On episode #11 of the Cine-Cast, Cine-File contributors take it on the road with this remote-heavy edition. On this episode, contributor Marilyn Ferdinand discusses filmmaker Patrick Wang and his upcoming film A BREAD FACTORY, playing at the Gene Siskel Film Center (April 12-17) and Block Cinema (May 4), and contributor Michael Metzger interviews filmmaker Nellie Kluz at the Onion City Experimental Film & Video Festival!
Listen here. Engineered by contributor Harrison Sherrod. Produced by Mabe and Sachs.
The introductory theme is by local film composer Ben Van Vlissingen. Find out more about his work here.
Artavazd Peleshian’s OUR CENTURY (Armenian/USSR Revival)
Block Cinema (Northwestern University) — Thursday, 7pm
For me, this is one of the cinematic highlights of the year. Armenian filmmaker Artavazd Peleshian’s works are impossible to see in any kind of decent video or online copies. There is a mediocre DVD issued years ago in Portugal, and even worse copies available online, so the chance to see a 35mm print of Peleshian’s only long film is as exciting as it is rare. Peleshian is known primarily for the eight short films he made between 1964 and 1993, and really for the four from 1967-1975—the films in which he brings to bear his unique editing concept of “distance montage.” OUR CENTURY shares this approach, which Peleshian describes as a web of connections in constant movement, a “spherical” sense of editing rather than a linear one. The film’s material is of Soviet cosmonauts and American astronauts (Peleshian shot the Soviet footage; the American is archival), which he uses almost in a metaphorical sense. Scott MacDonald, in his A Critical Cinema 3, writes: “OUR AGE [OUR CENTURY]… is about ‘our age’ of space exploration—and I know of no film that more powerfully communicates the excitement and the terror of sitting in a tiny capsule as mega-thrust lifts a rocket into space—and about human ‘age.’ Peleshian turned fifty as he was making OUR AGE and embeds within the film his sense that as we grow older and come to grips with age’s relentless ‘countdown,’ we desire to ‘blast-off,’ whether it’s in space travel, which allows to rise above our national identities and see the Earth in all its global expanse and limitation, or in our individual struggles to transcend our limits and our particular historical moment.” Not to be missed. Also showing are Peleshian's 1969 film WE (26 min, 35mm) and his 1975 film THE SEASONS (30 min, 35mm). Free admission. (1983, 50 min, 35mm imported print) PF
Showing with Maciej J. Drygas’ 1994 Polish/French documentary STATE OF WEIGHTLESSNESS (58 min, DCP Digital)
Claire Denis’s HIGH LIFE (New International)
Music Box Theatre — Check Venue website for showtimes
“Beauty pisses me off,“ Claire Denis once said. No wonder Monte, the protagonist of HIGH LIFE, was first inspired by the greasily gaunt Vincent Gallo, Denis’s one-time muse of American scumminess, and subsequently developed for Philip Seymour Hoffman, whose mass of gut, skin, and stubble always felt tailored to fit a personal core of self-loathing. In the intervening years as the project sought funding, Gallo would burn out in a manner clownishly characteristic of the lowlifes he had played, while Hoffman would check out tragically so. Fifteen years on, HIGH LIFE comes to us at last, but in a fashion unimaginable at its time of origin. Claire Denis has officially broken out. Someone I met at a recent screening of L’INTRUS drove this home upon remarking the high volume of “youngs” in attendance. Robert Pattinson is one of these “youngs,” as are other members of the ensemble gathered around him here: Mia Goth, Ewan Mitchell, Claire Tran, and Gloria Obianyo—all in their twenties or early thirties. These millennials comprise one half of the crew that mans the spacecraft in HIGH LIFE. An older half consists of André Benjamin (yes, that André), Agata Buzek, Lars Eidinger—all early forties—and Juliette Binoche, the oldest at 55. I list the whole cast, leaving aside one key character, to emphasize how Denis has adapted her vision generationally to fit her leading man. The 32 year-old Pattinson has come to epitomize the current state of the film industry, where star actors pursue their personal favorite auteurs in an art house cinema version of millionaire spelunking. He has already drawn much deserved praise for the fierce commitment he brings to HIGH LIFE, but I’ve seen few considerations of how his presence, with all it implies, affects the ecological balance of Denis’s art and, more importantly, how she responds to it. This is not a matter of pop cultural status alone. It’s a matter of a certain type of beauty, the beauty Denis once reviled, as well as of youth. The director’s previous films are filled with both youth and beauty of course. Young, beautiful bodies, and the sense of temptation and taboo they invite, have animated Denis’s cinema from CHOCOLAT to 35 SHOTS OF RUM, but no actor Denis has previously engaged exudes the ethereal, almost sacred beauty of a Hollywood star like Pattinson, and Monte was not originally supposed to be young. Denis wanted Hoffman for Monte, because he seemed “tired of life.” The story she would tell around this tired man involved a failing spaceship light-years from earth, a morgue filled with dead bodies, and a newborn baby. Through flashback, it would emerge how the crew, death row convicts on a suicide run to a black hole, had self destructed under the mental and physical strain of their circumstances, leaving only this man caring for this baby, the spawn of kinky fertility experiments. HIGH LIFE preserves the outline, but embodied by Pattinson, Monte becomes less a figure of age and waste than of wasted potential and stunted growth. His youth and the youth of his fellow convicts suggest a surrogate family of orphans in juvenile detention, the older inmates Benjamin and Buzek—ship’s gardener and pilot respectively—surrogate older siblings, and Eidinger and Binoche—captain and doctor—their surrogate parents. For HIGH LIFE is a film about family, how a family forms between bodies in space, specifically when that space is a prison. Denis displays little interest in man’s relationship to technology or the possibility of the infinite, the major themes of nearly all space science-fiction since 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. The spacecraft she conceives is a low-tech system of interconnected rooms organized along an inescapable corridor. The space beyond is an implacably black void promising nothing but descent. Here there is only the body, its needs and desires, and the space that maintains and preserves it, while also regulating, restraining, even satisfying it, without accommodation for pleasure. This focus on body matters has led many to draw a connection with Ridley Scott’s ALIEN and its related vision of space as a source of genetic hostility, but the comparison only functions on a conceptual level. The sensations of HIGH LIFE feel closer to Mario Bava’s ALIEN precursor PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES with its psychedelic eroticism, albeit channeled through the environmental existentialism of Andrei Tarkovsky’s SOLARIS. As in Bava, color filtered lights seem to encase the characters in an almost tangible manifestation of their repressed urges, and, as in Tarkovsky, the fecundity of earth, here represented in remnant form by the ship’s greenhouse, returns them briefly to the memory of home. At a more basic level, the signature physicality of Denis’ art achieves a greater concentration in this setting than her previous earth-bound projects ever permitted. The force of mere looks, gestures, and poses of the body in HIGH LIFE restores something of the formal balance between the abstract and the concrete that Howard Hawks perfected under the studio system in films like ONLY ANGELS HAVE WINGS and RIO BRAVO. And just as Hawks required the muscular presences of Cary Grant and John Wayne to hold the center of mythic constructions, Denis needs Pattinson in HIGH LIFE for his iconic potency. Again and again, Denis cuts to images of her star’s head, shaven, shapely, in terrifyingly intimate close ups. These shots register the repressive effect of each new trauma Monte witnesses, each new indignity he endures, over the course of this most perverse space odyssey. By the film's end, it seems we have spent a lifetime with this once young man, drawn by the decay of time, the weight of gravity, the predations of people, in this prison of space. (2018, 110 min, DCP Digital) EC
Raoul Walsh's PURSUED (American Revival)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) — Friday, 7pm and Sunday, 1:30pm
Long an auteurist chestnut and perhaps something more—Paul Willemen even elevated it to a kind of Lacanian super-text in the early 70s—PURSUED recently received a more mixed assessment from Dave Kehr, a hardcore Walsh partisan. Kehr favors Walsh the self-effacing protean formalist, judging PURSUED a form-content mismatch because its director "specialized in bodies in motion more than psyches in torment." It's true that PURSUED is equally a Niven Busch picture—an extreme example of the psychological western (these days promoted as the more saleable "noir western") that screenwriter Busch more or less invented. It's bookended by two bold cinematic translations of Busch's novels—DUEL IN THE SUN (directed by King Vidor, et al.) and THE FURIES (directed by Anthony Mann)—that together constitute a sustained case of psychoanalysis turned against itself. If Freud plundered the classics to give name to the tragic patterns observed in his patients, then Busch projects these psychoanalytic lessons back to the archetypes themselves. In marrying the monumental and the clinical, Busch creates a preposterous brand of diagrammatic art. Unconscious motivations cripple Busch's characters—until the moment when they embrace the destiny prescribed by their psychic makeup. Is this dated? Busch's ideas are certainly reflective of his moment, but there's something more. There's a scene in PURSUED when Teresa Wright wills herself to become ruthless and evil. Wright's face in this shot perfectly registers the totalizing clarity (intellectual, artistic, historical) that Busch and his cohorts sought in Freud. Today, the clearest psychological profile is Busch's own. (1947, 100 min, 35mm archival preservation print) KAW
Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s GOODBYE SOUTH, GOODBYE (Taiwanese Revival)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) — Thursday, 7pm
GOODBYE SOUTH, GOODBYE was neither the first nor the last time that Hou Hsiao-Hsien delved into the world of petty crime (indeed the subject may be as important to his filmography as Taiwanese history), yet it may be the film where he depicts that world the most empathetically. Viewers who associate Hou Hsiao-Hsien with static long takes may be surprised by how much the camera moves in GOODBYE SOUTH, the director’s immediate follow-up to his renowned trilogy of A CITY OF SADNESS, THE PUPPETMASTER, and GOOD MEN, GOOD WOMEN. The film contains a fair amount of handheld work in addition to frequent pans; there’s even an impressive mobile crane shot. The sense of movement speaks to Hou and screenwriter Chu T’ien-wen’s thematic concern with the vicissitudes of early adulthood. The lives of the principal characters—petty criminals in their 20s—are in flux throughout the movie, which shows them traveling, driving cars or riding motorcycles, and pursuing get-rich-quick schemes. Hou and Chu present all this in an episodic plot that seems to drift (like the characters or the camera) from one misadventure to another—one doesn’t watch the film so much as float through it. The narrative shuttles between the southwestern Taiwanese countryside and Chaiyi city; the characters don’t feel at home either place, as they constantly long for something better. Like many individuals in their 20s, the heroes of GOODBYE SOUTH, GOODBYE are defined by how they’re waiting for their lives to begin. Of course, life is happening all around them as they wait; the film is rich with scenes of cooking, big talk, and random violence. “Is there another film since Warhol with a better sense of just hanging out?” Kent Jones asked in a 1999 Film Comment essay. “It’s about how time feels as it’s passing, about the feeling of simply existing, moving through life as most people do, no big deal, caught in a state of being itchy, nervously under the gun, pressured from outside to perform, to straighten up, to make a little money... The hotel room lair of Gao, Flatty, and Pretzel in GOODBYE SOUTH gets a limited number of compositions that accentuate the boxlike shape of the room. Three almost-losers, spending time together in a cramped room, out of it, their boredom itself a numbing opiate... Hou’s scenes are never ‘studies’ in mood, and they never get into the kind of poetically tinged sociology that is the standard in third-tier French realism. There’s always a balance; every scene is specific, exacting, hitting the right story points. (Here it’s the impossibility of Gao’s situation, his running out of steam after too much scamming and hustling, Flatty and Pretzel’s relative ineptitude, the strange mix of intimacy and annoyance that colors their nomadic, unmoored life together.) But as those points are being made, a space and a mode of being register on our senses through depth, color, hypnotically repeated motion.” (1996, 113 min, 35mm) BS
Hou Hsiao-Hsien's DUST IN THE WIND (Taiwanese Revival)
Filmfront (1740 W. 18th St.) — Saturday, 7pm
With its adagio pacing and steady flow of non-accumulating action (like dust in the...), this could only be the handiwork of everybody's favorite failed pop singer/former small-time crook, Hou Hsiao-Hsien. Admittedly, you could recognize Hou's early stuff from a single frame: that distinctive camera is here, placed firmly but off-handedly, never betraying a sense of rigidity but instead suggesting arbitrariness. Hou's grand slightness—where classical realism is achieved by creating the illusion that a constructed, fictional moment has been recorded capriciously (enhanced here by the naturalistic acting)—is his trademark and litmus test; his major works can appear to be about absolutely nothing or absolutely everything, depending on an audience member's patience and the context within which Hou is working. Lacking the historical/conceptual scaffolding that defines his best-known work (as in A TIME TO LIVE AND A TIME TO DIE, A CITY OF SADNESS, THE PUPPET MASTER or THE FLIGHT OF THE RED BALLOON), DUST IN THE WIND is Hou's tactile realism at its rawest and simplest: pure directorial technique, working industriously towards no major goal except to be itself—to present reality with understated candor. Drawing no attention to either its vignette structure or its pronounced melancholy, it can appear trivial at a glance, but steadily reveals a de-emphasized profundity (what Jonathan Rosenbaum rightly called a "subterranean impact that gradually rises to the surface"). A film of great, submerged depth. (1987, 109 min, 16mm) IV
Dietrich de Velsa’s EQUATION TO AN UNKNOWN (French Adult Revival)
Music Box Theatre — Friday and Saturday, Midnight
This striking French gay adult film (definitely X-rated) was recently brought back to light through the efforts of director Yann Gonzalez, who heard about it during his research for his film KNIFE+HEART and, miraculously, found the negative in a film lab nearly 40 years later. It’s directed by Francis Savel (under the pseudonym Dietrich de Velsa), who was briefly a one-time film actor (a couple of 1960s credits), a painter, and a “transvestite” cabaret owner. He also worked in some varying capacities on Joseph Losey’s MR. KLEIN and DON GIOVANNI. This is, apparently, his only film as a director, and there is precious little information about him online (I’ve told you most of it). The film itself is quite remarkable. The loose plot is about a motorcycle-riding twentysomething who has a series of sexual encounters, as he seems to try to reconcile with his gay identity and his attraction to his friend. Part Caravaggio (the painter and the film), part late-period Robert Bresson (see THE DEVIL PROBABLY’s lighting and color), and part Wakefield Poole’s BIJOU, the film is a beautiful to look at, with Savel/de Velsa’s painterly instincts for composition, light, shadow, and color in clear evidence. The sex scenes play out as visual tableaux, with more attention to small details and the configuration of bodies in space than to satisfying more primal urges. It’s a film about looks and glances, those of voyeuristic desires and of active cruising. It’s also, like many 1970s American gay adult films, about place and landscape. The fringe, working-class apartments, bars, and factories and the surrounding barren industrialized locations will look familiar to viewers who know Joe Gage’s early films or Fred Halsted’s L.A. PLAYS ITSELF. This grittier aspect of the film is contrasted in particular by the near ritual-like quality of the initial sex scene and especially by a lengthy fantasy/dream sequence at the end, another staple of many 1970’s American films, though here given perhaps more psychological weight and an almost Cocteau-like quality. This clearly isn’t a film for everyone, but it’s a prime example of the artistry to be found in 1970s gay adult cinema. (1980, 99 min, DCP Digital) PF
THE DOC10 FILM FESTIVAL
Davis Theater — Friday-Sunday
The Doc10 Film Festival continues at the Davis Theater Friday-Sunday, with nine additional documentary features.
Luke Lorentzen’s MIDNIGHT FAMILY
Often, calling attention to exceptional cinematography in documentary films feels like a form of superficial praise. But in the case of MIDNIGHT FAMILY, Luke Lorentzen’s keenly-observed, immersive portrait of a family-run private ambulance in Mexico City, what makes the cinematography so remarkable goes right to the core of the complex ethical and economic terrain the film covers. On the surface, the film’s nocturnal neon cast is certainly impressive, evoking an urban landscape saturated by the light of permanent emergency. But the shrewdness of Lorentzen’s cinematography is largely a measure of his framing, which is both intuitive and assured. The context of MIDNIGHT FAMILY is framed sparely, offering only two terse title cards to set the scene: “In Mexico City, the government operates fewer than 45 emergency ambulances for a population of 9 million. A loose system of private ambulances has taken over much of the city’s emergency healthcare.” MIDNIGHT FAMILY scrutinizes this chaotic industry through the windows of one ambulance, operated by the Ochoa family, as they scramble across the city in search of accidents–and, hopefully, cash. A crew of one, Lorentzen directed, shot, and edited MIDNIGHT FAMILY, spending over 80 nights riding along with the Ochoas. Like his protagonists, who range in age from early adolescence to middle-age, his two widescreen cameras take in a lot. One, mounted on the hood, is trained fixedly on the ambulance cab, where generational family dynamics and split-second navigations play out through a reflected veil of city lights. The other moves more fluidly in and around the cramped vehicle, which becomes an arena for negotiations of life, and death, and money. Lorentzen’s cool-headed compositions wisely push the physical carnage off-screen, deflecting accusations of voyeurism and keeping the focus on the responders rather than on the victims. But violence pervades the image nonetheless, in the form of vastly unequal and corrupt systems that deny care to those in need and which ask private citizens like the Ochoas to absorb, often at their own expense, the responsibility of the civic institutions. Financial considerations inform every decision the Ochoas make; tellingly, some of the film’s most thrilling high-speed rides proceed not from but to the scenes of potentially lucrative accidents, where the family scrambles to arrive ahead of their competition. When they do make some money, the police inevitably take a cut, compounding the sense that corruption and profiteering is always in the night air. Embedded with the Ochoas, Lorentzen breathes that same air, and edits the film with a respiratory rhythm that brackets frenzied emergency responses with deep exhalations of anxious stillness. As his subjects wait tensely for the next shot at a bloody payday, arguing about how to cut costs and emotionally recounting rescues gone wrong, one realizes that the Ochoas are as traumatized by the system they occupy as the accident victims they subsist on. Despite its seemingly narrow focus, MIDNIGHT FAMILY offers broad insight into a society in a state of emergency. Director Luke Lorentzen and producer Kellen Quinn in attendance. (2019, 90 min, Digital Projection) MM
Jennifer Baichwal, Edward Burtynsky, and Nicholas de Pencier's ANTHROPOCENE: THE HUMAN EPOCH
The third collaboration of filmmakers Jennifer Baichwal and Nicolas De Pencier with photographer Edward Burtynsky, ANTHROPOCENE: THE HUMAN EPOCH positions Burtynsky’s sensational (or sensationalizing) environmental landscape photography within something like a technical glossary of climate change. The title describes our post-industrial geological epoch, in which human activity impacts every aspect of the Earth’s ecosystem; the film is divided into sections that address different buzzwords (“Extraction,” “Technofossils,” “Anthroturbation,” etc.) of modern geo-engineering. Neither the lingo nor the concept of the Anthropocene itself are as up-to-date as the filmmakers seem to believe, but that doesn’t really matter when the bulk of the film is given over to a visual rhetoric as old as the industrial revolution itself: monumental landscapes of the industrial sublime. Global resource trade, like climate change, notoriously confounds our comprehension, and Burtynsky’s signature move is to marshal images of large-scale devastation as a way of gesturing towards that complexity. Though they may boggle the eye, however, there’s nothing particularly complicated about a large open-pit coal mine—certainly not compared to the supply chains that support them, or to the distantly-distributed effects of carbon release that they precipitate. It’s a critical cliché to call these earth-swallowing surveys of potash mines, marble quarries, and waste dumps pornographic, but the imbalance between the film’s visual indulgence and its intellectual poverty only heightens the sense that underneath the scientific jargon, Baichwal, De Pencier, and Burtynsky are effectively peddling drone-powered, mondo-style exploitation for a post-2°C planet. Like Jacopetti and Prosperi’s AFRICA ADDIO (1966), which reduced colonized Africans to either victims or perpetrators of violence, ANTHROPOCENE: THE HUMAN EPOCH flattens distinctions between the humans who create and who suffer from climate change. “We are all implicated,” Alicia Vikander’s summary voiceover does eventually concede, “some far more profoundly than others.” But the film does very little to spell out such distinctions, neglecting to show the investors and industrialists who truly benefit from these destructive economies. Instead, ANTHROPOCENE cynically positions working people as the human face of climate change: the only culprits on display are the miners, crane operators, and factory workers whose subsistence depends on their complicity. One particularly odious sequence links the logging industry in Lagos to the city’s colossal megachurches and waste dumps, scaling up to view the overclogged city from on high; I hear insidious echoes of Paul R. Ehrlich’s controversial book The Population Bomb, which raised the bogeyman of third-world overpopulation to reintroduce eugenics to polite liberal discourse. Ehrlich used black and brown people as a scapegoat for the growth-mad globalization, and the concept of the Anthropocene itself has been questioned for its blanket attribution of environmental violence to the entire human species rather than to specific, largely Western regimes of colonialism and capitalism. The critique pertains to the film as well—neither its jargon, nor its sublime tableaux, can make up for its central failures to engage with the complexity of its subject and to expose the structures of power that often turn victims of climate change into its foot soldiers. All that being said—and perhaps this is just the conservationist in me talking—I’m not sure we can consign ANTHROPOCENE: THE HUMAN EPOCH so quickly to the landfill of bad objects. Despite their strategic silences and their Romanticism, its images still speak powerfully to the abject horror of modern ecocide. Your average ANTHROPOCENE viewer will probably not walk out any more ignorant of the crisis than they did walking in. They may even feel motivated to do something about it—not that the film offers any real solutions. Of course, I’d rather have a film more informative, more critical, more reflexive, more prescriptive—but with an emergency this severe, we should take whatever we can get. If I can credit ANTHROPOCENE: THE HUMAN EPOCH for telling me anything I didn’t already know, it’s that even the most politically and intellectually dubious climate documentaries are better than nothing. (2018, 97 min, Digital Projection) MM
Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhang's ONE CHILD NATION
Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhang's ONE CHILD NATION isn't interested in plumbing the depths of Chinese academic demography, the political backdrop in which China's one-child policy took hold from 1979 to 2015, or even the epic scale of the long-term population impacts. In a way the film, like many Chinese citizens, view the policy as an inevitability. To wit, a 2008 Pew survey registers a Tom Hanksian level of approval (76%) amongst Chinese citizens for the restrictive policy. Rather for Wang and Zhang it's the lived experience of their family during this period and the grisly realities of implementing such a mandate that the directors train their sights on to deliver ONE CHILD NATION's gut-punch insights. Through interviews with relatives and acquaintances, Wang—with infant son in tow for effect—demonstrates the lose-lose-lose scenarios in which compliance was carried out: First, through government-sponsored abortions and forced sterilization; second, through the abandonment of newborn babies in public spaces; and third, through the confiscation and essential laundering of babies through the international adoption system. Artist Peng Wang, who photographed abandoned fetuses in junkyards, observed that as China moves beyond its one-child policy, "the most tragic thing for a nation is to have no memory." By giving a face and a voice to the circumstances outlined above, ONE CHILD NATION ensures a new generation has the lessons of a generation lost seared into its memory. Followed by a Skype Q&A with director Nanfu Wang. (2019, 85 min, DCP Digital) JS
Penny Lane's HAIL SATAN?
From the incredibly talented experimental documentarian who brought us the features OUR NIXON and NUTS, and notable shorts like THE VOYAGERS and (my personal favorite) THE COMMONERS, HAIL SATAN? is a delightful and surprisingly un-experimental documentary about the Satanic Temple. Not to be confused with the Church of Satan, the Satanic Temple is a nontheistic religious organization (think "secular humanism," but with cool tattoos and black t-shirts) that aims to illustrate, through wildly entertaining satire and literal interpretations of first amendment rights, what should be obvious: church and state should be kept separate, and Christianity is not the national religion. This, of course, drives the religious right nuts, and we get to watch the outrage unfold. Indeed, the subject matter of HAIL SATAN? is almost too easy to enjoy, and could perhaps have benefitted from a bit more of the pluralism the Satanic Temple asserts forms the core of our democracy. What do the atheists think? The (less fun) secular humanists? They don't seem to have a voice in HAIL SATAN?, but we do hear from lawmakers and protesters on the religious right who speak with passionate candor about how much they hate these damn Satanists. That is the only critique I have of this fantastic documentary, though—the tone is pitch perfect, as one would only expect from Penny Lane. Her expert interviewing skills draw out her subjects and animate the Temple's increasing media attention and civil actions with wry humor. Her creative use of archival footage is much less prominent than in her previous work, with so much content already at hand in archival news and phone footage, but vintage religious films and an irresistible clip of Tim Curry from LEGEND are always apt and quite funny. By the time the credits roll, HAIL SATAN? makes the Satanic Temple so disarmingly charming, you might very well end up wanting to join this quite reasonable non-religious crusade. Is there a mailing list I can sign up for? Followed by a Q&A with director Penny Lane. (2018, 95 min, Digital Projection) AE
Simon Lereng Wilmont’s THE DISTANT BARKING OF DOGS
Though it’s just 90 minutes, Simon Lereng Wilmont’s THE DISTANT BARKING OF DOGS nevertheless feels like an epic work—like a novel that contains the scope of all humanity pared down to its most basic truths. Filmed over a year in a small eastern Ukrainian village called Hnutove, it follows a 10-year-old boy named Oleg as he and his family contend with life in a war zone, residing just a mile away from where Ukrainian military and pro-Russian separatists continue to fight; he lives with his grandmother, Alexandra, and, for at least part of the film, his aunt and cousin. Oleg and Alexandra visit his mother’s grave, the boy whispering that he misses her and asking if she misses him, too, though her cause of death and the whereabouts of his father are never revealed. Rather, the film centers around the family’s daily life in the contentious region, not so much about what’s happening as much as how it impacts those around whom it’s happening. It’s in this way that the film is almost literary in its approach, with poignancy gleaned through seeming minutiae. Alexandra’s voiceover accompanies the images, her insights on life and the war resounding like the prudent remarks of a classic text. Even her telling Oleg not to play with guns sounds like a quotable adage: “One shouldn’t take weapons into one’s hands.” Wilmont’s depiction of boyhood is similarly momentous; the idle chatter of little boys is near poetic despite its frequent indelicacy. At times it recalls Ozu, specifically his 1959 film GOOD MORNING—multigenerational relationships and fart jokes factor into both, and, just as with Ozu, a distinct sadness underlies the scant joyful moments in DISTANT BARKING. Other, more literary archetypes come to mind with the background figures, including Oleg’s aunt, who’s fallen in love with a soldier called Igor, and an older boy named Kostya, who’s sort of a Huckleberry Finn to Oleg’s Tom Sawyer, enticing him into trouble while also providing much-needed companionship. Interwoven into the film via more primitively shot footage are scenes of the actual fighting, beguiling in their severity. The impact of the war looms heavy over the film just as it does the subjects themselves; at one point, Alexandra addresses the anxiety with her doctor, who tells her, “Have some warm herbal tea after the shelling ends.” Despite its intrinsic horror, the film is beautifully shot, expounding the dichotomy of terrible things happening in a still-beautiful world, to people no less remarkable because of the circumstances in which they exist. It's an astonishing achievement—even if one might need a cup of warm herbal tea after watching it. Followed by a Skype Q&A with director Simon Lereng Wilmont. (2017, 90 min, Digital Projection) KS
Lew Landers’ POWER OF THE PRESS (American Revival)
Chicago Film Society (at Northeastern Illinois University, The Auditorium, Building E, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. — Wednesday, 7:30pm
There really is nothing new under the sun, and brisk B programmer POWER OF THE PRESS is the proof. New York Gazette publisher John Cleveland Carter (Minor Watson), who has been manipulated by his powerful second-in-command (Otto Kruger) and circulation-hungry managing editor (Lee Tracy) into attacking U.S. involvement in World War II, is shamed by old friend Ulysses Bradford (Guy Kibbee) into reversing course and revealing who the traitors in the newspaper’s midst are. He is gunned down before he can name names, and on his deathbed, he makes Bradford, a small-town Iowa newsman, the new publisher. The struggle to clean up a paper that publishes, as Bradford calls it, “fake news” and covers up its own crimes with frame-ups and murder is a story ripped from our own headlines more than 70 years before they were written. The film is so shockingly contemporary, I wonder if members of the current administration might have cribbed the jingoistic dialogue and perverse ideas—including Bradford’s misguided policy of both-sides-ism—from screenwriter Robert Hardy Andrews and Sam Fuller, who came up with the story. Gloria Dickson in the honorary man role of Carter’s secretary is the spur to action, and future blacklistee Larry Parks plays a blacklisted reporter. Preceded by the CFS’s new preservation print of Orlando Lippert’s 1950 sponsored documentary THE EDITOR’S NOTEBOOK (28 min, 35mm). Introduced by Chicago Tribune columnist and WGN Radio host Rick Kogan. (1943, 64 min, 35mm) MF
Michael Engler’s THE CHAPERONE (New Australian/British/American)
There seems to be reliable market for prestige British movies and television shows that emerges generation after generation, if my tween-age obsession with the 1967 BBC television drama The Forsyte Saga and the more recent fandom of Downton Abbey are any indication. Baron Julian Alexander Kitchener-Fellowes, the mastermind behind Downton, turns his hermetic attention to the colonies, adapting for the screen Laura Moriarty’s novel The Chaperone, which focuses on a fictional middle-age woman who acts as chaperone to future film star Louise Brooks when she leaves Kansas at age 16 to attend the Denishawn School of Dancing and Related Arts in New York. I have been a fan of Elizabeth McGovern’s since I saw her on stage at the Goodman Theatre in 1980 in Dwarfman: Master of a Million Shapes (she made her film debut that year in ORDINARY PEOPLE) and have enjoyed watching her grow into more mature roles. She brings a lot of sympathy and feeling to her character, Norma Carlisle, the proper Wichita chaperone who learns a lot about herself, from tracing her birth mother to finding a way to be with a lover and still keep up appearances, over the course of the film. Haley Lu Richardson bears a superficial resemblance to Brooks and can act and dance—director Engler was right to film several longish dance sequences—but lacking the magnetism Brooks had, she substitutes coquettishness for raw sexuality. Child sexual abuse and homosexuality come up in what might have been an attempt to offer some contemporary bite, but the film is toothless as compared with what audiences were able to see in the 1920s, the period in which the majority of this film is set. (2018, 108 min, DCP Digital) MF
Howard Hawks' TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT (American Revival)
Music Box Theatre — Sunday, 11:30am and Tuesday, 7pm
Adapted by William Faulkner and Jules Furthman from what Howard Hawks described as Ernest Hemingway's worst novel, TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT stars Humphrey Bogart as a professional fisherman named Harry Morgan and Lauren Bacall as Marie "Slim" Browning, with whom Harry falls in love. Set in Martinique in the summer of 1940 shortly after France fell to the Nazis, a bartender at Harry's hotel pleads with him to transport members of the French Resistance between the islands, but Harry stubbornly refuses, determining to stay out of politics. He soon changes his mind when a former client skips out on paying him needed money. Hemingway denied Hawks' ability to make a good film out of "a god damned bunch of junk," but Hawks responded, "Yes I can. You've got the character of Harry Morgan." Although TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT features the budding romance between Harry and Slim, it also centers on Harry's place within the fight between Vichy France and the Resistance on a small Caribbean island. Throughout the film's entirety, Harry repeatedly emphasizes his unwillingness to take sides, in consequence isolating himself from a society that demands he choose. In a brief conversation about the end result of politics and its wars, he may tell us his reason, "I've handled quite a lot of gunshot wounds." Hawks often recycled themes and plots; his most common theme resembles that of Hemingway: to fulfill one's duty in the face of daunting odds. Although Harry does not fight for a cause, he still follows a code that first requires him to be a moral human being. Harry's code compels him to protect Slim and his friend Eddie and to save the lives of two members of the Resistance simply because it is the right thing to do. In his great essay on Hawks from the early 1950s, Jacques Rivette said, "Hawks epitomizes the highest qualities of the American cinema: he is the only American director who knows how to draw a moral. His marvelous blend of action and morality is probably the secret to his genius. It is not an idea that is fascinating in a Hawks film, but its effectiveness. A deed holds our attention not so much for its intrinsic beauty as for its effect on the inner workings of his universe." Hemingway's character of Harry Morgan adapted by Faulkner and Hawks provided the master director with the perfect vehicle to express his singular form of genius. (1944, 100 min, 35mm) CW
Zhangke Jia’s ASH IS PUREST WHITE (New Chinese)
Landmark Century Centre — Check Venue website for showtimes
Set over the course of nearly seventeen years (from 2001-2018) and taking place in three distinct periods, ASH IS PUREST WHITE is a gangland drama with an eye for romance and the rapidly-evolving modernity of China during that time. Qiao (Tao Zhao) is the girlfriend of highly respected Bin (Fan Liao), a mob boss in a small town in the Shanxi region. Although she does not consider herself to be jianghu (gangster, within the context of this film) like Bin and his cohorts, she crosses that line when she’s forced to fire a gun to save his life when a rival gang nearly kills him, sending her to jail for five years as a result. Once free from prison, Qiao sets out to rekindle her flame with Bin and must learn about the changes of nature within herself and their relationship dynamic. Zhangke Jia’s film is simultaneously patient yet breakneck. When viewing each segment as a whole, the narrative unfolds in a realistic fashion with each plot point flowing into the next. It’s only when the chapters are juxtaposed against one another that the daunting passage of time and all that it implies, both for the characters and the era of China being depicted, are realized. In addition to some more overt signs showing these time jumps, Jia plays with the film’s color hue to further signify the importance of these skips. Greens, yellows, whites, and other colors all help to invoke an emotional response from the audience and help to enhance our understanding of Qiao’s situation. The rubber band-like nature of Qiao and Bin’s relationship, in which neither can be too far from the other emotionally before snapping back, is what makes up the film’s core. Zhao’s performance alone makes for enthralling viewing; add in Jia’s finesse for detail and ASH IS PUREST WHITE stands tall as a modern take on the gangster film. (2018, 136 min, DCP Digital) KC
Orson Welles' THE IMMORTAL STORY (French Revival)
Gene Siskel Film Center — Tuesday, 6pm
If Orson Welles' post-RKO career can be said to have a shape, it culminated with his previous film, the magisterial CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT. His final completed works, F FOR FAKE, FILMING OTHELLO, and this adaptation of a Karen Blixen work, come from a different kind of filmmaker, working in a different sort of mode. The grand themes of Welles' career up until this—the radical, impossible tactility of shapes on screen, the masculine body made monstrous, the prisonhouse of cinematic space, and the infectious evil of bigotry as the engine of capitalism—effervesce away in his last three features. With Welles working now for the first time in color, THE IMMORTAL STORY, made for French television in 1966 and released theatrically in 1968, reveals a him to be fascinated suddenly more than ever before with the material basis of cinema, with the fakery of its mechanisms and how that very falsity is responsible for its capacity for beauty. Something of a four-character chamber piece, the film features Welles playing a fabulously rich merchant dying in 19th century China, heavily made-up with a grotesque false nose and an astonishing mustache. Lost within his pains, Clay, Welles' character, commands his private secretary to read to him every night, but, lost within his own avarice, Clay finds solace only within bound copies of his own financial records. When at last these are exhausted, he remembers a story he once heard, perhaps the only story he has ever truly heard, of a sailor paid to sleep with the young wife of a dying millionaire. Disgusted when he realizes the story is fiction, he determines to engineer it from lie to prophesy and finally to honest fact. What follows is a somber, somewhat awkward, explosion of narrative recursion as Clay induces a prostitute to pretend to be his bride so that he can hire a sailor to deflower her, all the while ignorant that she is actually the daughter of Clay's former business partner whom he had betrayed in her youth. Jagged, uncomfortable cuts slash through people's movements. Weirdly off-putting compositions turn private conversations into zoo-like displays of sadness and misunderstanding. A sex scene erupts on screen with all the discordant horrors of a natural disaster. His next feature, F FOR FAKE, would turn the understated and quiet ruminations here into a tour-de-force of experimentation, reinventing the very form of cinema, but THE IMMORTAL STORY has less flamboyant ambitions: merely to dwell within the impossible world of deceitful excellence. Film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum lectures. (1968, 58 min, Digital Projection) KB
Takeshi Kitano’s FIREWORKS [HANA-BI] (Japanese Revival)
Filmfront (1740 W. 18th St.) — Thursday, 7pm (Introduction); 8pm (Film)
A joke: What's Takeshi Kitano's preferred type of shot? … The deadpan. Silly, yes, but perhaps relevant to Kitano, also known as “Beat” Takeshi, a stage name he assumed as one half of the wildly popular Japanese comedy duo Two Beat. (Comedy is just one among his many talents; he’s also an actor, a screenwriter, a television host, and an author.) The pair, consisting of Kitano and his friend Nirō Kaneko, belonged to a genre of Japanese comedy called manzai, involving a straight man—tsukkomi—and a funny man—boke, Kitano’s role in the duo—engaging in humorous banter at great speed. Videos of their act are available on YouTube, and they make for an odd pairing with most any of the films he directed; within minutes, it’s clear that his directorial style, which foregrounds silence over spiel and stillness over frenzy, is vastly different from that of his comedy. FIREWORKS (HANA-BI) is one of many examples of this within his oeuvre, as well as the first of his films to achieve international success, having won the Golden Lion award at the 54th Venice International Film Festival. Dubbed by renowned Japanese film critic Nagaharu Yodogawa as “the true successor to Kurosawa" and often compared to Buster Keaton (much like Jackie Chan, whose POLICE STORY and POLICE STORY 2 played in town recently, though Kitano’s affinity may be even more personal—a 1994 motorcycle accident left his face partially paralyzed, hence his own stony facade), Kenji Mizoguchi, and even Yasujiro Ozu, Kitano’s style is nonetheless singular, existing on its own scale, with one end being disaffected sentiment, evoked most fully in his 1991 outlier-masterpiece A SCENE AT THE SEA, and the other extreme brutality, exemplified in his 1989 directorial debut, the aptly titled VIOLENT COP. FIREWORKS is among those firmly in the middle, a mix of sober violence and wistful emotion—for every bloody encounter, there’s a lovely scene between the beleaguered protagonist and his sweet, sickly wife. Kitano stars as Nishi, a police detective who abandons the force after a shootout that leaves one of his colleagues dead and two others gravely injured. Things hadn’t been going much better up to that point: his young daughter had previously died, his wife is terminally ill, and he’s borrowing money from the yakuza to keep up with her medical care. After the shootout, Nishi robs a bank to get funds to take his wife on a trip and provide for those affected by the incident, one of whom starts painting. The artwork in the film is actually Kitano’s own, the uncommon auteur having taken up the practice after his accident. I won’t make a case for Kitano as an especially brilliant painter, but his work possesses a quality much like his films, that of rare stillness and an indelible peculiarity. A similar sense of ineffable wonder tinges both, displaying a purity of form that defies categorization. Though not always apparent, there is humor in Kitano’s funereal work, but it’s a humor born of unabashed melancholy, maybe similar to that of the proverbial straight man he played against early in his career—his may not be a great stone face, but rather a great stone heart, palpable but impenetrable. Introduced by Davide Cazzaro, publisher and editor-in-chief of Nang Magazine. (1997, 103 min, Digital Projection) KS
Ernst Lubitsch's TROUBLE IN PARADISE (American Revival)
Northbrook Public Library (1201 Cedar Lane, Northbrook) — Wednesday, 1 and 7pm
Wes Anderson has made no secret of the influence Ernst Lubitsch's films had on his most recent release, THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL. He's openly cited several of the German-born director's films as direct inspiration, including one of Lubitsch's first feature-length non-musical pre-Code comedies, TROUBLE IN PARADISE. Upon seeing THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL, Lubitsch's influence is obvious—in one scene, Monsieur Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes) advises his elderly lady love, Madame D. (Tilda Swinton), on her choice of nail color. In another, as Madame D. lays in her coffin, Gustave sees that she changed it just before her death. Both are reminiscent of similar scenes from TROUBLE IN PARADISE, in which the lovable crook Gaston Monescu (Herbert Marshall) critiques Madame Mariette Colet's (Kay Francis) choice of lipstick and powder; in another scene, he notices that she's taken his suggestions to heart. In Anderson's film, other characters speculate as to Gustave's sexuality, oftentimes in an accusatory way that is more derogatory than humorous. In Lubitsch's film there's no doubt that Gaston is heterosexual, but the important distinction between the films isn't one's perception of a character's sexuality—it's that, in Lubitsch's world, those very qualities are synonymous with refinement, the essence of a sophistication that largely comprises what is known as "The Lubitsch Touch," something that is now largely absent from American cinema. His fourth collaboration with screenwriter Sam Raphaelson and derived as usual from underwhelming source material, it's the story of two love-struck crooks and the target who comes between them. At the beginning of the film, in the midst of another robbery, Gaston meets and falls in love with Lily (Miriam Hopkins), another thief from his side of the tracks. Together they leave Venice and travel to Paris, where they become entangled with Madame Colet, a widowed perfume manufacturer. The film's title refers to the disruption brought to their relationship by Gaston and Mariette's newfound infatuation, a riff on the phrase often used to described marital discord, though it could also be applied to the tenuous economic times in which the characters are operating. Though hardly a political director, Lubitsch includes one scene in which a disheveled Communist berates Madame Colet for her exorbitance, which acts, in addition to Gaston and Lily's low social class, as an acknowledgment of the financial depression that was then affecting the Western world. Such inclusions don't detract from one's enjoyment of the luxury and frivolity for which Lubitsch is primarily known, but instead act as a metaphor for moviegoing itself. It's not necessarily escapism, but a divorce from realism that makes this untraditional romcom a shining example of "The Lubitsch Touch," and definitely one from which any contemporary director can learn a thing or two. (1932, 83 min, DCP Digital) KS
Jonathan Demme's STOP MAKING SENSE (Documentary Revival)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) — Thursday, 9:30pm
In nearly every shot, STOP MAKING SENSE makes the case that Demme may be the greatest director of musical performance in American cinema. It isn't difficult to convey the joy of making music, but Demme's attention to the interplay between musicians (and, in some inspired moments, between the musicians and their crew) conveys the imagination, hard work, and camaraderie behind any good song. And, needless to say, the songs here are very, very good. By this point (the performances are culled from three concerts from 1983), Talking Heads were the headiest American band to achieve their degree of success, and they made the most of it, doubling their line-up to include back-up singers and a few instrumentalists from the golden years of George Clinton's Funkadelic. It's never openly acknowledged that the five new members are black and the Heads are white; the sheer creativity of the music, which fuses everything from soul to traditional African rhythms to then-advanced electronic effects, is fully utopian in its spirit. (1984, 88 min, DCP Projection) BS
Christian Petzold’s TRANSIT (New German/French)
Music Box Theatre — Saturday, 11:45am
An antifascist German’s desperate flight from Paris to Marseilles as the Nazis start to overrun France becomes a metaphysical journey in which his very identity is subsumed to the needs of the wife (Paula Beer) of a writer who, unbeknownst to her, committed suicide when she abandoned him in Paris. The man (Franz Rogowski) assumes her husband’s identity and lets go of self-interest to secure her transit documents to escape Marseilles, where other refugees are waiting fruitlessly to be delivered from evil. There is much in TRANSIT that will remind viewers of CASABLANCA (1942), thus continuing director Christian Petzold’s riffs on cinematic history—Herk Harvey’s CARNIVAL OF SOULS (1962) and Georges Franju’s EYES WITHOUT A FACE (1960) are clear inspirations for his YELLA (2007) and PHOENIX (2014), respectively. However, Petzold’s source material is Anna Seghers’ Transit, a renowned 1944 novel based on her own experience as a German exile trapped in Marseilles in 1940–41. His recurring themes of the permeability of identity, betrayal, the complex nature of love, and the ghosts that haunt humanity are married to a sympathetic examination of the current refugee crisis in Europe by setting his film in the present and populating it with Arab refugees. By straddling the present and the past, he effectively renders history and our willful amnesia accomplices to atrocity. (2018, 101 min, DCP Digital) MF
Akira Kurosawa's STRAY DOG (Japanese Revival)
Like David Lean in England (and at almost the exact same time), Akira Kurosawa didn't graduate from popular cinema so much as expand it to epic proportions. For cinephiles ranging from Pauline Kael to George Lucas, their careers represent the validation of filmmaking itself—a transformation of pop culture into myth. For others, Kurosawa's ever-ballooning grandeur simply yields a cinema of contradictions, where constant appeals to awe nullify the modest pleasures of storytelling that made his early work so satisfying. Coming just before RASHOMON, his breakthrough into more serious filmmaking, STRAY DOG finds Kurosawa at the peak of his craft before reaching for even greater thematic heights. The movie is a gripping, often intense detective story built around a rich depiction of post-war Tokyo. Toshiro Mifune stars as the young detective Murakami, whose search for his stolen gun takes him into the city's developing underworld. It's a film memorable for its cramped alleyways, sweltering police stations, and darkened clubs: With each location so essential to the story's momentum, all take on a strong identity, making the city something of a character itself. But there are some pressing themes beneath the style, rather than slathered on top of it. Writing on the film's violence in his Criterion Collection essay, Chris Fujiwara notes: "In STRAY DOG, action solves no wider problems—only the immediate ones of recovering the gun and catching the criminal—and yields no release. It's tangential to the larger sphere of society, as Kurosawa stresses in the climactic sequence by shifting our attention from the cop and the culprit to a young woman practicing piano nearby; and even within its own sphere (of narrative cause and effect), it is unsatisfying and inconclusive." (1949, 122 min, Digital Projection) BS
Jean-Pierre Melville's LE SAMOURAI (French Revival)
Alliance Française (54 W. Chicago Ave.) — Saturday, 1:30pm
For many cinephiles—among them John Woo and Johnnie To—this is the quintessential Jean-Pierre Melville film. Alain Delon plays a hitman who lives by a private code inspired by that of the samurai: he says little, requires few possessions, and acts in precise, deliberate gestures. In a sense, he is the ideal hero for this famously eccentric filmmaker, who based his career on whittling down the crime film into a minimal, personal form. As Roger Ebert wrote in his “Great Movies” review: “The elements of the film... are as familiar as the movies themselves. Melville loved 1930s Hollywood crime movies and in his own work helped to develop modern film noir. There is nothing absolutely original in LE SAMOURAI except for the handling of the material. Melville pares down and leaves out. He disdains artificial action sequences and manufactured payoffs. He drains the color from his screen and the dialogue from his characters.” And yet the movie is rich in double-crosses and hidden motives—as well as a seductive sense of movement (assisted by a keen, deco-inspired production design) that mirrors the hero's own progression. To quote Ebert's review again: “One of the pleasures of LE SAMOURAI is to realize how complicated the plot has grown, in its flat, deadpan way.... The movie teaches us how action is the enemy of suspense—how action releases tension, instead of building it.” (1967, 105 min, Video Projection) BS
MORE SCREENINGS AND EVENTS
The Chicago Film Society and the Music Box Theatre (at the Music Box) screen Gregory La Cava's 1921 silent film HIS NIBS (56 min, 35mm archival print) on Saturday at 11:30am. Preceded by Gregory LaCava's 1916 Happy Hooligan cartoon HE TRIES THE MOVIES AGAIN (2 min, 35mm restored archival print). Live accompaniment by Dennis Scott.
The Conversations at the Edge series (at the Gene Siskel Film Center) presents Dawn Chan and Mary Flanagan: On Power and Play in Virtual Worlds on Thursday at 6pm, with critics Chan and Flanagan in person. They will participate in an illustrated conversation about new technology, gaming, and digital art.
Also at Block Cinema (Northwestern University) this week: Frank Cole's 2000 Canadian documentary LIFE WITHOUT DEATH (82 min, 16mm) is on Friday at 7pm; and the shorts program Auto-Erotic: Female Sexuality in the First Person is on Wednesday at 7pm. Included are: Carolee Schneemann’s 1967 experimental film FUSES (22 min, 16mm restored print), Arthur Ginsberg and Video Free America's 1970-75 experimental documentary THE CONTINUING STORY OF CAREL AND FERD (59 min, Digital Projection), and Barbara DeGenevieve's 2004-06 video DESPERADO (31 min, Digital Projection). Free admission.
Chicago Filmmakers (5720 N. Ridge Ave.) screens local filmmaker Ruth Leitman's 1998 documentary ALMA (94 min, Digital Projection) on Saturday at 7pm, with Leitman in person. Showing as part of CF’s monthly Dyke Delicious series.
The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago screens a program of experimental videos by Zachary Epcar on Friday at 7pm, with Epcar in person. Screening are: UNDER THE HEAT LAMP AN OPENING (2014, 10 min), NIGHT SWELLS (2015, 5 min), RETURN TO FORMS (2016, 10 min), LIFE AFTER LOVE (2018, 8 min), and a new work. All digital projection.
The Art Institute of Chicago and SAIC's Visiting Artist Program present an artist talk with video maker and artist Martha Rosler on Tuesday at 6pm in the museum's Rubloff Auditorium.
Comfort Film at Comfort Station Logan Square (2579 N. Milwaukee Ave.) presents Sara Goodman: Video Worship (approx. 90 min, Digital Projection), a program of "CRT Installations, video art, music videos, and animations," on Wednesday at 8pm. Showing as part of Comfort Film's Guest Curator Series and presented by new media artist, poet, curator, VJ, and teacher Sara Goodman. Free admission.
Decima Musa Private Events Venue (1901 S. Loomis) hosts a screening of "Where Is My Refuge?," a new episode of Andre Perez's trans-focused documentary webseries AMERICA IN TRANSITION, on Friday at 6pm, with Perez and Assistant Producer Karari Olvera Orozco in person. Co-presented by #keepingitLITE (a research study at Cook County Health). The event includes musical performances by Atlantis Sunshine and NAXÖ. Free admission, but register for tickets at https://bit.ly/2X2d35V.
Asian Pop-Up Cinema screens Gillian McKercher's 2018 Canadian film CIRCLE OF STEEL (85 min, Digital Projection) on Friday at 6:30pm at Columbia College Chicago (1104 S. Wabash, Room 310), with McKercher and actress Chantelle Han in person; Deok-jae Jeonghuh, Jang-ha Ryu, Chang-mo Yoon, and Jong-hyeon Yang's 2018 South Korean omnibus film THE PENSION (113 min, Digital Projection) on Tuesday at 7pm at AMC River East 21, with co-director Deok-jae Jeonghuh in person; and Hyun-young Choi's 2018 South Korean/Japanese film MEMORIES OF A DEAD END (90 min, Digital Projection) on Wednesday at 7pm at AMC River East 21, with Hyun-young Choi in person.
Also at the Northbrook Public Library (1201 Cedar Lane, Northbrook) this week: Mimi Leder's 2018 film ON THE BASIS OF SEX (120 min, DCP Digital; the 2pm show is open captioned) is on Saturday at 2 and 7pm; and Richard Kelly's 2001 film DONNIE DARKO (113 min, DCP Digital) is on Thursday at 7pm.
The Park Ridge Classic Film Series (at the Pickwick Theatre, 5 S. Prospect Ave., Park Ridge) screens Charles Walter's 1948 film EASTER PARADE (107 min, Digital Projection) on Wednesday at 1 and 7:30pm.
Also at the Gene Siskel Film Center this week: Patrick Wang's 2018 film A BREAD FACTORY screens in two parts: PART ONE: FOR THE SAKE OF THE GOLD (122 min, DCP Digital) is on Friday at 2pm, Saturday at 2pm (with an introduction by Jonathan Rosenbaum), and Monday at 6pm; and PART TWO: WALK WITH ME A WHILE (120 min, DCP Digital) is on Friday at 4:15pm, Saturday at 4:30pm (with Wang in person), and Wednesday at 6pm; Marc James Roels and Emma de Swaef's 2018 Belgian/French animated film THIS MAGNIFICENT CAKE! (45 min, DCP Digital) [preceded by Roels and de Swaef's 2012 short OH WILLY… (17 min) and Niki Lindroth von Bahr's 2017 Swedish short THE BURDEN (15 min)] plays for a week; Ondi Timoner's 2018 film MAPPLETHORPE (102 min, DCP Digital) has five screenings (Friday-Monday and Thursday); and in the Asian American Showcase: Tim Tsai's 2019 documentary SEADRIFT (68 min, DCP Digital) is on Friday at 8:15pm; Alexandra Cuerdo's 2018 documentary ULAM: MAIN DISH (90 min, DCP Digital) is on Saturday at 8pm, with Cuerdo in person; Adele Pham's 2018 documentary NAILED IT (59 min, DCP Digital) is on Sunday at 5:15pm, with Pham in person; and Bobby Choy and Steve Lee's 2019 US/South Korean film FICTION AND OTHER REALITIES (85 min, DCP Digital) is on Wednesday at 8:15pm.
Selections from the Gene Siskel Film Center’s Black Harvest Film Festival will be screening at BBF Family Services (1512 S. Pulaski Rd.) through mid-May. This week is local filmmaker Pamela Sherrod Anderson's 2018 documentary THE G FORCE (57 min, Digital Projection) on Friday at 6pm, with Anderson in person. Free admission.
Also at Doc Films (University of Chicago) this week: Mamoru Hosoda's 2018 Japanese animated film MIRAI (98 min, DCP Digital) is on Saturday at 7 and 9:30pm and Sunday at 4pm; Akihiko Shiota's 2001 Japanese film HARMFUL INSECT (92 min, 35mm) is on Sunday at 7pm; Claude Chabrol's 1969 French film LA FEMME INFIDELE (98 min, 16mm) is on Monday at 7pm, and his 1959 French film LES COUSINS (109 min, Blu-Ray Projection) is on Monday at 9:30pm; an advance screening of Ramy Youssef's 2019 webseries RAMY (Unconfirmed Running Time, DCP Digital) is on Tuesday at 7pm, with Youssef in person; David Butler's 1953 film BY THE LIGHT OF THE SILVERY MOON (101 min, Digital Projection) is on Tuesday at 9:30pm; and Satyajit Ray's 1959 Indian film THE WORLD OF APU [APUR SANSAR] (106 min, 35mm archival print) is on Wednesday at 7 and 9:30pm.
Also at the Music Box Theatre this week: Kent Jones' 2018 film DIANE (95 min, DCP Digital) opens; Harmony Korine's 2019 film THE BEACH BUM (95 min, DCP Digital) is on Friday, Saturday, Wednesday, and Thursday at 9:40pm; and Alex Proyas' 1994 film THE CROW (102 min, 35mm) is on Friday and Saturday at Midnight.
Facets Cinémathèque plays Simon Fellows' 2018 UK film A DARK PLACE (89 min, Video Projection) and Stephen Burke's 2017 Irish/UK/Swedish/German film MAZE (93 min, Video Projection) for week-long runs.
ONGOING FILM/VIDEO INSTALLATIONS
Local videomaker, artist, writer, activist, and educator Gregg Bordowitz is featured in a career retrospective exhibition, I Wanna Be Well, at the Art Institute of Chicago through July 14.
Isaac Julien’s 2007 video installation THE LEOPARD (WESTERN UNION: SMALL BOATS) is on view at the Block Museum (Northwestern University) through April 14.
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).
CINE-LIST: April 12 - April 18, 2019
MANAGING EDITOR // Patrick Friel
ASSOCIATE EDITORS // Ben Sachs, Kathleen Sachs, Kyle A. Westphal
CONTRIBUTORS // Kian Bergstrom, Edo Choi, Kyle Cubr, Alexandra Ensign, Marilyn Ferdinand, JB Mabe, Michael Metzger, James Stroble, Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, Candace Wirt