:: Friday, JUNE 12 – Thursday, JUNE 18 ::
Anthony Mann’s MEN IN WAR (American Revival)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) – Wednesday, 7pm
When asked which of his own films he liked best, Anthony Mann reportedly listed MEN IN WAR, along with WINCHESTER ‘73, EL CID and GOD’S LITTLE ACRE. It’s similar to the latter film in that both are one-offs within the scope of his career; GOD’S LITTLE ACRE is a bona fide literary adaptation, while MEN IN WAR was Mann’s only foray into a genre that would have seemed a natural fit for the director whom Andrew Sarris deemed a “tough-guy authority.” Set during the Korean War (on September 6, 1950, to be exact), the film is about a platoon that’s trying to reconnect with American forces after being cut off during battle. Robert Ryan plays Lieutenant Benson, who acts as a father figure to his troops, trying to protect them while likewise validating their importance as human beings in the face of mindless warfare. (He carries a little black book that he uses to keep track of his men—alive and dead.) Benson and his men commandeer a jeep driven by a wayward sergeant (“Montana,” played by Aldo Ray) whose only desire is to get his shell-shocked colonel to safety. Benson and Montana come to represent opposite ends of the spectrum; Benson is a born leader who thinks before he acts, while Montana is a natural soldier compelled solely by instinct. As in many of his films, Mann explores the dynamic between these two characters within the overarching group dynamic. This is just one way in which he effortlessly merged aspects of art cinema with the audience’s relentless demand for entertaining stories; as critic and director Dan Sallitt once said, “Filming two people sitting in a room talking is the ultimate in cinema,” and this is what Mann touches on when he pulls out any two people from the group dynamic to emphasize their complex relationship. This is further demonstrated through his masterful compositions. In her book on the director, film historian Jeanine Basinger writes that he “evolved the concept of the total image, one which contained story (content) and presentation of story with the tools of cinema (form) as a unified event.” This is Mann in a nutshell, and it applies to MEN IN WAR no less than to his other more well-known films. One might argue that when specifically applied to the topic of war, such artfulness is the perfect visual representation of it. Close-ups and medium shots reflect both the isolation of combat and the nature of the relationships it creates, while the occasional long shot conveys the foot soldier’s sense of impending doom. (Mann also utilizes nature to expert effect. The landscape doesn’t become a character so much as a monster that hides out in the open.) It’s based on the novel Combat by Van Van Praag, about which little information exists past its relationship to the film. Legend has it that the credited screenwriter, Chicago-born Philip Yordan, may have been providing a front for the work of blacklisted screenwriter Ben Maddow on both this film and GOD’S LITTLE ACRE. Regardless, it’s a Mann film through and through, even if it’s one of his most underrated. (1957, 102 min, 16mm) KS
More info at www.docfilms.uchicago.edu.
Eric Rohmer’s FULL MOON IN PARIS (French Revival)
Gene Siskel Film Center – Sunday, 5pm and Thursday, 6pm
The final film in Eric Rohmer’s Comedies & Proverbs series, FULL MOON IN PARIS begins with a quote: “With two women, a man loses his soul. Two houses, a man loses his mind.” However, the main character of this film is not a man, but a woman, played by Pascale Ogier who, at 25, would die a year later from a drug overdose on the eve of her 26th birthday. She only appeared in a handful of films, but this one, along with LE PONT DU NORD by another New Waver, Jacques Rivette (which she co-wrote along with her mother, Bulle), would solidify her position in the canon of young French actresses (the filmic mainstream talks of Binoche and Huppert, but what of Bonnaire, Berto, and Ogier?). Ogier plays a young woman (Louise), living in the suburbs with her boyfriend, who yearns for the freedom to stay up late, come home when she wants, and be alone when she wants, all the while maintaining the stability of her relationship. After a moment of strife, the couple reaches an agreement; she will maintain her small apartment in Paris, and he will maintain his house in the French suburbs, and their relationship will blossom. As the months pass by and the young woman comes back into contact with the life she knew before she met her boyfriend, she becomes steeped in her new existence, and this is when the film makes a subtle shift in tone, turning into an almost-“detective story,” similar to Rohmer’s previous film, THE AVIATOR’S WIFE. The young woman starts to suspect her boyfriend may have taken a lover, now that her newfound freedom extends to him as well. The film not only wraps itself in Louise’s behavior, but also in the mysterious ambience of Paris in the wee-hours, haunted by the affective glow of the full moon, anticipating the solar energy of his next film, THE GREEN RAY. The men in Louise’s life try to trap her, keep her within an arm’s reach, but the film goes beyond the usual stale-trappings a male filmmaker often treads trying to harness the “unknowable force” that propels a young woman, often encased in the husk of half-baked Flaubert, and instead renders the character completely human, as her moral fabric starts to loosen its thread and she comes to see the reality of her choices; and just as the movie opens with a quote, another line is uttered towards the end: “One has to choose. It’s painful.” (1984, 102 min, DCP Digital; New Restoration) JD
More info at www.siskelfilmcenter.org.
Tim Burton’s BATMAN RETURNS & Joseph Zito’s INVASION U.S.A. (American Revivals)
Northbrook Public Library (1201 Cedar Lane, Northbrook) – Wednesday, 1 and 7:30pm (Free Admission) (Batman)
Music Box Theatre – Friday and Saturday, Midnight (Invasion)
There are genres that depend on a kind of implicitly moral worldbuilding. It’s often been said that the detective genre is inherently conservative in form. A crime is committed, a violation to the status quo, and it is the job or duty of the detective to return society to proper working order, usually by uncovering the identity of the killer or thief and arranging for that miscreant’s proper punishment. When the detective film values law and order it does so because in the world of that film, law and order are right, good, just. The superhero film, however, does not value law and order, does not find resolution in the wheels of justice. The superhero film finds civilization an encumbrance, a deep-seated problem that a grand hero must transform, and these two great Reagan/Bush I era movies embody two divergent ways to respond to that problem. Tim Burton’s BATMAN RETURNS (1992, 126 min, 35mm) is a vision of sexual expansiveness, one of the dirtiest PG-13 films ever made. Easily the best Batman movie, BATMAN RETURNS follows a secretary, Selina Kyle (Michelle Pfeiffer), who stumbles on to her boss’s plot to rob Gotham City of its electricity. He promptly murders her, but, possessed by a feline spirit of some sort, she returns to seek vengeance on him and all men who exploit women. Her violent, erotically charged vigilante spree through the city brings her to the attention of a brutal, thuggish man in a rubber bat costume with a savior complex and a deformed aquatic bird fetishist intent on mass murder. Burton’s oiled, diseased, leather-clad architecture, Weimar-derived style, and grisly sense of humor are at their height here: the sets sweat, the costumes are some nightmarish combination of S&M magazine and Barnum & Bailey dumpster, and the unctuous, evil little plots the villains set threaten equal parts bloodlust and wicked comeuppance. It’s the perfect atmosphere to stage a vicious feminist assault on the patronizing Good Guys vs. Bad Guys for the sake of Our Women bullshit that still haunts our movies today like a fart in an elevator. Kyle in her new guise as Catwoman is neither hero nor crook but a woman hell-bent on playing by a different set of rules. BATMAN RETURNS is an anarchic, transgressive morality tale in which the conventional crime fighter and his conventional foe are equally in the wrong, in which the city is saved by the destruction of the order it tried so hard to enshrine. In contrast, Joseph Zito’s INVASION U.S.A. (1985, 107 min, 35mm) is its political opposite, a reactionary, elegiac murder-fest in which an army of terrorists invades the United States and begins an all-out offensive within our national borders. They blow up suburban homes, shoot out Miami street corners, plant bombs on school buses and in shopping malls. The government, weakened by the need to police minorities and harass photojournalists, is powerless. Only one man can stop them: Matt Hunter, played with Affleck-like subtlety by Chuck Norris, a former CIA operative now hunting alligators in the Everglades. Hunter’s response? Blow every terrorist on U.S. soil to smithereens, preferably with automatic machine guns. INVASION U.S.A. was the second collaboration between Norris and director Zito, following the previous year’s MISSING IN ACTION. Zito, given a very free hand, imbues the film with a melancholic, despairing air that is deeply at odds with the fascistic horrors enacted on screen. His shots of Florida’s swamps are richly beautiful, a natural world soon to be incinerated in a hail of rocket propelled grenades, knives through hands, and car chases. Zito takes pains in every shot to ground the absurd action in a fully living, breathing environment of life, life that must be defended against the terrorists and from which the hero, Hunter, emerges. Throughout, Hunter is made explicitly a force of nature, a man who comes from outside the bounds of society to save us, but who can have no true place within it. BATMAN RETURNS sees a rotting darkness at the heart of the city and metaphorically burns the city to the ground in response, setting the darkness free. INVASION U.S.A. sees that same darkness, and leaps in after it, pouring hot lead and fire after itself to seal the darkness in. KB
Carol Reed’s THE THIRD MAN (British Revival)
Music Box Theatre – Check Venue website for showtimes
Carol Reed and Graham Greene’s THE THIRD MAN stars Joseph Cotton as Holly Martins, an American writer of “cheap novelettes” such as Oklahoma Kid and The Lone Rider of Santa Fe. In 1949, Martins goes to Vienna to visit his old friend Harry Lime (Orson Welles) and soon finds out that he is dead. In an international zone designated for police at the center of the city, the British Major Calloway (Trevor Howard) and his officers investigate Lime’s recent death and his role in selling diluted penicillin on the black market. Martins also begins to look into whether the death was an accident or murder only to inadvertently discover that Lime is alive and hiding out in the Russian sector. (Although Welles spends very little time onscreen, Harry Lime is his most celebrated performance after Charles Foster Kane; in fact, Andre Bazin said that the role made Welles into a myth.) Similar to Vittorio De Sica’s THE BICYCLE THIEF (1948) and Jean Cocteau’s ORPHEUS (1950) in its semi-documentary quality, THE THIRD MAN captures Europe in ruins after the second war to end all wars. Following the February 1948 coup that brought the Communists to power in Czechoslovakia, the film’s producer Alexander Korda asked Greene to go to Vienna and write a screenplay on the city’s occupation by the Americans, Russians, British, and French. According to Lime’s associate “Baron” Kurtz (a reference to the corrupt ivory trader in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness), all of the Viennese are now at the mercy of the black market. Robert Krasker’s camera often catches their faces in close-up as they watch what happens on the city’s streets; they rarely, if ever, make the mistake of speaking about it. Toward the end of the film, Martins meets Lime at an empty carnival in Prater Park. While going around on the Ferris wheel, Lime reveals to his friend, “You’re just a little mixed up about things in general. Nobody thinks in terms of human beings. Governments don’t. Why should we? They talk about the people and the proletariat. I talk about the suckers and the mugs. It’s the same thing. They have their five-year plans, so have I.” THE THIRD MAN is one of the great works of British film noir that considers what, if anything, is left of morality for those who were spared by the Second World War. (1949, 104 min, DCP Digital; New Restoration) CW
More info at www.musicboxtheatre.com.
Mia Hansen-Løve’s EDEN (New French)
Music Box Theatre – Saturday and Sunday, 11:30am
It is a remarkable (albeit Francophilic) fact that one of the world’s greatest living filmmakers–Claire Denis–and one of the world’s greatest up-and-coming filmmakers–Mia Hansen-Løve–are, more-or-less, serious aficionados of club music, a relentless, ecstatic, and sometimes melancholic variety of genres which, to be honest, is poorly matched to many other emotions conventionally provoked by cinema. But like her protagonists in EDEN, Hansen-Løve has thrown caution to the wind and built an epic 21-year audiovisual mixtape around the prolonged young-adulthood of her brother, Sven Løve, a Parisian DJ whose social circle was obsessed with the soulful, vocals-heavy style of the 1980s-era Paradise Garage nightclub in New York (located around the corner from Film Forum). Her staging thrives in the events’ thresholds–in those tunnels and stairways of echoing (and frequently Chicago-manufactured) basslines, spaces sometimes more memorable than the parties themselves–for those were the corporeal and mundane passages through which an apolitical generation in Europe and England found a temporary transcendence. But radically, EDEN’s story is told less through plot and dialogue than in the gospel-influenced lyrics of the wall-to-wall soundtrack, stylistically constrained to express love, heartbreak, isolation, and communion. The addresser and addressee of these songs, once representing a choir speaking to god, comes to represent the voice of a lover to another; or from dancer to anonymous dancer; or from the DJ to the dance floor. “Follow me, where we can be free”; “Let’s get close, closer than close”; “I’m trying to hold on to your love”; “One more time, one more time, one more time, one more time.” (2014, 131 min, DCP Digital) MC
More info at www.musicboxtheatre.com.
MORE SCREENINGS AND EVENTS
The Northwest Chicago Film Society, in their new home at Northeastern Illinois University (Auditorium, Building E, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave.), presents Michael Ritchie’s 1975 film SMILE (113 min, 35mm) on Wednesday at 7pm.
The Sulzer Regional Library (4455 N. Lincoln Ave.) presents a screening of soundies, TV ads, and movie trailers from the collection of artist and filmmaker Heather McAdams on Thursday at 7pm. The screening is in conjunction with an exhibition of McAdams’ cartoons, drawings, needlepoint, and other art, which runs through July 31. All 16mm. Free admission.
The Nightingale (1084 N. Milwaukee Ave.) presents Radius GRIDS: GRIDS Book Release and FLEETING COMPONENTS Screening on Tuesday at 7pm. The book release of GRIDS, which documents the activities of the experimental radio broadcast platform Radius, will be accompanied by a new film by Stephanie Acosta, FLEETING COMPONENTS.
Also at the Gene Siskel Film Center this week: Peter H. Hunt’s 1972 musical 1776 (166 min, DCP Digital; New Restoration) is on Friday at 3pm and Monday at 6pm; Richard Lester’s 1964 musical A HARD DAY’S NIGHT (87 min, DCP Digital; New Restoration) is on Friday at 6:15pm, Saturday at 3pm, and Tuesday at 6pm; Hiromasa Yonebayashi’s 2010 Japanese animation THE SECRET WORLD OF ARRIETTY (94 min, DCP Digital) is on Friday at 3pm (subtitled), Saturday at 5pm (English dubbed), and Wednesday at 6pm (subtitled); Hiromasa Yonebayashi’s 2014 Japanese animation WHEN MARNIE WAS THERE (103 min, DCP Digital; check website for subtitled vs. dubbed screenings), Eran Riklis’ 2014 Israeli/German/French film A BORROWED IDENTITY (104 min, DCP Digital), and Josh Lawson’s 2014 Australian film THE LITTLE DEATH (96 min, DCP Digital) all play for a week.
Also at Doc Films (University of Chicago) this week: Neena Nejad and Xoel Pamos’ 2014 documentary PRICE OF HONOR (118 min, DVD Projection) is on Thursday at 7pm, with Pamos in person for a post-screening panel discussion. Free admission.
Also at the Music Box Theatre this week: Crystal Moselle’s 2015 documentary THE WOLFPACK (80 min) continues; Julie Taymor’s 2014 film A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM (148 min) is on Sunday at 11:30am and Tuesday at 7pm; Michael Curtiz’s 1942 musical biography YANKEE DOODLE DANDY (126 min, 35mm) is on Saturday at 11:30am, preceded by a holiday sing-along; Dito Montiel’s 2014 film BOULEVARD (88 min) screens on Wednesday at 7pm as part of the occasional New York Film Critics series; and Joseph Zito’s 1985 film INVASION U.S.A. (107 min, 35mm) is on Friday and Saturday at Midnight. Unconfirmed Formats except where noted.
Facets Cinémathèque plays Kenny Riches 2014 film THE STRONGEST MAN (99 min, Unconfirmed Format) and Billy Senese’s 2014 film CLOSER TO GOD (82 min, Unconfirmed Format) for week long runs.
Comfort Film at Comfort Station Logan Square (2579 N. Milwaukee Ave.) presents John Woo’s 1997 film FACE/OFF (139 min, Digital File) on Friday at 8pm. The screening features live commentary by local comedians; Ernest J. Ramon’s 2015 compilation film CRITICAL PARANOIA 2: DARK NIGHT RISING (87 min, Digital Projection) is on Tuesday at 8:30pm, screening outdoors; and an outdoor screening of Marshall Neilan’s 1918 silent film STELLA MARIS (80 min, Digital Projection) is on Wednesday at sundown (approx. 8:30pm), with live music by The Passerines. Free admission for all three events.
The Chicago Cultural Center hosts the Cinema/Chicago screening of Chi-Jan Hou, Ko-Shang Shen, and Yu-Hsun Chen’s 2010 Taiwanese film JULIETS (106 min, Video Projection – Unconfirmed Format) on Wednesday at 6:30pm. Free admission.
ONGOING FILM/VIDEO INSTALLATIONS
Deadly Prey Gallery (1433 W. Chicago Ave.) presents the exhibition Action-Packed & Horrible, featuring contemporary (1990s-present) hand-painted movie posters from Ghana. The opening is Friday from 7 to 11pm and the show runs through July 24.
The exhibition Frances Stark: Intimism is on view at the Art Institute of Chicago through August 30. The show is a comprehensive survey of Stark’s video and digital production.
The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago presents an exhibition of nine video works by artist Keren Cytter. On view through October 4.
The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago presents German artist Clemens von Wedemeyer’s HD video installation Muster (Rushes) (2012). On view through July 26.
Chicago Public Library screenings: Due to the frequency of late-additions (past our deadlines) and to their frequent inability (due to licensing restrictions) of publicly listing the titles of films they are screening, we will no longer be listing specific CPL screenings. Check their website for any films that may be showing.
The Patio Theater and the Portage Theater calendars have been confusing and constantly shifting—adding and removing events with little notice—and reportedly have been unexpectedly closed for scheduled events. We will no longer attempt to list any screenings there.
CINE-LIST: July 3 – July 9, 2015
MANAGING EDITOR / Patrick Friel
CONTRIBUTORS / Kian Bergstrom, Michael Castelle, John Dickson, Kathleen Sachs, Candace Wirt, Darnell Witt