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:: Friday, MAR. 25 - Thursday, MAR. 31 ::


The 14th Annual European Union Film Festival — Final Week
Gene Siskel Film Center 
The EU fest's final week includes, perhaps, one of the most important films that will screen in Chicago this year: Manoel de Oliveira's THE STRANGE CASE OF ANGELICA. Any opportunity to see work by the Portuguese master is one that should not be passed up (can you tell that we like de Oliveira here at Cine-File?). Other notable films this week include SLEEPING BEAUTY, Catherine Breillat's fairytale follow-up to her acclaimed BLUEBEARD; and Romanian filmmaker Radu Jude's new film, THE HAPPIEST GIRL IN THE WORLD. The closing-night film is Michael Winterbottom's THE TRIP, screening on Thursday, but not before another eleven selections are shown. See the films of the name directors, but try to catch something by someone you've never heard of as well. Visit our Blog for reviews of a sampling of individual films. PF
More info and complete schedule at

Abbas Kiarostami's THROUGH THE OLIVE TREES (Iranian Revival) 
Doc Films (University of Chicago) — Thursday, 7pm 
Fresh on the U.S. release of Kiarostami's latest, CERTIFIED COPY, Doc Films is reviving the director's most complicated narrative puzzle prior to that one. The film is a fictionalized account of the making of Kiarostami's AND LIFE GOES ON (1992), itself a fictionalized account of Kiarostami's visit to Koker following a major earthquake that devastated locations of yet an earlier film, WHERE IS THE FRIEND'S HOUSE? (1987). This is a mind-blowing hall of mirrors, comparable to those constructed by Philip Roth in his novels Zuckerman Unbound and The Counterlife, in which the author is faced with multiple doubles of himself. But it would be a mistake to classify THROUGH THE OLIVE TREES as a self-regarding exercise: As in the preceding films of the so-called Koker Trilogy, the central theme is how artists are at a loss to navigate the problems of the real world (or, as Jonathan Rosenbaum has put it, "the status of filmmaking among ordinary people"). Kiarostami devotes much of the narrative to a romantic crisis of two locals hired to act in the film-within-the-film; their "real-life" story is so funny and urgent that the filmmaking process comes to seem trivial in comparison. Kiarostami heightens the sense of metaphysical displacement with some of the most bewitching mise-en-scene in contemporary movies, with monumental images of Koker's hilly terrain that render all human activity at once quaint and eerily undersized. Given the film's unique power on a big screen and the fact that it is still without U.S. distribution, this rare screening is absolutely crucial viewing. (1994, 103 min, 35mm) BS
Note: Kiarostami's newest film, CERTIFIED COPY, continues at the Landmark's Century Centre Cinema. See last week's list for a review.
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Anthony Mann's RAILROADED! (American Revival)
Northwest Chicago Film Society at the Portage Theater — Wednesday, 7pm 
In the past year, the welcome revival screenings of GOD'S LITTLE ACRE, T-MEN, and REIGN OF TERROR have taught Chicago that there is no Anthony Mann title worth dismissing. Now, the Northwest Chicago Film Society brings us RAILROADED!, another title pulled from the cobwebs of Mann's ever-surprising filmography. The movie comes from Mann's fruitful period as a director of B crime movies, in which he triumphed over limited productions with visual invention and intense psychological curiosity. By 1950, James Stewart would take notice and recruit Mann to direct Westerns for Universal; but in 1947, Mann was still working overtime to make art out of unlikely projects like this. (He finished the film just months after T-MEN, and he would have another in the can by the end of the year.) This is a hard-bitten noir about a beautician who tries to clear her brother of a false robbery charge, enlisting the help of a homicide sergeant in her pursuit. It has been praised for the surprising level of detail in the depiction of detective work and for the ambition (given the budget) of its mobile long-takes. This film, along with the others Mann directed around this time, merited a mention in Manny Farber's seminal essay about tough guy cinema, "Underground Films." In that piece he wrote, "Anthony Mann's inhumanity to man, in which cold mortal intentness is the trademark effect, can be studied best in... RAILROADED. The films of this tin-can de Sade have a Germanic rigor, caterpillar intimacy, and an original dictionary of ways in which to punish the human body." The feature will be preceded by the vintage short PHILO VANCE, DETECTIVE. (1947, 72 min, 16mm) BS
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Tony Cokes: Notes on Evil (and Others) (Experimental)
Conversations at the Edge Series at the Gene Siskel Film Center — Thursday, 6pm
Videomaker and artist Tony Cokes' work is something of a rarity: actively political experimental videos that are no-holds-barred in their social, economic, and political critique and yet, somehow, don't come across as strident. Cokes achieves this by positioning his work as "third-person" pieces (none of the first-person commentary that can often be so deadly) and through his use of appropriated or "commissioned" imagery and text. From his earliest piece, 1988's BLACK CELEBRATION (about the Watts Riots and economic injustice), through the on-going Evil series (focused primarily on 9-11 and its aftermath), he creates powerful works through minimal means: a simple combination of disparate elements—text (mostly on-screen), images, and music—that are frequently at odds with each other. Cutting or angry third-party commentary is softened by picturesque cityscape footage of Manhattan or pure abstract imagery. His use of music (mimicked German techno-pop or songs from the Magnetic Fields, for example) also lessens the harshness of the rhetoric. Ironically, this gives the words more weight; one is distracted from the tone of the quotes Cokes uses and focuses more intently on their content. Only in the most recent piece showing, (2010-11) does this not hold up; here Cokes uses computer-generated voice-over for the text instead of displaying it on-screen. The impersonal, artificial cadence causes the viewer to struggle to just comprehend what is being said instead of allowing them to understand it. But the other five videos being shown do successfully navigate their juxtapositions of image/text/sound, injecting some needed radical content into a genre that is usually focused solely on the pictorial or the personal. Tony Cokes in person. (1988-2011, approx. 75 min, multiple video formats) PF 
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Kim Jee-woon's I SAW THE DEVIL (New South Korean)  
Music Box — Check Venue website for showtimes 
Shot in borderline-giallo lurid colors, I SAW THE DEVIL is Kim Jee-woon's termitic answer to the revenge films of Park Chan-Wook, complete with protracted torture scenes and Park regular Choi Min-sik—seemingly the most revenged-against actor in film history—as one of the leads. Choi (at his rattiest and badger-iest) plays a cartoonish serial killer who is being tormented by an equally cartoonish government agent (Lee Byung-hun, stoic and skeezily-dressed). Instead of teasing out faux-operatic profundities a la Park, Choi sticks to a brutal, pulpy scuzziness that is more concerned with characters than themes, but ends up honing in on his two leads so intently that the themes, however simple, come through on their own. (2010, 141 min, 35mm) IV  
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Burt Kennedy's HANNIE CAULDER (American Revival) 
Facets Cinémathèque — Saturday, Midnight 
Reviewing his resume, this film's director seems like the Troy McClure of post-Classical Hollywood: "Hi, I'm Burt Kennedy, and you might remember me as the director of such hits as DIRTY DINGUS MAGEE, KATE BLISS AND THE TICKER TAPE KID, and WHERE THE HELL'S THAT GOLD?!!?" Actually, Kennedy has a higher pedigree than you might expect: He came to prominence in his early 30s as the screenwriter of Budd Boetticher's major Westerns (including SEVEN MEN FROM NOW and RIDE LONESOME), and one of his last major credits was as co-writer on Clint Eastwood's unsettling moral drama, WHITE HUNTER, BLACK HEART. Still, it may be worth noting that Kennedy's roots are in showbiz: Literally born into vaudeville, he was made part of his family's "Dancing Kennedys" stage act as early as infancy. Kennedy's most popular films as director—the light Westerns SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL GUNFIGHTER and YOUNG BILLY YOUNG—improbably split the difference between these two sides of his personality; this feature, largely forgotten, brings some cheesecake allure and a frequent light touch to a standard retaliation plot. Raquel Welch stars as a homesteader's widow who toughens up (and puts on tight pants) to take revenge on the men who killed her husband; rounding out the cast is the intriguing combination of Robert Culp, Ernest Borgnine, Christopher Lee, and Strother Martin. Part of Facets Night School series; introduced by Michelle Zaladonis. (1971, 85 min, DVD projection) BS
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Alfred Hitchcock's THE 39 STEPS (British Revival) 
Doc Films (University of Chicago) — Wednesday, 7 and 9pm 
Even as every plot device from this thriller has been worn smooth by decades of reuse, THE 39 STEPS stands out in Hitchcock's body of work for its uncommonly playful lightness. Billed as a tale of international espionage, this is actually a paean to the bachelor. Richard Hanney (Robert Donat), looking every inch the rake with an Errol Flynn swagger and an Ed Wood mustache, begins and ends his adventure in the music hall, where unmarried women drink and workingmen brawl. Visiting London from Canada for a few months, the already carefree Hanney thinks nothing of bringing a strange woman back to his furnished apartment, and when she dies abruptly, he steps into her adventure seamlessly, certain that the next right step will appear before him as he strides ahead. Villains, passersby, and policemen fall in behind him as he makes his way to a circled town on a map of Scotland, though the purpose of the mission is mysterious even to him. The speed of the editing leads us through uncluttered sets and spotlit scenes so surely that we need to do nothing but react strongly. Hanney seems to operate the same way; men chase, he runs. If he sees a woman he romances her. If he has an audience he gives them a rousing speech. The adventure serves to showcase his polyvalence rather than the other way around. His bravado is irresistible to the audience, to the dames, and to us, the viewers. (1935, 86 min, 35mm) JF
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Henri-Georges Clouzot's DIABOLIQUE (French Revival)
Gene Siskel Film Center — Tuesday, 6pm
A once-shocking, influential thriller now more suited to killing a cold, rainy afternoon, DIABOLIQUE (LES DIABOLIQUES)—based on a 1952 Boileau-Narcejac novel—is somewhat equally popular with deeper-digging aficionados of Hitchcock (whom director Clouzot beat out for the screenplay rights) as well as feminist film theorists, who mined the (wholly subtextual) lesbian relationship between the two suburban boarding-school teachers (Simone Signoret and Clouzot's wife, Véra) who conspire to murder the headmaster with whom they are both involved (Paul Meurisse). Screening as part of the Siskel's "Psychological Horror Film" series, it's worth observing how Clouzot's comparatively breezy genre-interpolation (from suspense, to supernatural horror, to twist-ending policier) was transformed by Hitchcock into films that could instead only be decrypted in psychoanalytic terms (e.g. THE BIRDS, coming next month). Intriguingly bookended in Clouzot's filmography by the nail-biting classic WAGES OF FEAR (1953) and the hallucinatory/meditative MYSTERY OF PICASSO (1956), DIABOLIQUE is also notable for its third-act arrival of the retired police inspector Fichet (Charles Vanel), disheveled and disingenuous, whom Cine-Filers of a certain age will recognize as the template for Peter Falk's Columbo. Lecture by Jim Trainor. (1955, 114 min, 35mm) MC
More info at

David Mamet's THE SPANISH PRISONER (Contemporary American Revival) 
Logan Square International Film Series (3421 W. Medill) — Monday, 7pm 
David Mamet's Mannerist, deliberately stiff light thriller (or is it an homage to light thrillers?) where there are seemingly no characters, only people-shaped cogs in a neat little contraption that manufactures plot twists. The presence of poker-faced stage magician Ricky Jay in the cast gives away Mamet's game—to perform a series of writing-directing tricks for the audience—early on, but this—combined with the movie's controlled airlessness—is itself just a part of Mamet's complicated directorial ruse, which fascinatingly mirrors the one in the film. Campbell Scott plays a man being conned into believing he's being conned; he serves as the straightman to a cast—which includes Steve Martin, Ben Gazzara, Rebecca Pidgeon, Ed O'Neil, and Felicity Huffman—which delivers every line of dialogue with the flavor of impeccable stage patter. Altogether peculiar, perverse entertainment. (1997, 110 min, DVD projection) IV
More info here.


The Experimental Film Society at the School of the Art Institute presents Films: By and About: Jack Smith on Tuesday at 5:30pm (112 S. Michigan Ave., Rm. 1307). This excellent program includes Smith's own films SCOTCH TAPE (1962) and I WAS A MALE YVONNE DE CARLO (1970) and two absolutely terrific films he appears in: Ken Jacobs' LITTLE STABS AT HAPPINESS (1963), and Ron Rice's CHUMLUM (1962).  

The Red Cannels collective, visiting from NYC, presents To Construct New Neighborhoods of Alliance: Film/Video Program from NYC on Friday at 7pm at the Biblioteca Popular del Barrio (1921 S. Blue Island Ave.). The program, about race and the urban experience, includes NOW (Santiago Alvarez, 1965), EL PUEBLO SE LEVANTA (THE PEOPLE ARE RISING) (Newsreel, 1971), QUEEN MOTHER MOORE SPEECH AT GREENHAVEN PRISON (People's Communication Network, 1973), and RICHIE PEREZ WATCHES "FORT ACHACHE: THE BRONX" (Paper Tiger Television, 1983). More info here.

ACRE Projects (1913 W. 17th St.) presents Like a Rock: Work by Tony Balko and Olivia Ciummo, an exhibition of moving image and photographic work, on Friday at 6pm. More info here.

Roots & Culture (1034 N. Milwaukee Ave.) presents Eyeball Witness: Suitable Video Vol. 2 on Sunday at 7pm. The program, curated by Scott Wolniak, includes videos by Andrew Fansler, Derek Fansler, Ken Fandell, Eric Fleischauer, Gabriel Fowler, Charles Irvin, Emily Jones, Mike Lopez, Danielle Paz, David Servoss, Kwabena Slaughter, Clay Smith, Alexander Stewart, Kirsten Stoltmann, Selina Trepp, and Erik Wenzel.

On Monday at 7pm Mess Hall (6932 N. Glenwood Ave.) presents Four Shorts from the Factories, a program of documentary shorts from Cambodia made by Mark Hammond and Nico Mesterharm in collaboration with several Cambodian students. The films (A DAY AT THE FACTORY, A DAY AROUND THE FACTORIES, A DAY OFF FROM THE FACTORY and A WEEKEND WITH THE MANAGER) "look at the economic downturn viewed through the prism of workers, a female Cambodian manager, union representatives, entrepreneurs and small businesses surrounding the [garment] factories." Also showing are two episodes from the Cambodian soap opera "At the Factory Gates." Anne Elizabeth Moore will introduce the screening and lead a discussion afterwards.

Lampo presents Jon Satrom's Prepared Desktop on Saturday at 8pm at the Graham Foundation (Madlener House, 4 W. Burton Pl.). This event is free, but is currently "sold out." You can get on the wait list at

The Archer Ballroom (3012 S. Archer Ave. Apt #3) is hosting BYOB CHI (Bring Your Own Beamer Chicago) on Saturday starting at 7pm. It's described as "a collaborative happening of moving light, sound and performance." More info here.

A DIY Film Festival is part of the activities of the Chicago Zine Fest this weekend. This screening, curated by Eric Ayotte, is on Saturday at 12pm at Columbia College Chicago. More info here.

Also at Doc Films (University of Chicago) this week: Stan Brakhage's great experimental film DOG STAR MAN (1961-64) screens on Monday; Arthur Leonard's 1947 black cast musical SEPIA CINDERELLA is on Tuesday; and Jon Amiel's 2003 film THE CORE is the late film on Thursday.

Also at the Music Box this week: Rachid Bouchareb's OUTSIDE THE LAW opens; through some strange cosmic coincidence, Richard Brooks' 1958 film CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF screens as one of the Saturday and Sunday matinee films. The film stars, of course, Elizabeth Taylor in one of her most acclaimed (and sultriest) roles (Taylor also stars in BOOM!, showing in a couple of weeks.); the other weekend matinee is Aaron Katz's COLD WEATHER; the Friday and Saturday midnight films are Joel and Ethan Coen's THE BIG LEBOWSKI and the new anime film EVANGELION: 2.0 YOU CAN (NOT) ADVANCE.

Chicago Cultural Center hosts the Cinema Q series on Wednesday at 6:30pm. This week it's JOJO BABY, Mark Danforth and Dana Buning's documentary portrait of the local artist and nightclub legend. Also showing are two music videos of The Joans, directed by Peter Neville. JoJo Baby and Neville in person.

Block Cinema (Northwestern University) presents Yasujiro Ozu's 1934 film A STORY OF FLOATING WEEKS on Thursday at 7:30pm, with new live score composed and performed by Alex de Grassi. 

Also this week at Facets Cinémathèque is Craig Macneill and Alexei Kaleina's 2009 film THE AFTERLIFE, which plays for a week. 

Chicago Filmmakers hosts one of their quarterly Open Screenings on Friday at 8pm. It's free, so stop by to just watch or bring something to show (20 minutes max).
At the Portage Theater this week: the Wednesday matinee (1:30pm) film is Charles Walters' 1951 comedy/romance 3 GUYS NAMED MIKE (from DVD); Robert Alaniz's new independent comedy D.I.N.K.S screens Friday at 8pm; on Saturday starting at 1pm it's the Universal Horror Party 2, with the films ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN, DRACULA, FRANKENSTEIN, THE WOLFMAN, CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, and REVENGE OF THE CREATURE.

Links Hall (3435 N. Sheffield Ave.) presents Yakov Protazanov's 1924 Soviet film AELITA: QUEEN OF MARS this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Sort of. Note that it's showing with a new Surround-sound score by Dan Schaaf, who has also shortened it considerably, tweaked it digitally, and added sound effects and songs and dialog (performed live).

Saturday Cinema continues with two new films by Aline Cautis: escape strategies 001 & escape strategies 003. The minute-long films will be shown continuously looped, from 8pm-Midnight on Saturdays through April 23. View from the street: 2nd Floor window at 1369 W. Chicago Ave.

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CINE-LIST: March 25 - March 31, 2011


CONTRIBUTORS / Michael Castelle, Josephine Ferorelli, Anne Orchier, Ben Sachs, Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, Darnell Witt

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