Abel Ferrara’s PASOLINI (Contemporary French/Belgian/Italian)
Gene Siskel Film Center — Check Venue website for showtimes
It only took four years but Abel Ferrara’s PASOLINI, has finally reached a theater in Chicago. In similar fashion to his other equally controversial film from 2014, WELCOME TO NEW YORK, which was also held up in legal red tape, this examination of the final 24 hours of the life of filmmaker, painter, poet, and essayist, Pier Paolo Pasolini, will remain as one of Ferrara’s strongest efforts. Not only does it hover over the last day of Pasolini’s life (played by Willem Dafoe) it imagines scenes from the movie he was going to make next, PORNO-TEO-KOLOSSAL, along with scenes from his unpublished novel, “Petrolio”. While working on the pages of “Petrolio”, near the start of the film, Pasolini writes a letter to novelist Alberto Moravia, asking him to help him decide if what he has created is enough to express what he has to say. Images of a car cruising around the streets of Rome at night, cut to a scene from the novel, where his protagonist Carlo, a member of the left wing Christian Democracy party, waits hungrily to blow proletariat boys in the marshes outside of the city. Cut to Carlo, attending a party thrown by a gigantic oil magnate, passing through the crowd of assholes that could’ve been the inspiration for SALO. Not only that but Pasolini’s, or Ferrara’s Carlo, seems to eerily resemble the President from SALO (who in Pasolini’s film, had his voice dubbed by the Italian filmmaker Marco Bellochio). All of this begins to lend the film a slowly foreboding air of death, to say nothing of the movie starting with scenes from SALO, as Pasolini is finishing post-production. This forthcoming of death, a frequent theme of Ferrara’s, bleeds into some of the most serene images Ferrara has ever captured, as the camera, following the scenes from “Petrolio”, witnesses the poet waking up, reading the paper, and recommending a book to his sister. The camera’s eyes float across the living room to him, while he sips coffee and bangs away at his typewriter. His mother (played by the wonderful Adrianna Asti) watches across the room with ambiguously worrying eyes, giving credence to the film’s building sense of unease that will culminate at the end of the day with her son, Pasolini, being murdered. Punctuated with moments of creeping dread but also unexpected joy, Pasolini is presented as unaware of his fate as he meets with friends and former lovers, while simultaneously dovetailing into imagined scenes for PORNO-TEO-KOLOSSAL (his former actor and lover Ninetto Davoli, plays one of the pilgrims in the film-within-a-film). And so it goes, jumping in and out of the imagination of Pasolini, and therefore, Ferrara’s, cutting at times into surreal visions like the pink Sudanese desert, recalling 4:44 LAST DAY ON EARTH and MARY, but also Pasolini’s TEOREMA and OEDIPUS REX. These adaptations or imaginings by Ferrara, who doesn’t attempt to match Pasolini’s signature filming style, play into the idea of Ferrara as Pasolini, the latter who made many of his films based off the work of others. This allows Ferrara to step into his spiritual mentor’s specter more fittingly, staging the final interview Pasolini gave for SALO; a situation assuredly keen to Ferrara, who at the time, had been giving interviews following the chaos that was the censoring of WELCOME TO NEW YORK, another film featuring a character of major importance (in this case the almost-president of France, Dominique Strauss-Kahn) undone by drives that cannot rest. Both films share a massive affinity to SALO (especially WELCOME TO NEW YORK) with powerfully sexual appetites bringing about nothing but pain. Certainly the image of the fictional character Carlo submitting his mouth to the boys in the marsh, feels anything like orgasmic joy, and instead feels violently uneven. In his letter to Moravia, explaining the character of Carlo in Petrolio, told in voiceover over the images of Carlo and the young men, Pasolini states, “The protagonist of this novel is what he is and aside from the similarities of the story to mine, he is repugnant to me.” Yet, when Pasolini goes cruising for a prostitute in the film’s final segments, his death is given the antithesis of the kind of gravitas you might expect for a film about a master artist. He is simply cruising for sex, not some calculated attempt at staging his final masterpiece through death; he is just really horny. His death doesn’t become something larger than life. Instead, it is shown as a magnificent waste of a man who still had a lot more to give the world, the murder of an artist at the peak of his abilities, now smashed into the sands of a beach outside Rome, a mess likely to be cleaned up by poor workers, then dealt with by the powers that be later. (2014, 84 min, DCP Digital) JD
Pier Paolo Pasolini’s SALO or THE 120 DAYS OF SODOM (Italian Revival)
Gene Siskel Film Center —Friday, 3:45pm, Saturday, 4:45pm, and Wednesday, 7:45pm
Italy 1944-1945, the final days of Mussolini’s reign and the Marquis de Sade’s The 120 Days of Sodom, function as the backdrops for SALO, but they only serve as settings and jumping-off points for something much more ethereal and sinister as one, far from any straight-forward adaptation or period-specific war based story. The film begins with the actions of four persons of power: the Duke, the President, the Bishop, and the Magistrate. Each of these libertines sign a written agreement that starts a series of sexually perverse atrocities, including murder, meant to serve their own amusement and stimulation. They begin with marrying each other’s daughters, right after having them humiliated by soldiers. Then they set out with the soldiers to the surrounding war torn island and begin abducting teenage boys and girls. Structured like Dante’s Inferno, stitched together by rules and laws, the four libertines can only carry out their behavior through their business-like staccatos, clinically and methodically, voting into motion each and every crime. Once they huddle their victims behind the doors of a magnificently large estate, there’s no hope of return. What follows is anything but pornographic, undermining the very expectations about what is erotic. David Cronenberg’s masterpiece, CRASH (also playing at the Siskel this week) and Claire Denis’ BASTARDS, share a similar attitude towards the notion of impotence requiring extreme means in which to stimulate release, resulting in near irreversible infections of the mind and body (Cronenberg’s VIDEODROME would also qualify). SALO is so hotly revered and reviled, that some have considered it to be the catalyst for it’s director’s demise. It premiered 3 weeks after Pier Paolo Pasolini had been murdered by a young prostitute, who later admitted he did not act alone, strongly suggesting his murder was politically motivated from within the Italian government. It wasn’t like Pasolini had never courted controversy with powerful figures before. To say nothing of all of his texts that sparked outrage from members of the left and right of his country’s politics, his first film ACCATONE, from 1961, caused a massive outcry amongst the government’s right wing. He was also a Marxist who made a film about Jesus, with 1964’s THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. MATTHEW. His 1968 film TEOREMA was banned for obscenity and caused the Pope to weigh in on its “blasphemy”. The 1970’s shocked audiences with his adaptations of THE DECAMERON, THE CANTERBURY TALES, and ARABIAN NIGHTS, representing a bygone past where Pasolini felt sex was still innocent and earthbound. Following this so-called “Trilogy of Life”, his next source of adaptation was the Marquis De Sade, a direct response to the previous three, who had inadvertently spawned an enormous amount of cheap porn during that decade, lifeless imitations intended to mimic the originals, entirely lacking in every conceivable way the qualities that made the originals so impactful and erotic. With SALO, sex isn’t the same anymore - it is no longer innocent or erotic. It is rancid and backwards but captured with a mystical amount of distancing, with possibly a little satirical humor coming through. It certainly wasn’t the subject matter, but during filming; Pasolini and his cast/crew would play football with the cast/crew of Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1900, whose set was close to SALO’s. Most of the actors from the film claimed the shooting of the movie was a tender and jovial experience, and you can see it at times on the faces of the actor’s performances. Rather than it being an overlooked error, it adds a grounding element that is surely welcome and necessary. Nevertheless, humor in SALO is likely the last emotion one will experience. Pasolini dared to show un-filmable images, scenes never meant to be shown. In doing so, he reached the height of his cinematic style, achieving a sort of perfection. Formal beauty, a contrast conceived in Hell, lending the film the ability to become masterfully detached, a world completely outside of the horror; admittedly, this is probably the only way to be able to capture the film’s purpose and still allow it the ability to be seen. That isn’t to say anything is downplayed or immorally rendered. It is a testament to the director’s natural skill and moral intelligence to render the mechanisms of power in such infinite scope, from the past (Italy in the 1940s under Mussolini), the present (Italy during the 1970s), and the future - where the allegory will find its resonance with modern audiences. For Pasolini, it didn’t just stop at Nazi-fascism, it extended to all power, such as neocaptialism, or what he called “the New Fascism”, the advent of consumerism. Pasolini saw this specifically as the true cause of modern societal rot, making petty bourgeoisie out of society. Fascist iconography, despite being slightly visible at the beginning of the movie, is never present once the viewer and victims go inside the villa. When the four libertines gather their victims around in the “Orgy Room” to listen to stories meant to provoke sexual responses in the people listening, the positioning and attentiveness of bodies seems to resemble those watching and listening to a nearby TV, an invention Pasolini saw as a monstrosity of chaos. When the libertines are not abusing their victims, they retire to rooms decorated with art meant to resemble cubist artists like Léger, where they quote Rimbaud, Nietzsche, and Proust, while also discussing Dadaism; the commodification of ideas turned horrifically into objects used to serve other diseased interests, much like the bodies of the boys and girls outside the libertines’ private quarters. The malformed reification of human sexuality, contorted and twisted into shapes of frozen cruelty, render SALO an intense film, no question. It nearly sends people into fits of fear when faced with the opportunity to witness it. Its distance allows viewers the only way inside cinema’s most haunted house. The villa, initially displayed in all its natural splendor, is shown to be the most hair-raising sexual palace, where love is replaced with force, impotence, brutality, and the disposal of the body entirely; a spatial extension of nature at its most corrosive, rooms dripping with blood and excrement. Fantasies normally suited for sexual liberation, become metaphors for all-powerful repression, levels of depravity finding their natural reflection in the giants of political power, literally and figuratively. Mirrors play a very prominent role in SALO, serving as proof that these wielders of the “anarchy of power”, do indeed reflect on themselves, frequently even. All of this, flows to the rhythms and atmospheres of Ennio Morricone’s concrete-like score, often represented through the diegesis onscreen, such as a character on a piano, the outside droning of planes near the island’s estate, the falling of rain, or the whistling of characters awaiting their fates. Much like the music that opens over the credits, music also serves as a diversion for its characters, who find it easier to move to the music and discuss their girlfriends, suggesting that some of these people could actually return to normal life, completely unaltered. Yet the boys and girls who enter the villa, will either never leave (those who will not submit), or they will come out completely changed (those who submit); and still, some could choose to forget, which is the most haunting aspect of the movie. If you choose to observe what Pasolini captured with an amazing amount of actors on set at all times, a film of epic proportions conjured inside a demonic dreamworld, a “non-existence of history”, you will also be altered, but for the better. There’s a fine line between those who have seen the movie and pretend to have seen it. Viewers who honestly watch it from beginning to end, may find it a little harder to lend themselves over to any dismissive simplicities about the movie. Its complexity is fathomless, where both men and women, victims and abusers, can be equally guilty in the crimes on display and their proliferation. No one but those paying witness will know what has happened to the victims on the island of Salo, or even how long these crimes took place; or worse, care. This is now coming to you in an era where past “progressive” presidents/Congress have decided not to investigate war crimes in Iraq (to use the most infamous example), where former Chicago mayors pen articles for The Atlantic about people accepting responsibilities for their crimes (when they themselves personally oversaw the cover-ups of teens being murdered by police, along with the massive public school closings, and bonuses for top executives during the Wall Street bailout), and then, well, to say nothing of our current sitting president and his recent rallying cries for rounding up minorities into “camps” and going to war with Iran, there are mass genocides being carried out all over the world, in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Africa, the Sudan, and Myanmar. The allegories and bloody poetry of Pasolini’s film may signify our current reality, but actual representative reality, does not reign in the realm of SALO; this would’ve been too painful for Pasolini to create. He did not want to recreate the material world he disdained, far from the realities he had captured with his “Trilogy of Life” in the previous years. Pasolini had to go somewhere else to evoke the horrors of the present day. (1975, 117 min, 35mm) JD
Irving Rapper’s NOW, VOYAGER (American Revival)
Music Box Theatre — Saturday and Sunday, 11:30am
Training a critical eye on a film as iconic, popular, and honored as NOW, VOYAGER is tricky. When exotic, romantic lead Jerry Durrance (Paul Henreid) lights two cigarettes and passes one of them from his mouth to his illicit lover, Charlotte Vale (Bette Davis), reason goes out the window. Despite my admiration for this cleverly suggestive skirting of the Hays Code, there are certainly themes in this film that have troubled me in other films, particularly the demonization of mothers and the fetishization of physical attractiveness as essential to happiness. Nonetheless, NOW, VOYAGER manages to subvert the social norms of both its own time and ours in its intelligent, literate handling of the story of a repressed middle-age woman driven to the edge of insanity by her controlling, unloving mother and her recovery and emergence as a confident, attractive woman who is able to give and receive love. Based on the best-selling novel by Olive Higgins Prouty, who also penned Stella Dallas (much beloved by producer Sam Goldwyn, who filmed it twice), NOW, VOYAGER is the flipside of Prouty’s depiction of Stella’s motherly self-sacrifice, examining as it does the consequences of forcing women to have children they don’t want. Charlotte is a change-of-life baby whose father could not mitigate the damage caused by his unhappy wife because he died shortly after Charlotte’s birth. Her mother, played with icy efficiency by Gladys Cooper, considers Charlotte duty-bound to look after her unto death and keeps her tethered like a slave with her apron strings and deep purse. Tina (Janis Wilson), Jerry’s 13-year-old daughter, was a candidate for abortion; when that was not allowed to happen, she turned her mother’s anger inward and ended up in the same sanitarium that took Charlotte in when she was at her lowest. While Jerry and Charlotte’s psychiatrist (Claude Rains) play important roles in helping Charlotte take charge of her life, NOW, VOYAGER concerns itself with the society of women. Women who went to see this in 1942 and made it Davis’ most financially successful film were an active part of the war effort, keeping the nation running while the men were in the fight. It is striking how the women in this film interact, helping as well as teasing and annoying each other; their dimensionality must have appealed to an audience freed from their traditional roles. Many people have called NOW, VOYAGER the quintessential women’s film, but most women’s films create fantasies in which children are an impediment to their female protagonist’s happiness. Charlotte finds fulfillment as a surrogate mother to Tina, healing herself as she heals Tina’s psychic wounds; thus NOW, VOYAGER actually speaks up for children despite the all-too-human faults of the mothers in the film. Where the fantasy actually works is in the chic clothing ace costume designer Orry-Kelly created for his most challenging client; when he left Warner Bros., Davis lost one of her most important collaborators. As for the overheated film score by Max Steiner, my sentiments track with what Davis famously said on the shoot of DARK VICTORY (1939), “Well, either I’m going to climb those stairs or Max Steiner is going to climb those stairs, but I’ll be God-DAMNED if Max Steiner and I are going to climb those stairs together!” (1942, 117 min, 35mm) MF
Aviva Kempner’s THE SPY BEHIND HOME PLATE (New Documentary)
Gene Siskel Film Center — Check Venue website for showtimes
It’s a stereotype that Jews don’t do sports, and that was certainly the belief of the father of Morris “Moe” Berg, the latter the subject of Aviva Kempner’s intriguing documentary, THE SPY BEHIND HOME PLATE. Bernard Berg, who joined the exodus of Jews fleeing Russian pogroms at the turn of the 20th century, felt sports were a waste of his American-born son’s prodigious intellect. Nonetheless, Moe made his dream of becoming a Big League baseball player come true, and if his father had known what his son was able to accomplish under his cover as a catcher, he might have burst his shirt buttons with pride. Moe Berg, who attended Princeton University and Columbia Law School and was proficient in at least six languages, became a spy for the United States in the lead-up to and during World War II. A personable, popular ballplayer, Berg went to Japan with the likes of Babe Ruth and Ted Lyons in 1932 to promote the sport and international good will; while there, Berg secretly filmed military installations and aerial views of Tokyo that may have been used for bombing raids. He later went to Europe to ferret out information on whether the Germans were close to building a functional atomic bomb. Aviva Kempner, who specializes in producing and directing documentaries that explore little-known corners of Jewish life (PARTISANS OF VILNA , THE LIFE AND TIMES OF HANK GREENBERG , ROSENWALD ) has assembled an interesting précis of this unique story that offers well-selected interviews and a plethora of images that will be unfamiliar to many. I especially appreciated the footage of the Japan tour, though the story didn’t completely engage me until Berg went to Europe to spy on the Germans. Kempner discreetly ignores that last two decades of Berg’s life, when the lifelong bachelor was unemployed and living with and mooching off his siblings. Kempner in person at the Sunday screening. (2019, 97 min, DCP Digital) MF
David Cronenberg's CRASH (Canadian/UK Revival)
Gene Siskel Film Center — Saturday, 7:45pm and Tuesday. 8:15pm
Looking at pictures, we're naturally drawn to human figures. We're people, and we like, above all, to watch other people do things. It's difficult to equate a machine and a person in a moving picture. You can do it through editing, but within a single shot, it's difficult to pull off. It's the sound in CRASH that does it. That, and the dispassionate way all of the actors talk, as though making notes into a tape recorder for themselves, like medical examiners. Every sentence seems to have been recorded separately. It sounds less like we're listening in on conversation than that a particular sort of noise made by people is being played for us, like a Chris Watson recording of some forest. And, as when recording animals one inevitably catches the sound of rustling leaves and rain (it is, after all, the animals and the trees together that form a "forest"), it's inevitable that when recording "society," one should have both human voices and city sounds at equal levels. Above all the other elements of the film—the pharmaceutical composition of its images, the clinical editing, Howard Shore's machine shop music—it's the sound mix that makes CRASH David Cronenberg's most fully realized film. Taking the story of a group of people who confuse sex and car crashes (or moans and squealing tires) to its formal extreme, he creates something more effective than the most gruesome special effect—with nothing more than some microphones and a mixing board. (1996, 98 min, 35mm) IV
Fritz Lang’s M (German Revival)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) — Thursday, 7pm
Jonathan Rosenbaum regularly cites Fritz Lang’s M as one of the greatest films ever made. One of the film’s more remarkable qualities is how it masters the conventions of silent movies while creating new ones for sound cinema. The way that Peter Lorre’s unforgettable child murderer often whistles the same melody from Peer Gynt, for instance, makes his character as instantly recognizable as a visual cue would in a silent (think of Chaplin’s walk), but Lorre’s haunting monologue at the movie’s climax maximizes the actor’s voice as an expressive instrument. When he wrote about the film in 1997, Rosenbaum highlighted the social awareness behind Lang’s aesthetic inventions, noting that “[a]rguably, no other thriller has so effectively combined exposition and suspense with a portrait of an entire society, and M does this through a dazzling system of visual rhymes and aural continuities, spatial leaps and thematic repetitions that virtually reinvents the art of movie storytelling.” (1931, 99 min, 16mm) BS
Marlon Riggs’ TONGUES UNTIED (Documentary/Essay Revival)
Green Line Performing Arts Center (329 E. Garfield Blvd.) — Thursday, 7pm (Free Admission)
One of the landmark works of queer film activism, Marlon Riggs’ TONGUES UNTIED is a treatise on the enforced silence of gay black men and an emphatic corrective to it. Through a sequence of poetry and monologues delivered by Riggs and fellow gay rights activists, the film centers and amplifies the subjectivities of this doubly oppressed group, giving space for their voices to not only be heard in all their multiplicity, but to directly address and challenge the dominant white, heteronormative patriarchy that deprives them of this privilege in the real world. Riggs conducts this address through an arsenal of techniques, including oral histories spoken directly to camera, musical interludes, instructional videos, and aural collage that often takes on the form of incantation. The last of these is introduced at the start of the film, as a rhythmic chant of “brother to brother” builds in volume and tempo over the soundtrack, becoming mantra. Riggs proceeds to weave voices over and through his images, catalyzing discourses around racism and homophobia and invoking cathartic personal stories of shame, abuse, anger, and self-hate. The voices are not all from positive figures; demonstrating the persecution he faced while growing up in Georgia, Riggs cuts to extreme close-ups of mouths spitting epithets, making a grotesque symphony out of words he would eventually internalize. In a similar, later scene, preachers shout sweaty, fire-and-brimstone rhetoric around the placid visage of poet and activist Essex Hemphill, whose silence, he and Riggs tell us, serves as both a shield from such pernicious intolerance and a cloak that locks them into invisibility and muteness. TONGUES UNTIED searingly relays how this muteness festers into rage. “Anger unvented becomes pain unspoken becomes rage released becomes violence cha cha cha,” another chant on the soundtrack goes, turning a maxim into a song. “It is easier to be furious than to be yearning, easier to crucify myself than you,” Hemphill admits. From these nakedly first-person accounts and their attendant, often confrontational images, Riggs makes perceptible the stifling feelings that, in a horrible irony, are instilled by the very culture that refuses their outlet. But in TONGUES UNTIED, they are spoken. Anger becomes mobilized into art and activism. The silence of the AIDS crisis is breached. In the early 90s, the impact of the film was such that the announcement of its broadcast on American public television caused an outcry, most notably from Pat Buchanan, who chastised Bush’s government for allowing such “pornographic and blasphemous art” to receive federal funding. Of course, nothing about the film is inflammatory. Its candor, its poetry, its sensuality, and its politics only solicit our empathy and action. Riggs passed from AIDS complications in 1994, but thirty years on from the release of this seminal film, his voice has never left us. Followed by a conversation with Northwestern University professor Aymar Jean Christian. (1989, 55 min, Video Projection) JL
Showing with Isaac Julien's 1989 UK essay/documentary film LOOKING FOR LANGSTON (42 min, Video Projection).
Donna Deitch’s DESERT HEARTS (American Revival)
Filmfront (1740 W. 18th St.) — Sunday, 7pm
What does it mean to say a film has heart? I used that phrase when explaining why I appreciated Claude Sautet’s CLASSE TOUS RISQUE—which, contrary to critical consensus, I found to be in line with the well-meaning worldview of Sautet’s more congenial, better-known films—after seeing it for the first time at Noir City a few years ago, and I applied it when mulling over the quiet firecracker that is Donna Deitch’s DESERT HEARTS. Referred to as a “lesbian classic,” the film is an adaptation of Jane Rule’s 1964 novel Desert of the Heart, one of the first to seriously portray a romantic relationship between two women. Set in the late 1950s, it follows 35-year-old Columbia lit professor Vivian as she travels to Reno to procure a quickie divorce. There she meets Cay, ten years her junior and borne of a different social sphere, though what she lacks in sophistication she makes up for in independence. Waiting for her decree, Vivian resides at a ranch owned by Cay’s would-be stepmother, Frances, who, while having a romantic streak of her own, condemns Cay’s so-called lifestyle. Despite Cay’s family (generally benign as they think their intolerance is) and Vivian’s initial reticence, romance flourishes in the heat of the desert sun. Vincent Canby is mostly correct when, in his review of the film for the New York Times, he points out that “[i]t's the sort of film in which everyone, including the English professor, talks as if she'd grown up inside ‘The Life of Helen Trent’” (I listened to some of that program on YouTube, and he’s not wrong). Canny as his criticism may be, it’s that very earnestness that gives it its heart, raw feeling overshadowing its grandiloquent flaws. Superficial similarities to Todd Haynes’ CAROL, based on Patricia Highsmith’s novel The Price of Salt, are undeniable—one woman is older, the other is younger; one is très sophistiqué, the other an uncultivated creative—but DESERT HEARTS is softhearted where CAROL retains hints of Highsmith’s signature chilliness. The basal pulchritude of Robert Elswit’s cinematography, an early entry in his illustrious career, palliates the clunkiness of the script. Patricia Charbonneau and Helen Shaver deliver compelling performances as the romantic teacher and her student, respectively (though it’s the latter who’s the professor at Columbia), and the soundtrack is charming as all get out. But it’s Deitch’s direction that elevates it above whimsicality, giving it that something, a je ne sais quoi, similarly embodied by her characters. Curator Hiromi Ueyoshi in person. (1986, 96 min, Video Projection) KS
Showing as a double feature with Patricia Rozema's 1987 Canadian film I'VE HEARD THE MERMAIDS SINGING (81 min, Video Projection).
Olivier Assayas’ NON-FICTION (New French)
Music Box Theatre — Saturday and Sunday, 11:15am
Olivier Assayas’ witty, deceptively simple NON-FICTION begins with a comically tense scene in which Alain, (Guillaume Canet), a suave book publisher, and Leonard (Vincent Macaigne), a Luddite author whose controversial novels are thinly disguised autobiography, argue about the virtues of Twitter. The seemingly meandering narrative that follows belies a clever structure that resolves itself 90-odd minutes later with Shakespearean symmetry when both men vacation together with their wives: Alain’s partner, Selena (Juliette Binoche), is a television actress ambivalent about her recent success on a cop show, and Valerie (Nora Hamzawi), Leonard’s wife, is a high-profile attorney and the breadwinner in their relationship. This quartet represents a spectrum of diverse attitudes towards globalization and humanity's slavish dependence on technology in an increasingly digital world yet it is to Assayas’ credit as a writer that they also always come across as fully fleshed-out characters, never mere mouthpieces for differing points-of-view. It’s the talkiest film Assayas has yet made though the dense dialogue scenes are cleverly edited in a brisk, Fincher-esque manner, and he often generates humor through the surprising way he ends scenes abruptly. It’s a substantial new chapter in an important body of work, one that illustrates the director’s philosophy that the role of the artist is to invent new tools to comment on a modern world that’s always changing. (2018, 106 min, DCP Digital) MGS
MORE SCREENINGS AND EVENTS
The Chicago Film Society (at Northeastern Illinois University, The Auditorium, Building E, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave.) screens William K. Howard's 1931 film TRANSATLANTIC (74 min, 35mm restored archival print) on Wednesday at 7:30pm. Preceded by Tex Avery's 1939 cartoon LAND OF THE MIDNIGHT FUN (9 min, 16mm).
The MCA Chicago screens Matt Wolf's 2019 documentary RECORDER: THE MARION STOKES PROJECT (87 min, Digital Projection) on Friday at 7pm; and The Wind Will Carry Us: The Poetic, The Incidental, The Collective is on Sunday at 2:30pm. The program includes work by Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami along with short films by emerging filmmakers. Followed by a discussion facilitated by Iranian scholar Amir Ali Nojoumian. Free admission for Wind.
Chicago Filmmakers (5720 N. Ridge Ave.) screens Monja Art's 2017 Austrian film SEVENTEEN (104 min, Digital projection) on Friday at 7pm (free, but RSPV required at www.chicagofilmmakers.org); and The Best of Group 312 Films on Saturday at 7pm. The program features work by members of the local collective, including Kevin B. Chatham, Dave Purdie, Richard Syska, Eric Albert Branstrom, Johnny Lange, Anna Munzesheimer, Angela Branstrom, Brian Klein, and Joseph Wiskowski.
Also at Filmfront (1740 W. 18th St.) this week: Jorge Bordello's 2017 Mexican film EL SIGLO DE LAS LUCES (54 min, Video Projection), along with the shorts SEÑALES DE CONQUSITA: EL LIENZO DE TLAXCALA (2019, 14 min) and FUEGO (2016, 3 min), is on Saturday at 7pm, with Bordello in person.
The Instituto Cervantes (31 W. Ohio St.) screens Daniel Serra and Jaume Serra's 2017 Spanish documentary PERSECUTED AND SAVED (51 min, Digital Projection; Free admission) on Monday at 6pm; and Ishtar Yasin's 2018 Costa Rican/Mexican film TWO FRIDAS (92 min, DCP Digital) on Tuesday at 6pm (this Reel Film Club event has a $20 ticket price).
The Stony Island Arts Bank (6760 S. Stony Island Ave.) screens 11-year-old Avery Kelley's short film BACK ROW on Friday at 4:30pm; and Norman Jewison's 1967 film IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT (110 min, Video Projection) on Saturday at 5pm. Free admission for both.
The Alliance Française (54 W. Chicago Ave.) screens Léonor Serraille's 2017 French film JEUNE FEMME / MONTPARNASSE BIENVENUE (98 min, Video Projection) on Wednesday at 6:30pm.
The Beverly Arts Center screens Oscar Nominated Short Films on Wednesday at 7:30pm.
The Cultural Service at the Consulate General of France in Chicago hosts an outdoor screening of Jean Renoir's 1955 French film FRENCH CANCAN (102 mini) on Friday at 8:30pm at Osterman Beach Park (5800 N. Lake Shore Dr.). Free admission.
Also at the Gene Siskel Film Center this week: Daniel Alpert, Greg Jacobs, and Jon Siskel's 2018 documentary NO SMALL MATTER (74 min, DCP Digital) continues for a full week run (check the Siskel website for information of various in-person appearances); Jan Hrebejk's 2017 Czech film DESERTER (115 min, DCP Digital) is on Friday at 7:45 and Monday at 6pm; and his 2017 Czech film SUITOR (113 min, DCP Digital) is on Sunday at 5:15pm and Thursday at 6pm.
Also at the Music Box Theatre this week: Thomas Stuber's 2018 German film IN THE AISLES (125 min, DCP Digital) and Andrew Slater's 2018 documentary ECHO IN THE CANYON (90 min, DCP Digital; Slater and musician Jakob Dylan in person at the 7pm Friday show, which also includes a live performance) both open; John Singleton's 1991 film BOYZ N THE HOOD (112 min, DCP Digital) is on Tuesday at 7pm; Eric Mahoney’s 2019 documentary BRAINIAC: TRANSMISSIONS AFTER ZERO (90 min, DCP Digital) is on Thursday at 7pm, with Mahoney and co-producer/editor Ian Jacobs in person; Ate de Jong's 1991 film HIGHWAY TO HELL (94 min, Digital Projection) is on Saturday at Midnight, preceded by Tim Reis and James Sizemore's 2019 short BUDFOOT; Tommy Wiseau's 2003 film THE ROOM (99 min, 35mm) is on Friday at Midnight; and Jim Sharman's 1975 film THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW (100 min, 35mm) is on Saturday at Midnight.
Facets Cinémathèque hosts the African Diaspora International Film Festival from Friday-Thursday. The festival includes a selection of recent narrative and documentary features and shorts and a retrospective screening of Menelik Shabaz's 1981 UK film BURNING AN ILLUSION (107 min, Digital Projection).
The Chicago Cultural Center hosts the Cinema/Chicago screening of Akash Sherman's 2018 Canadian film CLARA (105 min, Video Projection) on Wednesday at 6:30pm. Free admission.
Comfort Film at Comfort Station Logan Square (2579 N. Milwaukee Ave.) presents an outdoor screening of Wallace Worsley's 1923 silent film THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME (98 min, Digital Projection) on Wednesday at 8:30pm, with live accompaniment by The Blood Sisters. Free admission.
The Millennium Park Summer Film Series (at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion) presents an outdoor screening of Patty Jenkin's 2017 film WONDER WOMAN (141 min) on Tuesday at 6:30pm. Free admission.
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: June 21 - June 27, 2019
MANAGING EDITOR // Patrick Friel
ASSOCIATE EDITORS // Ben Sachs, Kathleen Sachs, Kyle A. Westphal
CONTRIBUTORS // John Dickson, Marilyn Ferdinand, Jonathan Leithold-Patt, Michael G. Smith, Ignatiy Vishnevetsky