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 concluded last weekend.
Listen here. As always, special thanks to our producer, Andy Miles, of Transistor Chicago.
Jacques Tourneur's NIGHT OF THE DEMON [aka CURSE OF THE DEMON] (UK Revival)
Chicago Film Society (at Northeastern Illinois University, The Auditorium, Building E, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave.) – Wednesday, 7:30pm
Like many great directors, Jacques Tourneur cultivated a style that's essentially paradoxical: predicated on a sort of controlled and heightened indistinctness, it is, for lack of a better term, unambiguously about ambiguity. Instead of being merely suggestive, Tourneur puts imagination—as much the audience's as the characters'—front and center. At one point in this late masterpiece, the urbane Satanist villain (Niall MacGinnis) even asks the psychologist hero (B-movie man's man/trouble magnet Dana Andrews) how he can "differentiate between the powers of darkness and the powers of the mind;" it's as close to a statement of intent as J.T. ever offered. The movie's got a lot to offer besides Tourneur's head games ("a rational apprehension of the irrational," per Dave Kehr); it's potent "weird fiction" stuff, steeped in creepy atmosphere. Despite the cheesy-looking rubber monster (added by the producer against Tourneur's wishes), it's still the greatest horror film of the 1950s. Preceded by a reel of horror film trailers. (1957, 95 min, 35mm) IV
Mike Gray and Howard Alk's AMERICAN REVOLUTION 2 (Documentary Revival)
Gene Siskel Film Center – Friday, 7:45pm
Early footage of the violence of the 1968 Democratic National Convention protests turns to the comparatively quieter world of revolutionary discourse, capturing the wide array of progressive talk in groups large and small in neighborhoods around Chicago in this landmark documentary by the Film Group. From Black Panther gatherings to house parties and Young Patriots rallies, Howard Alk and Mike Gray document some of the different communities who, in response to severe police brutality, were ready to meet violence with violence. A detailed and intriguing look at the people who wanted a new America desperately, how they tried to build it, and the language they used to envision it, the film displays the often rough and chaotic ways disparate groups of the engaged left aimed to unite themselves into one committed voice of dissent. Alk is unafraid to let long takes expose the complex arguments that arise when Black Panthers speak to an awakening middle class at a council meeting, or when a circular disagreement about Vietnam takes over an apartment party. AMERICAN REVOLUTION 2 assumes its audience is as engaged in these ideas as its subjects. Co-presented by Chicago Film Archives. Preceded by an audio prelude (7 min), made from sources from the CFA, by sound artist Adam Sonderberg. Introduced by CFA’s Michelle Puetz. (1969, 77 min, Newly Preserved 35mm Print) CL
Karl Freund's THE MUMMY (American Revival)
Music Box Theatre — Saturday and Sunday, 11:30am
Karl Freund’s THE MUMMY is in many ways a reworking of the themes of DRACULA in a different register. Freund, who shot DRACULA, is in his directing debut (Charles Stumar, soon to shoot WEREWOLF OF LONDON, was his cinematographer). Where DRACULA cultivates the roughness of its texture, shocking us with every camera position and cut, THE MUMMY is an enterprise of early talkie virtuosity, from the stunning awakening of the monster in his tomb after thousands of years to the mesmeric connection between him and his reincarnated paramour. In his mastery of the suggestive and uncanny, Freund is unmatched, and he uses this mastery to connect horror and cinema as viscerally, though wholly differently, as Browning did in DRACULA. Here it is the idea of the projection, the phantasmatic connection between the ancient magician and his prey that allows him not merely to control her will but her sight as well that is the principal source of the Mummy's monstrosity. Indeed, he is the very epitome of the monstrous in Boris Karloff's performance, his career finest. As Ardath Bey, the resurrected Imhotep, he is an image of infinite fragility; a precisely-persisting piece of diabolical machinery so tender that it seems a single careless touch would destroy him. Freund fills his frame with Karloff's terrorized and terrorizing face and eyes, a visage that demonstrates at all times that all that remains of his existence is his asymptotically failing physicality, perpetually being transmuted into the mind of his victim/lover as vision, his power feeding on his own suspended existence like a reel of film always just about to run out. It is the greatest achievement of 1930s horror films. (1932, 73 min, 35mm) KB
Johnnie To’s THE MISSION (Hong Kong Revival)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) — Tuesday, 7pm
Hong Kong’s Johnnie To arguably has been the world’s greatest director of genre films for the past quarter of a century and 1999’s THE MISSION, the coolest gangster movie since the heyday of Jean-Pierre Melville, is an ideal entry point into his prolific filmography for the uninitiated. After an attempt is made on the life of triad boss Brother Lung (Eddy Ko), he hires five professional killers (a who’s who of Hong Kong’s best male character actors of the ’90s: Roy Cheung, Jackie Lui, Francis Ng, Lam Suet, and Anthony Wong) to serve as his personal bodyguards while also trying to unravel the mystery of who ordered the hit. Plot, however, takes a major back seat to character development as scene after scene depicts our quintet of heroes simply bonding and playing practical jokes on one other (a personal highlight is the brilliantly shot and edited office-set sequence where the five co-leads engage in an impromptu paper-ball soccer match). When the action does come, as in a spectacular shopping-mall shootout, it arrives in minimalist, tableaux-like images of meticulously posed characters whose staccato gunfire disrupts the silence, stillness, and monochromatic blue color scheme on which the entire film is based. The quirky synthesizer score only adds to the fun. (1999, 89 min, 35mm) MGS
Ali Abbasi’s BORDER (New Swedish)
Music Box Theatre – Check Venue website for showtimes
Classic stories from The Hunchback of Notre Dame to Frankenstein have cast physically anomalous outsiders as both mirrors of and foils to the ills of mankind, serving as metaphors for a society hostile to difference. Without giving too much away, Ali Abbasi’s folkloric-realist BORDER joins their ranks while shrewdly subverting the cultural codes inscribed in such narratives, conceptualizing difference outside prevailing dualisms. The film follows Tina, a lonely Swedish border guard who, from the start, is clearly unlike anyone else. Not only does her visage set her apart—her heavy, protruding brow and pachydermic skin drawing curious stares—but so too does her seemingly supernatural ability to smell people’s guilt and fear, a trait the authorities exploit to find contraband. Near her home nestled in the woods, she appears to commune with foxes and moose, and indeed, her own behavior often resembles that of an animal, most notably in the way her upper lip flares when she’s in proximity of a guilty passenger. But is Tina really that sui generis? When she encounters someone entering the country who looks just like her, she begins to question her true nature as the two embark on a relationship that brings enlightenment and terror. Abbasi gradually parcels out information about Tina and this analogous partner, depicting their multiple idiosyncrasies with fascination but also affection. The film may be grounded in Scandinavian folklore, but its inflections of social realism, horror, and discourses around queerness unsettle it from generic categories, allowing it to engage, most excitingly and even radically, with the politics of anti-humanism. Lest this all get too esoteric, Eva Melander’s extraordinary performance as Tina anchors the film to a sense of lived experience. Behind the impressive prosthetics, the actress powerfully conveys the arc of a woman shambling from the shadows of diffidence and internalized hatred to self-actualization. BORDER is filled with a surfeit of imagery earthly and uncanny, but Melander’s accented face supplies it with its most arresting moments: the plays of anxiety, anger, and shame that capture a life kept on the sidelines of one society, and the blossoming confidence of one emerging tentatively into the center of another. (2018, 109 min, DCP Digital) JL
Chantal Akerman’s GOLDEN EIGHTIES (French/Belgian/Swiss Revival)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) — Wednesday, 7pm
Chantal Akerman’s upbeat musical may be her least characteristic film prior to A COUCH IN NEW YORK, though it’s still extremely personal. The meticulous framing and camera movements reflect her exacting visual sensibility, and the emphasis on romantic disappointment is in keeping with such films as JE TU IL ELLE and TOUTE UNE NUIT. This takes place almost entirely in the basement level of a shopping mall, where a beauty salon sits next to a family-run clothing store. (Shot on a claustrophobic, neon-and-fluorescent-lit soundstage, the film certainly captures how cave-like and weirdly ominous most malls were in the 1980s.) The family’s son, Robert, is an unrepentant ladies’ man, carrying on with Lili, the salon owner; when his father tells him he needs to settle down, he proposes on a whim to the salon manager, Mado, who has long loved him from afar. Meanwhile, Robert’s mother (Delphine Seyrig, Akerman’s Jeanne Dielman) reconnects with an American (John Berry, the blacklisted director of HE RAN ALL THE WAY) who fell in love with her when stationed in Europe during World War II. The various connections and misconnections play out in exquisite geometric patterns—Akerman takes obvious delight in assembling the characters as though moving pieces on a giant chessboard—and they spark some pretty good songs to boot. Akerman wrote the script with four other writers: critic and scenarist Pascal Bonitzer, Henry Bean (who worked with Samuel Fuller), Jean Gruault (who collaborated with François Truffaut and Alain Resnais), and Leora Barish. Despite the number of hands that made it into the pie, the story doesn’t feel disjointed; in fact it moves as smoothly as any classic Hollywood musical. The film deserves to be seen with Akerman’s documentary LES ANNÉES 80 (1983), which details the casting of the film and some of the director’s working methods. It works well on its own too, but the lack of jarring juxtapositions may be surprising to viewers who know Akerman only through her more experimental efforts. (1986, 96 min, DCP Digital) BS
Light Play: Film and the Bauhaus (Experimental/Animation Revival)
Block Cinema (Northwestern University) – Friday, 7pm (Free Admission)
This fourth of five programs presented in conjunction with the Block Museum’s exhibition Up Is Down: Mid-Century Experiments in Advertising and Film at the Goldsholl Studio takes as its impetus Mort and Millie Goldsholl’s time studying at the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Institute of Design during the 1940s. The ID, or “New Bauhaus,” was founded by László Moholy-Nagy, one of the principle figures of the German Bauhaus in the 1920s. As in Chicago, the Bauhaus in Germany was a school, founded by architect Walter Gropius in 1919. The focus was on design, and the school helped focus currents then circulating in modernist art and in design: simplicity, a unification of form and function, mass reproducibility, and lack of ornamentation. Like many modernist art movements of the 1910s-1930s, members of the Bauhaus were interested in cinema, but as was the case with many of their art world contemporaries working throughout Europe, they found that they were limited by a range of factors in incorporating this most modern art into their own practice. This screening, then, is less a program of films of the Bauhaus than it is one of films around the Bauhaus. A fuller context for this will be provided by Harvard professor Laura Frahm, who will introduce the screening and discuss her research on film at the Bauhaus. The program begins with three films by German filmmaker Hans Richter, whose work was one of several inspirations for the Bauhaus. Richter’s RHYTHMUS 21 (1921, 3 min, 16mm) and RHYTHMUS 23 (1923, 3 min, 16mm) feature simple geometric objects (squares and rectangles in 21; a broader range of forms in 23) that are animated in dynamic moving arrangements on screen, playing with rhythm, scale, motion, and composition. The slightly later FILMSTUDIE (1926, 7 min, 16mm) retains some of these purely abstract qualities, but also brings in photographed material (eyes, lots of eyes), and a focus on light, combining them into a Dadaist collage of imagery. Moholy-Nagy’s 1926 film LIGHTPLAY: BLACK WHITE GRAY (6 min, 16mm) furthers the exploration of light as subject. He films one of his own kinetic sculptures, with the moving parts reflecting and refracting light and creating shadows, transforming the mechanical and metal object into something delicate and sensuous. Moholy-Nagy would be the Bauhaus artist who most frequently worked in film, and would incorporate film more substantively into the New Bauhaus curriculum. Also showing are works by Bauhaus artists Werner Graeff and Kurt Kranz. Both demonstrated an interest in film during the 1920s, producing plans and drawings for works, but were unable to realize them at the time. They returned to these materials later; Werner Graeff completed COMPOSITION 1 in 1977 and COMPOSITION II in 1959 (approx. 2 min each, Digital Projection). These films, which were conceived in 1922, bear a strong debt to Richter’s RHYTHMUS 21. Kurt Kranz was able to commit his 1920s drawings and paintings for proposed films to celluloid in 1972, though they are not fully-realized but rather simply sequenced as still images, progressing from one to the next through dissolves. Two will be showing: TWENTY PICTURES FROM THE LIFE OF A COMPOSITION (2 min, Digital Projection) and either BLACK:WHITE/WHITE:BLACK (2 min, Digital Projection) or LEPORELLO – DRAFT FOR A COLOR FILM (5 min, Digital Projection) [unconfirmed at print deadline]. Kranz’s films evidence both an influence of the simple geometry of Russian Constructivism and of the more visually rich paintings of Wassily Kandinsky, who was on staff at the Bauhaus. An excerpt of another work by an artist who could only realize his film decades later rounds out the artistic films by Bauhaus instructors or students: Kurt Schwerdtfeger’s REFLEKTORISCHE FARBLICHTSPIELE (1922/1967, 4 min excerpt, Digital Projection). Richard Paulick’s NEUES WOHNEN—HAUS GROPIUS, DESSAU (1926, 14 min, Digital Projection) is a short documentary about Walter Gropius’ own house, with a particular focus on the melding of design and functionality in the kitchen, library, and storage spaces. Finally, Millie and Mort Goldsholl’s LENS DISTORTION (ca. 1969, 4 min, Digital Projection) is one of several test reels the couple made in the mid- to late-1960s and early 70s, exploring various abstracting techniques that they could potentially integrate into their commercial work. For me, this is the highlight of the program. This reel, never intended for public exhibition, stands on its own as a vibrant and stunning experimental film. It has clear resonances with Moholy-Nagy’s LIGHTPLAY but also looks very much like early computer animation (though it was all done optically). It’s quite a lovely thing. Also as part of the program, filmmaker Alysa Nahmias will present an excerpt from her forthcoming documentary on the New Bauhaus. (1921-c. 1969, approx. 50 min for the films, 16mm and Digital Projection) PF
Alla Nazimova and Charles Bryant's SALOMÉ (Silent American Revival)
Gene Siskel Film Center – Saturday, 3:15pm and Monday, 6pm
Tradition dictates that histories of avant-garde cinema begin with MESHES OF THE AFTERNOON or perhaps UN CHIEN ANDALOU, but there's an equally rich counter-tradition that locates underground taproots in the flamboyant set design of certain works of silent cinema. Despite its ghastly narrative trappings, Robert Weine's THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI (1920) offered generations of filmmakers license to regard cinema as a plastic art, but it's only the most infamous beachhead in that respect. The late archivist James Card offered up Edgar Keller's "futurist" short THE YELLOW GIRL (1916) as the "first American avant-garde film." Karl Heinz Martin's FROM MORN TO MIDNIGHT (1920) exceeds even CALIGARI in its sharp-elbowed, almost punkish commitment to Expressionist set design. Is that enough? Can a film's set decoration and art design by themselves ever be sufficiently alienating and indigestible to earn an otherwise-pedestrian work a hallowed spot among the radical reprobates? Let us say only that Alla Nazimova's in-no-way-pedestrian SALOMÉ was never in any danger of entering the history books on a technicality. Yes, the stark, Aubrey Beardsley-inspired sets of the independently-financed SALOMÉ mark a break with the grounded studio style of Nazimova's earlier films for Metro, but that's the least of it. Nazimova leans on Oscar Wilde's play for structure and lifts some of his text for the film's intertitles, but SALOME is a forward-looking film, a queer beacon slicing through the fog. (Kenneth Anger claimed that every actor in the cast was gay—a factually dubious but philosophically crucial assertion.) The Russian-Jewish lesbian Nazimova used husband Charles Bryant as a beard in more ways than one—he was SALOMÉ's sole credited director, but most scholars now regard the film as substantially Nazimova's creation. The film is a showcase for Nazimova, but also the distinctive set and costume design of Natacha Rambova, including a fetching set of male nipple plates that pre-date BATMAN & ROBIN by three-quarters of a century. The showcase aspect is often literal—the plotting is minimal and the action unfolds so slowly that it would still play as an unhurried pirouette if projected at 48 frames per second. Yes, Salomé eventually kisses the severed head of Jokaanan, but this movie is mostly foreplay; every erogenous limb sings the body electric and every stolen glance winks DTF. But ultimately it's a lot of waiting around—and that's SALOMÉ's chief contribution to the canon of American underground cinema, that stupor of arousal and angst that courses through J.S. Watson and Melville Webber's LOT IN SODOM (1933), Stan Brakhage's DESISTFILM (1954), Jack Smith's FLAMING CREATURES (1963), Barbara Rubin's CHRISTMAS ON EARTH (1963), and much of Anger's MAGICK LANTERN CYCLE (1947-81). Writing in the Evergreen Review in 1967, Parker Tyler coined 'drugtime' to the describe the peculiar form of narcotized concentration demanded and perhaps induced by Andy Warhol's films; in that light, Nazimova's work emerges as an essential precursor, the first effort to slow the medium to a furtive flicker. (1922, 73 min, DCP Digital) KAW
Dario Argento's INFERNO (Italian Revival)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) – Thursday, 9:30pm
INFERNO is the surreal and disorienting second installment in Dario Argento's Le Tre Madri (The Three Witches) trilogy. INFERNO picks up ten years after Argento's earlier film SUSPIRIA left off, following Rose Eliot, New York poet, as she discovers that her apartment is one of the residences of the Three Witches. She reveals her discovery to her brother in Rome. Murder ensues. The film, when released, failed to live up to the success of its predecessor, but has since been heralded as an underrated horror gem by the likes of author/journalist Kim Newman. Come for the supernatural Giallo terror, stay for the musical score by prog-rocker Keith Emerson. (1980, 107 min, 35mm) CS
Milos Forman’s TAKING OFF (American Revival)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) — Friday, 7 and 9:30pm and Sunday, 10pm
Milos Forman’s first American film is one of his best, a hilarious satire of intergenerational strife, post-Woodstock counterculture, and middle-class conformism. A Long Island couple, Lynn (Lynn Carlin of John Cassavetes’ FACES) and Larry (writer-actor Buck Henry), find themselves questioning their place in society after their teenage daughter runs away. They join a support group for parents of runaway teens, where they’re introduced to aspects of youth culture that leave them flummoxed—most notably marijuana, which gets passed around in one of the funniest scenes. Forman maintains the freewheeling style of LOVES OF A BLONDE and THE FIREMEN’S BALL (probably the only time he ever did in an American production)—the film has a spontaneous energy that befits the anti-conformist theme. Playwright John Guare and legendary screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière worked on the script; the film displays Guare’s comic sense of family dynamics and Carrière’s ability to streamline radical ideas into pleasurable narratives. But the film really belongs to Carlin and Henry, who imbue their caricatures of middle-class cluelessness with recognizable feelings of anxiety and insecurity. As in Forman’s Czech satires, one feels pity for the comic leads more than anything else—one comes to a critical view of the social order by way of seeing how it casts individuals adrift. (1971, 93 min, 35mm) BS
Luis Buñuel's BELLE DE JOUR (International Revival)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) — Thursday, 7pm
[NOTE: Spoilers] As he stands on the balcony of his posh apartment, Pierre is shot. Later, confined to a wheelchair and apparently mute, he is told the truth about his wife Séverine's daytime prostitution by his friend Henri. Then, yet later, after Séverine administers his daily medication, he stands up and goes over to join her by the window. They look down upon the film's opening scene: the two of them riding in a carriage through the countryside. By film's end it's impossible to tell reality from fantasy. One of Buñuel's greatest gifts to filmmaking was to demonstrate, indeed to insist, that the two always co-exist and should be treated equally. False dichotomy: is Séverine's secret life in a brothel nothing more than the daydream of a housewife, or are the elegant Yves Saint Laurent clothes and posh apartment simply components of a prostitute's fantasy life? If he knows, or cares, Buñuel is not interested in telling us. He wants only to erase any lines separating the two. He was fond of quoting de Sade: "The imagination is free, but man is not." Elaborating in an interview, he said, "In fact: the imagination is one thing and life something else. No one can teach my imagination anything because I know everything." BELLE DE JOUR, anchored by the perfection of Catherine Deneuve's enigmatic performance, shows us the apogee of his imagination's knowledge. (1967, 101 min, 35mm) RC
Michelangelo Antonioni's L'AVVENTURA (Italian Revival)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) – Sunday, 7pm
At the premiere of L'AVVENTURA at the Cannes Film Festival in 1960, Michelangelo Antonioni famously said, "Eros is sick; man is uneasy, something is bothering him. And whenever something bothers him, man reacts, but he reacts badly, only on erotic impulse, and he is unhappy." Similar to L'ECLISSE, L'AVVENTURA begins with a wealthy Roman girl named Anna (Lea Massari), expressing her unhappiness in her relationship with Sandro (Gabriele Ferzetti). Still, the couple embarks on a cruise with their friends. Their yacht stops at a small island north of Sicily for the party to explore and suddenly Anna disappears from sight. Taking up the role of the protagonist, Anna's friend Claudia (Monica Vitti) and Sandro comb both the island and the small towns across Sicily to find her. Antonioni sets nearly half of the film at sea, and Claudia and Sandro return to face it from their palatial hotel in Taormina at the end. Excluding Claudia, Antonioni's characters are the idle rich, who pass the time with rather unemotional sex, considering they are unable to love. Aldo Scavarda's cinematography gives the sea and its islands a lifeless appearance that seems forbidding to their travelers. He creates a very desolate seascape unconcerned with Italy's past or present—space unmarked by time leads to a sense of alienation, the defining condition of these characters' lives. In L'AVVENTURA, the world only exists as subjective reality. The film is not only concerned with the mystery of Anna's disappearance, but also the mystery of our own existence, one "that can only end in a stalemate." (1960, 143 min, 35mm) CW
Gillo Pontecorvo’s THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS (Italian/Algerian Revival)
Black Cinema House (at Stony Island Arts Bank, 6760 S. Stony Island Ave.) – Friday, 7:30pm (Free Admission)
One of political cinema's enduring masterpieces, THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS is also a world-historical document, an essential piece in the puzzle of a violent and hopeful time. No film before or since has conveyed the drama of insurrection with such intensity or precision. Depicting the bloody clash for Algerian independence waged against French colonial powers in the late 1950s, THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS is defined by dualities, beginning with the central spatial dichotomy between the “European City” and the Casbah, which serve as the film’s primary locations. The use of these real locations, like the stark, hand-held cinematography, show director Gillo Pontecorvo absorbing the techniques of Neorealism, but his masterful control of suspense and emotion owes just as much to the clockwork thrillers of Hitchcock and Lang. Like the latter's M, the film is also a study in the diverging methodologies of the underground and the police, with a particular interest in organizations of power and technologies of surveillance, detection, and terror. BATTLE OF ALGIERS is legendarily detailed and unflinching representation of the violence committed by both French colonial and Algerian radical forces, which has made the film an invaluable primer on guerrilla warfare to Black Panthers and Pentagon pencil-pushers alike. Indeed, with alternating scenes of reciprocal bloodshed, Pontecorvo proves himself as expert an architect of ethical complexity as of narrative tension. But his even-handedness is hard to mistake for pure ambivalence—the film’s heart undoubtedly lies with the revolutionary spirit of the Algerian people. For one, the FLN freedom fighters are much more sharply individuated than the French occupiers, with the crucial exception of Colonel Mathieu, the focused and methodical leader of the French counterinsurgency. Himself a composite of several historical figures, Mathieu often serves as a mouthpiece to rationalize the brutality of their repression effort; Pontecorvo contrasts his chilling detachment with scenes stressing the emotional and physical impact of the anti-colonial struggle on the Algerians. In a sense, the question of the film’s political sympathies may ultimately be a question of the viewer’s inclination towards empathy. If you receive the film as the dispassionate exercise in pseudo-reportage it’s often characterized as, you may take more from its overtures to impartiality; if you experience THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS as the gripping, devastating, and ultimately rousing work of art I think it is, you’ll know which side it's on. (1966, 121 min, Video Projection) MM
Home Movie Day (Special Event)
Chicago History Museum (1601 N. Clark St.) – Saturday, 11am-3pm (Free Admission)
This yearly, worldwide celebration of home movies is absolutely essential viewing for anyone who cares a whit about motion picture art, history, sociology, ethnography, science, or technology. Anyone who loves the sound of a projector. Anyone who loves deep, luscious Kodachrome II stock that is as gorgeous as the day it was shot. Anyone who loves dated, faded, scratched, and bruised film—every emulsion scar a sacred glyph created by your grandfather's careless handling 60 years ago. Anyone who wants to revel in the performance of the primping and strutting families readying for their close up. Anyone who wants to see what the neighborhood looked like before you got there. So find your 100 foot reels of 16mm you just had processed from your sister's Quinceañera or your grandfather's thousands of feet of Super 8mm from your uncle's Bar Mitzvah in 1976 or that 8mm your great aunt shot from Dealey Plaza in 1963 and come out for Home Movie Day. Just walk in with your films for staff and volunteers from the Chicago Film Archives and the Chicago Film Society to inspect your home movies that day! Select films will be screen throughout the day. Co-Presented by the Chicago Film Archives and the Chicago Film Society. JBM
Sasha Waters Freyer’s GARRY WINOGRAND: EVERYTHING IS PHOTOGRAPHABLE (New Documentary)
Gene Siskel Film Center — Check Venue website for showtimes
Garry Winogrand (1928-84) was perhaps the most important street photographer of his generation. Following in the footsteps of Walker Evans and Robert Frank, he brought an athletic propensity for harnessing chaotic-seeming outdoor scenes with multiple figures into a kind of ballet of light and dark. Freyer smartly uses clips of the photographer’s own gruff voice to tell much of his story. Otherwise, this is mostly a conventional arts bio doc—much of it a slideshow of its subject’s work. As an introduction to Winogrand’s photography this is perfectly suitable; PBS’s American Masters is one of its funders, which makes perfect sense. But for those familiar with mid-20th century photography there won’t be much new here. Freyer touches on some of the controversy surrounding Winogrand’s propensity to objectify women but doesn’t spend nearly enough time focusing on the issue of what has been done with the thousands of undeveloped rolls of film he left behind. The problem of a photographer’s posthumous legacy—when often-unscrupulous gallerists print off new editions for money with little regard for their maker’s wishes—is endemic but is barely mentioned here. The most memorable parts of the film are recordings of Winogrand talking to a fellow photographer as clips of 8mm movies he shot scroll across the screen. It is the best representation of the anarchic quality of streets teeming with life that were the subject of his life’s work. (2018, 91 min, DCP Digital) DS
Tomas Alfredson’s LET THE RIGHT ONE IN (Contemporary Swedish)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) - Tuesday at 9:30pm
Vampire mythology has a rich history that’s been explored in a myriad of different fashions throughout film history. From horror to comedy and more, it’s a subject that’s proved to be quite malleable in cinema. LET THE RIGHT ONE IN is centered on a 12-year-old boy named Oskar who’s constantly picked on by his classmates and who fantasizes about getting revenge on them. One day, some new neighbors move in next door to his apartment, including the seemingly 12-year-old girl Eli, who is actually a vampire. Set during the 1980’s in a sleepy town in the suburbs of Stockholm, Oskar and Eli strike up an unlikely friendship that grows to be mutually beneficial to the two socially isolated preteens. It’s is a beautifully crafted film. The cinematography features large swathes of snowy white that becomes marred with crimson red when Eli has to feed. The sound design is relatively music-free outside of a few diegetic pieces and instead forces the viewer to focus on the visceral. Its dark tone harmonizes the awkwardness of not fitting in at school, dealing with single parent households, and the permanent reality Eli faces of having to stay 12 for the rest of her life. The romance that blooms between Oskar and Eli is innocent, sweet, and endearing, as the two become one another’s protectors at various times. Hauntingly beautiful, LET THE RIGHT ONE IN is one of the finest vampire films ever made, one that soars thanks to its leads’ excellent performances, its striking imagery, and poignant undertones. (2008, 115 min, 35mm) KC
Nicolas Roeg’s DON’T LOOK NOW (British Revival)
Filmfront (1740 W. 18th St) — Sunday, 7pm
Nicolas Roeg may have achieved fame as a cinematographer (shooting, among other films, François Truffaut’s FAHRENHEIT 451 and Richard Lester’s PETULIA), but his most important contribution to cinema may be as an editor. Roeg’s fragmented, non-chronological narratives, while clearly influenced by the work of Alain Resnais, achieve a strange allure all their own. Resnais was influenced by the workings of memory and spontaneous thought; Roeg was interested in the plasticity of cinema itself, how the medium could distort reality and create patterns out of experience. DON’T LOOK NOW, one of Roeg’s most successful films, uses fragmentary editing to conjure feelings of disorientation and dread—it merits its reputation as one of the masterpieces of the horror genre. The dread engendered by the film isn’t just supernatural; the film considers a marriage in jeopardy, and watching the film, you’re always afraid that the protagonists’ union will come apart. Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie play the couple; they travel from England to Venice after the accidental death of their young daughter, hoping to forget about their recent tragedy. In little time, however, they’re plunged into a supernatural mystery that involves an old psychic and paranormal sightings. Roeg makes brilliant use of Venice’s architecture and design, rendering the city a fantastic, maze-like world. (The eerie, mood-enhancing score is by Pino Donaggio, who would go on to be Brian De Palma’s regular composer.) The leads are superb, playing off each other brilliantly and sexily; the film’s centerpiece is a complexly edited sex scene that aroused no small controversy upon first release. (1973, 110 min, Digital Projection) BS
Andrei Tarkovsky's THE SACRIFICE (Swedish Revival)
Northbrook Public Library (1201 Cedar Lane, Northbrook) — Tuesday, 7pm (Free Admission) [Reschedule from 10/16]
Critic Wesley Morris observed of our collective cultural habits, "I think everybody might have a handful of books or movies that they happily return to because they honestly don't remember the plot—they just remember the mood or the experience." Similarly, I think everyone has movies they return to solely for a particular moment or scene. These moments can be so singular that everything around them fades slightly into the background. This isn't to make a virtue of flawed memory, but rather to highlight those directors with the rare gift to sculpt a mood or moment that hovers above a film. Andrei Tarkovsky's cinema is rife with these exalted moments: Capt. Kholin's acrobatic embrace of Masha over a trench and her limp surrender in IVAN'S CHILDHOOD; a floating candelabrum and a chandelier's subtle jangle in SOLARIS. Tilda Swinton encapsulated this phenomenon in a speech referencing STALKER: "I saw an image of a dream that I have been visited by all my life made real ... A bird flying towards the camera dips its wing into the sand that fills a room. Did I imagine this? I haven't seen the film for years. Can somebody tell me?" Released in 1986 and garnering Tarkovsky his second Grand Prix at Cannes (Roland Joffé's THE MISSION took home the Palme d'Or—a banner year for Christendom) THE SACRIFICE is considered by some to be a challenging, ancillary work by the Russian master. With time though the debates over 'slow cinema' and the film's relationship to Tarkovsky's legacy have faded, and what remain are some of the most haunting moments of the director's career: The sudden and uncanny desaturation of the film's image—courtesy of master cinematographer Sven Nykvist—as Erland Josephson roams his estate in a nuclear daze; the flickering TV test pattern reflected on the family in tableau; the film's breathtaking denouement, which never ceases to terrify me. These are the images I return to again and again, echoing Swinton's disbelief: Did I imagine this? (1986, 142 min, DCP Digital) JS
MORE SCREENINGS AND EVENTS
The Film Studies Center (at the Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E. 60th St., University of Chicago) screens Jan Švankmajer’s 2017 live-action/animated Czech film INSECT (97 min, DCP Digital) on Saturday at 7pm; and presents a lecture by Jennifer Fay (Vanderbilt University) entitled Must We Mean What We Film? Stanley Cavell and the Candid Camera on Thursday at 4pm. Both free admission.
The Conversations at the Edge series (at the Gene Siskel Film Center) presents Refiguring Binaries (2015-18, approx. 60 min, Various Formats) on Thursday at 6pm. Curated by Kelani Nichole (NYC-based curator, gallery owner, and director of the Current Museum of Art), the program of new-technology-based works includes Morehshin Allahyari, Faith Holland, Eva Papamargariti, Lorna Mills, LaTurbo Avedon, Tabita Rezaire, Meriem Bennani, Lu Yang, and Claudia Hart. Nichole in person.
Chicago Filmmakers (5720 N. Ridge Ave.) screens Gary Sherman’s 1988 horror film POLTERGEIST III (98 min, Digital Projection) on Friday at 7pm, accompanied by a detailed live presentation by Sherman, who will discuss the behind-the-scenes of the film’s effects work. Tickets for this fundraising event for CF are $20; and Alain Bidard’s 2015 Martinican animated film BATTLEDREAM CHRONICLE (108 min, Digital Projection) is on Saturday at 7:30pm, co-presented by Black World Cinema.
The Chicago International Children’s Film Festival opens on Thursday and continues through November 9. More info and complete schedule at https://festival.facets.org.
The Chicago Festival of Israeli Cinema runs through October 28 at several Chicago and suburban locations. More info and full schedule at https://israelifilmchi.org.
The First Nations Film and Video Festival opens on Thursday with a screening at the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian in Evanston and continues through November 9 at various Chicago (and one Wisconsin) locations. More info and full schedule at www.fnfvf.org/blog.
The Instituto Cervantes (31 W. Ohio St.) screens Alejandro Andújar’s 2017 Dominican/Puerto Rican/Brazilian films THE WATCHMAN (85 min, DVD Projection) on Tuesday at 6pm. Tickets for this presentation by the Reel Film Club are $20 (two for $30).
Asian Pop-Up Cinema presents Ruby Yang’s 2018 Hong Kong/Tibetan documentary RITOMA (57 min, Blu-Ray Projection) on Friday at 2pm at Tribeca Flashpoint (28 N. Clark St., 5th Floor) and at 7pm at Studio A of Joffrey Tower (10 E. Randolph St.); and Thi Vo’s 2017 Canadian/Vietnamese documentary MADE IN VIETNAM (101 min, Blu-Ray Projection) on Saturday at 2pm at the Chinese-American Museum of Chicago (238 W. 23rd St.), with Thi Vo in person. Both screenings are free admission, but RSVPs are required; visit www.asianpopupcinema.org.
Also at the Northbrook Public Library (1201 Cedar Lane, Northbrook) this week: George Sidney’s 1953 musical KISS ME KATE (109 min, Digital Projection) is on Wednesday at 1 and 7pm. Free admission.
The Park Ridge Classic Film Series (at the Pickwick Theatre, 5 S. Prospect Ave., Park Ridge) screens Tim Burton's 1988 film BEETLEJUICE (92 min, Digital Projection) on Tuesday at 2 and 7:30pm.
The Den Theatre (1331 N. Milwaukee Ave.) hosts MouthbreathersTV LIVE on Saturday at 10:30pm (doors 10pm). The event includes performances, a party, a costume contest, and short films by Ready Freddy Films and Marc Wilkinson. More info and ticket link at www.facebook.com/events/521073034987550.
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) continues a two-week run; James Crump’s 2017 documentary ANTONIO LOPEZ 1970: SEX, FASHION & DISCO (95 min, DCP Digital) plays for a week; RZA’s 2012 film THE MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS (95 min, 35mm) is on Friday at 4pm and Tuesday at 6pm; Nell Shipman and Bert Van Tuyle’s 1920 silent film SOMETHING NEW (57 min, DCP Digital) is on Saturday at 4:45pm, with the short films THE WILD ENGINE (Helen Holmes, 1915, 11 min, DCP Digital) and THE LITTLE RANGERS (Alice Guy-Blaché, 1912, 12 min). Live accompaniment by Dave Drazin; and Nick Budabin's 2018 local documentary CHI-TOWN (82 min, DCP Digital) is on Saturday at 8:15pm.
Also at Doc Films (University of Chicago) this week: Abbie Reese's 2017 documentary CHOSEN: CUSTODY OF THE EYES (107 min, DCP Digital) is on Saturday at 2pm, with Reese in person; Ari Adter's 2018 film HEREDITARY (127 min, DCP Digital) is on Saturday at 7 and 9:30pm and Sunday at 4pm; Eduardo Coutinho’s 1984 Brazilian documentary CABRA MARCADO PARA MORRER (TWENTY YEARS LATER) (119 min, DCP Digital) is on Monday at 7pm; and William Friedkin's 1973 film THE EXORCIST (133 min, DCP Digital) is on Wednesday at 9:30pm.
Also at the Music Box Theatre this week: John Carpenter’s 1980 film THE FOG (89 min, DCP Digital; New Digital Restoration) opens; Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi’s 2018 documentary FREE SOLO (100 min, DCP Digital) continues; Jim Sharman’s 1974 film THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW (100 min, 35mm) is on Friday and Saturday at Midnight, Tuesday at 8pm, and Wednesday at 11pm; and Luca Guadagnino’s 2018 remake SUSPIRIA (152 min, DCP Digital) has an advance screening on Wednesday at 7pm.
Facets Cinémathèque plays Akin Omotoso’s 2016 South African film VAYA (115 min, Video Projection) Friday-Wednesday (no Thursday shows).
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 program will screen in the screening room at the Logan Center on Friday, October 26 at 5:30pm, followed by a reception. Free admission.
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 26 - November 1, 2018
MANAGING EDITOR // Patrick Friel
ASSOCIATE EDITORS // Ben Sachs, Kathleen Sachs, Kyle A. Westphal
CONTRIBUTORS // Kian Bergstrom, Rob Christopher, Kyle Cubr, JB Mabe, Jonathan Leithold-Patt, Christy LeMaster, Michael Metzger, Dmitry Samarov, Carrie Shemanski, Michael G. Smith, James Stroble, Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, Candace Wirt