Steven Arnold's LUMINOUS PROCURESS (American Experimental Revival)
The Chicago Film Society and the Film Studies Center (at the Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E. 60th St., University of Chicago) – Friday, 7pm (Free Admission)
To paraphrase an observation from J. Hoberman: one need not arrive at the theater stoned to properly behold LUMINOUS PROCURESS (1971). The film generates its own contact high. Imagine, if you will, the pacing and ambience of a psychedelic funhouse, where the wonky mirrors and ball pits periodically give way to graphic, un-simulated sex. This is the world of multidisciplinary artist and director Steven Arnold, and keeping San Francisco weird is his reason for being. It’s a classic plot: Two young men stumble into a mansion. They enter an altered state. An androgynous “Procuress” ushers them from experience to experience. A tale as old as time. Each vignette lasts only a few minutes before the trio is subsumed into the shadows and proceeds on. Writhing bodies abound, as do scenes with The Cockettes, the famous, visually spectacular drag troupe. LUMINOUS PROCURESS, frequently tagged as progeny of another Hoberman favorite, Jack Smith’s 1963 FLAMING CREATURES, distinguishes itself from other Midnight movies of the early 1970s by demonstrating a deep commitment to defying formal expectations while remaining completely unselfconscious in its execution. Unlike the overt political/academic sensibilities of Dušan Makavejev’s W.R.: MYSTERIES OF THE ORGANISM (1971) and SWEET MOVIE (1974), or the overt pop weirdness of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s EL TOPO (1970) and HOLY MOUNTAIN (1973), Arnold’s film is not wed to a plot, an agenda, or even discernible dialogue. The cumulative effect of this unmoored style is that contact high hinted at by Hoberman, and amounts to a singularly original cinematic experience. (1971, 75 min, Newly Preserved 16mm Archival Print) JS
Ali Soozandeh's TEHRAN TABOO (New German/Austrian Animation)
Gene Siskel Film Center – Check Venue website for showtimes
“Cartoons are not movies,” Stanley Cavell ominously proclaimed in 1974. I wonder what he makes nowadays of the robust crop of feature-length, theatrically distributed, international (and still undoubtedly contentious) “adult animation” that has filled (and indisputably revived the financial fortunes of) many arthouses during cinema’s second century. Iranian filmmaker Ali Soozandeh’s TEHRAN TABOO follows in the wake of other animated festival darlings—ranging from the philosophical and artistic headiness of WAKING LIFE (2001) and LOVING VINCENT (2017) to the imaginative representations of historical trauma in WALTZ WITH BASHIR (2008) and TOWER (2016)—that flex the medium’s plastic properties, a belated recognition that this style most closely aligned with children’s entertainment can be specially expressive once applied to challenging, offbeat, or otherwise “adult” subject matter too. What Ali Soozandeh gives us in TEHRAN TABOO, however, belongs to a particular and usually maligned category of animation (even among its practitioners): this is animation unapologetically presenting itself as compensation for live action. Soozandeh seems to pursue this intentionally, for powerful ideological ends: he wields animation as a political tool, a surrogate form that emphasizes what is lacking and makes possible the representation of forbidden subjects, a portrait of the people and events that cannot otherwise be easily shown in Iranian cinema. Soozandeh’s subject is Tehran’s sexual and medical underground: the characters we follow include Pari, a sex worker and single mother; Sara, an unfulfilled housewife who dreads her impending motherhood; and Babak, a naive musician who has a one-night stand with a young woman named Donya and must frantically find a way to surgically “restore” her virginity afterwards. The animation in TEHRAN TABOO is endlessly gesturing towards photography, not only in the particularly photorealistic and glossy corporate style of rotoscoping it employs, but also in the repetition of scenes where characters sit to have their photos taken for all sorts of government documentation: school IDs, marriage certificates, job applications. It is as though Soozandeh is always beckoning to us that a photographic ontology is never far from the surface of his animated figures. Consider the basis for Cavell’s argument questioning the legitimacy of animation as cinema: “The difference between [the animated world] and the world we inhabit is not that the world of animation is governed by [different laws]...its laws are often quite similar. The difference is that [in animation] we are uncertain when or to what extent our laws and limits do and do not apply (which suggests that there are no real laws at all).” This understanding of the animated world as a place defined by its inherent instability seems strikingly sympathetic to portraying the uncertain application of religious laws that govern a modern Iran filled with sexual hypocrisy, corruption, and the open secrets which an entire society participates in keeping. The animation in TEHRAN TABOO is an essential property to the stories it tells—as a shield, a reproduction, and a tribute to the ghostly, prohibited images below. (2017, 96 min, DCP Digital) TTJ
Jean Cocteau’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (French Revival)
Music Box Theatre – Saturday and Sunday, 11:30am
One of the most widely known fairy tales thanks to its plethora of adaptations, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST is a timeless story about inner beauty. Jean Cocteau’s 1946 film version is visually lustrous and richly marked by stunning costumes, elaborate set design, and imaginative use of practical effects. Jean Marais’ dual roles as the unsightly Beast and the blonde, pretty boy Avenant, both of whom are determined to win Belle’s (Josette Day) hand in marriage, are juxtaposed against one another to represent France versus Germany during World War II. Cocteau possesses a fascination for eyes in this film with the implication that they are the windows to the soul. Repeated images of doors, windows, and mirrors all lend themselves to a metaphorical sense of discovery about the inner workings of a person’s mind. When mirrors are present, a self-reflection occurs, the introspection frequently taking on negative connotations. When an observer peers through a window or an enchanted door magically opens, extrospection is often employed, leading to a hidden trait being revealed about a character. The film’s romantic yet semi-tragic tone draws influence from the works of Shakespeare and Greek tragedies: Romeo and Juliet and hubris leading to a downfall serve as signifiers. For a film about surface appearance, two production asides seem appropriate: various film stocks used due to a post-war shortage produces textures in the image can be noticeably different from one scene to another, and a debilitating skin disease that Cocteau developed during the shoot is an ironic mimicking of the repulsiveness of the Beast. BEAUTY AND THE BEAST is ultimately one of the most haunting and dreamlike films ever to grace the silver screen. (1946, 94 min, 35mm) KC
Seijun Suzuki’s BORN UNDER CROSSED STARS and A TALE OF SORROW AND SADNESS (Japanese Revivals)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) – Tuesday, 7pm (STARS) and 9:15pm (SORROW)
In his blurb for BORN UNDER CROSSED STARS (1965, 97 min, 35mm) on the Doc Films’ website, programmer Will Carroll synopsizes the 1965 film thusly: “Jukichi sells milk door-to-door to pay for school, but, his father secretly gambles away the money to the Yakuza, leaving Jukichi to fight them off.” He goes on to describe it as “a hilarious coming-of-age film and one of Suzuki's most underrated.” Tom Vick, on the other hand, in his book Time and Place are Nonsense: The Films of Seijun Suzuki, calls it a “cliché-riddled story,” contemplating Suzuki’s desire to use a live monkey for a one-off joke as possibly an attempt “to make the script’s already corny humor even more groan-inducing through exaggeration.” That it’s divisive amongst his most ardent admirers gives it a provocative appeal, though if Vick’s opinions about A TALE OF SORROW AND SADNESS (1977, 93 min, 35mm) are indicative of his overall stance on Suzuki, I may have to agree with Carroll on this one. A TALE OF SORROW AND SADNESS is a late-period masterpiece that’s almost Godardian in its fusion of exaggerated aesthetics and incendiary politics. Vick writes that it’s “a step back from TOKYO DRIFTER and BRANDED TO KILL…[i]n terms of inventiveness,” wondering “how much of the flamboyant costume and production design came from Suzuki and how much owes to the late 1970s era that had absorbed flamboyance into mainstream fashion and design.” The latter is a fair point, though I’d argue A TALE OF SORROW AND SADNESS is to the era and its respective aesthetic landscape what LA CHINOISE and TOUT VA BIEN were to theirs; inventiveness need not completely eschew popular culture in order to be genuine. Made ten years after BRANDED TO KILL—the production of which infamously ended his tenure at Nikkatsu, Japan's oldest major movie studio—the film was produced by the legendary Shochiku studios, where he’d started as an assistant director. Written by Ikki Kajiwara, a manga illustrator who specialized in sports-related narratives, it’s about (as much as a Suzuki film can be about anything) Reiko, a fashion-model-turned-pro-golfer who’s transformed into a veritable advertisement at the behest of her male, corporate overlords. Her rise to and subsequent fall from grace is horrific, culminating in Reiko being stripped naked and beaten by the very suburban housewives to whom she’d been groomed to appeal. Its plot—what there is to discern of it, as Suzuki’s signature elliptical editing is ever present—is subservient to its madcap aesthetic, which is truly spectacular. Hence my disagreement with Vick; perhaps elements of its production were gleaned from contemporary design modes, but its singular compositions are entirely Suzuki’s. I wish I could describe them, but his images exist only in the witnessing of them, alive but for the brief seconds they flash before your eyes. Its editing is similarly bewildering. One can’t help but to feel that Suzuki’s entire justification for his directorial choices is akin to a 1999 Backstreet Boys song (🎶 “I want it that wayyyy” 🎶), which, ironically, also lacks any discernible logic. A TALE OF SORROW AND SADNESS was a failure upon its initial release but has since found its admirers—come for the rare prints and stay to see if you’re among them. KS
Stanley Kubrick's FULL METAL JACKET (American Revival)
Gene Siskel Film Center – Saturday, 8pm and Tuesday, 6pm
The inverse of those maudlin male weepies about the terrible things that happen to "our boys" during war, Stanley Kubrick's queasy Vietnam flick is built on the idea that a war movie is just a crime movie without the police. Its famously protracted climax, where soldiers try to kill an enemy sniper, is made with the linear attention to action that defines a good heist scene; the difference is that the protagonists don't just get away—they march through the countryside singing in a scene scarier than anything in THE SHINING. Kubrick is often accused of being a misanthrope, but "disheartened humanist" is much more accurate. This is an exactingly realized work of profound disappointment. SAIC professor Nora Annesley Taylor lectures at the Tuesday show. (1987, 116 min, 35mm) IV
William A. Wellman’s BEGGARS OF LIFE (Silent American Revival)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) – Sunday, 7pm
A young girl kills her stepfather, dresses up as a hobo and runs away to ride the treacherous rails. The girl, of course, is Louise Brooks (who else could it be?) and the film, coming just before her career-redefining collaborations with G.W. Pabst (e.g. PANDORA'S BOX), is both her best American picture and the best of William Wellman's silent films (if not his greatest overall). Part fairy tale, part picaresque, part documentary, BEGGARS OF LIFE features actual hobos in bit parts and a story co-written by the hobo memoirist Jim Tully, but its strongest points emerge from the strange cocktail of Brooks' mysterious femininity and the cocky masculine ego standard to Wellman's direction. (1928, 100 min, DCP Digital) IV
Haile Gerima's SANKOFA (African Revival)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) – Monday, 7pm
Casually described as a masterpiece in the UCLA Film & Television Archive's program notes for their touring “L.A. Rebellion” series a couple years back, SANKOFA has provoked passionate devotion from African American audiences while barely making a dent with the white critical establishment. The acknowledged landmarks of the L.A. Rebellion, such as KILLER OF SHEEP, BLESS THEIR LITTLE HEARTS, and Gerima's thesis film BUSH MAMA, cultivated their reputations through non-theatrical play—classrooms, academic conferences, community screenings and the like. Other filmmakers like Jamaa Fanaka made inroads through traditional exploitation and teenpic frameworks in urban grindhouses. By contrast, SANKOFA played in competition at the Berlin Film Festival but found no distributor in the US. Gerima wound up releasing it ad hoc through his own Mypehduh Films—renting out movie theaters in African American communities, partnering with local groups to spread word-of-mouth, maximizing box office through personal appearances. It screened to sell-out crowds and ultimately grossed $3.5 million. Essentially continuing the four-wall "race films" strategy pioneered by Oscar Micheaux, SANKOFA brought the tent-show tradition to its psychotronic, politicized conclusion. When SANKOFA came to Chicago in September 1994, the Hyde Park Herald promised that it would screen "exclusively in Loews Hyde Park Theater, 5238 S. Harper Ave., until people stop going to see it." By the time of that declaration, it had already been playing for three weeks and showed no signs of dropping off. (It even performed well on Monday nights—typically the slowest slot for any theater.) That Gerima's film achieved this level of business while playing alongside FORREST GUMP and TIME COP (!) in a neighborhood movie theater marks SANKOFA as something fundamentally out-of-time—a grassroots, showbiz phenomenon in the shadow of ever-deafening Sundance hype. That SANKOFA received new attention via the UCLA-sponsored screenings at the moment when pundits everywhere described 12 YEARS A SLAVE as the finest movie made on the subject (and implicitly, the only real contestant) was surely no accident. (1993, 125 min, 35mm) KAW
Hong Sang-soo’s ON THE BEACH AT NIGHT ALONE (Contemporary South Korean)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) – Saturday, 7 and 9:30pm and Sunday, 4pm
The latest feature from prolific South Korean filmmaker and SAIC-alumni Hong Sang-soo is one of his most somber, and yet, funniest films to date (though that could change by next week.) The melancholic air drifting through the spaces of this film aren’t ones of overwhelming sorrow however, but more the fleeting autumnal feelings one experiences through the changing of the seasons, a hushed reminder of memories faded and gone, but born not of bleakness and hopelessness, but of enlightenment and forward progression. Filmmaker Hong Sang-soo and his leading lady have recently been embroiled in some unwanted public spotlight, when it was revealed that they had been carrying on a not-so-secret affair for a few years. Much speculation has been made over the news of their coupling, though neither would comment on it until recently, when they were participating in a Q&A following the premiere of this film. The plot itself is a surefire example of art imitating life, in that it concerns itself with a young actress, reeling from a highly-publicized scandal involving her previous director, as she journeys to Germany for a much-needed escape and to share a very awkward dinner with a German couple, including Mark Peranson (the editor-in-chief of the seminal film magazine, Cinemascope). The second part of the film concerns the same character visiting her former director/lover on the set of his upcoming movie where, in true Hong fashion, they consume bottles of soju and spill feelings normally bound up in the ties of level-headed sobriety. The film is less concerned with the densely-packed puzzles of some of his previous work and pushes ahead with one of the most linear plot lines to come from this filmmaker. Like his previous film YOURSELF AND YOURS, the director plays around with light touches of surreality, courtesy of the great Spanish filmmaker Luis Bunuel. Though instead of being a reconstruction of Bunuel’s THE OBSCURE OBJECT OF DESIRE, the framework presents itself as a head-on charge into the heart of what makes this filmmaker so special, time and time again. (2016, 101 min, DCP Digital) JD
Jiri Menzel’s CLOSELY WATCHED TRAINS (Czech Revival)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) - Sunday, 8:40pm (Rescheduled Screening)
A gem of the Czech New Wave, CLOSELY WATCHED TRAINS is a droll, insightful look into the world of adolescence and sexual conquest set amidst the backdrop of European conflict. The film takes place in occupied Czechoslovakia during World War II by the Nazis, and the lead, Milos (Václav Neckár), is an apprentice stationmaster at a train station, intent on losing his virginity. Director Jiri Menzel deftly interweaves the ingenuity of youth and its resourcefulness concerning sexual conquests while also maneuvering an ever-changing and turbulent world. Milos desire to overcome his desires of the flesh whilst succeeding his father at his craft makes for delightful farce while handling heavy subject material. The world crafted by Menzel allows for identifiable motives most people have faced in their own sexual awakenings. His steady direction is even-handed; the film never reaches outright farce but instead maintains a sense of duty to the tasks at hand. The kind of groundwork laid by Menzel has been emulated many a time in standard, contemporary American sex-romp fair but those never quite achieved the adroit approach by their predecessor. (1966, 93 min, 16mm) KC
Christopher Nolan’s DUNKIRK (New British)
Music Box Theatre – Friday-Sunday, check venue website for showtimes
Christopher Nolan’s 10th feature film finds the director delving into the past to tell the story of Dunkirk, a moment during World War II in which 400,000 British and French soldiers find themselves cornered along the shore of the Strait of Dover with German forces closing in from all sides. Focusing on the extraction of the British soldiers, the film’s narrative is split into three timelines, from the perspectives of those on land, on the sea, and in the air. The most unique feature here is the differences in time dilation that each of these plot threads experiences—the time scale covering a week, a day, and an hour, respectively. Much like the structuring of Steven Soderbergh’s TRAFFIC, these scenarios are differentiated from one another via distinct tones. Despite being a war film and covering so much material, the film is relatively light on dialogue. Instead, Nolan seeks to create impact through visually stunning detail and intimate camera work. Cameras are strapped to planes, on boats, and to cameraman in the water, creating a deeply immersive experience. As seen throughout his oeuvre, in which he’s been a proponent of on-location shooting and the use of practical effects, the vast beaches coupled with huge warships create a daunting sense of scale. This immensity also helps to create isolation; some of the characters seem but a drop of rain in a storm—an impression accentuated by the use of soft focus during long shots. Hans Zimmer’s score creates foreboding and suspense. Rising and swelling like the sea itself, the music is underlined with the tick-tock of a pocket-watch, driving home the theme of elapsing time. Drawing inspiration from films as diverse as SUNRISE and SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, and building on ideas explored in Nolan’s own films MEMENTO and INCEPTION, DUNKIRK immerses its audience with its complex, interweaving storylines. (2017, 106 min, 70mm) KC
Jean-Pierre Melville’s BOB LE FLAMBEUR (French Revival)
Gene Siskel Film Center – Check Venue website for showtimes
BOB LE FLAMBEUR is one of the most important films ever made - although it’s probably also a case of a classic movie that’s been more influential than actually seen. The way writer/director Jean-Pierre Melville expressed a punch-drunk love for American genre fare, refracting crime/noir conventions through his unique Gallic sensibility to create something refreshingly new, would exert a massive influence on the directors of the nouvelle vague in just a few years time; in BREATHLESS, which features an extended cameo by Melville, Jean-Luc Godard cheekily implies that it was Jean-Paul Belmondo’s Michel who “ratted on (his) friend” Bob Montagne. Made at a time when most commercial French films were still shot on studio-constructed sets, Melville’s mid-‘50s depiction of the Montmartre demimonde is so pungent you can smell it, but his stylish mise-en-scene - with its chiaroscuro lighting and emphasis on black-and-white checkerboard patterns - set a whole new standard for cinematic cool. BOB LE FLAMBEUR would go on to be remade both officially (as Neil Jordan’s THE GOOD THIEF) and unofficially (by Paul Thomas Anderson as HARD EIGHT) though neither Nick Nolte nor Philip Baker Hall can quite match the combination of world-weary poignancy and super-coolness in their portraits of aging masculinity that Roger Duchesne offers here. Even though it was his fourth feature, and his previous work formidable, BOB LE FLAMBEUR is also, crucially, the movie where “Melville becomes Melville.” With a tip of his Stetson to John Huston’s THE ASPHALT JUNGLE, the brilliant French filmmaker crafted an irresistible shaggy-dog heist story about the titular character, a middle-aged gangster/gambler who dutifully maintains an impeccable sense of personal style even when on a losing streak – making him a forerunner of the stoic badasses essayed by Alain Delon, Lino Ventura and Gian Maria Volontè in Melville’s mature masterpieces of the 1960s and early 1970s. Bob’s bad luck eventually causes him to hatch a scheme to rob the casino in Deauville, a journey to the end of night that leads to one of the wittiest punch lines in cinema. (1956, 98 min, DCP Digital) MGS
Babak Anvari's UNDER THE SHADOW (Contemporary International Horror)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) – Thursday, 9:30pm
Iranian-born, London-based writer/director Babak Anvari's UNDER THE SHADOW has shocks aplenty, but also something more unsettling: a pervasive dread. An international co-production (UK/Jordan/Qatar/Iran) in which Amman plays Tehran, the film can be described, in shorthand and sensibility, as an Iranian horror film. It's set late in the harrowing eight-year-long Iran-Iraq war, itself coming on the heels of the Cultural Revolution. Denied her dream of going back to medical school because of her youthful political activism, a woman (Narges Rashidi) is left alone with her daughter, Dorsa, when her husband is drafted for medic duty. In the basement of their apartment building, which doubles as a bomb shelter, Dorsa and a mysterious boy whisper. Later, she claims he warned her the djinn, an evil, invisible spirit, is coming. When an unexploded Iraqi missile crashes through the roof of the upstairs apartment, does something wicked blow in with it? As the conservative, superstitious landlord's wife insists, the djinn travel on the wind, looking for someone to possess. Classic haunted-house movie tropes, such as howling wind, thus take on cultural specificity. Nightmare and reality blend. As Dorsa's fever refuses to break, Rashidi's eyes telegraph bone-deep anxiety and weariness as she steeps in a brew of guilt and stress brought on by war, lack of sleep, and a repressive society where you could get turned in for having a VCR. While this modern, educated woman dismisses the "fairy tale" of the djinn, she also refuses to flee the city without Dorsa's missing doll: it's said if the djinn gets ahold of a treasured belonging, you'll always be marked. This movie's howling winds are borne of fears at once personal, political and mythic. (2016, 84 min, DCP Digital) SP
Paul Thomas Anderson’s PHANTOM THREAD (New American)
Music Box Theatre – Check Venue website for showtimes
Note: PHANTOM THREAD has returned temporarily in 70mm; screenings this week are in that format
More often than not, modern movies are endlessly clogged with flimsy and cardboard cutouts of the “classic love story,” a trend hopefully being seared away entirely, given that they seem more offensive in a cavernous last year of cynicism and bitterness. The genre has been in desperate need of a refurbishing to allow for a better understanding of what’s embedded inside its own fragile construction. Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest and possibly greatest achievement isn’t without a mind of its own; it is a wonderfully conceived cinematic dream, wrapped in the lush, evergreen imagination of an artist working closely within the inner representation of his creations, much like Daniel Day-Lewis’ dress-making main character, Reynolds Woodcock. Anderson achieves something much closer to the actual emotions and feelings that echo throughout a relationship between two people, avoiding many of the stale and dry trends found in the modern romance movie. These lifeless morality lessons, usually soaked in a pale blue sadness, seem too bitter and lazy to have much real purpose and functionality, allowing Anderson to spin a delightedly deceptive chamber piece instead. Given the film’s advertising, championing PHANTOM THREAD as a brooding sure-fire contender in the race for awards-season gold, you might be surprised to discover a strange rom-com hiding in the lining of its framework. The plot involves a dressmaker (Daniel Day-Lewis) and his closely-curated daily home and work life, right as another of his romantic relationships is beginning to dim out. As another unfulfilled and lifeless relationship goes, Woodcock decides to retreat to one of his favorite restaurants (it is here I’d like to heavily underline the film’s ideas about taste and hunger, given new literal and metaphorical life in a way that is shockingly unpretentious). It is at this place of dining that he meets Alma, played by newcomer Vicky Krieps, that leads to an intimate portrayal of love’s inherent mystery, built inside an almost hermetic world of imagination that conjures up visions of the classical Hollywood era, while simultaneously managing to subvert the work of “tradition.” straddling the lines of the modern and classical film structure/form with the skill of a master operating at the height of their creative abilities. Despite taking place in Great Britain, this is far from the British-ness on display in BBC dramas and endless droves of Oscar bait. Beginning with its suggestive point-of-view, then unwinding between not two points of view, but a shared point of view, the personal nature of this film for Anderson is evident, with Anderson not only writing the script, but also shooting nearly every frame of film himself (though he appears uncredited in that role). The everyday gestures, glances, embraces, arguments, and alluring atmosphere between two people seeps through every frame, delivering unexpected surprises carefully yet unabashedly. This is one of the few films in recent years that is really essential to witness in 70mm. The projection’s colors and light are captured in spellbinding luminosity, the sounds and images pushing forth the relationship of one woman and one fragile male ego, across a tapestry of sensual pleasures with hardly a hint of on-screen sex in sight. The results trace the lines around eroticism, rather than circling it directly, letting them blossom into a rare achievement in recent American cinema, a precious gift inside the fabric of it’s own design; one to keep close through the next several years. (2018, 130 min, 70mm) JD
Ceyda Torun’s KEDI (Contemporary Turkish Documentary)
Gene Siskel Film Center – Friday, 2pm and Monday, 6pm
In Istanbul, Turkey, feral cats can be found everywhere; however, unlike the rats of our fair Chicago, these animals experience a peaceful co-habitation with the populace that, for some, borders on the reverential. KEDI packages Istanbul’s admiration for its felines in several vignettes and is meant for cat lovers and non-cat lovers alike. The stories told are uplifting. For some of the interviewees, these cats represent a tangential relationship between themselves and their beliefs in religious omnipotence. The cinematography found in KEDI is superb and beautiful. At times providing a cat’s eye view of the city, the camerawork bounces from rooftop to rooftop, scurries up trees, and dives down pathways that only the nimble footed could traverse. Combined with the staccato score, KEDI has succinct and upbeat tempo. The film follows seven cats’ lives and the nuances of their individual personalities are allowed to flourish on screen. Ceyda Torun explores the circumstances of how these animals came to become so prevalent in Istanbul and to paint a portrait of why their existence is a joyous thing for everyone. KEDI is the kind of film that gives essence to mankind’s love for cats and showcases all of the natural and urban beauty that can be found in Istanbul. (2016, 80 min, DCP Digital) KC
Mario Monicelli's THE ORGANIZER (Italian Revival)
Facets Cinémathèque – Monday, 6:30pm (Free Admission)
"Don't you ever call me 'dummy' again," says a bold young boy to a jaded young man as they go to work in a factory. The young man replies, "I'll call you anything I want as long as I'm bigger than you." Mario Monicelli's THE ORGANIZER is full of such metaphors, which reflect the film's central drama whilst likewise providing context to its egalitarian slant. Set in Turin, Italy, during the late nineteenth century, it's about a group of factory workers who decide to organize against oppressive management after a radical professor—played to perfection by the iconic Marcello Mastroianni—comes to town. Though Mastroianni's character is the de facto protagonist, Monicelli gives various factory workers as much, if not more, consideration; this echoes the film's spirit, as it organizes the characters similarly to how they're organizing themselves. Borrowing from the neorealist tradition that predated him by only a few decades, Monicelli cast many real workers in lieu of professional actors. Giuseppe Rotunno's striking cinematography illuminates the disconcerting realism, also contributing to the "sort of neorealist period piece" aesthetic that J. Hoberman describes in his essay for the film's Criterion release. (The look is so gritty and authentic that more than once I found myself verifying what year it was made.) It's strangely funny at times, though such dark humor is to be expected from one of the masters of the Commedia all'italiana genre. A mustachioed scab who's later arrested for threatening the bosses when they won't let him work is Chaplinesque in both appearance and demeanor—that he becomes violent suggests a tramp who's reached his limits. Most importantly, however, is that the film's straightforward, pro-labor message isn't hampered by didacticism. It's as expressive as it is informative, and its reluctant modernity is challenged only by its clever archaism. Screening in Facets’ “Teach-In” series, and accompanied by a discussion led by Julia Berkowitz, post-graduate historian at UIC. (1963, 128 min, Unconfirmed Format) KS
MORE SCREENINGS AND EVENTS
Also at the Film Studies Center (at the Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E. 60th St., University of Chicago) this week: Kate Kirtz and Nell Lundy’s 1995 documentary JANE: AN ABORTION SERVICE (58 min, Digital Projection) is on Thursday at 7pm, followed by a panel discussion.
The Conversations at the Edge series at the Gene Siskel Film Center screens Lee Anne Schmitt’s 2017 experimental documentary PURGE THIS LAND (80 min, DCP Digital) on Thursday at 6pm, with Schmitt and composer Jeff Parker in person.
Block Cinema (Northwestern University) presents Catch Phrases—Catch Images on Thursday at 7pm. The program is comprised of two of German filmmaker Harun Farocki’s documentary/essay films: CATCH PHRASES CATCH IMAGES: A CONVERSATION WITH VILEM FLUSSER (1986, 13 min, Digital Projection) and VIDEOGRAMS OF A REVOLUTION (1992, Germany, 106 min, Digital Projection; co-directed with Andrei Ujica). Free admission.
Filmfront (1740 W. 18th St.) presents Forgotten Clips on Friday at 8pm. Artist and writer Till Wittwer will do a talk/presentation about various “forgotten film clips” found on his computer hard drive.
Chicago Filmmakers (5720 N. Ridge Ave.) and the Chicago Film Archives present Out of the Vault: Films by Tom Palazzolo … Tom Chicago! on Saturday at 8pm, with Palazzolo in person. Screening are RICKY AND ROCKY (1972, 15 min, 16mm; co-directed by Jeff Kreines), LABOR DAY: EAST CHICAGO (1979, 25 min, 16mm), GAY FOR A DAY (1976, 11 min, 16mm), and IT’S THIS WAY AT DEEL FORD (1980, 15 min, 16mm; co-directed by Jeff Kreines).
The Chicago Film Seminar meets on Thursday at 7:30 at DePaul’s Loop Campus (in the Daley Building at 14 E. Jackson Blvd., Room LL 102; use the State Street entrance located at 247 S. State). For this meeting, Miriam J. Petty (Northwestern University) and Allison McCracken (DePaul University) with discuss their books Stealing the Show: African American Performers and Audiences in 1930s Hollywood and Real Men Don’t Sing: Crooning in American Culture. Allyson Nadia Field (University of Chicago) will moderate. Free admission. http://chicagofilmseminar.blogspot.com
South Side Projections screens Arturo González Villaseñor’s 2014 Mexican documentary LLÉVATE MIS AMORES [ALL OF ME] (90 min, Video Projection) on Wednesday at 7pm at La Catrina Cafe (1011 W. 18th St.). Followed by a discussion led by author Marco Escalante. Free admission.
The Chicago Jewish Film Festival opens on Thursday and continues through March 18 at several locations. Details and full schedule at https://jccfilmfest.jccchicago.org.
Black Cinema House (at the Dorchester Art + Housing Collaborative, 1456 E 70th St.) presents a work-in-progress screening of Calvin Alexander Ramsey’s documentary THE GREEN BOOK CHRONICLES (Video Projection), with Ramsey in person, on Friday at 7pm. Free admission.
Also at the Gene Siskel Film Center this week: local filmmaker Kyle Henry’s 2017 film ROGERS PARK (87 min, DCP Digital) is on Friday at 8pm, Saturday at 3pm, Monday at 7:45pm, and Wednesday at 8pm, with Henry and screenwriter Carlos Treviño at each screening, joined at some by select cast; Andrea Pallaoro’s 2017 Italian/French/Belgian film HANNAH (95 min, DCP Digital) plays for a week; and Chicago filmmaker Hossein Khandan’s 2017 US/Chinese/Iranian documentary-narrative hybrid film WAITING FOR KIAROSTAMI (86 min, DCP Digital) is on Sunday at 5pm, with Khandan in person.
Also at Doc Films (University of Chicago) this week: Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1961 Italian film LA NOTTE (122 min, DCP Digital) is on Friday at 7 and 9:30pm; Robert Enrico’s 1969 French film THE LAST ADVENTURE (112 min, 16mm; English dubbed version) is on Wednesday at 7 and 9:30pm; and Robert Stromberg’s 2014 film MALEFICENT (97 min, 35mm) is on Thursday at 7pm.
Also at the Music Box Theatre this week: 2018 Oscar-Nominated Documentary Shorts (showing in two different programs) opens; Sebastián Lelio’s 2017 Chilean film A FANTASTIC WOMAN (104 min, DCP Digital) continues; Brian O'Malley’s 2017 Irish film THE LODGERS (92 min, DCP Digital) is on Friday and Saturday at Midnight; Tommy Wiseau’s 2003 film THE ROOM (99 min, 35mm) is on Friday at Midnight; Jim Sharman’s 1975 film THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW (100 min, 35mm) is on Saturday at Midnight; David Leland’s 2003 UK concert film CONCERT FOR GEORGE (101 min, DCP Digital) is on Monday at 7:10pm; and the 2016 documentary GRIT & GRAIN: THE STORY OF BOURBON COUNTY STOUT (60 min, DCP Digital) is on Tuesday at 7pm, as a Goose Island-sponsored screening.
Also at Facets Cinémathèque this wee: Maysaloun Hamoud’s 2016 Israeli film IN BETWEEN (103 min, Video Projection) and Antonio Lexerot and Vincent J. Roth’s 2016 film SURGE OF POWER: REVENGE OF THE SEQUEL (90 min, Video Projection) both play for week-long runs.
ArcLight (1500 N. Clybourn Ave.) screens Leos Carax’s 1986 French film MAUVAIS SANG (105 min, DCP Digital) on Tuesday at 7:30pm.
In addition to its screenings at the Gene Siskel Film Center this week, local filmmaker Kyle Henry’s 2017 film ROGERS PARK (87 min, Digital Projection) also screens on Thursday at 7pm at the New 400 Theaters (6746 N. Sheridan Rd.), with Henry and select cast/crew in person.
The Northbrook Public Library (1201 Cedar Lane, Northbrook) presents a John Hughes Celebration on Friday at 6pm, with John Kevin Smokler (author of Brat Pack America) who will discuss Hughes’ career. Followed by a screening of an unspecified Hughes film; on Sunday at 2pm, local filmmaker Reid Schultz will present an Oscar Talk about this year’s nominated films; and Stanley Kramer’s 1967 film GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER (108 min, DCP Digital) is on Wednesday at 1 and 7pm. All free admission.
Instituto Cervantes (31 W. Ohio St.) screens Miguel Ángel Rosales’ 2016 Spanish/Mexican/Portuguese/Senegalese documentary GURUMBÉ: AFRO-ANDALUSIAN MEMORIES (72 min, DVD Projection) on Wednesday at 6pm.
The Spertus Institute (610 S. Michigan Ave.) screens Marsha Emerman’s 2015 documentary ON THE BANDS OF THE TIGRIS: THE HIDDEN STORY OF IRAQI MUSIC (79 min, Video Projection) on Sunday at 2pm. Followed by a discussion with Northwestern University Professor of Performance Studies Dr. Shayna Silverstein.
Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art (756 N. Milwaukee Ave.) screens Christian Beetz’s 2007 German documentary BETWEEN MADNESS AND ART: THE PRINZHORN COLLECTION (75 min, Video Projection) on Thursday at 7pm. Free admission via the Eventbrite link on Intuit’s website.
Sinema Obscura presents A Murderino Event, a program of short films, at Antique Taco (1360 N. Milwaukee Ave.) on Tuesday at 7pm.
The Gorton Community Center in Lake Forest (400 E. Illinois Rd., Lake Forest, IL) screens the 2018 the Oscar Nominated Animated Shorts and the Oscar Nominated Live Action Shorts on Tuesday. The Animated Shorts program is at 10am and 4pm and the Live Action program is at 12:30 and 7pm; and Anna Chai and Nari Kye’s 2017 documentary WASTED! THE STORY OF FOOD WASTE (85 min, Digital Projection) is on Thursday at 7pm.
ONGOING FILM/VIDEO INSTALLATIONS
The Art Institute of Chicago (Stone Gallery) has on view a show of two large-scale installation works by French artist Philippe Parreno. One of these, With a Rhythmic Instinction to Be Able to Travel beyond Existing Forces of Life (2014) includes a moving-image component.
Also currently on view at the Art Institute of Chicago: Frances Stark’s 2010 video installation NOTHING IS ENOUGH (14 min loop) in Gallery 295C; and Nam June Paik’s 1986 video sculpture FAMILY OF ROBOT: BABY in Gallery 288.
CINE-LIST: February 23 - March 1, 2018
MANAGING EDITOR // Patrick Friel
ASSOCIATE EDITORS // Ben Sachs, Kathleen Sachs, Kyle A. Westphal
CONTRIBUTORS // Kyle Cubr, John Dickson, Tien-Tien Jong, Scott Pfeiffer, Michael Glover Smith, James Stroble, Ignatiy Vishnevetsky