James Whale's SHOW BOAT (American Revival)
Gene Siskel Film Center - Sunday, 3pm and Thursday, 6pm
Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II's groundbreaking dramatic musical SHOW BOAT in 1927 paved the way for a century of "serious" big-budget productions of the American musical theatre, characterized by frequent revivals, a recognizably slim canon, and a rather polarized popular reception (in which the bombastic Broadway mode of family-friendly kitsch can, for some, trivially outweigh any potential aesthetic merit). But today's young musical aficionados are more likely to have seen the dodgy 1951 Technicolor MGM adaptation of this foundational play than this faithful 1936 version directed by James Whale—which has never been available on DVD and is thus one of the more worthy presentations in the Siskel's Universal series (especially with a newly struck 35mm print from the UCLA archive). The plot, following multiple generations of stage performers from the floating Mississippi riverboats of the late 19th century to Columbian Exposition-era Chicago and late-1920s New York, is a sort of mythology of the American musical itself—a story about how this new genre, drawing simultaneously from opera, minstrel shows, folk music, vaudeville, and jazz, came to exist. Skeptics of SHOW BOAT's historic relevance should observe closely as the pentatonic melody of "Ol' Man River" (brilliantly sung here by Paul Robeson in an unforgettable performance) becomes a continually quoted leitmotif for this hydrological transduction of both African-American and European tradition into what is now known as "Broadway." (1936, 115 min, New 35mm Print) MC
More info at www.siskelfilmcenter.org.
D.A. Pennebaker's MONTEREY POP & David Maysles, Albert Maysles, and Charlotte Zwerin's GIMME SHELTER (American Revivals)
Music Box - Monday, 7:30pm and Tuesday, 9:45pm (Pop) & Monday, 9:15pm and Tuesday, 5:30pm (Shelter)
MONTEREY POP and GIMME SHELTER are not only two of the greatest concert documentaries ever made, but also valuable cultural artifacts that encapsulate the tumultuous spirit of the 1960s. Though they took place only two years apart, the contrast between the Monterey Pop Festival and the Altamont Free Concert couldn't have been starker; if the former embodied peace and love, then the latter signified strife and antagonism. Altamont, which resulted in four deaths, possessed all the right elements for chaos: hundreds of thousands of kids, a speedway for a concert venue, security courtesy of the Hell's Angels, and of course, boatloads of drugs. On the other hand, Monterey was downright civilized (it had chairs)—in fact, members of the Hell's Angels, who became the violent instigators of Altamont, can be seen sitting peacefully amongst other festivalgoers at Monterey. The performances featured in each film reflect this disparity as well: the mellifluous lullaby sounds of Simon and Garfunkel in MONTEREY POP are replaced by the booze-fueled, devil-may-care stylings of the impish Mick Jagger and company in GIMME SHELTER. Even the more radical, iconic moments of MONTEREY POP—e.g. Hendrix lighting his guitar on fire, Townshend smashing his to smithereens—feel like contained acts of protest, as opposed to the balls to the wall, bacchanalian anarchy of GIMME SHELTER. Jagger, dressed in patriotic regalia, watches the madness unfold with what could generously be described as stoned ambivalence, only beginning to realize his own responsibly for the tragedy. The final images of GIMME SHELTER, which show a several helicopters rescuing the Rolling Stones and their cadre, eerily call to mind the evacuation of Saigon, which would take place just a few years later. And like that watershed moment, the volcanic eruption of Altamont signaled the end of an era, symbolically shattering the utopian hopes and dreams of a generation overnight. The Music Box will present these films as part of their Summer Music Film Festival. If possible, view them back-to-back. (POP: 1967, 78 min, HDCam Video; SHELTER: 1970, 91 min, 35mm) HS
More info at www.musicboxtheatre.com.
Frank Borzage's LITTLE MAN, WHAT NOW? (American Revival)
Gene Siskel Film Center - Sunday, 5:15pm and Monday, 6pm
Adapted from the classic German novel by Hans Fallada, LITTLE MAN, WHAT NOW? is the first film in Frank Borzage's trilogy on the rise of Nazism, which also includes THREE COMRADES (1938) and THE MORTAL STORM (1940). Set in the collapsing Weimar Republic, LITTLE MAN, WHAT NOW? begins when young clerk Hans Pinneberg (Douglass Montgomery) and his beautiful wife Emma (Margaret Sullavan), who he affectionately nicknames Lammchen, learn that she is pregnant. As Hans and Lammchen excitedly prepare for the birth of their child, Hans' boss forces him to quit his position. Unfortunately, Hans cannot find other work in Düsseldorf, so he and Lammchen move to Berlin and temporarily live with his stepmother and her boyfriend. Eventually, Hans receives a position as a low-paid salesman, however he desperately struggles to retain it as well as a shabby apartment. Borzage's plot and dialogue primarily depict the contemporary German society of the early 1930s. He asks, how does an ordinary man become a criminal, or worse, a Nazi? At the beginning of the film, Hans simply worries about the future as an exploited clerk working at a dry goods company. When he later faces conditions ranging from unemployment to poverty to homelessness, Hans grows angry at himself and at the society that affords him no choice. He sympathizes with men who commit crimes such as robbery, and he even imagines doing so himself. Remembering a homeless man she repeatedly sees outside, Lammchen tells Hans, "Darling, you're talking just like the man in the street." He sadly admits, "Yes, I am. And, this morning I found a knife in my hand." Increasingly unaware of his thoughts and actions, the Nazis shout at Hans and the passerby from soapboxes on Berlin's street corners. Earlier in the film, Hans discloses to a department store's hiring manager Herr Lehmann that he does not want to walk the streets, however Lehmann adds that many people do nowadays. Hans says, "Yes, I know. I'm afraid of the streets." Lehmann then asks, "Of the streets or of yourself?" He hesitates, but replies, "Perhaps myself, Herr Lehmann." LITTLE MAN, WHAT NOW? is a great drama of Germans lost in city streets. By 1933, they found themselves Nazis. (1934, 98 min, 35mm) CW
More info at www.siskelfilmcenter.org.
Hayao Miyazaki's PORCO ROSSO (Japanese/Animation Revival)
Gene Siskel Film Center - Saturday, 5pm; Tuesday, 6pm; Thursday, 8:15pm
It's the age of aviation in the Adriatic and even pigs are flying: or at least one pig, an ace pilot of the Great War cursed to live out his days as a swine protecting the skies. PORCO ROSSO is hardly the odd-man-out in Hayao Miyazaki's canon—in fact it's entrenched in his sense of moral ambiguity and vivid visions of flight—but the silly central conceit coupled with an unlikely adult protagonist have left this one easily dismissed. More's the pity, as the animation grandmaster has seldom painted a clearer picture than this anti-war parable set upon a magnificent Mediterranean canvas. Curiously, the film is not an origin story. The pilot known as Porco Rosso has long since been resigned to his condition, and the world itself has accepted him as just another unfortunate byproduct of World War I. He has an old love, the glamorous Madame Gina; a moustache twirling rival, the debonair American pilot Curtis; and eventually, a plucky young sidekick in the over-eager Fio. In the course of his high-flying adventures, he contends with a scrappy band of pirates, goes head-to-head with Curtis for Gina's affections, and witnesses the beginnings of Italian fascism, all while reluctantly keeping Fio in tow. It's all appropriately thrilling, and the seaside vistas are as breathtaking as the dogfights, but Miyazaki saves the best for last as an aerial duel devolves into the best fist fight since THE QUIET MAN, pounding home the futility of all this mechanized aggression. The film will screen Tuesday in Japanese with English subtitles, and on Saturday and Thursday in English. (1992, 94 min, 35mm) TJ
More info at www.siskelfilmcenter.org.
Alex Ross Perry's THE COLOR WHEEL (New American)
Facets Cinémathèque — Check Venue website for showtimes
Alex Ross Perry's shoestring-budget tour de force is one of the best and boldest American independent films of the last decade: a challenge to conventions of taste, tone, and what indie movies are supposed to look and move like that also manages to be both funny and genuinely tragic. Drawing equally from Philip Roth and late-period Jerry Lewis, the film follows a pair of loser siblings (Perry and co-writer Carlen Altman) who while away the hours verbally attacking each other—that is, when they're not busy being mocked by the dipshits, assholes, and outright dicks of the world they inhabit. The humor ranges from slapstick to hateful, and Sean Price William's black-and-white 16mm camerawork runs the gamut from shaky handheld to complex zoom-and-dolly shots, but there's nothing slapdash about this all-over-the-place movie—its wild stylistic and tonal detours are all informed by a bleak but ultimately sympathetic view of human life and longing, which comes to the fore in the film's gut-wrenching single-take climax. This is American cinema at its purest and nastiest. (2011, 80 min, 35mm) IV
More info at www.facets.org.
Georges Méliès' A TRIP TO THE MOON (Restored Color Version)
Music Box - Saturday, 1:40pm
The fantasy film against which all fantasy films are measured, Georges Méliès' most famous work is fleet, fanciful, funny—and fifteen minutes long. Méliès—a stage magician who took up filmmaking in middle age and in the process invented cinema as we know it—approached the then-new medium with a playfulness that hasn't been matched since; every filmmaker owes him everything (and most of 'em could learn a thing or two or five from his work). Accompanying this newly restored print of the film's recently rediscovered original hand-colored version, is Serge Bromberg and Eric Lange's THE EXTRAORDINARY VOYAGE (2011, 64 min, HDCAM), a roughly hour-long documentary about this particular one-reeler's history and wide-ranging influence. Showing as part of the Music Box's Second Annual Chicago French Film Festival. (1902, 15 min, Restored 35mm Print) IV
More info at www.musicboxtheatre.com.
Michael Anderson's LOGAN'S RUN (American Revival)
Music Box - Friday and Saturday, Midnight
A domed urban utopia is filled with beautiful people who prize youth and vanity above all in Michael Anderson's sci-fi satire-cum-adventure journey. Inhabitants engage in sex and violence as pure escapism until they are euthanized at thirty—the age when the crystal in their hand changes color—or they become rebellious runners tracked down by sandmen. One sandman, Logan 5 (Michael York), follows a woman to a derelict quadrant of the city on her way to Sanctuary—a place where people can supposedly live free to age naturally. When Logan 5's crystal prematurely expires, turning him into a runner, the plot has been laid before us for some time. But the familiarity of Logan 5's spiritual quest is largely the fun of LOGAN'S RUN, as well as its surprise diversions. The city, pastel and hazy, looks like a Florida shopping mall, and the feathered hair (see Farrah Fawcett cameo) and skin-tight costumes are thankfully more 1970s than 2270s. The similarities allow the viewer to more readily place the film's conceit in their own time, haphazard production design or not. At times almost lyrical, the artifice of the city feels alive and fully realized, and much of the enjoyment comes from the wonderment of watching its inner gizmos whir. The cavalier plastic surgery, gladiatorial violence, and all-around craven ageism of the film's first third becomes a full-throated indictment of socialism and planned societies in the protracted final third—on the remains of the National Mall, no less. Mind-blowing it is not, but LOGAN'S RUN is like much of the Epcot rides it resembles: a little slow and didactic, but also visionary, timeless, and downright American. (1976, 118 min, 2K DCP Digital Projection) BW
More info at www.musicboxtheatre.com.
Umberto Lenzi's NIGHTMARE CITY (Italian/Cult Revival)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) - Friday, 7 and 9pm
If you like looking at breasts and seeing people in bad makeup get shot in the head, then you should see NIGHTMARE CITY. If you only like one of those things, you probably shouldn't bother. The plot doesn't make a ton of sense: there's a nuclear accident that causes a plane full of sentient (but idiotic) vampire-zombies to be unleashed upon an unsuspecting European town. They rampage in the streets, they rampage in a hospital, they rampage through a park—rampage, rampage, rampage, carnage, carnage, carnage. The makeup is pretty gross (if a little TOXIC AVENGER-y), and the acting is predictably wooden, but the humans employ a wide range of weapons (where does a news reporter acquire mortars?! don't even bother thinking about it, he just has them) and the sets are creative and interesting. If you've seen a schlocky horror movie before, this one isn't going to be a revelation, but it will probably be entertaining. (1980, 91 min, 35mm) CAC
More info at www.docfilms.uchicago.edu.
Dylan Southern and Will Lovelace's SHUT UP AND PLAY THE HITS (New Documentary)
Music Box - Thursday, 7:30pm
James Murphy has the world's cutest dog, and gives the world's mopiest interview. Unfortunately this film has far more of Murphy wandering New York, and being interviewed by the utterly insufferable Chuck Klosterman, than it does of Murphy's dog. Since the film is being advertised as a replacement for the sold out, Madison Square Garden-hosted, special guest-studded, last ever concert by LCD Soundsystem that you presumably didn't attend, the title should be a facetious joke, but it's really an honest description of the feeling of watching the film. But that's alright because the other half of the film, when the band is onstage, is so passionate and engrossing that it more than makes up for any missteps. They do, in fact, play the hits, and they do so very well, and to see a really good band at peak performance is reason enough to watch. Showing as part of the Music Box Summer Music Film Festival 2. (2012, 105 min, DCP Digital Projection) CAC
More info at www.musicboxtheatre.com.
John Hughes' FERRIS BUELLER'S DAY OFF (American Revival)
Chicago History Museum
John Hughes' FERRIS BUELLER'S DAY OFF is a picaresque tale about a confident young man doing what he can to postpone adulthood. In a performance that made him a bonafide leading man at the age of 23, Matthew Broderick creates a character so clever and charming that you can't help but root for him. Beginning with a little white lie about a serious illness to get a final day off before going to college, Ferris schemes to cheer up his best friend Cameron with a VIP tour of the city. Wrigley Field, the Art Institute, Michigan Avenue, and the Sears Tower ("I think I see my dad") are the backdrop for the greatest senior ditch day ever put on film. Its enduring appeal lies in the subplot, however, in which the evil dean of students, Edward Rooney (Jeffery Jones), vows to catch Ferris in the act and force him to repeat his senior year. In the film that not only taught countless youngsters how to properly play sick, but also showcased our city as the playground for Broderick's under stimulated Northshore slacker, there are moments of cinematic greatness. (Outdoor Screening; 1986, 103 min, Video Projection - unconfirmed format) JH
ONGOING FILM/VIDEO INSTALLATIONS
(Final Day!) Continuing through July 27 at Johalla Projects (1821 W. Hubbard) is local artist Ivan Lozano's one-person show C___ of the Eye / C___ of the Hand: New Work by Ivan Lozano, which includes media-based pieces reflecting on pornographic cinema, religion, and other themes.
(Final Week!) The Art Institute of Chicago currently has experimental filmmaker Paul Sharits' 1975 16mm four-projector installation SHUTTER INTERFACE on view, through August 1. It is showing in the Modern Wing as one of the finalists under consideration for purchase for the AIC by the Acquisition Committee of the Society for Contemporary Art at the Art Institute of Chicago. Also on display is filmmaker, musician, and artist Tony Conrad's 1973 paper work Yellow Movie 3/5-6/73, which, though not a moving image work, is cinematic in its inspiration. More info here. www.scaaic.org/index.php?q=node/1392.
Iceberg Projects (7714 N Sheridan Rd.) continues with Deborah Stratman's exhibition The Name Is Not the Thing Named, which includes the eponymous video loop (2012, 11 min) and a series of photographs. Gallery hours Saturdays and Sundays 10-4pm, by appointment; see http://icebergchicago.com.
MORE SCREENINGS AND EVENTS
The Silent Film Society of Chicago's Silent Summer Film Festival (at the Portage Theater) screens Ted Wilde's 1927 Harold Lloyd comedy THE KID BROTHER (82 min, 35mm) on Friday at 8pm. Live musical accompaniment by Tim Baker.
The Northwest Chicago Film Society (at the Portage Theater) screens Sidney Lumet's 1958 drama STAGE STRUCK (95 min, 35mm IB Technicolor Print) on Wednesday at 7:30pm. Also showing is the short STAGE FRIGHTS (Albert Ray, 1935, 22 min, 35mm).
Chicago Filmmakers and the Adler Planetarium co-present the astronomy-themed experimental short video collection ORBIT(FILM) (2010-11, 85 min total, Digital File Projection) on Friday at 7:30pm at the Adler (1300 S. Lake Shore Dr.). The program will be followed by a presentation and tour with Adler astronomer Dr. Mark Hammergren on the Adler's newly renovated Our Solar System exhibit.
The Better Boys Foundation and Facets' Sundown in K-Town series concludes on Friday at 7pm at ICE Theatres (3330 W. Roosevelt Rd.) with the documentary 50 YEARS@1512: A HISTORY OF THE BETTER BOYS FOUNDATION (Unconfirmed Running Time and Format). The screening is followed by a panel, with Mary Visconti, Chief Executive Officer, BBF; Jack Kellman, BBF Board President, President of Kellman Family Foundation; Warren Cockerham, Filmmaker; and FilmLAB filmmakers.
Also at the Gene Siskel Film Center this week: James Whale's 1936 musical SHOW BOAT (115 min, New 35mm Print) screens on Sunday at 3pm and Thursday at 6pm; Hayao Miyazaki's 2008 Japanese animation PONYO (101 min, 35mm) is on Friday at 6pm, Saturday at 3pm, and Wednesday at 6pm (all shows in English dubbed version); Jean-Loup Felicioli and Alain Gagnol's 2010 French/Dutch animated film A CAT IN PARIS (70 min, 35mm and HDCam) begins a two-week run in both subtitled and English dubbed versions; Natalia Almada's 2011 documentary EL VELADOR (72 min, HDCam) screens Friday and Tuesday at 8pm; and Bill Sebastian's 2012 local romance QWERTY (91 min, HDCam) is on Saturday, Monday, and Wednesday at 8pm. Sebastian and select crew and cast in person at various shows - check the Film Center website for details.
Also at Doc Films (University of Chicago) this week: Arthur Dreifuss' 1946 teen musical JUNIOR PROM (69 min, 16mm) screens on Saturday at 7 and 9pm; John Ford's 1924 classic silent THE IRON HORSE (Unconfirmed Running Time, 16mm) is on Wednesday at 7pm; and Gianfranco Parolini's 1968 Italian spaghetti western IF YOU MEET SARTANA PRAY FOR YOUR DEATH (95 min, 35mm) screens on Thursday at 7pm.
Also at the Music Box this week: Chen Kaige's 2010 film SACRIFICE (122 min, Unconfirmed Format) opens; Andrey Zvyagintsev's 2011 Russian film ELENA (109 min, Unconfirmed Format) is held over in the Saturday and Sunday 11:30am matinee slot only; Jonathan Demme's 2011 documentary NEIL YOUNG JOURNEYS (87 min, Unconfirmed Format) is held over in the Friday and Saturday Midnight film only; Billy Wilder's 1974 comedy THE FRONT PAGE (105 min, 35mm) is on Saturday and Sunday at 11:30am; The Second Annual Chicago French Film Festival runs Friday-Sunday; and the Music Box Summer Music Film Festival 2 runs Monday-Thursday. Check the venue website for complete details on these two festivals.
At Block Cinema (Northwestern University) this week: On Friday at 7:30pm, film programmer Dave Filipi from the Wexner Center for the Arts will introduce Rare Baseball Films: The Newsreels (Approx. 120 min total, Video Projection - unconfirmed Format); and on Wednesday at sundown (approx. 8:45pm), there's an outdoor screening of James Bobin's 2011 film THE MUPPETS (103 min, Video Projection - unconfirmed format) on the East Lawn of the Norris University Center, 1999 Campus Dr.
Also at Facets Cinémathèque this week: Antonio Margheriti's 1983 Italian/Turkish oddity YOR, THE HUNTER FROM THE FUTURE (88 min, Video Projection - unconfirmed format) screens in the Facets Night School series on Saturday at Midnight. It will be introduced by Jef Burnham.
Landmark's Century Centre Cinema screens James Cameron's 1991 film TERMINATOR 2: JUDGEMENT DAY (137 min, Unconfirmed Format) on Friday and Saturday at Midnight.
Transistor (3819 N. Lincoln Ave.) screens the Future Shorts Festival (Unconfirmed Running Time and Format) on Friday at 7:30pm; and Mike Leigh's 2010 film ANOTHER YEAR (129 min, DVD Projection) on Monday at 8pm.
The Lyric (12952 Western Ave., Blue Island) screens John Carpenter's 1982 film THE THING (109 min, Blu-ray Projection) on Saturday at 7 and 9:10pm. More info at www.facebook.com/thelyricmovienight.