On episode #4 of the Cine-Cast, Cine-File associate editors Ben and Kat Sachs get the party started—banter ensues between the married critics; contributor JB Mabe interviews Chicago Underground Film Festival programmer and artistic director Bryan Wendorf about the festival, which just celebrated its 25th year; associate editor Kat Sachs interviews local filmmaker and all-around delightful human Lori Felker about her new film, FUTURE LANGUAGE: THE DIMENSIONS OF VON LMO, which was the closing night film at CUFF; associate editor Ben Sachs and contributors Kian Bergstrom and Kyle Cubr discuss the "Stanley Kubrick: The Filmworker Series" at the Music Box Theatre, during which Ben tells a joke about Kubrick that you won't want to miss.
Listen here. As always, special thanks to our producer, Andy Miles, of Transistor Chicago.
Howard Hawks' RIO BRAVO (American Revival)
Chicago Films Society at the Music Box Theatre — Monday, 7pm
RIO BRAVO marks the symphonic culmination of themes that Howard Hawks had been developing for most of his directorial career, and the film delivers such a profound sense of coming together that it’s easy to understand why many Hawks fans consider this to be his greatest work. On one level, it’s a passionate love letter to Hollywood movies (which explains why it was such a crucial text for the French New Wave). The actors aren’t playing characters, per se, but rather larger-than-life variations on their screen personas; and the archetypal premise, about a group of committed good guys working together, reflects on ideas central to the western in general and Hawks’ filmography in particular: namely, the beauty of teamwork and the desires of the individual versus the needs of the society. On another level, RIO BRAVO is an audacious experiment in film form, as Hawks (working from a script by Jules Furthman and Leigh Brackett, two of the greatest screenwriters in Hollywood history) frequently relinquishes any sense of narrative momentum to consider niceties of character and the joys of hanging out. Starting around the mid-40s, Hawks claimed to have stopped approaching films as stories and started looking at them as collections of scenes, and RIO BRAVO shows this method at its finest. The film contains funny scenes, poignant scenes, romantic scenes, and suspenseful scenes—it’s as though Hawks, who famously worked in every Hollywood genre, wanted to condense his entire career into a single feature. Yet for all his ambition, Hawks maintains the direct, understated visual style that was as central to his filmmaking as any of his themes. Preceded by a selection of 1950’s western trailers. (1959, 141 min, 35mm IB Technicolor Print) BS
Alain Tanner’s THE MIDDLE OF THE WORLD and MESSIDOR (Swiss Revivals)
Gene Siskel Film Center — Saturday, 3pm and Tuesday, 8:15pm (World), and Saturday, 5:15pm and Thursday, 6pm (Messidor)
All seven films playing this month in the Siskel Center’s Alain Tanner retrospective share a common theme—the impossibility of freedom in modern, capitalist society. Yet in spite of their downbeat message, the films feel remarkably free, thanks to their rambling narratives and deliberately messy characterizations. Tanner may have been skeptical about the possibility of lasting change in the postwar world, but he delighted in finding moments of resistance to the dominant order. Indeed all of the selections in this retrospective focus on characters as they live outside capitalist society; they generally end when the characters give up and return (often by force) to the world they’ve left behind. MESSIDOR (1979, 123 min, 35mm) offers little information about the main characters before they abandon their lives and go hitchhiking across Switzerland. Considering the characters almost exclusively as they roam and attend to basic needs, the film has a pronounced existentialist mood that makes it darker than anything else in the series, but it’s still animated by a sense of possibility from the opening scenes on. The protagonists are two young women from different backgrounds: Jeanne is a college student from Geneva, Marie is a working-class girl from the provinces. They meet while thumbing a ride on the same street and decide to travel together; they soon become addicted to life on the road, traveling well after they run out of money and supplies. They also become divorced from conventional morality, stealing a gun and using it to rob grocery stores for food. Tanner is less concerned with the young women’s criminal exploits than with the bond that unites them—the film’s moving portrait of friendship lingers in the memory long after you’ve seen it. THE MIDDLE OF THE WORLD (1974, 115 min, 35mm) considers a different kind of bond between two people. Paul is a married engineer who’s entering politics and embarking on a campaign for local office; Adriana is an Italian émigré working as a waitress in a tavern that Paul frequents. The two experience an intense fascination with each other that quickly turns sexual, and Paul becomes so consumed by the relationship that he doesn’t even try to cover it up, destroying his political prospects in the process. Similarly the sexual affair comes to overwhelm the other details of the story, as Tanner and co-writer John Berger privilege moments of intimacy over Paul’s political concerns. Though somewhat clinical in its perspective, THE MIDDLE OF THE WORLD ultimately concerns the (brief) triumph of human desire over social order, with Tanner taking subtle delight in the chaos. BS
Jiří Trnka’s BAYAYA and OLD CZECH LEGENDS (Czech Animation Revival)
Gene Siskel Film Center — Sunday, 2pm and Monday, 6pm (OLD CZECH LEGENDS); Sunday, 3:45pm and Wednesday, 6pm (BAYAYA)
The Siskel continues its retrospective of Czech animation legend Jiri Trnka’s work this week with his third and fourth features. BAYAYA (1950, 75 min. DCP projection) is a moody medieval fairytale in which a young man is visited in a dream by his deceased mother in the form of a white horse. She tells him that the only way she’ll be set free is if he finds happiness, then takes him to a cursed castle where he must vanquish monsters and woo the three daughters of the king. Though the youth prevails in the end, the atmosphere of dread and foreboding never lifts entirely. The lingering image is that of a sinister court jester, who wields undo influence over the king’s court throughout, waving goodbye to us before the credits roll. I wondered afterward whether this bleak tale was an indirect commentary on the fate of Trnka’s nation post World War II. OLD CZECH LEGENDS (1952, 84 min. DCP projection) is devoted to the creation myths of Czechoslovakia. A succession of chieftains rule over a land of lushness and plenty; some are humble and wise, while others are craven and cowardly. Warriors fight to win the admiration of princesses and nature and animals make for an environment which bursts with life, even in its bleakest moments. Trnka masterfully blends stop-motion puppetry, painted and constructed backgrounds, optical printing, and lighting design full of Old Masterly chiaroscuro to evoke the early days of his country. Whether capturing the precise way a dog wags its tail or staging complex and chaotic battle scenes, Trnka leaves no detail untended to. His orchestration of this handmade universe is so nimble that oftentimes I forgot I was watching a bunch of wood and cloth dolls being manipulated about a toy landscape and felt like I was looking through a window into a reality as real as my own. Unlike his first feature, THE CZECH YEAR (1947), which was screened earlier in the series and is also devoted to the birth of Trnka's nation, there are no overt references to Christianity. This is likely because by 1952 the Communist Party had firm hold of the country and open positive reference to religion would not have been tolerated. In Christianity’s stead, Trnka has peppered the film with spirits and primitive nature deities such as the Sun God. These entities were probably cleared by government censors as part and parcel of harmless children’s fairytales, yet their presence packs all the power of utter devotional faith. If he intended these two films for children, then he had a lot more respect for their intelligence and maturity than the vast majority of fare that’s marketed to the young. This is animation in the truest sense of the word—every single frame is alive. DS
Umetsugu Inoue’s THE WINNER (Japanese Revival)
Gene Siskel Film Center — Friday, 2pm and Sunday, 5:15pm
In my write-up of THE STORMY MAN, I noted that with “Umetsugu Inoue… the discovery largely begins and ends with the films themselves, which, as far as I can tell, are worthy of consideration.” Having now seen three of the four screening at the Siskel Film Center this month, I can say with the degree of certainty afforded to someone who’s seen only a smattering of the 100+ films from a director’s oeuvre that it’s true—Inoue’s films warrant further examination. THE WINNER is my favorite thus far; made in the cinematic era of Vincente Minnelli and Douglas Sirk, and teeming with colorful tableaus, it evokes a melodramatic grandiosity that transcends cultural nuance. The first film Inoue made with Yujiro Ishihara—who’s referred to as the Japanese Elvis Presley, though I’d say his devil-may-care comportment, especially in this one, is also reminiscent of James Dean—THE WINNER follows a driven night-club manager as he takes a headstrong amateur boxer (Ishihara) and an aspiring ballet dancer under his wing in an attempt to make good on his own unrealized dreams. There’s also a love quadrangle between the aforementioned trio and the nightclub manager’s long-suffering girlfriend; the nimbleness with which Inoue directs a rather knotty script (which IMDB says was co-written by Toshio Masuda, himself a prolific director who’s credited as one of the two Japanese directors to co-helm TORA! TORA! TORA! with Richard Fleischer) is impressive. The relationship between the relationships, between the people and the professions, is simultaneously dramatic and affecting à la Sirk. Technically, it’s quite remarkable for two scenes in particular: first, a ballet production, thirteen minutes long and integrated into the narrative rather than filmed from a spectator’s vantage point, performed by one of the female protagonists, and second, the decisive fight scene, which, according to the Harvard Film Archive website, was “filmed with more than two hundred cuts over four days… [t]o save time and money, [Inoue] shot the entire scene from one side, changing the colors of the two corners to create the illusion that the action was unfolding in 360 degrees.” I’m partial to the former set piece for its Minnelliesque evocations; that entire subplot, added by Inoue, is said to have been inspired by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s 1948 film THE RED SHOES. Perhaps in spite of these conjurations (add to that Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen’s ON THE TOWN, per the Film Center’s site), it still fits the tone of the film, one torn between brutal conflict and delicate idyll. Its emotional impact is as affecting as that of its no-holds-barred action sequences—one might say it really packs a punch. (1957, 98 min, DCP digital) KS
Gregory La Cava’s FEEL MY PULSE (Silent American Revival)
Chicago Film Society and the Music Box Theatre (at the Music Box) — Saturday, 11:30am
In Gregory La Cava’s 1928 silent, Bebe Daniels starts as a young hypochondriac millionairess who grows up in a strictly regimented, germ-free environment. To escape her rowdy Texas uncle, who’s gained charge of her, she goes to a sanitarium that was part of her inheritance. Problem is, the sanitarium is closed down and is being used as a front by a gang of rumrunners, led by William Powell. I’m not going to make any claims for FEEL MY PULSE as a forgotten masterpiece or even as a sterling comedy. It’s not. It’s a well-made, generally funny, and stylistically unremarkable film—and that’s sort of the point. One rarely has the opportunity to see solid studio films from the silent era that privilege entertainment over artistry. Beyond the dismal survival rate of silent films in general, most that do get seen tend to have some hook: an epic sense of scale, a major star that still holds appeal, a film with a strong visual style, a newly discovered print of a previously lost title, etc. FEEL MY PULSE has none of these. It's just a bread-and butter-picture, like hundreds of others made at the time that don't get attention anymore (of those that even survive). That’s part of its appeal here. Add to that the director, Gregory La Cava, who tends to only be remembered for his 1930’s work, and usually only for MY MAN GODFREY and STAGE DOOR, whose work as a cartoon producer and short comedies director is evident in the film’s briskness and economy; an early silent turn (as a bad guy, no less) by William Powell, who again is mainly tied to his 1930’s films; and star Bebe Daniels, best remembered for her short time in sound films before moving to London, but whose silent film career was extensive (dating back to at least 1910, if not earlier). It’s the chance to see Daniels in an engaging comedic performance that is the rarity here—as most of her silent films are now lost (the partial filmography on Wikipedia lists 39 of the 53 silent features as lost). Go for the entertainment; you won’t be disappointed. Preceded by Émile Cohl’s 1910 French short THE HASHER’S DELIRIUM (5 min, 16mm). Live accompaniment by Dennis Scott. (1928, 63 min, Archival 35mm Print) PF
Richard Fleischer’s THE HAPPY TIME (American Revival)
Chicago Film Society (at Northeastern Illinois University, The Auditorium, Building E, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave.) — Tuesday, 7:30pm
It’s unclear whether the title refers to the 1920s or the period of sexual awakening that accompanies the onset of puberty, as Richard Fleischer’s 1952 period comedy ruminates plenty on both. Essentially a raunchy variation on nostalgia pieces like MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS or THE STRAWBERRY BLONDE, THE HAPPY TIME observes a French-Canadian family in Ottawa over the course of a leisurely, albeit memorable season. Father Jacques Bonnard (Charles Boyer) is the concertmaster at a vaudeville theater and an indulgent parent at home; Uncle Louis (Kurt Kasznar) is a good-tempered drunk who lives off his dressmaker wife and spends his days drinking wine from a water cooler; Uncle Desmond (Louis Jourdan) is a traveling salesman who likes his job because it allows him to make sexual conquests all over Canada; and teenaged Bibi (Bobby Driscoll) looks up to all of them. The film unfolds mainly from the boy’s perspective, which explains why the adult males seem a little larger than life and the female characters aren’t explored in much depth. The one exception is a former magician’s assistant named Mignonette (Linda Christian), who comes to live with the Bonnard family after she quits her job at the theater. She ends up an object of desire for Bibi as well as Desmond, who lives with the Bonnards when he isn’t traveling for work, though the film is less about this romantic conflict than it is about capturing a time and place with idealized affection. This came out the same year as Fleischer’s THE NARROW MARGIN (though they were filmed two years apart); taken together, these films demonstrate an extraordinary range of tones and emotional content. The eternally underrated Fleischer was comfortable in virtually any genre, in part because he had a generally trustworthy instinct for what made a story move. In THE HAPPY TIME, he followed a different instinct, idling instead of moving forward and vamping on bits of characterization and place. It may not be one of Fleischer’s best, but it’s noteworthy for feeling more like a European film of 1952 than an American one. Preceded by the 1948 Coronet Films educational short YOUR THRIFT HABITS (11 min, 16mm). (1952, 94 min, 35mm) BS
Sophie Fiennes’ GRACE JONES: BLOODLIGHT AND BAMI (New Documentary)
Gene Siskel Film Center — Check Venue website for showtimes
Sophie Fiennes’ portrait of nonpareil disco/fashion icon Grace Jones is as tough, elegant, and uncompromising as its subject. Eschewing talking heads, chronology, or scene-setting or context-making of any kind, Fiennes puts the viewer just off stages all over the world as Jones performs and in the passenger seat of the van on bumpy Jamaican roads as she visits with family back home. The show footage and personal interludes are cut together in such a way as to present a collage-like picture of an artist’s life rather than the usual gossipy, over-explaining tack taken by most music docs. But Jones’ vulnerability is on full display as Fiennes’ camera catches her bickering with collaborators or dances in exultation watching her mother sing a spiritual in church. After decades in the limelight the work it takes to keep being Grace Jones would've killed a lesser being, but she just keeps on going. It's clear that it’s all she knows to do. The enduring impression left after visiting Jones’ world for a couple hours is awe at the strength it must take to maintain her impenetrable aura, combined with the obvious loneliness of truly being like no one else walking the earth. After a lifetime spent being stared at, Jones is never unaware of Fiennes’ camera probing her every move, but bears up under the scrutiny with humor and dignity. This is probably not the film to watch if you know nothing about Grace Jones but it’s a worthy tribute to a woman who continues to define style, sexual ambiguity, creativity, and bravery in unique, often uncategorizable ways. (2017, 115 min, DCP Digital) DS
Djibril Diop Mambéty's THE LITTLE GIRL WHO SOLD THE SUN (Senegalese Revival)
Filmfront (1740 W. 18th St.) — Monday, 8pm
Really, the most fitting adjective for Djibril Diop Mambéty's THE LITTLE GIRL WHO SOLD THE SUN is "happy." It is about the remarkable will of a bright, unsinkable preteen girl named Sili (Lissa Balera), who lives in a shantytown on the outskirts of Dakar, propelling herself around on crutches. Whereas a lesser artist might have exploited her for pathos, Mambéty simply gives us a determined, hopeful young girl, matter-of-factly going about her business. While Mambéty's landmark first feature, TOUKI BOUKI (1972), was experimental and Godardian, this short film, his last before lung cancer took him at 53, is more-or-less straightforward, though no less playful and wry. The second installment in a planned trilogy of shorts celebrating unsung Senegalese, it has a frank, unsentimental, life-affirming spirit. Sili goes into the city to provide for her blind grandma, but when she gets knocked over in a rush of pushy street urchins hawking Le Soleil newspaper, she has an inspiration: she'll be a vendor, as well. "I'm not a boy," she concedes, before declaring, "What boys do, girls can do, too!" When Sili, sprawled midway down a ramp, pulls herself back to her feet to the jubilant swell of bagpipe and drum, it's absolutely exhilarating. (The movie's infectious, electrifying score is by Wasis Diop, Mambéty's brother.) A chance encounter with a sympathetic wealthy man leaves her with a windfall of 10,000 francs. Meanwhile, she's unintimidated by the roughhouse tactics of a crew of rival paper pushers, who don't like her selling on "their" turf. A few regular onlookers follow her vicissitudes. One is a wheelchair-bound boy (Moussa Balde), who, for a few coins, will gladly play the boom box he's always cradling. When Sili and her girlfriends dance down the street as his radio plays, the moment is celebratory, unforgettable. She also has an admirer in a local teenage boy (Tayerou M'Baye), who looks out for her while respecting her independence. It's a cliché, perhaps, the idea that we get to carry each other, but it also happens to be a key principle of any decent society, and their friendship embodies it as both plain fact and effective, moving metaphor. The film is a political allegory, then—and in some ways a fantasy of a little girl's power. Yet it all feels utterly natural, the magic rooted in everyday life, like a summer storm, as seamless as air or water. Mambéty ribs his people's quirks, gently, while his camera attentively documents the vibrant details of their rich culture: the fascinating hybrid of French and African, the colorful Senegalese clothing. THE LITTLE GIRL WHO SOLD THE SUN is just about everything I look for in film, as a statement of resilience, for the goodness on display in the people. Sili does the best she can with what she's got—which, by our standards, is less then nothing. Yet, the fact of her, and her happiness, is undeniable. It's as simple, and as inspiring, as that. "We continue!" (1999, 45 min, Digital Projection) SP
Michael Glover Smith's MERCURY IN RETROGRADE (New American)
Wilmette Theatre (1122 Central Ave., Wilmette) — Wednesday, 7pm
Two years ago, I praised Michael Glover Smith’s strong debut, COOL APOCALYPSE, for its subtle dissection of relationships in the inflexion point of their collapse. His sophomore feature, MERCURY IN RETROGRADE, builds upon and expands the earlier title’s strengths, presenting a nuanced and troubling portrait of six people who, over the course of a long weekend, quietly and privately reveal that they are in the process of exploding inside. It is a movie about three good-natured, loveable, charming men who each, in his own insidious way, is a manipulative, dehumanizing sexist, and the three spirited, jovial, smart women who have fallen for them. Built in two rough halves, the first part of MERCURY IN RETROGRADE shows us a deceptively idyllic group friendship, three couples who love one another, understand one another, and love being around one another. They eat, drink, joke, play, and seem to grow together as people. Everything feels wrong, but only with the second part in mind do the tension lines in the first become clear. An extended pair of alcohol-fueled conversations, one all-male at the cabin and the other all-female at a nearby bar, are intricately intercut and woven together, cutting away the pretense of kindness, decency, and equality that the characters have worked so hard to convince themselves of. Set almost exclusively in a palatial cabin in the Michigan woods, the movie’s roving compositions, highly mobile camerawork, and idiosyncratic editing keep placing characters in off-putting juxtapositions, dividing spaces, preventing the six principals from ever fully integrating with the natural world they’re surrounded by. Instead, following Smith’s title, they spin around and are trapped by one another like celestial bodies mere moments before collision. The phrase ‘mercury in retrograde’ itself comes from a term of pseudoscientific bullshittery that attempts to explain away misunderstandings and conflict by blaming it on the different orbital speeds of Mercury and Earth, and is a neatly symbolic way of signaling the viewer that the characters will both argue over important issues with one another and both misunderstand the nature of those arguments and be satisfied with papered-over illusions rather than actual resolution. Indeed, the narrative is awash in oddly revealing moments of internalized oppression and violence that are rationalized away as evidence of love: a throw-away comment one woman makes about convincing a partner to ‘let’ her have an abortion; another woman breaking out of a relationship of physical abuse only to pursue her abuser’s career path; a third whose desperate need to keep her history of violent exploitation, victimization, and addiction secret from her partner drives her to break years of sobriety. Many of the actors deserve special acclaim, especially Jack Newell and Alana Arenas, two local actors who play Jack and Golda, the one couple amongst the three to be married, inhabit their complex roles to a chilling degree. It’s one thing to play a dysfunctional couple, but another level entirely to play one that believes itself to be fully equal and loving. It is a trenchant, beautifully and disturbingly stylized look at misogyny and oppression, neither the first nor the last word on the subject by any means, but a modest and welcome addition to the conversation. Smith in person. (2017, 105 min, DCP Digital) KB
D.W. Griffith's INTOLERANCE (Silent American Revival)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) — Thursday, 7pm
Widely renowned as "the movie that invented modern editing" (or something to that effect), Griffith's epic production is so much more than a Film Studies touchstone. True, the overall construction—which develops four parallel narratives set centuries apart—remains one of the great formal accomplishments of the cinema: In particular, the overlapping climaxes of the breathtaking final hour seem the inspiration for most Soviet filmmaking of the 1920s. And yet the film doesn't feel like a formal exercise when you watch it, not because of the poetic rhymes and juxtapositions that Griffith creates between the different stories, but because of the humor, pathos, and spectacular design within each story itself. I remain most enchanted with the story set in ancient Babylon, which views a historical catastrophe mainly from the perspective of an innocent girl (who is at once put in her place with the immortal line, "Tsk, tsk, this is no time to eat onions!"). The Babylonian sets are some of the most astonishing ever built for a film, and Griffith finds all sorts of fascinating ways to capture them, including customized shapes for the film frame that sometimes suggest inverse widescreen. The other stories—set at Christ's crucifixion, the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, and in a present-day U.S. city—are no less compelling, since Griffith's determination to make a work of monumental humanism (in part, as an apology for the racism of BIRTH OF A NATION) led him to invest his melodrama with even more profound feeling than usual. (1916, Unconfirmed Running Time [approx 2.5-3.25 hours, depending on version], 16mm) BS
Agnès Varda and JR's FACES PLACES (New Documentary)
Northbrook Public Library (1201 Cedar Lane, Northbrook) — Tuesday, 2pm (Free Admission)
I love this sportive, altogether magical film—it's light and simple and funny, and all the more profound for it. FACES PLACES is a buddy/road trip comedy about a deepening cross-generational friendship; it's also an insightful documentary, a mutual portrait of two unique artists whose visions harmonize. Agnès Varda, who was 88 at the time of shooting, is of course the legendary French New Wave pioneer (before even Chabrol's LE BEAU SERGE, there was Varda's LA POINTE COURTE, in 1955). JR, 33, is a street artist known for making giant, collaborative outdoor image installations. Together, they drive around the French countryside in JR's photo-booth van, which spits out large-format pictures of the people they meet at beaches, ports, factories, and villages, blowing the locals up into massive figures which they paste onto community landmarks. These "framing" structures, whether homes or stacks of cargo containers, nod to personal stories and struggles, and honor unsung people as heroes—dockworkers' wives, a postman, a woman from a mining family who refuses to let her home be demolished. The subjects get to talk back, and to see them interact with their magnified selves, the happiness on their faces, the wonder, or even the bemused ambivalence, is a beautiful thing. Mounting the portraits is a collective, social event in which the subjects themselves participate, creating spectacles as rich and full of humanity as Hollywood's are empty and dehumanized. They paste an image of Varda's late friend, the photographer Guy Bourdin, to the side of a German WWII bunker that's fallen onto a beach. In the image he's very young, almost a boy, and the bunker seems to cradle him. When they come back the next day, the image has been washed away by the tide. How fleeting is memory, how fleeting are the years. How fragile, finally, is life. That's why there's a certain urgency to their work: as JR says, we must get as many images as we can, before it's too late. Varda is happy, even as she finds her vision growing dim and her memory fading. She feels herself winding down, but her curiosity about other people remains undimmed. The two laugh a lot, teasing each other. He is irreverent with her in a somehow deeply respectful manner—which is to say, he's never patronizing. (You are good to old people, she tells him at one point, as they visit his grandmother, who's pushing 100). Their friendship is a real dialogue, and as it deepens, we sense he'd do anything for her. Well, almost anything: he lives behind dark glasses, and a running joke in the film has Varda trying to coax him out of them, just as she was once able to do with the young Jean-Luc Godard. Speaking of Godard, I mustn't reveal too much of a final surprise involving their pilgrimage to reconnect with him. (As a factory worker, admiring the group portrait of his co-workers, points out, art is meant to surprise us.) I'll only say the scene finds just the right strain of wistfulness on which to end, evoking, cryptically but movingly, happy days with Varda's late husband, the great Jacques Demy. FACES PLACES is about history and memory and the power of imagination. It is about art and life—the ways they mirror each other, and what's important in both: love and creativity and travel and leaping at chances, and seeing things that make you dream. It is about the life force—as, at its best, was the French New Wave. At one point Varda and JR recreate Godard's famous race through the Louvre, and I actually bounced in my seat and clapped. In the end, they photograph faces because faces are beautiful, and every face tells a story. It is as simple—and as profound—as that. (2017, 89 min, Digital Projection) SP
MORE SCREENINGS AND EVENTS
Chicago Filmmakers (5720 N. Ridge Ave.) screens F.W. Murnau’s 1922 silent German film NOSFERATU (approx. 81 min, Digital Projection) on Friday and Saturday at 8pm, with a new live score by Maxx McGathey, performed by his band Gramps the Vamp. Tickets are $15.
Block Cinema (Northwestern University) presents the third of three screenings of new work by MFA students in the Documentary Media program. Program 3: Where We Find Ourselves is on Friday at 7pm and includes: WHIMPER (Pam Austin, 2018, 14 min), IN ORDER (Joyy Norris, 2018, 12 min), PARALLEL (Evan Yin Wang, 2018, 18 min), and CASTLE BOYS (Chad Wallin, 2018, 20 min). Preceded by a reception at 6pm. Free admission.
Black Cinema House (at the Dorchester Art + Housing Collaborative, 1456 E. 70th St.) screens C. Fitz’s 2016 documentary JEWEL’S CATCH ONE (90 min, Digital Projection) on Friday at 7:30pm. Free admission.
The Cinepocalypse Genre Film Festival opens on Thursday and runs through June 28 at the Music Box Theatre.
The Instituto Cervantes (31 W. Ohio St.) screens Leticia Dolera’s 2015 Spanish film REQUIREMENTS TO BE A NORMAL PERSON [Requisitos para ser una persona normal] (90 min, DVD Projection) on Tuesday at 6pm. Free Admission.
Also at the Northbrook Public Library (1201 Cedar Lane, Northbrook) this week: Ritesh Batra’s 2013 Indian film THE LUNCHBOX (104 min, DCP Projection) is on Wednesday at 1 and 7pm. Free admission. www.northbrook.info
ArcLight Chicago screens Liu Chia-Liang's 1984 Hong Kong film THE EIGHT DIAGRAM POLE FIGHTER (98 min, DCP Digital) on Tuesday at 7:30pm.
Also at the Gene Siskel Film Center this week: Thomas Piper’s 2017 documentary FIVE SEASONS: THE GARDENS OF PIET OUDOLF (75 min, DCP Digital; Piper in person at the 7:45pm Friday show) and Jacques Doillon’s 2017 French/Belgian film RODIN (119 min, DCP Digital) both play for a week.
At the Music Box Theatre this week: Jennifer Peedom’s 2017 Australian documentary MOUNTAIN (74 min, DCP Digital) opens; Bart Layton’s 2018 film AMERICAN ANIMALS (91 min, DCP Digital) continues; Michael Curtiz’s 1940 film VIRGINIA CITY (121 min, 35mm) is on Sunday at 11:30am; Tommy Wiseau’s 2003 film THE ROOM (99 min, 35mm) is on Friday at Midnight; and Jim Sharman’s 1975 film THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW (100 min, 35mm) is on Saturday at Midnight.
Facets Cinémathèque plays Jeff and Michael Zimbalist’s 2018 Brazilian/Colombian/Spanish documentary NOSSA CHAPE (101 min, Video Projection) and Lea Thompson’s 2017 film THE YEAR OF SPECTACULAR MEN (102 min, Video Projection) for week-long runs.
The Chicago Cultural Center hosts the Cinema/Chicago screening of Károly Ujj Mészáros’s 2015 Hungarian film LIZA: THE FOX-FAIRY (98 min, Video Projection) on Wednesday at 6:30pm. Free admission.
Sinema Obscura presents a TV Party screening of shorts, music videos, and trailers on Wednesday at 7pm in the lounge at the Logan Theatre (2646 N. Milwaukee Ave.).
ONGOING FILM/VIDEO INSTALLATIONS
Currently on view at the Art Institute of Chicago: Cauleen Smith's single-channel video SPACE IS THE PLACE (A MARCH FOR SUN RA) (2001) is in the Stone Gallery; Gretchen Bender's eight-channel video installation TOTAL RECALL (1987) is in Gallery 289; Joan Jonas’ MIRROR PIECES INSTALLATION II (1969/2014) is in Gallery 293B; 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: June 15 - June 21, 2018
MANAGING EDITOR // Patrick Friel
ASSOCIATE EDITORS // Ben Sachs, Kathleen Sachs, Kyle A. Westphal
CONTRIBUTORS // Kian Bergstrom, Scott Pfeiffer, Dmitry Samarov