laws protecting Native burial sites, the remains of the “Kennewick Man” were exhumed by forensic anthropologists and removed for extended study. Sen. Warren claims that a DNA test offers proof of her Native heritage—never mind that the Cherokee Nation requires a direct ancestor listed on the Dawes Rolls of 1898-1914 to establish tribal citizenship; the Kennewick anthropologists justified their theft by claiming, spuriously, that its cranial features proved a distant European presence on the American continent, blithely ignoring the 10,000 year history of the Umatilla people of the region. Western science has always been employed to justify the appropriation of Indigenous artifacts and to invalidate Native claims to sovereignty, but the intensity with which Adam and Zach Khalil figure the museum and the laboratory as sites of violence is still shocking. For instance, their wildly precocious debut feature INAATE/SE (IT SHINES IN A CERTAIN WAY. TO A CERTAIN PLACE./ IT FLIES./ FALLS./) (2016, 66 min) includes a searing passage filmed surreptitiously among the archival stacks of the Smithsonian Institution: sweeping over the hundreds of pilfered artifacts left to languish in plastic bins and cheap racks, the camera testifies with clear-eyed anger to the atrocities committed in the name of enlightenment. The Khalils’ aim is not simply to critique specific practices of bogus scientific legitimation and cultural patrimony, but to challenge the fundamental structure of Western knowledge, an epistemology that maintains that everything can—and should—be known, measured and catalogued. To do so, INAATE/SE (the title is an Ojibway expression describing “the basic mechanism of film projection”) also explodes conventions of documentary, itself a form of cinematic knowledge production with a particularly ugly history as an instrument of ethnic oppression. The urgency of this project (which amounts, effectively, to the elaboration of entirely new idioms of Indigenous filmmaking) can be felt in INAATE/SE’s dizzying amalgamation of stories and styles. The film animates Ojibway myths and prophecies—and the violent settler colonial and missionary practices that have sought to eradicate them for generations—through manifolds of landscape, testimony, archival appropriation, performance, and psychedelic abstraction. Some of its most indelible sequences address the genocidal architectures of European occupation around the Khalil’s hometown of Sault Ste. Marie, MI: the missions and boarding schools that forcibly stripped Native children of their language and their traditions, the shipping canal that destroyed the natural waterways of the land, the preposterously, panoptically literal 200-foot-tall “Tower of History” installed to celebrate Jesuit conquest. To counter the total visibility imposed by these hege(de)monic constructions, the Khalils slip elusively between registers, careful not to say too much about any one subject in any one formal language. Neither are the film’s tremendous creative and political energies exhausted in recrimination; rather, INAATE/SE is most radical in its insistence on the value of cinema as a galvanizing force, an indispensable instrument in a generational project of spiritual, cultural, and political reawakening. The excitement of Adam and Zach Khalil’s films has less to do with the kind of knowledge they seek to produce—something that can only be implied, anyway—but lies, explicitly, in their power for incitement. Filmmaker Adam Khalil in person. (2016-17, approx 76 min total, Digital Projection) MM
54th CHICAGO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
The 54th Chicago International Film Festival continues this week through October 21, with screenings taking place at the River East 21. More information and full schedule at www.chicagofilmfestival.com. Check out our reviews below and our previous two lists for more than 30 reviews (a number of the films reviewed still have upcoming screenings
Peter Bogdanovich’s THE GREAT BUSTER (US)
Friday 10/19, 1pm and Sunday 10/21, 3:15pm
The life and career of Buster Keaton are celebrated in Peter Bogdanovich’s new documentary. From his formative years as a vaudeville performer with his family, to his initiation to film as a protégé under Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, to his shorts, features, and later life, no stone lays unturned in this portrait of the lauded silent era star. The film is full of talking-head interviews from stars new and old—Mel Brooks to Bill Hader—that showcase Keaton’s influence on comedy over the past century. Bogdanovich does not shy away from less-glamorous parts of Keaton’s life and career, such as his struggles with alcoholism and ill-advised time with MGM. The archival images and sequences utilized provide a candid look at the daily life and provide a humanizing aspect. Bogdanovich’s narration provides a sense of his deep reverence and admiration. It is as thorough a documentary on Keaton’s complete body of work as could be. A must see for Buster Keaton fans everywhere, THE GREAT BUSTER captures the zest for life, innovation, and supreme talent of one of early Hollywood’s greatest pioneers. (2018, 102 min) KC
Manki Kwon’s CLEAN UP (Korea)
Saturday 10/20, 4:15pm and Sunday 10/21, 4pm
Jung-Li works for a professional cleaning company and is haunted by her past. Although she has found God in Christianity, she still struggles with the death of her son and the subsequent divorce from her husband that followed. One day, her company hires an ex-convict named Mingu, a young man who Jung-Li knows from her past when she committed a heinous crime against him, but he does not remember her. As the two get to know one another, will old ghosts come back to haunt? Guilt and atonement play out in this film, and like many of the best films coming out of South Korea the past two decades, its foundation is deeply rooted in a compelling relationship drama with fully realized characters. The juxtaposition of cleaning as the characters’ vocation and their personal histories allows for interesting parallels. CLEAN UP is about perseverance of the human spirit in the face of past adversities and the desire to be a better person. (2018, 101 min) KC
Tom Volf’s MARIA BY CALLAS (France)
Saturday 10/20, 3pm
In the glittering, overblown world of opera, there are many divas, both female and male. But to most opera lovers, Maria Callas is the very definition of the word “diva.” Even people with barely a nodding acquaintance with opera recognize her striking Greek features and glamorous wardrobe, and know of her reputation for temperament and her long-term affair with Aristotle Onassis that ended when he threw her over to marry Jacqueline Kennedy. Although MARIA BY CALLAS touches on these and other personal and professional moments in her highly publicized life, its focus, thankfully, is on her artistry. The film is comprised of film clips of performances, television interviews, home movies, and still photos, supplemented by actor Joyce DiDonato reading Callas’ private letters, thus allowing her to tell her own story. The generous samplings of her performances in Verdi, Bizet, and especially the bel canto repertoire she helped popularize—Bellini’s Norma figures prominently—are glorious and perfectly capture Callas’ emotional connection with the music and her audiences, even when she misses more than a few high Cs. French director Tom Volf, a photographer turned documentarian, is mesmerized by Callas’ allure and convincingly ensures she is never upstaged by the many famous admirers he shows attending her performances, including Queen Elizabeth II and the Queen Mother, Anna Magnani, and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. MARIA BY CALLAS is a moving tribute to a great opera star. (2017, 113 min) MF
Chantal Akerman’s TOUTE UNE NUIT (Belgian/French Revival)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) — Wednesday, 7 and 9:30pm
While taking notes on TOUTE UNE NUIT, I meant to scribble “life is a series of moments,” but, in an awe-inspired delirium as hazy as the bootleg DVD from which I watched Chantal Akerman’s 1982 film, I accidentally wrote “life is a series of movements.” In retrospect, both are true about what TOUTE UNE NUIT exemplifies—specific moments and expansive movements, the minute and the universal. Set in Brussels over the course of a hot summer night, the film depicts several dozen characters (if one could even call them that) on the brink of some kind of romantic expression, from amorous embraces to more nuanced intimations of interpersonal disharmony. Its 90-minute runtime is comprised entirely of these interactions, all devoid of context—we’re privy to only a few moments of each, some of which lend themselves to more obvious narrative inferences (my favorite from this category being a middle-aged couple that spontaneously decides to go dancing), while others are more oblique (such as a young man and woman who randomly embrace in a cafe, then are shown dancing together in another scene). This period of Akerman’s career is often considered a departure from her earlier minimalist films, one in which she sporadically embraced the formal experimentations of the movie musical, reaching its logical conclusion with her 1986 film GOLDEN EIGHTIES. TOUTE UNE NUIT, however, adheres to several definitions of minimalism: “a style or technique…that is characterized by extreme spareness and simplicity," "belonging or relating to a style...that uses the smallest range of materials and colours possible, and only very simple shapes or forms,” and, with regards to music, “an avant-garde movement…characterized by the repetition of very short phrases that change gradually, producing a hypnotic effect.” What is the film’s concept if not spare and simple? What is the film's plot if not the repetition of very short phrases that produce a hypnotic effect? The biggest point of contention is its veritable assembly of participants, far from minimal, but even in Akerman’s use of excess, she exudes a sort of minimalist maximalism, succesfully visualizing that very economical dichotomy. And by repeating her scenarios, stripping down maximalist ideas into minimalist moments, different but the same, Akerman strips them of meaning and reveals their sameness, within whatever narrative exists as well as those of the musical genre. It’s ultimately an exercise—or, more fittingly, a choreographed dance—in futility, but a joyful sort of futility, in which the inherent meaninglessness of our collective experience achieves de facto significance. Life, and that which is significant within it, specifically romance, is indeed a series of moments, made up of seemingly extemporaneous movements, and Akerman reflects that back at us not as a rebuke, but rather as an admonition about what is obvious to our eyes but guarded from our hearts. (1982, 90 min, 35mm) KS
Diane Kurys’ PEPPERMINT SODA (French Revival)
Gene Siskel Film Center — Check Venue website for showtimes
PEPPERMINT SODA is the debut of the filmmaker Diane Kurys, a big hit in France and North American arthouses in its day, now screening in a truly welcome 40th anniversary 2K restoration. It’s the kind of film where you feel the director knows what she’s doing in the first three shots so you can relax into it; let it work its way into you. Phillippe Rousselot’s imagemaking and Joële van Effenterre’s snare drum-tight editing suck you in, softening you up for Kurys’ distinct and holistic view of young womanhood, its small intimacies and seemingly epic humiliations. It’s an autobiographical picture, set some 15 years before its making, and the torrent of incident is astonishing; Kurys marshals her command of memory in a way that can elude directors five or ten movies into a career. She expresses herself in the form of two sisters, Frédérique and the younger Anne, products of a split family; Anne struggles with martinet teachers, lousy grades, shoplifting, waiting for her first period, wildly overstating penis size in conversation with her equally out-of-the-know pals, and the all-too-common desire to jump ahead a couple of years so she can have the freedoms Frédérique engages in so freely. (Her embarrassment at her mother not allowing her to wear tights and doing the classic saliva-on-a-napkin move to clean her face is palpable.) She’s the personification of gloom, perpetually on the verge of tears, with the company of her friends the only ray of light. Frédérique treats her well-ish, but isn't above bullying her around, kicking her out of a cafe where they happen to end up at the same time. The narrative shifts from Anne after a time to favor Frédérique, who’s got her own problems with wanting to break out; she’s navigating surging and waning friendships while the mother disapproves of both her boyfriend and her budding anti-Fascist, anti-Algerian interference political bent. PEPPERMINT SODA’s a closely observed triumph, the micro illuminating the macro. The story takes place over a year, but Kurys doesn’t manufacture an all-caps ending. It finishes on a note of some comity, but doesn’t strain for it. Frédérique takes a field trip to Port-Royal Abbey and its path called The Way of 100 Steps, an apt metaphor for the film; PEPPERMINT SODA may only cover a bit of Anne and Frédérique’s path through life, but zoning in on those few steps illuminates an entire world. (1978, 97 min, DCP Digital) JG
Teinosuke Kinugasa's A PAGE OF MADNESS (Silent Japanese Revival)
Film Studies Center (at the Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E. 60th St., University of Chicago) — Friday, 7pm*
Also known as A PAGE OUT OF ORDER or THE CRAZY PAGE, this is, regardless of the title, a madhouse riot of a movie. Traumatic and nauseating, it's easily the most horrifying movie made during the Silent Era, a weird and queasy dance of death directed by former female impersonator/future Oscar and Palme d'Or winner Teinosuke Kinugasa and written by future Nobel laureate Yasunari Kawabata. Part avant-garde suicide finale, part Lynchian creepshow, this unhinged Japanese contemporary to German Expressionism (a movement A PAGE OF MADNESS's makers were apparently unaware of) would be considered a seminal film if anyone had actually seen it, but it was forgotten and believed lost until the 1970s. The film's simple-yet-somehow-indescribable plot involves a janitor working at the asylum where his wife is a patient. Everything about this movie is borderline insane. Live musical accompaniment by Alloy Orchestra. (1926, 78 min, DCP Digital) IV
This is a ticketed event and admission is $10 general public; visit https://filmstudiescenter.uchicago.edu for more info and to purchase tickets.
Lois Weber’s HYPOCRITES (Silent American Revival)
Gene Siskel Film Center — Saturday, 3pm
As with most morally driven films of its era, I find it best to ignore the plot of Lois Weber’s HYPOCRITES and focus instead on its astounding technical achievements. Still, for the sake of understanding its industrial prowess, one must know what’s going on: HYPOCRITES features two somewhat intertwined storylines with the same actors, one set in medieval times and the other contemporary to its release. In the former, a Christian monk called Gabriel, steadfast in his asceticism, carves a sculpture of a nude woman, meant to represent the Naked Truth, and is then martyred for it; in the latter, a belabored Christian priest, having fallen asleep after preaching a sermon on hypocrisy, dreams that he’s Gabriel and the statue has come alive to reflect the naked truth back to his pharisaical parishioners. Some of the attacks, specifically those on corrupt politicians and the supercilious elite, resonate, while others, like those on hypocrisy inherent to parenting and romantic relationships, are not as progressive and even frightfully sensational (e.g. a little girl dying after being shown eating too many candies from a box labeled “Indulgence”). Much has been written about the dissonance between Weber’s seemingly progressive films, which she often co-directed and co-scripted with her husband, Phillips Smalley, and the realities of their hyper-specific politics, and that’s no less true in HYPOCRITES, which seems energized more by its self-righteousness than any genuine revelations about insincere pretenses. But despite all this, it’s valuable and even entertaining because of Weber’s technical acumen, which could be said to rival that of D.W. Griffith, whose landmark (and unconscionable) film THE BIRTH OF A NATION was released the same year. Famously, Weber's film features a fully nude woman, for which it faced censorship issues galore (though Weber’s high moral standing helped her get by), as the real-live Naked Truth, superimposed so as to appear ethereal—she carries a mirror that reflects the reality of whatever hypocrisy she’s exposing, an ingenious technique that’s delightful even if when being used to decry the most rigid moral offenses. The two short films being shown with the feature—THE ROSARY (15 min, DCP Digital) and SUSPENSE (12 min, DCP Digital), both of which Weber made in 1913—are similarly adept. THE ROSARY centers on the eponymous turn-of-the-century song; and while its story, about a soldier gone-to-war whose love becomes a nun, is cloying, its use of an actual rosary as a matte for the associated imagery is interesting, if too on-point. SUSPENSE, about a home invasion, may be my favorite of the bunch, displaying a flair for sensation that rivals Hitchcock in terms of narrative and De Palma in visual representation. Its triptych shot, showing the young mother (played by Weber) whose house is broken into, her husband whom she’s calling for help, and the criminal himself, is truly remarkable. Lest we forget that Weber is not just one of the most important female filmmakers, but also one of the most prodigious and innovative artists ever to put moving images onto the big screen, this program will exemplify via her extraordinary artistic talents just why that will always be the case. (1915, 53 min, DCP Digital) KS
Johnnie To’s WHERE A GOOD MAN GOES and THE HEROIC TRIO (Hong Kong Revivals)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) — Tuesday, 7pm (Good Man) and 9:30pm (Heroic)
The sole film in Doc’s invaluable Johnnie To series made before the director cofounded his production company Milkyway Image, THE HEROIC TRIO (1993, 88 min, 35mm) feels closer in sensibility to the films of Tsui Hark than to To’s later Milkyway output. Not that that’s a bad thing. The world needs more superhero movies like this—cheery, goofy, casually feminist, and devoid of self-importance. That it barely makes sense (the most obvious sign of Tsui’s influence) is an added bonus. The trio in question consists of Thief Catcher (Maggie Cheung), Invisible Woman (Michelle Yeoh), and Wonder Woman (Anita Mui), super-powered mystery-women who overcome their differences to stop a villain who’s kidnapping babies all over Hong Kong. The costumes, production design, and fight choreography are all bonkers, making the film an eyeful from start to finish. Olivier Assayas was sufficiently impressed by the film to include clips from it in IRMA VEP—the fictional director in that movie played by Jean-Pierre Léaud says that Cheung’s character in HEROIC TRIO reminds him of the great anti-heroine of Louis Feuillade’s serial LES VAMPIRES. Watching To’s film, you can sort of see what the Léaud character means; Cheung exudes charisma and an air of mystery, adding unexpected depth to the cartoonish characterization (the other lead actresses aren’t bad either). WHERE A GOOD MAN GOES (1999, 88 min, 35mm) finds To’s sensibility in full flower. The story feels like it could have been written for a late-30s Warner Bros. social drama, even though it’s firmly rooted in the milieu of late-90s Macao (this speaks to the universality of To’s concerns). Milkyway regular Lau Ching Wan stars as Michael, a brutish crime boss who’s released from prison when the movie starts. Looking for a place to stay on a stormy night, he lands upon a modest inn run by a widowed young mother (Ruby Wong). Michael treats her rudely at first, but gradually the hardworking woman earns his respect—will he reject a life of crime and settle down with the innkeeper? Standing in the way of character’s redemption is a cop played by Lam Suet (another Milkyway regular, clearly relishing one of his most prominent roles), who wants nothing more than to put Michael away again. To adds complexity to the potboiler narrative through his balletic visual style, with gorgeous camera movements (semicircular, linear, or snakelike) that emphasize the characters’ interconnectedness. A master of establishing and flipping cinematic tone, To also derives maximum humor and suspense from the narrative, establishing sympathy for his major characters and making you care about their emotional maturation. Not a masterpiece, but certainly a model of what genre cinema can achieve with the proper imagination, craft, and emotional investment. BS
Ernst Lubitsch’s TO BE OR NOT TO BE (American Revival)
The Chicago Film Society (at Northeastern Illinois University, The Auditorium, Building E, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave.) — Wednesday, 7:30pm
When TO BE OR NOT TO BE was new, it was understandably treated as a dybbuk in clown's clothing—a doubly insensitive vulgarity that mocked the ongoing holocaust in Europe while likewise disgracing the memory of hardscrabble, All-American goddess Carole Lombard. (She had died in a plane crash one month before the film's premiere—on a war-bond tour, in fact, which elevated the movie's poor taste to an aura of unpatriotism.) We can laugh more easily at the jokes these days—the post-GUNS OF NAVARONE (1961) epics have chipped away at the reverence that once encrusted combat movies, making WWII merely the backdrop for dad's go-to action sweet spot—but we shouldn't diminish TO BE OR NOT TO BE either by plucking it out of that moment. As a moral statement for 1942, it's difficult to imagine a more complex and courageous movie, especially coming from a German Jew. (TO BE OR NOT TO BE, its every gag wrapped up in real-time argument and exegesis, is also conceivably the most Jewish movie ever made.) The genius of TO BE OR NOT TO BE is that it views Nazis, for all their terror and malevolence, as pathetic vessels of self-parody—feckless fascists whose Sieg heil shibboleths weakly conceal the intellectual and spiritual void at the center of their project. It's social psychology in the guise of comedy. Two decades before Hannah Arendt, Lubitsch demonstrates the banality of evil, treating the hilarious Concentration Camp Ehrhardt as an emblematic figure—a status-seeking bureaucrat who cannot comprehend his absurd indistinction. Lubitsch conveys this farcicality through repetition of a single joke. Ehrhardt, or Tura as Ehrhardt, respectively amuses himself or gets out of a sticky situation by repeatedly asking, “So they call me Concentration Camp Ehrhardt?” Typically not one to linger on a joke longer than is necessary, Lubitsch conveys a sense of humorous futility through such a comic faux pas. Ultimately, its subject is illegitimacy—artistic, sexual, and political. The treatment of actors and lovers is just as nuanced as its politics, and essentially in parallel. The only object for the individual Nazi is to repudiate any suggestion that he is a subpar black shirt, wherever that may lead. (As Andrew Sarris observed, "For Lubitsch, it was sufficient to say that Hitler had bad manners, and no evil was then inconceivable.") The same logic prevails for Jack Benny’s Joseph Tura and the rest of his theatrical troupe, always asserting personal integrity through maximal performance, textual intent be damned. Preceded by Dave Fleischer’s 1934 cartoon BETTY BOOP’S PRIZE SHOW (8 min, 16mm). (1942, 99 min, 35mm) KS and KAW
Brian Yuzna’s SOCIETY (American Revival)
ArcLight Cinemas (1500 N. Clybourn Ave) — Tuesday, 7pm
The horror-fantastical director Brian Yuzna has carved out a fine career. Among his films are low-budget gems of the body horror subgenre, the most extreme of which is his 1989 debut, which didn’t see a release until 1992. The story has to do with Billy (properly William Whitney, for those who like to keep track of their cinematic references), a Beverly Hills prep-schooler with a therapist, a crumbling relationship with his parents, and incestuous feelings for his sister. His alienation from his family plays pretty straight at the beginning (except for Billy hallucinating worms), then, twenty minutes in, takes a turn for the extravagantly paranoid—or… is it? Ensuing are murders, softcore porn (the T&A often displayed, physiologically, every which way, due to the work of the savagely effective prosthetic makeup artist Screaming Mad George), people expelling hairballs, and surreptitious taping of Billy’s family engaging in the most vile of rituals. Billy thinks he’s not a biological part of his clan; as it turns out, he doesn’t know the half of it. There’s some residue of ROSEMARY’S BABY here, but even though SOCIETY hits all the exploitation beats, it’s not the kind of film you want to spoil overmuch. The twists tend to elicit “You did not go there” responses from the uninitiated, and Yuzna’s genuinely fearless in putting the screws to you; he’s not afraid to up the horrific and rhetorical ante. People have been pressing SOCIETY on friends for years, and not a one of them didn’t wait on tenterhooks wanting to know what you thought of the ending, which is a legend of sorts in horror circles. You hate to throw around “vision,” but Yuzna’s really got one; the last half-hour of this film means no good, philosophically—underneath all the delivering of genre goods is a genuinely pissed-off movie. (1989, 99 min, Digital Projection) JG
Matt Tyrnauer’s STUDIO 54 (New Documentary)
Music Box Theatre — Check Venue website for showtimes
Though not especially inspired filmmaking, STUDIO 54—directed by Matt Tyrnauer, a Special Correspondent for Vanity Fair who’s made several popular documentaries (among them VALENTINO: THE LAST EMPEROR and, more recently, the salacious SCOTTY AND THE SECRET HISTORY OF HOLLYWOOD)—is nevertheless a compelling investigation into the history of the legendary midtown discotheque. Founded by Ian Schrager and Steve Rubell in 1977 and lasting in its original iteration for only 33 months, the club is presented as not just an infamous late-70s hot spot, but as a touchstone that helped shape various aspects of American culture, from our obsession with celebrity to, more positively, LBGTQ+ inclusion. Perhaps overshadowing this aspect of the film is Tyrnauer’s focus on Schrager and Rubell’s legal troubles, interesting content that adds another layer to their storied legacy. Also in the mix are juicy details about the club’s celebrity clientele (I found it amusing to learn that while Mick and Keith got in for free, other members of the Rolling Stones had to pay) and fascinating details about its ever-changing structural and interior design. Despite the superficial concerns, a lot of heart comes through as former employees and club goers talk about the impact of the AIDS crisis on the club’s community, specifically Rubell, who died of complications from the disease in 1989 after having been closeted for most of his life. The camaraderie between Schrager and Rubell (who met in college), as well as that of their staff, is touching—so much so that it’s not hard to feel vindicated by the conclusive title cards. It’s a nice reminder of the power of community, especially one operating outside societal mores. (2018, 98 min, DCP Digital) KS
Terrence Malick's DAYS OF HEAVEN (American Revival)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) — Monday, 9:30pm
Who would have predicted that DAYS OF HEAVEN would be the most influential American film of the past ten years? A number of movies would be almost impossible without its influence—THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD, THERE WILL BE BLOOD (which tipped its hat by employing DAYS' ingenious production designer, Jack Fisk), most of the work of David Gordon Green—that Malick's unprecedented approach has come to seem almost familiar. But seen in a theater, DAYS OF HEAVEN is forever new. Malick's poetic sensibility, which combined an absurdist fascination with the banal with an awestruck view of open landscapes, renders the past era of pre-Dust Bowl Heartland America a gorgeous, alien environment. The film is structured around his lyrical observations, jutting forward in unexpected sequences like a modernist poem. More than one set piece (including the locust infestation and the bizarre entry of a flying circus troupe) has become a little classic in itself; it's easy to forget the primal romantic tragedy, which New City critic Ray Pride once likened to a Biblical fable, which gives the movie its towering structure. It is this feeling for eternal narratives—rooted, perhaps, in Malick's study of philosophy—that distinguishes the film from any of its successors, which could never replicate Malick's spiritual orientation. (1978, 95 min, 35mm) BS
Federico Fellini's LA DOLCE VITA (Italian Revival)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) — Sunday, 7pm
If 8 1/2 is Federico Fellini's Sistine Chapel, then surely LA DOLCE VITA is his Statue of David. Marcello Rubini (Marcello Mastroianni) is a paparazzo living in Rome whose life plays out over the course of seven episodes—each featuring a daytime and nighttime portion. Marcello is in a constant tug of war between the humility of literature (his own writings included) and the egocentric pull of the limelight and cults of personality. His fidelity waivers, as he expresses his love to his fiancé Emma (Yvonne Furneaux) in one scene only to cheat on her with an heiress or a painter in the next. Fellini's post-Fascism take on Italy is marked by the juxtaposition of high society versus traditional family values. The economy is in full upswing and money abounds as lavish parties are shown and the sightly architecture of the city is displayed. Each episode presents Marcello with a challenge to his personal beliefs and ends with him regressing towards his selfish tendencies or elevating towards the pragmatic. Does anyone truly change or do they ultimately end up how some predetermined fate tells them to be? Marcello ultimately succumbs to life in the spotlight and resolves to be a publicist, discarding his old dream of being a writer. The allure of vanity leaves him a bachelor in old age. His character rises and falls repeatedly as if he were in so many Shakespearean or Greek tragedies. Domestic violence and misogyny are in his life's blood with only the faintest glimmer of romanticism and empathy to be seen. Fellini's film is a masterpiece that beckons to be seen and immersed in. It breathes with vitality and effervescence. Some people never learn from their mistakes, and Marcello is no exception.
(1960, 175 min, 35mm) KC
Sam Fuller’s SHOCK CORRIDOR (American Revival)
Filmfront (1740 W. 18th St) — Saturday at 7pm
SHOCK CORRIDOR is a tale of two movies: a murder mystery set in a mental hospital and an exploitation of this location as an extended metaphor for all that is wrong with America circa 1963. In Fuller’s characteristic “yellow journalism” style, he tells the story of John Barrett (Peter Breck), a reporter who feigns insanity in order to be committed to an asylum where a patient was recently murdered. Once inside, he hopes to interrogate the three key witnesses to the murder, mental patients who have not been forthcoming with police. Barrett believes that solving this mystery will lead to a big story and, potentially, a Pulitzer Prize. As Barrett first befriends then interviews the witnesses, Fuller exposes the social ills that drove each of the men insane: anti-communist hysteria, racism and the threat of nuclear annihilation. The closer Barrett gets to the truth, however, the more he risks losing his own sanity. He may eventually get the story he’s after but, after being attacked by “nymphos” in the women’s ward, subjected to electroshock therapy and more, Fuller asks “what price glory?” with a palpable and bitter irony. SHOCK CORRIDOR is full of wild, hallucinatory images befitting its central location including a startling interpolation of 16mm color footage (shot by Fuller himself in Japan and South America) in an otherwise black-and-white film, footage that is used to signify the mental turmoil preceding moments of clarity for some of the patients. But the most memorable image comes in a climactic scene where Barrett imagines a thunderstorm inside the main corridor of the hospital, a scene for which Fuller flooded, and literally ruined, his large hospital set. (By necessity, he shot this sequence last.) The film’s soundtrack also impresses with its intimations of aural hallucination: Fuller abruptly shuts music cues on and off and presents reverb-heavy internalized voice-over to put viewers in the headspace of his mentally disturbed characters. In 1963, SHOCK CORRIDOR may have seemed like nothing more than a ludicrous b-movie but, more than half a century later, unencumbered by the standards of “realism” to which American movies are always held by contemporary viewers, Fuller’s nightmarish vision of America-as-mental hospital looks like the audacious work of art that it is: pulpy and crude but also strangely beautiful and as visceral as a punch in the stomach. (1963, 101 min, Digital Projection) MGS
Laura Scruggs’ UNCLE FUN: YOU'RE THE ONE (New Documentary)
Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art (756 N. Milwaukee Ave.) — Thursday, 7pm
First-time filmmaker Laura Scruggs pays tribute to Chicago’s late, lamented toy and novelty shop Uncle Fun and its owner, Ted Frankel. An unabashed fan, Scruggs doesn’t even feign critical distance, but none is necessary when making a love letter to one’s favorite place on earth. A mecca for gag gifts and doodads of every kind, the store was a reflection of its proprietor, who appears often in the film, wearing a loud shirt or a goofy hat every single time. A parade of customers and employees sing the store’s praises and there’s no reason to doubt their sincerity and impossible not to empathize with their sense of loss at the store’s looming closure. Uncle Fun was a sanctuary for artists, musicians, and oddballs of all stripes and this is a celebration of their Valhalla. There are out-of-focus shots, cheesy graphics, and amateurish editing throughout but it doesn’t matter one bit. This is a heartfelt appreciation for a place dedicated to making people happy, made by people who adored it, and I’m not going to be the one to rain on their parade. Scruggs and Frankel in person. (2018, 60 min, Video Projection) DS
Andrei Tarkovsky’s SOLARIS (Soviet Revival)
Northbrook Public Library (1201 Cedar Lane, Northbrook) — Tuesday, 7pm (Free Admission)
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, Tarkvosky 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
Jean-Luc Godard's PIERROT LE FOU (French Revival)
Alliance Française (54 W. Chicago Ave.) — Saturday, 1:30pm
This favorite of Godardophiles marked a transition between the aspirations towards narrative and genre of the director's early films and the more essayistic style to come. Godard's final collaboration with his two most iconic actors-Jean-Paul Belmondo and Anna Karina-PIERROT is formally playful while maintaining an emotional tug unlike any that would be seen in his work for a decade (the film famously mirrors Godard and Karina's own crumbling relationship). Belmondo and Karina play two lovers on the run, as they escape from civilization. Their desert island fantasy doesn't last, of course, and things rapidly deteriorate, leaving Belmondo's character to pine after his lost love. More than any of his other works, PIERROT masterfully walks the line between Godard's expressed intention to throw everything he can into a film and the compelling, immediate charms of classical cinema-the result being a surprisingly accessible film that will richly repay repeat viewings. (1965, 110 min, Video Projection) AH
MORE SCREENINGS AND EVENTS
The Conversations at the Edge series (at the Gene Siskel Film Center) presents Peter Burr: Pattern Language (2012-18, approx. 60 min total, Digital Projection) on Thursday at 6pm, with Burr in person. The program of experimental animated works, some derived from larger media-based projects, includes SPECIAL EFFECT (2014), THE MESS (2016), PATTERN LANGUAGE (2017), and DIRTSCRAPER (2018).
The Collected Voices Film Festival opened on Thursday and continues through Saturday, with two screenings: Friday at 7pm at Reunion Art Gallery (2557 W. North Ave.) and Saturday at 7pm at The Nightingale (1084 N. Milwaukee Ave.).
Also at Block Cinema (Northwestern University) this week: Paul Chan’s 2003 experimental documentary BAGHDAD IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER (51 min, Digital Projection) is on Thursday at 7pm, with Joe Proulx, from Voices in the Wilderness (now Voices for Creative Nonviolence), in person. Free admission.
Chicago Filmmakers (5720 N. Ridge Ave.) screens local filmmaker Peter Hartel’s 2018 documentary WORK AT HAND (54 min, Digital Projection) on Saturday at 7pm and 8:30pm, with Hartel in person. Free admission.
Black Cinema House (at Stony Island Arts Bank, 6760 S. Stony Island Ave.) screens Mika Kaurismäki’s 2011 documentary MAMA AFRICA (90 min, Video Projection) on Friday at 7:30pm. Free admission.
The Goethe-Institut Chicago (150 N. Michigan Ave., Ste. 200) presents Short Export 2018 (2017-18, approx. 92 min total, Video Projection), a program of six German short films, on Thursday at 6pm. Free admission, but RSVP required at the Goethe website.
Instituto Cervantes (31 W. Ohio St.) screens Ignacio Vilar’s 2016 Spanish film SICIXIA (98 min, DVD Projection) on Wednesday at 7pm. Free admission.
The Chicago Festival of Israeli Cinema opened on Thursday and runs through October 28 and several Chicago and suburban locations.
Comfort Film at Comfort Station Logan Square (2579 N. Milwaukee Ave.) screens Christopher Speeth’s 1973 film MALATESTRA’S CARNIVAL OF BLOOD (74 min, Digital Projection) on Wednesday at 8pm. Free admission.
Asian Pop-Up Cinema presents Lee Rui-jun’s 2017 Chinese film WALKING PAST THE FUTURE (129 min, DCP Digital) on Wednesday at 7pm at AMC River East 21, with Lee Rui-jun and producer Zhang Min in person.
The Metropolitan Planning Council (140 S. Dearborn St., Suite 1400) hosts a screening of Gordon Quinn's '63 BOYCOTT (2016, 30 min, Video Projection) on Monday at 5pm. Quinn will introduce the screening, which will be followed by a panel discussion. Free admission; RSVP at http://bit.ly/2P7oau1.
Also at the Northbrook Public Library (1201 Cedar Lane, Northbrook) this week: Andrew L. Stone’s 1943 film STORMY WEATHER (78 min, DCP Digital) is on Wednesday at 1 and 7pm. Free admission for all shows.
Also at the Gene Siskel Film Center this week: Patrick Imbert and Benjamin Renner’s 2017 French/Belgian animated film THE BIG BAD FOX AND OTHER TALES (83 min, DCP Digital) begins a two-week run; Gustav Möller’s 2018 Danish film THE GUILTY (89 min, DCP Digital) and Matt Tyrnauer’s 2017 documentary SCOTTY AND THE SECRET HISTORY OF HOLLYWOOD (98 min, DCP Digital) play for a week; Shinichiro Watanabe’s 2001 Japanese animated film COWBOY BEBOP: THE MOVIE (115 min, 35mm; Japanese language version) is on Friday at 8pm and Tuesday at 6pm; a program of short silent Pioneer Comedies (78 min total, DCP Digital) is on Saturday at 4:45pm, with Alice-Guy Blaché’s MATRIMONY’S SPEED LIMIT (1913) and MIXED PETS (1913), Mabel Normand’s MABEL’S BLUNDER (1914) and CAUGHT IN A CABARET (1914), and Angela Murray Gibson’s THAT ICE TICKET (1923); and Logan Hall’s 2018 Chicago-made film ANIMATOR (99 min, DCP Digital) is on Saturday at 8:15pm, with producer/screenwriter Roberta Jones in person.
Also at Doc Films (University of Chicago) this week: Carlos López Estrada’s 2018 film BLINDSPOTTING (95 min, DCP Digital) is on Saturday at 7 and 9:30pm; Joaquim Pedro de Andrade’s 1966 Brazilian film THE PRIEST AND THE GIRL (90 min, 35mm) is on Monday at 7pm; Michael Powell’s 1960 UK film PEEPING TOM (101 min, DCP Digital) is on Thursday at 7pm; and Herk Harvey’s 1962 film CARNIVAL OF SOULS (84 min, DCP Digital) is on Thursday at 9:30pm.
Also at the Music Box Theatre this week: Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi’s 2018 documentary FREE SOLO (100 min, DCP Digital) continues, with Chin in person at the 7pm Friday show; Tabbert Fiiller’s 2018 documentary THE PUBLIC IMAGE IS ROTTEN (103 min, DCP Digital) is on Sunday at 9:30pm; the touring shorts program The Eyeslicer: Halloween Special (94 min, DCP Digital) is on Tuesday at 7pm; and Johnny Kevorkian’s 2018 UK film AWAIT FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS (96 min, DCP Digital) and Karyn Kusama’s 2009 film JENNIFER’S BODY (102 min, 35mm) are on Friday and Saturday at Midnight.
Facets Cinémathèque plays Elan and Jonathan Bogarin’s 2018 US/Hungarian documentary 306 HOLLYWOOD (94 min, Video Projection) and Polly Draper’s 2018 film STELLA’S LAST WEEKEND (102 min, Video Projection) for week-long runs.
ONGOING FILM/VIDEO INSTALLATIONS
The Block Museum (Northwestern University) presents Paul Chan’s 2003 video installation Happiness (finally) after 35,000 years of civilization (17 min loop) through November 4.
The Screen Share Video Gallery (Logan Center for the Arts, University of Chicago, outside Room 201) presents “Hannah Maitland” = Animation: A collection of animations, GIFs, video works and flicker films by Hannah Maitland Frank through November 7. The show consists of a 40-minute long looping program, in honor of the late UofC grad Hannah Frank’s life and work.
The Block Museum (Northwestern University) presents Up Is Down: Mid-century Experiments in Advertising and Film at the Goldsholl Studio though December 9.
Elastic Arts (3429 W. Diversey Ave., 2nd Floor) presents Intellectual Property: A solo exhibition of work by Julia Dratel though November 17 (open most evenings during public events, or by appointment through the artist—contact via her website: http://juliadratel.com/intellectualproperty. The exhibition includes photographs (digital and film), poetry, and two single-channel video/sound works: rehearsal 1.29 (2017-18, 2 min loop) and battery park city (excerpts: "a loyalty to the objects you know") (2009/2018, 6 min loop).
The Graham Foundation (Madlener House, 4 W. Burton Place) continues Martine Syms: Incense Sweaters & Ice through January 12.
The Renaissance Society (University of Chicago) presents Shadi Habib Allah: Put to Rights through November 4. In addition to video installation works, the show includes photographic and sculptural works.
Stan VanDerBeek is on view at Document Gallery (1709 W. Chicago Ave.) through October 27. The show features a 16mm installation of VanDerBeek’s 1967-68 film POEMFIELD NO. 7, a digital projection of his 1972 film SYMMETRICKS, and a selection of works on paper.
Currently on view at the Art Institute of Chicago: Martine Syms' SHE MAD: LAUGHING GAS (2018, 7 min, four-channel digital video installation with sound, wall painting, laser-cut acrylic, artist’s clothes); Rosalind Nashashibi's VIVIAN’S GARDEN (2017, 30 min, 16mm on HD Video) is in the Donna and Howard Stone Gallery, through December 2; Dara Birnbaum’s KISS THE GIRLS: MAKE THEM CRY (1979, 6 min loop, two-channel video) is in the second floor corridor.
CINE-LIST: October 19 - October 25, 2018
MANAGING EDITOR // Patrick Friel
ASSOCIATE EDITORS // Ben Sachs, Kathleen Sachs, Kyle A. Westphal
CONTRIBUTORS // Kian Bergstrom, Kyle Cubr, Marilyn Ferdinand, Jim Gabriel, Adam Hart, Michael Metzger, Dmitry Samarov, Michael G. Smith, Ignatiy Vishnevetsky