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 latest film A BREAD FACTORY, playing at the Gene Siskel Film Center 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.
Lev Kalman and Whitney Horn’s TWO PLAINS & A FANCY (New American)
Facets Cinematheque — Check Venue website for showtimes
Lev Kalman and Whitney Horn’s L FOR LEISURE (2014) is one of the most distinctive American indies of the 2010s, a cerebral shaggy dog comedy that doubles as a meditation on the cultural myths and delusions of the early 1990s. TWO PLAINS & A FANCY, Kalman and Horn’s follow-up feature, builds on the concerns of the previous work, meditating on history on a larger scale. Like LEISURE, it depicts a group of intellectual dandies on vacation, and the lack of narrative drive allows the filmmakers to delve into the characters’ interests, prejudices, and personal shortcomings; as before, Kalman and Horn reveal themselves to be expert caricaturists of the intelligentsia. The time is 1893, the setting is somewhere in Colorado. A watercolor painter, a well-to-do traveler, and a French geologist meet at a train station and take off together to find an ideal hot spring. Over the next three days, the trio traverses a large, undeveloped swath of the state and shoots the breeze like nobody’s business. Kalman and Horn score lots of little laughs off the characters’ social ineptitude, but the film generates interest from the conversations about science, art, and spiritualism as regarded by upper-middle-class intellectuals in the late 19th century. As in LEISURE, the thematic question is how much the audience can relate to the attitudes under consideration. There may be fewer superficial similarities between the characters and us, but this encourages viewers to look deeper at them, look for recognizable patterns in their behavior and attitudes. The 16mm cinematography looks cool as well. (2018, 89 min, Digital Projection) BS
Orson Welles' F FOR FAKE (Documentary Revival)
Gene Siskel Film Center — Friday, 6pm, Saturday, 5pm, and Tuesday, 6pm
One of the greatest accomplishments of Orson Welles' later period, the documentary/essay film/metafiction F FOR FAKE exists in a category all its own. The organizing subject is forgery, as it plays out in the worlds of art and culture. The figures studied by the film include the famous art forger Elmyr de Hory; Clifford Irving, a journalist infamous for falsifying his stories; and, in some eloquent moments of autobiography, Welles himself. The breathtaking editing design, which builds poetic rhymes and ironies out of the various components, feels at least two decades ahead of its time; the implications created by the juxtapositions (often made between reality and illusion) are consistently profound. As Jonathan Rosenbaum wrote for the Criterion Collection release, "As Finnegans Wake was for Joyce, F FOR FAKE was for Welles a playful repository of public history intertwined with private in-jokes as well as duplicitous meanings, an elaborate blend of sense and nonsense that carries us along regardless of what's actually being said. For someone whose public and private identities became so separate that they wound up operating routinely in separate households and sometimes on separate continents, exposure and concealment sometimes figured as reverse sides of the same coin, and Welles's desire to hide inside his own text here becomes a special kind of narcissism." Film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum lectures at the Tuesday screening. (1975, 87 min, 35mm) BS
Satyajit Ray’s THE BIG CITY (Indian Revival)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) — Wednesday, 7 and 9pm
“Like many of [Satyajit] Ray’s greatest films, THE BIG CITY is ultimately a study of individuals negotiating social change, in this case the major shift that occurred in Bengal in the 1950s when increasing numbers of middle-class housewives began to take up jobs,” wrote Cahndak Sengoopta for the Criterion Collection in 2013. “Based on ‘Abataranika’ (Descent, 1949) and, to a lesser extent, ‘Akinchan’ (Desire, 1954), two short stories by Narendranath Mitra (1916–75), it tells the tale of the bank clerk Subrata Mazumdar, his wife, Arati, and their five-year-old son, Pintu, who live in a tiny, dank apartment in Kolkata with Subrata’s fourteen-year-old sister, Bani; his father, Priyagopal, a retired schoolteacher; and his mother, Sarojini. The old prejudice against women working outside the home is starting to crumble but is still powerful, in the city and their household. When Arati proposes to take a job, Subrata reminds his wife—in English and only half in jest—that ‘a woman’s place is in the home,’ but sheer economic necessity compels him to back her.” Though THE BIG CITY was Ray’s tenth feature as director, it was his first film to take place in his native Kolkata. In this aspect, the film lays the groundwork for Ray’s great Kolkata trilogy of the 1970s (THE ADVERSARY, COMPANY LIMITED, and THE MIDDLEMAN). In its sympathetic look at a female protagonist, it also looks forward to the director’s subsequent film (and one of his most famous), CHARULATA. THE BIG CITY strikes a remarkable balance between Ray’s concerns for the societal and the personal, reflecting on what it means to live in Indian civil society by focusing on the experience of one brave woman. One of the most impressive things about the film is how Ray manages to convey the bustle and discord of Kolkata with so few exterior shots of the city. The director communicates the pressures of urban life through the finely observed interpersonal drama and the incredible performances. Madhabi Mukherjee gives a memorable performance as Arati, subtly delineating how the character learns to trust herself and accept her status as the family breadwinner. Her work, as in CHARULATA, confirms Ray’s tremendous gift as a director of actresses. (1963, 135 min, 35mm archival print) BS
Frank Perry’s MAN ON A SWING (American Revival)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) — Tuesday, 7pm
The first thing that occurred to me while rewatching Frank Perry’s simmering MAN ON A SWING is how prescient it feels: its detail-rich, psychologically nuanced representation of detective work clearly anticipates (if not informs) David Fincher’s procedurals, particularly ZODIAC and his Netflix series MINDHUNTER. Like Fincher’s work, MAN ON A SWING mines ample intrigue from the logistics of detection, particularly in its brisk first 20 minutes, which track suburban Indiana police chief Lee Tucker (Cliff Robertson) as he gathers evidence and recollections following the murder of a young woman. Just as the investigation begins to flag, a peculiar call lights up the station’s tip line—on the other end, a self-professed clairvoyant, Franklin Wills (Joel Grey), who divulges details of the murder that only the police and the killer could know. Looking for a break in the case—or perhaps, to make the case for the reality of ESP—Lee indulges the would-be psychic, but doubts remain despite Franklin’s perfectly benign facade. MAN ON A SWING takes place in a vacuum-sealed microcosm of American suburbia and makes almost no allusions to the cultural or political events of the 1970s, but like every interesting American detective movie of that decade, it testifies to a deep epistemological rupture that, for any number of reasons, had opened up in the nation’s consciousness, never to heal again. More than a novelty, the ESP angle allows Perry and screenwriter David Zelag Goodman to interrogate how different claims to truth compete in an atmosphere of extreme psychological uncertainty (another central Fincher theme, natch). With a paranormal premise like this, you’d be forgiven for expecting a mannerist like Frank Perry to lay it on thick, but from the brutal economy of Sidney Katz’s editing to Lalo Schifrin’s near-ambient drones and cinematographer Adam Holender’s precision-tuned focal lengths, MAN ON A SWING is commendably understated. That subtlety, however, is critical to bringing out the dynamism of Joel Grey’s performance, which breathes life into the film’s central thematic ambiguities. Coming off his 1972 triumph in CABARET, Grey crafts Wills with both a daunting command of deliberate physical expression and a canny understanding of his own intrinsic screen presence. His genius is to realize that you can’t method-act a cipher; instead, he displays a degree of artifice that itself becomes unnerving, perhaps pathological. From the slightest tremor of an eyelid to the sudden spasms of possession that puncture his flat affect, his highly choreographed trances and spells are both perfectly legible qua performance and yet emotionally opaque, confounding our ability to discern psychological truth from behavior. This lingering doubt poses as much of an epistemological challenge to the viewer as his character does to Robertson’s detective. That’s what makes the film feel both so of its era and so contemporary today—perhaps seeing the future just means knowing which aspects of the human enigma never change. (1974, 110 mins, Digital Projection) MM
Claude Chabrol’s LA RUPTURE (French Revival)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) — Monday, 7pm
Right from its very explosive beginning scene in which a husband violently attacks his wife and their young son out of nowhere, Claude Chabrol’s LA RUPTURE challenges viewers with its narrative, and perhaps more importantly, its narrative form. The film’s protagonist, Hélène (Stéphane Audran), now finds herself in a custody battle with her estranged mentally-ill husband, Charles, who has gone back to live with his wealthy parents. Charles’ parents blame Hélène for his mental condition and hire family-friend Paul (Jean-Pierre Cassel), to find dirt on her so that Charles can retain custody of their son. Hélène is closer to the Virgin Mary than the Whore of Babylon but that doesn’t stop Paul from trying to stick any and every bit of slander to her. Through a combination of quick cuts and non-traditional editing, LA RUPTURE makes for very jarring experience. On top of that, the film’s point of view shifts from Hélène and her unflappable innocence to that of Paul and his sleazy slice of life before returning in the third act to Hélène, yet tinged with some LSD-fueled madness. Chabrol’s film is one of dualities: good and bad, bourgeois and poor, and man and woman. What starts as somewhat straightforward juxtapositions of these pairs rapidly devolves into fractured comparisons as suggested by the film’s title. A challenging yet engaging watch, LA RUPTURE carries echoes of Murnau’s SUNRISE and Hitchcock’s thrillers to make a film that feels like the culmination of the previous decade of French New Wave cinema, as well as of the 1960s themselves. (1970, 124 min, 35mm) KC
Delmer Daves’ DARK PASSAGE (American Revival)
Music Box Theatre — Saturday and Sunday, 11:30am
If one could say anything about Delmer Daves’ DARK PASSAGE, it’s that it has the courage of its convictions. It takes itself seriously—perhaps too seriously—but still so admirably that one feels invested in the batshit narrative it puts forth. I can’t even begin to describe the plot, scripted by Daves from the eponymous novel by noted crime author Dave Goodis, without first aknowledging its initial conceit: Humphrey Bogart, who stars as the protagonist, Vincent Parry, isn’t seen for the first part of the film, the camera taking a subjective viewpoint to obscure his face leading up to an anticlimactic reveal after he has plastic surgery to conceal his identity. (Robert Montgomery deployed the technique in LADY IN THE LAKE the previous year, though it wasn’t well received by critics. If less gimmicky in DARK PASSAGE, it nevertheless feels uncanny.) Parry’s on the lam for a crime he didn’t commit; convicted of murdering his wife, he escapes from San Quentin and is fortuitously picked up on the side of the road by a beautiful, wealthy woman, Irene Jansen (Lauren Bacall, in her third collaboration with her then-husband Bogey), who was following his case and even attended the trial due to its similarities with her father’s own. The bewildering scenarios are copious and contiguous, each one going into another, played so straight that they could almost be called earnest. A stand-out scene involves a night watchman who nearly runs over Vincent as he attempts to escape from an inquiring detective—the man explains to another witness that he’s a night watchman, you see, a night watchman with a weak heart, and that all he does is sit and watch because he can’t take chances. Such scenes are superfluous but oddly captivating; DARK PASSAGE may be easier to understand than Bogey and Bacall’s previous film, THE BIG SLEEP, but it’s even more farfetched, yet still confoundingly absorbing. Not confounding is Agnes Moorehead’s superbh performance as Madge Rapf, a woman obsessed with Vincent who’s somehow connected to both him and Irene. Per usual she stupefies, even in a film that already has enough stupefaction to go around. (1947, 106 min, 35mm) KS
Terrence Malick's THE THIN RED LINE (American Revival)
Music Box Theatre — Tuesday, 7pm
Terrence Malick returned from a twenty-year hiatus with this epic, dreamy meditation on James Jones' World War II novel about the battle at Guadalcanal. The notoriously reclusive and deliberate filmmaker reportedly shot close to one million feet of film in Australia and the Solomon Islands with cinematographer John Toll and then edited down from a six-hour original cut to this nearly three-hour theatrical release, the only version ever made available. In the process, several big names from the ensemble cast were reduced to cameo appearances, while others were cut entirely. The film was widely hailed for its ambition and imagery, but many critics found Malick's exploration of "war in the heart of nature" overly strewn with pretty, but meaningless, shots, and lyrical voiceovers that ask questions with no answers. In other words: slightly pretentious. But Malick has never been interested in providing meanings or explanations. His films, instead, are about reveling in the world in all its beauty, violence, and mystery. Malick's work has often been linked to his scholarly background (he studied under Stanley Cavell at Harvard, taught at MIT, and translated a Heidegger text) and his philosopher's detachment has rarely been more evident. A soldier dies, a bird is born, and the world moves on, oblivious to our attempts to understand or master it. All we can do is gaze in wonder. Introduced and post-screening discussion led by a DePaul University faculty member. (1998, 170 min, 35mm) MS
Wanuri Kahiu’s RAFIKI (New Kenyan)
Gene Siskel Film Center — Check Venue website for showtimes
In 2007, Monica Arac de Nyeko became the first Ugandan to win the Caine Prize for African Writing for her lyrical short story “Jambula Tree.” Anti-gay sentiments were rising in Uganda and would culminate in the most severe anti-gay legislative proposals in the world. De Nyeko, based in Nairobi, Kenya, countered this hate with a heartbreakingly beautiful observation of lesbian love whose spirit has been sensitively adapted to the big screen by award-winning Kenyan director Wanuri Kahiu, who also wrote the screenplay. RAFIKI (Swahili for “friend”) economically sets the scene in the Slopes neighborhood of Nairobi, where butch, soccer-playing teen Kena (Samantha Mugatsia) and Ziki (Sheila Munyiva), a feminine mass of rainbow braids, lock looks as a prelude to their grand passion. Their ambitions for their lives fill them with hope, but the realities of their world conspire to tear them apart and ensure they return to being “good Kenyan girls.” First-time actors Mugatsia and Munyiva make a very charismatic, attractive couple, and the bright colors and carefree nightlife in Slopes, where the couple does their courtship dance, heighten their experience of first love. An excellent supporting cast, especially Jimmy Gathu as Kena’s sympathetic, but conflicted father, rounds out this deeply humane film. (2018, 83 min, DCP Digital) MF
Edward Yang's A BRIGHTER SUMMER DAY (Taiwanese Revival)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) — Thursday at 5pm (note early start time)
Along with Hou Hsiao-Hsien's A CITY OF SADNESS and Tsai Ming-liang's THE RIVER, this is one of the supreme masterpieces of the Taiwanese New Wave. "Edward Yang's fourth feature retains an inexhaustible freshness that speaks to viewers the world over," Godfrey Cheshire recently wrote for the Criterion Collection. "Like a Taiwanese REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE made with the gravity and epic sweep of THE GODFATHER, the film, which has more than a hundred speaking parts, is above al a vision, in terms of both place and time. The place is Taipei, Yang's home and the setting and subject of all seven of his features. As for time, we might consider two meanings. The years depicted are 1960-61, a particular juncture in Taiwanese history. But the time we witness is also that of adolescence, with all its inner turmoil, outer self-consciousness, and obsessive quest for identity." (1991, 237 min, DCP Digital) BS
Stanley Donen’s FUNNY FACE (American Revival)
Music Box Theatre — Thursday, 7pm
During one of the ideological arguments that forms the backbone of the conflict between Jo (Audrey Hepburn) and Dick (Fred Astaire) in FUNNY FACE, Jo admonishes Dick’s adherence to “outmoded social conventions.” The movie doesn’t side with her, of course; the narrative is, in accordance with the rules of the classical Hollywood romance, one of societal integration, forcing the initially recalcitrant woman to yield to such patriarchal conventions. Through the pairing of Astaire and Hepburn, this assimilation takes on a certain generational tension. As underlined by the aforementioned dialogue, Astaire (then 58) was a veteran, starring in one of his final musicals. Hepburn (then 28) was, by contrast, a relative newcomer. Astaire plays a fashion photographer for Quality Magazine who is looking for the next big trend. Hepburn is the mousy, bohemian bookshop clerk for whom he falls, and who becomes the new face of the magazine. Much pushing and pulling between the two occurs, but there is never a doubt that Jo will find actualization through Dick’s love and guidance, allowing her to transform from callow beatnik into Audrey Hepburn, Beauty Icon (in Paris, of course), when she will come to realize that Givenchy, and not Sartre, is a girl’s best friend. Despite its focus on haute couture, FUNNY FACE can’t help but feel, well, kind of outmoded, its awkward politics and mid-century cultural commentary leaving it less fresh than classics such as SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN or even much earlier fare like SWING TIME. But. But! For lovers of the capital “M” Movie Musicals that were once a Hollywood staple, there is much to admire. The colors are as radiant as those in any Arthur Freed MGM production. The Paris locales are resplendent. The costumes, courtesy also of Edith Head, drip with glamour. Astaire gets in a couple of all-time soft-shoes, while Hepburn’s underground bar slink is rightfully iconic. And Kay Thompson, making a rare and juicy onscreen appearance, is an absolute riot as a Diana Vreeland-like impresario. To borrow from its most famous Gershwin tune: these things are s’marvelous. Preceded by a brief panel discussion with Chicago fashion historian Nena Ivon and others. (1957, 103 min, DCP Digital) JL
Jean-Luc Godard’s THE IMAGE BOOK (New Swiss/French)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) — Saturday, 7 and 9:30pm and Sunday, 4:15pm
When I screened A MAN ESCAPED in an Intro to Film class a few years ago, one particularly bright student seemed riveted by Bresson’s radical and extensive use of first-person voice-over narration, close-ups of hands at work, and the unusual way these elements interacted with each other. In a post-screening discussion, he made the salient point that “It was as if Lieutenant Fontaine’s hands were doing the thinking and the talking.” I was reminded of this remark at the beginning of Jean-Luc Godard’s THE IMAGE BOOK when a close-up depicts a man’s hands splicing together two shots of 35mm film at an editing table. On the soundtrack, Godard’s 87-year-old voice, now a sepulchral whisper, informs us that “man’s true condition” is to “think with hands.” This is shortly followed by what appears to be a documentary image of a concentration-camp victim’s emaciated fingers. Hand imagery from a variety of sources—from a shot of Buñuel wielding a straight razor in the opening of UN CHIEN ANDALOU to the detail of an index finger pointing upwards in Da Vinci’s painting John the Baptist—proliferates in the early stages of THE IMAGE BOOK. This serves to introduce the film’s structure (“five chapters like the five fingers of a hand”) and overall aesthetic strategy (mixing excerpts of narrative films with documentaries, high art, cell-phone videos, etc.); but, more importantly, it reminds us of Godard’s belief that a filmmaker is ideally someone who works with his or her hands, operating “small instruments” like the analog equipment on which Godard begins the process of slicing and dicing the contents of his vast image data bank before passing that footage on to his cinematographer/co-editor Fabrice Aragno for a digital upgrade. After this brief prologue, THE IMAGE BOOK proper begins: The first four “chapters” feature Godard’s associative montage at its most rigorous—he traces various images, ideas, and motifs throughout film history (water, trains, war, the concept of “the law,” etc.) in a manner not unlike that of his mammoth video essay HISTOIRE(S) DU CINEMA. But, even when it feels most familiar, these passages in THE IMAGE BOOK still show Godard to be a restless experimenter: The famous scene in Nicholas Ray’s JOHNNY GUITAR where Sterling Hayden implores Joan Crawford to “lie” by professing her love for him (a scene Godard has already quoted in several other films) gets a new look by the introduction of a black screen during what should be a shot of Hayden, so that viewers only see the corresponding reverse-angle shot of Crawford in their charged dialogue exchange. Another new trick up the director’s sleeve is the way he presents shots in a deliberately incorrect aspect ratio (i.e., the images appear horizontally stretched) before having them “pop” into the proper ratio, an amusing and oddly satisfying poetic effect. The film’s darker and more disturbing elements, on the other hand, have caused some critics to categorize it as a “horror movie.” In one instance, Godard provocatively juxtaposes an execution scene from Rossellini’s PAISAN, in which Italian partisans are drowned by their Nazi captors, with eerily similar, non-fiction footage of recent ISIS executions. Elsewhere, he juxtaposes images of exploited performers—intercutting shots of a grinning “pinhead” from Tod Browning’s FREAKS with someone performing anilingus in a pornographic film of unknown origin (the latter is identified only as “PORNO” in the lengthy bibliography that makes up most of the closing credits). But it’s the fifth and final chapter, taking up almost the entire second half of the film, that sees Godard boldly striking out into truly new territory: This section examines how Western artists frequently misrepresent the Arab world by depicting it in simplistic and reductive terms (i.e., as either “joyful” or “barbaric”). Godard quotes extensively from authors I haven’t read (e.g., Edward Saïd and Albert Cossery) but the overall meaning is clear in an extended scene that focuses on a fictional Arabic country named Dofa whose “underground has no oil” but whose Prime Minister nonetheless dreams of submitting all Gulf countries to his rule. What’s incredible about this sequence is the startling way Godard conveys the “story” solely through his narration while the image track is comprised of a cornucopia of found footage from movies by both Western and Arabic filmmakers (not to mention some hyper-saturated shots apparently captured by Godard and Aragno on location in Tunisia that are the most visually ravishing in the film). That it’s often difficult to determine where these shots came from is, of course, part of the point. In an otherwise war-and-death-obsessed work that feels even more despairing than usual for this gnomic artist, Godard does, however, express hope for the possibility of a new poetics of cinema, one in which Middle-Eastern and African filmmakers might discover new ways of seeing and hearing themselves. The wild sound design, always a highlight in late Godard, reaches new levels of expressiveness here as voices, sounds and snippets of music aggressively ping-pong back and forth between multiple stereo channels—essentially doing for the ears what the groundbreaking 3D of GOODBYE TO LANGUAGE did for the eyes. In a lengthy post-credits sequence, Godard’s voice-over eventually devolves into a coughing fit while a rhapsodic dance sequence from Max Ophuls’ LE PLAISIR gets the final word on the image track. In spite of what some of his detractors think, Godard still believes in the elemental power of cinema, which is why the mesmerizing IMAGE BOOK is a more accessible work than even many of its champions would have you believe. Spotting references and decoding meanings is ultimately less important than the sensorial experience of simply vibing with the uniquely romantic/pessimistic tone engendered by this giant of the medium’s total mastery of “image et parole.” (2018, 90 min, DCP Digital) MGS
Brian De Palma's PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE (American Revival)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) — Thursday, 9:30pm
A hit only in Winnipeg (a city then and now of exquisite good taste), PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE seems to have everything going against it. Music by the anti-cool songsmith Paul Williams, who also plays one of the leading roles, an alienating, mannered, downright strange performance by William Finley in the title role, a visual scheme exuberant with kitsch, gaudy colors, and off-putting compositions, and a tone of jokiness and self-mockery resolutely at odds with the deadly seriousness of the subject matter: at first glance, there's nothing about the movie that's not at odds with itself. It's the same with the plot line, which is so absurdly constructed and disconcerting as to fairly defy summary. Winslow Leach, bespectacled composer of a cantata about Faust, has his music stolen by the Svengali-esque Swan, a producer and nightclub owner. Framed as a heroin dealer, Winslow is sent to Sing Sing, where all his teeth are extracted in an experimental medical procedure. He soon escapes, however, when he hears his own songs on the radio being butchered and breaks in to Swan's record-pressing plant, only to have his head trapped in the machinery. Now with the grooves of the hated record inscribed on his face, and his own voice destroyed, he determines to destroy Swan's nightclub, disguising himself as a cybernetic owl, only to be waylaid in his quest for revenge when he falls in love with the ingénue Phoenix, played by the great Jessica Harper. And that's just the first two reels. There are a dozen musical numbers, elaborately staged and hilariously parodic, and a series of terrible murders, committed grotesquely by the otherwise sympathetic hero, Winslow, all of which work to prevent any attempt on our part figure out what in the world we're watching. PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE never lets us get comfortable, and this is not merely on the level of plot. The film's strange, distracting style and other-worldly sights and sounds are just artificial enough to suggest that the work is wholly within a fantasy land, the fairy-tale world of the classic Hollywood musical, and just nasty, explicit, and corporeal enough to indicate that we're seeing a version of reality. After Winslow becomes the Phantom, he plants a time bomb in the trunk of a prop car about to be rolled onto a stage crowded with his enemies. It's is a dead ringer for the bomb we see in the opening seconds of TOUCH OF EVIL, and what follows is nothing less than a stunning one-upping of that film's luxurious and deadly first shot. Not content with one mobile camera, De Palma shoots his car-bombing in split-screen and during a song-and-dance routine. On one level, it's an exercise in audacity and confusion and suspense, a great director showing off. But, as in all aspects of PHANTOM, the segment serves to unnerve the viewer tonally, preventing us from fully enjoying the technical mastery of the style or from enmeshing ourselves within the story and feeling unmitigated suspense and horror, from either condemning or identifying with the characters and their actions. Hilarious, horrifying, mortifying, embarrassing, engrossing, and delirious all at once, PHANTOM's masterful control over every aspect of cinema makes it impossible to truly come to term with, but makes it one of the most profoundly pleasurable experiences in American cinema. (1974, 94 min, DCP Digital) KB
MORE SCREENINGS AND EVENTS
The Film Studies Center (at the Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E. 60th St., University of Chicago) hosts Documenting the Archive: Department of Cinema and Media Studies Graduate Student Conference on Friday and Saturday. A keynote address by Paula Amad (University of Iowa) is on Friday at 5pm, and a full day of panels begins Saturday at 9:30am. Full schedule at https://documentingthearchive.wordpress.com. Free admission.
The Film Studies Center (at the Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E. 60th St., University of Chicago) screens Ossama Mohammed and Wiam Simav Bedirxan's 2014 French/Syrian film SILVERED WATER, SYRIA SELF-PORTRAIT (110 min, Digital Projection) on Thursday at 7pm, with Mohammed in person. The event begins with an a capella performance by Syrian maqâm singer and composer Noma Omran. Free admission.
Wilder House (5811 S. Kenwood Ave., University of Chicago) screens Ossama Mohammed's 1978 Syrian documentary short STEP BY STEP [KHUTWA KHUTWA] (25 min, Video Projection) and his 1988 Syrian feature STARS IN BROAD DAYLIGHT (105 min, Video Projection) on Wednesday at 4pm. Free admission.
The Nightingale (1084 N. Milwaukee Ave.) screens Ricky D'Ambrose's 2018 film NOTES ON AN APPEARANCE (60 min, Digital Projection) on Friday at 7:30pm.
Chicago Filmmakers (5720 N. Ridge Ave.) and the Chicago Film Archives present Out of the Vault: How We Work on Saturday at 7pm. Screening are: CHOCOLATE CAKE (JoAnn Elam, c. 1973, 4 min, Digital Projection), UNION MAIDS (Jim Klein, Julia Reichert, and Miles Mogulescu, 1976, 51 min, Digital Projection), and WHERE DID YOU GET THAT WOMAN? (Loretta Smith, 1982, 30 min, 16mm), with Smith in person.
Filmfront (1740 W. 18th St.) presents UIC MFA Thesis Screening (approx. 51 min, Digital Projection) on Sunday at 7pm. The program includes work by current UIC students Leticia Bernaus, Danny Carroll, Kylie Renee Clark, and Tamara Becerra Valdez, and alum Mary Helena Clark, Mike Gibisser, and Zachary Hutchinson. Free admission.
Sinema Obscura presents Nick Alonzo's 2019 film DECAF DON (72 min, Digital Projection) on Friday at 8pm at The New 400 Theaters' 6740Micro (6740 N. Sheridan Rd.), with Alonzo and select cast and crew in person.
Windy City Horrorama Part II takes place Friday-Sunday at the Davis Theater.
The Italian Film Festival USA presents six programs May 1-4. This week’s screenings are Donato Carrisi’s 2017 film THE GIRL IN THE FOG (128 min, Video Projection) on Wednesday at 6pm at the Italian Cultural Institute (500 N. Michigan Ave.) and Francesco Prisco’s 2018 film BOB AND MARYS (100 min, Video Projection) on Thursday at 6pm at Columbia College’s Film Row Cinema (1104 S. Wabash Ave., 8th Floor), with Prisco and actress Simona Tabasco in person.
Cinema Chicago's CineYouth Festival takes place at the Music Box Theatre Friday-Sunday.
The Chicago Cultural Center hosts the CHA/DePaul Spring Doc Film Premiere on Sunday at 1pm. The program features four short documentary films made by CHA female youth filmmakers in collaboration with DePaul's School of Cinematic Arts. Free admission.
Comfort Film at Comfort Station Logan Square (2579 N. Milwaukee Ave.) screens Ulrike Ottinger's 1977 German film MADAME X: AN ABSOLUTE RULER (141 min, Digital Projection) on Wednesday at 8pm. The film is part of the Guest Curator series and will be introduced by Hiromi Ueyosh. Free admission.
Also at the Gene Siskel Film Center this week: Hu Bo's 2018 Chinese film AN ELEPHANT SITTING STILL (234 min, DCP Digital) has five screenings Friday-Monday and Wednesday; Matteo Garrone's 2018 Italian/French film DOGMAN (103 min, DCP Digital) plays for a week; and in the Chicago Palestine Film Festival this week: Thomas A. Morgan's 2017 US/Lebanese documentary SOUFRA (73 min, DCP Digital) is on Friday at 8pm; Christy Garland's 2018 Canadian/Danish documentary WHAT WALAA WANTS (89 min, DCP Digital) is on Saturday at 8pm; Rifat Audeh's 2018 Jordanian documentary THE TRUTH: LOST AT SEA (56 min, DCP Digital) is on Sunday at 5:30pm; Marco Proserpio's 2018 Italian documentary THE MAN WHO STOLE BANSKY (93 min, DCP Digital) is on Wednesday at 8pm; and Julia Bacha's 2018 US/Palestinian hybrid documentary NAILA AND THE UPRISING (76 min, DCP Digital) is on Thursday at 8pm. All of the Palestinian Film Festival selections this week are preceded by shorts; check the Siskel website for details.
NOTE: Due to projector issues, Doc Films (University of Chicago) has cancelled and plans to re-schedule THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES (Friday and Sunday) and WILD LIFE (Sunday).
Also at the Music Box Theatre this week: Patrick Creadon's 2018 documentary HESBURGH (104 min, DCP Digital) opens, with Creadon in person at the 2 and 7pm Saturday shows, and former Chicago Bear and Notre Dame alum Chris Zorich also in person at the 7pm show; Árni Ásgeirsson's 2018 Icelandic animated kids film PLOEY (90 min, DCP Digital) is on Monday at 4:30pm; and Dario Argento's 1970 Italian film THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE (98 min, DCP Digital) is on Friday and Saturday at Midnight.
Also at Facets Cinémathèque this week: Heddy Honigmann's 2018 Dutch documentary BUDDY (86 min, Video Projection) has a week-long run.
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.
Also 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 26 - May 2, 2019
MANAGING EDITOR // Patrick Friel
ASSOCIATE EDITORS // Ben Sachs, Kathleen Sachs, Kyle A. Westphal
CONTRIBUTORS // Kian Bergstrom, Kyle Cubr, Marilyn Ferdinand, Jonathan Leithold-Patt, Michael Metzger, Michael G. Smith, Martin Stainthorp