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:: Friday, OCT. 28 - Thursday, NOV. 3 ::

CRUCIAL VIEWING

Gregory Markopoulos' ENIAIOS II (Experimental)
Conversations at the Edge (at the Gene Siskel Film Center) — Thursday, 6pm
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Guest Review by Chicago experimental video artist Kyle Canterbury:

Ancient ruins. Swirling seashells. Prayer beads, each of self-enclosed roundness, together forming a larger circle. The alternating advance and recede of a sea to its shore. The space around a column and its distance from the next. The distances between stars. The luminescence of sleep breaking up the black of day. (In Greece, the night illuminated by projected dreams.) The building and collapsing of cities. The weaving in and out of threads of a tapestry... Metaphors are too readily available for attempting to portray the extraordinary ENIAIOS, a mammoth 22-cycle 'whole' encompassing several decades of work, by one of cinema's preeminent artists. Every cycle is silent, as many experimental films are, but theirs is a very special silence. Not only is the music of light and darkness and the polyphony of color sharpened; a Zen-like completeness is attained: fullness out of emptiness—almost as if from purging the world of all non-imagery. It surrounds and allows us to see what we see, as well as room to ruminate. We look into these images as a tree gazes into the water at its reflection. We see through into the inward chamber of every space, which asks to be re-imagined and brought back to life inside us. A fabric of pure black and pure white interlock, balance, destroy, expand, release icons: visions of eternity, vistas, patches of color, portraits, and much else besides, every picture a ripple on a much vaster ocean; shaping the viewer's consciousness as she views, transforming her own 'inscape.' All the while, associations disassociate, meanings multiply, remnants remain to be recalled in reverie. ENIAIOS is sui generis, and made as if no other films had existed. Even outside its ideal settings, separate from its intended Greek ground, it has the power to take us to incomparable Olympian heights. This is the first screening of ENIAIOS II outside of The Temenos in Greece, and only the second time any cycle has been shown in the US. (The first cycle is something of an introductory section shown at each Temenos event.) These comments are based on another cycle, ENIAIOS V, which was screened at the Museum of the Moving Image in New York on February 19 of this year. The screening will be followed by an audience discussion led by SAIC professor Bruce Jenkins. (1949/1991, 125 min, 16mm) KC
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More info at blogs.saic.edu/cate.


Stephen Cone's THE WISE KIDS (New American/Festival)
Reeling 2011: The 30th Chicago Lesbian & Gay International Film Festival at the Music Box— Thursday, 7:30pm
Near-constant immersion in the secular artistic communities of Chicago can only vaguely sustain the illusion that this playground of productive self-expression and/or hedonism is anything more than a shadow on a broad landscape of Christianity stretching to the horizon and beyond. While the art houses trend towards, at best, the decomposed Catholicism of Western Europe (and at worst the drooling contempt of RELIGULOUS and JESUS CAMP), few films are ready to take cultural egalitarianism seriously enough to respectfully depict the provincial, family-oriented, frequently-conservative Protestant traditions that so many of you fake city slickers came from in the first place. Opening Reeling's 30th anniversary, THE WISE KIDS, a new Kickstarter-backed independent feature directed by Chicago-based filmmaker Stephen Cone (though the film was shot in South Carolina), considers the post-high-school transition for three close friends in a Southern Baptist community (not wildly divergent from more proximate evangelical parishes) and uses the setting not to condescend but to take on some pretty serious questions: the role of homosexuality, and of secular education and knowledge, within a close-knit, ardent scriptural-literalist tradition. Instead of indicting a repressive and closed-minded hegemony (and thus implicitly celebrating the epicurean, worldly alienation of the big city), Cone and his talented young actors highlight the realistically thoughtful interior and social struggles of these protagonists as they approach escape velocity from this simultaneously restrictive and virtuously ecstatic moral order. Already winner of Best US Dramatic Feature at LA's OutFest and the audience award for Best Narrative Feature at NYC's Newfest, this won't play well in Peoria, but it'll play very well for Peorians. Cone and several cast/crew members in person. (2011, 95 min, HDCam Video) MC
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The festival continues with nearly 65 additional programs through November 12.
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More info at reelingfilmfestival.org.

ALSO RECOMMENDED

Sion Sono's COLD FISH (New Japanese) 
Chicago Filmmakers — Friday, 8pm 
Following his four-hour-long LOVE EXPOSURE—a piece of conceptual art that often resembles a movie—noted fedora enthusiast Sion Sono returns to the plotty, grotesque kitchen-sink horror of NORIKO'S DINNER TABLE with this black comedy about a meek tropical fish dealer (Mitsuru Fukikoshi) who meets an avuncular psychopath (Denden) and gets bullied into becoming his accomplice. Sono's style is predicated on a mixture of overinflation—the performances, ideas and running times (this one clocks in at almost 2 1/2 hours) are all blown out of proportion—and speed; his talent for maintaining a steady clip is what keeps most of his films, including this one, from ever feeling bloated. Sono has the interests of a social realist—inter-generational conflict, repressed emotions, family, alienation—and the sensibilities of an art-punk; COLD FISH's nasty, funny caricature of a very particular kind of middle-class ambition—this is, after all, a movie about pet store owners who turn to serial-killing to get by—skirts the line between social commentary and provocation. There's a lot of sex, gore, and gory sex, but, as is usual in Sono's work, the most unnerving stuff comes from the writer/director's juxtaposition of the nightmarish and the mundane. (2010, 146 min, Video Projection) IV
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More info at www.chicagofilmmakers.org.


Fritz Lang's MINISTRY OF FEAR (American Revival) 
Music Box — Saturday and Sunday, 11:30am 
MINISTRY OF FEAR would prove an essential link in Fritz Lang's career, bridging his exciting anti-Nazi films (MAN HUNT, HANGMEN ALSO DIE!) with the more insidious psychological thrillers he'd soon make with Joan Bennett (WOMAN IN THE WINDOW, SCARLET STREET, SECRET BEYOND THE DOOR). Here, Ray Milland plays the innocent hero pinned by forces beyond his control—in this case an elaborate Nazi plot weaving its way through English society. In classic Langian fashion, this character is not a wayward innocent, but a figure almost as suspicious as the ones pursuing him. The movie begins with Milland being released from a psychiatric ward, and it proceeds for some time before revealing why he was there in the first place. This moral knottiness is central to the director's work: by forthrightly addressing his heroes' faults, Lang could attack with no equivocation the larger systems engulfing them. Nearly all of Lang's films convey a sense of betrayal on a societal scale, and it's no less true of pulpier fare like this than of his established masterpieces. Of course, MINISTRY is perfectly satisfying as pulp entertainment, with several sequences—namely the ones at the county fair and the phony séance—creating an irresistible atmosphere of shadow and dread. (Lang was surely having fun here with suspense movie conventions: one of the most ominous props is a chocolate cake.) (1944, 86 min, 35mm) BS
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More info at www.musicboxtheatre.com. 


Roland Emmerich's ANONYMOUS (New British)  
Various Venues — Check Reader Movies for theaters and showtimes  
"All art is political, otherwise it would just be decoration," proclaims Edward de Vere (Rhys Ifans) to Ben Jonson (Sebastian Armesto) as they stroll through a garden; you almost expect him to add, "So you see, there's more to the films of Roland Emmerich than you think!" Emmerich's Elizabethan conspiracy thriller is as much about the myth of Roland Emmerich as it is about the myth of William Shakespeare; while its stated goal might be to undermine the reputation of the Bard—portrayed here as a booze-and-breasts-obsessed buffoon by Rafe Spall—it, in true Oxfordian fashion, carries a secret personal agenda. After all, it's difficult not to think of de Vere—an effeminate intellectual who collects art and writes plays in which pop culture touchstones (in this case, his enemies in the royal court) get obliterated before a cheering audience—as Emmerich's alter ego. But ANONYMOUS isn't merely some wannabe-blockbuster crypto-manifesto; it's Emmerich's best film by a margin—lurid, funny and melodramatic. (2011, 130 min, unconfirmed format(s)) IV  


Sergei Loznitsa's MY JOY (New Russian)  
Block Cinema (Northwestern University) — Friday, 7 pm  
Shot by a Romanian, edited by a Lithuanian, costumed by an Estonian, produced in Ukraine through Dutch and German funding, and directed by a Belarusian-born German citizen, MY JOY is—from a production standpoint—anything but a Russian film. And yet, despite these unique disqualifications, Sergei Loznitsa's first narrative feature is stubbornly, suffocatingly Russian. That's not just because Loznitsa makes Russia's past and present the ostensible subject of the film, but because—in the storied tradition of great, self-pitying Russian art—he presents it a culture-sized metaphor for the grim human condition. More or less a ghost story, the film slides through time, following a truck driver (Viktor Nemets) who gets hit in the head, loses his memory, and becomes a near-catatonic vessel for the troubled history of the landscape that surrounds him—a human echo chamber. This is bleak, assured stuff. (2010, 127 min, 35mm) IV  
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More info at www.blockmuseum.northwestern.edu.


Alfred Hitchcock's DIAL M FOR MURDER (American Revival) 
Transistor (3819 N. Lincoln Ave.) — Monday, 8pm 
Adapted by Frederick Knott from his play of the same name, DIAL M FOR MURDER stars an exceptional Ray Milland as Tony Wendice, a retired tennis pro who decides to murder his wife, Margot (Grace Kelly), after he finds out she is cheating on him. Similar to LIFEBOAT (1944), ROPE (1948), and REAR WINDOW (1954), Hitchcock contains the drama of the film in a single set—the cramped living room of Tony and Margot's London apartment. Enclosing the few characters and their audience in this unhappy couple's living room, Hitchcock creates the film's suspense through our inherent claustrophobia. The small room often forces the characters close together; Hitchcock captures their faces in close-ups, revealing how they look at each other and how much those looks betray. Sometimes they purposely turn their backs to others and/or to the camera in fear of being caught. No one can escape from this room and the interrogation of gazes inside it. While Hitchcock's camera focuses on Tony, Margot, and the supporting characters, it gives equal attention to the couple's things, particularly a key, letter, and telephone. The film and its murder plot hinge on these objects, and Hitchcock fills them with dread; he shoots them in close-ups similar to those that frame his actors' faces. Sometimes the characters see the objects, but often they are not so lucky; Tony and Margot's knowledge of the very small, but complex world in which they live rests in their very things. In his wondrous HISTOIRE(S) DU CINEMA (1988-1998), Godard described Hitchcock as a poete maudit whose life's work pivoted on the role of the object. Through objects, which override the conventions of narrative and logic, Hitchcock became "the greatest creator of forms of the twentieth century...it is forms which tell us, finally, what there is at the bottom of things."  DIAL M FOR MURDER is a great investigation into the prison of claustrophobia and the objects such fear leaves in its wake. (1954, 105 min, DVD Projection) CW
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More info at www.transistorchicago.com. 


Sidney Lumet's SERPICO (American Revival) 
Doc Films (University of Chicago) — Wednesday, 7 and 9:15pm 
Sidney Lumet addressed institutional corruption within the NYPD at several points in his career—in PRINCE OF THE CITY (1981), Q & A (1990), and NIGHT FALLS ON MANHATTAN (1997)—but never did the results make a bigger splash than they did with SERPICO, one of his best-known movies overall. Much of its enduring success can be credited to Al Pacino's performance as the title character, a real-life NY police officer who became a pariah in the force by refusing to accept bribes. Pacino conveys both Frank Serpico's sense of duty and his iconoclastic streak, creating a quintessential hero for the Vietnam era (though, being Al Pacino, he delivers all the best lines as though shouting them from a rooftop). And Lumet grounds the story with so much hard-won local detail—as IMDB notes, this was shot at 104 New York City locations—that the film can be appreciated simply as a documentary of the city at this time. It may lack the complex Brechtian structure of PRINCE or the procedural precision of NIGHT FALLS, but it's still dyed-in-the-wool Lumet, perceptive and cynical in equal measure. (1973, 130 min, 35mm) BS
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More info at www.docfilms.uchicago.edu. 


Chris Marker's A GRIN WITHOUT A CAT (Doc / Essay Film Revival)
Film Studies Center (University of Chicago) — Wednesday, 7pm 
Chris Marker's magnum opus, an epic meditation on the gradual dissolution of the Left after 1967, compiled from decades of personal footage shot around the world, newsreels, and sundry other sources. Though the film is many things at once, a conventional history lesson it is not: The events of 1967-77 (and some additional notes from the late 80s) are presented out of order, arranged under the oblique strategies of Marker's poetic narration and free-associative editing. What emerges is a haunting portrait of the era-as-character, with Marker's characteristic wit often giving way to strong feelings of paranoia and regret. (The film was surely an influence on Adam Curtis' CENTURY OF THE SELF and THE POWER OF NIGHTMARES.) A dense film, certainly, but also a fascinating one, with enough material to chew over for weeks. When the film was first released in the U.S. in 2002, J. Hoberman wrote in the Village Voice, "A GRIN WITHOUT A CAT is a grand immersion...The movie celebrates memory itself—along with the cunning of history, a force that, Marker notes, 'always seems to have more imagination than we do.'" (1977/1993, 177 min, 35mm) BS
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Note: This program is fully RSVP'ed. You can show up and get on a wait list in the event that seats become available.
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More info at filmstudiescenter.uchicago.edu. 


Abbas Kiarostami's CERTIFIED COPY (New International)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) — Saturday, 7, 9, and 11pm; Sunday, 3pm
CERTIFIED COPY is Abbas Kiarostami's first shot-on-celluloid narrative after a decade of video experiments and it's also his first feature shot in Europe. These facts alone would deem the film a major work, but it's a milestone for Kiarostami regardless. The premise is teasingly simple, in the grand tradition of THE TRAVELLER and TASTE OF CHERRY: A British art historian (William Shimell) has written a book on the history of forgery. In it, he posits that it's irrelevant whether great art is authentic or merely copied because it's the impact of the work that determines its legacy. After giving a lecture in Tuscany, he meets a beautiful antiques dealer (Juliette Binoche) who likes the book but disagrees with its argument. They hit it off anyway and then decide to spend the afternoon together, visiting historic sites and bickering about art. This promises, and essentially delivers, a genteel conversation piece in the Eric Rohmer mold; but in its particulars, the film is every bit as weird as Kiarostami's prior masterpieces. Much of the dialogue feels improvised or tossed-off, though the characters are often filmed in a manner that suggests cosmic significance: They're isolated in symmetrical, icon-making close-ups; reverently followed in tracking shots that emphasize the fragility of any moment in the course of time; and (Kiarostami's calling card) made into specks in landscape shots that identify them only by the car they're riding in. At different points of their afternoon, this man and woman behave like strangers, a long-married couple, and smitten kids on a first date. Which of these interactions is real? Does it matter? Nearly every scene of CERTIFIED COPY touches on some profound aspect of human experience—falling in love, realizing one's place in the universe, et cetera—and in each of their incarnations, the characters are so fully realized by the leads that they never seem ciphers for bigger themes. (Binoche won the Best Actress prize at Cannes for her performance, which contains some of her most attenuated and unpredictable work; Shimmel, an opera singer in his major first film role, is a more limited actor by comparison, but he makes a fine Cary Grant to her Katherine Hepburn.) Their entire experience, in short, has been recast by their passion for art: Everything is mysterious and full of promise. Some critics writing about the film have invoked Henry James in describing this tale about the enticements of the Continent, but the results have less in common with, say, The Ambassadors than with James' inexplicable freak-out The Sacred Fount. Who would have expected this great artist of open spaces to take after the most psychoanalytical of writers? Only the film's aftertaste is truly shocking: Kiarostami has arrived at these Jamesian conclusions through entirely his own means. The film applies to psychology the same coy, unassuming perspective that Kiarostami directed at landscapes and faces, respectively, in FIVE (2005) and SHIRIN (2008). Remarkably, the project remains the same: to regard the subject as if it's never been contemplated before. That CERTIFIED COPY maintains such a light surface tone while pursuing such meaningful questions makes most other recent filmmaking seem trivial or overwrought. (2010, 106 min, 35mm) BS
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More info at www.docfilms.uchicago.edu.


MORE SCREENINGS AND EVENTS 

The Experimental Film Society (at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, 112 S. Michigan Ave., Rm. 1307) presents four films by Kenneth Anger on Monday at 4pm. Included are INAUGURATION OF THE PLEASURE DOME, SCORPIO RISING, KUSTOM KAR KOMMANDOS, and LUCIFER RISING. 
 
The Film Studies Center (University of Chicago) presents ALL DIVIDED SELVES: An Evening with Luke Fowler on Friday at 7pm, with Scotland-based experimental artist Fowler in person. 
 
Beauty Bar Chicago (1444 W. Chicago) presents the Chicago Underground Film Festival-curated Salonathon Spooktacular! on Monday at 8pm. Included are THE PSYCHOTIC ODYSSEY OF RICHARD CHASE (Carey Burtt), THE CHILLING, THRILLING SOUNDS OF THE HAUNTED HOUSE, No. 1-3 (Steve Hall and Cathee Wilkins), THE ICY DEPTHS OF OUT THERE (Tommy Heffron), THE VIRGIN SACRIFICE (JX Williams), SLAUGHTERED PIGTAILS (Usama and Kristie Alshaibi), GHOSTS AND GRAVEL ROADS (Mike Rollo), THE BEAST WITHIN (work-in-progress trailer; Ross Meckfessel), and ALONE WITHOUT A FRIEND IN THE WORLD (Julia Zinn and Jerzy Rose). The screening is followed by a sets from queer electro fuck band DAAN and Salonathon House DJs Swaguerilla and Zesty Blanco. 
 
The Portage Theater hosts Vincentennial: A Halloween Tribute to Vincent Price, with Price's daughter Victoria Price in person, on Sunday. The event begins at 2pm with a screening of William Castle's 1959 film THE HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL. At 3:30pm, Victoria Price shares an illustrated presentation on her father. At 5pm, it's Ubaldo Ragona and Sidney Salkow's 1964 Italian/US horror film THE LAST MAN ON EARTH.  
 
The Whistler (2421 N. Milwaukee Ave.) presents The 8th Annual Scary Movie Party on Sunday at 9pm. We don't know what's showing (except for this description: "Horror-comedy, Lovecraft-inspired oddities, darkly realized music videos, experimental works, abstract narratives..."), but we do know there is live music by Gel Set, DJ sets by The Third Wave, live visuals by Chris Puente, and photo prints from the Grotesque Burlesque
 
The Northwest Chicago Film Society (at the Portage Theater) screens John Cromwell's 1934 film OF HUMAN BONDAGE on Wednesday at 7:30pm. Accompanied by the 1937 Friz Freleng cartoon SHE WAS AN ACROBAT'S DAUGHTER. 
 
Also at the Gene Siskel Film Center this week: A LABOR OF LOVE, Robert Flaxman and Dan Goldman's 1976 documentary on the making of a now-lost Chicago-made porn film, screens on Wednesday at 8pm, with Flaxman and Goldman in person; Hal Ashby's 1970 film THE LANDLORD screens Friday and Tuesday at 6pm, with a lecture by Pamela Robertson Wojcik at the Tuesday show; local filmmaker Wendy Jo Carlton's new indie feature JAMIE AND JESSIE ARE NOT TOGETHER plays for a week (the Friday 8:15 show is sold out; check the Siskel website for additional updates); Narciso Ibáñez Serrador's 1976 film WHO CAN KILL A CHILD? is the retrospective title in the Festival of New Spanish Cinema (Friday, 8:15pm and Monday, 8pm). Also showing in the fest is Jose Mari Goenaga and Jon Garaño's 2010 film 80 DAYS (Saturday, 3pm with co-director Goenaga in person, and Wednesday, 6pm) and a repeat screening of the opening film, David Serrano's 2010 musical WITH OR WITHOUT LOVE (Saturday, 5pm with Serrano and actor Quim Gutiérrez in person); and the Iranian festival concludes with Jiyar Gol's A TALE OF TWO SOLDIERS and Kasra Naji's BAHA'IS IN IRAN (Saturday, 8pm and Sunday, 5pm), and the new BBC documentary THE AYATOLLAH'S SEAL is the closing film (Sunday, 3pm and Monday, 6pm). 
 
Also at Doc Films (University of Chicago) this week: Woody Allen's SLEEPER screens on Friday night and Sunday afternoon; Gordon Quinn and Gerald Temaner's 1970 Kartemquin Films documentary MARCO screens Sunday night; Yu Guangyi's 2006 Chinese documentary TIMBER GANG is on Monday at 7pm; At Midnight on Monday it's the animated television special IT'S THE GREAT PUMPKIN, CHARLIE BROWN along with Kenny Ortega's 1993 film HOCUS POCUS; The Jean-Pierre Melville series continues on Tuesday with LOS DOULOS; Tobe Hooper's original 1974 THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE is on Thursday at 7pm; and Ed Wood, Jr.'s no-budget cult item PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE is Thursday at 9pm. 
 
Also at the Music Box this week: Joann Sfar's new bio-pic GAINSBOURG: A HEROIC LIFE opens; Göran Olsson's THE BLACK POWER MIXTAPE and Lech Majewski's THE MILL AND THE CROSS both continue; and Lucio Fulci's ZOMBIE and THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW are the Friday and Saturday Midnight films. 
 
Also at Block Cinema (Northwestern University) this week: Mila Turajilic's 2010 Serbian documentary CINEMA KOMUNISTO screens on Thursday at 7pm. 
 
At Facets Cinémathèque this week: the Chicago International Children's Film Festival continues through Sunday; Vanessa Roth's 2011 documentary AMERICAN TEACHER rounds out the week, Monday-Thursday; and the Facets Fights School Midnight screenings are Robert Fuest's 1975 THE DEVIL'S RAIN (Friday, introduced by Chris Damen) and Peter Jackson's 1990 film THE FRIGHTENERS (Saturday, introduced by Dominick Mayer). 
 
Chicago Cultural Center screens SOLDIER OF THE ROAD, Bernard Josse's 2010 documentary on Peter Brotzmann, on Tuesday at 6:30pm. The event is presented by Reel Music Series and Umbrella Music. 
 
Celluloid Salon, a program combining short films (shown from video, most likely) with live DJ accompaniment by Chrissy Murderot, takes place at the Viaduct Theater (3111 N. Western Ave.) on Wednesday at 7pm. The event, which is presented by myopenbar.com and Drambuie, features Ladislas Starevich's 1934 film THE MASCOT, Georges Méliès' A TRIP TO THE MOON, the 1933 experimental dance film ORAMUNDE, and the 1971 oddity DOWN AND OUT. Admission (and booze) is free, but you have to RSVP at myopenbar.com/celluloidsalon.

The Patio Theater (6008 W. Irving Park Rd.) screens Wes Craven's original 1984 NIGHTMARE ON ELM ST. on Friday and Saturday at 10pm.

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CINE-LIST: October 28 - November 3, 2011

MANAGING EDITOR / Patrick Friel

CONTRIBUTORS / Kyle Canterbury, Michael Castelle, Ben Sachs, Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, Candace Wirt, Darnell Witt

> Editorial Statement -> Contact