Lionel Rogosin's COME BACK, AFRICA (American Revival)
Facets Cinémathèque — Saturday, 6pm and Thursday, 8:30pm
A contemporary and kindred spirit to Jean Rouch and Morris Engel, the early American independent Lionel Rogosin has become one of the decade's major cinephilic rediscoveries. Rogosin's Skid Row-set line-blurrer ON THE BOWERY was restored and screened to great acclaim last year; on its heels comes the restoration of Rogosin's even more ambitious second feature, COME BACK, AFRICA, a new print of which will be one of the centerpieces of Facets' annual African Diaspora Festival (see More Screenings). Shot on the sly in South Africa using a cast of non-professional actors, the film is a candid and at times brutally honest look at life under apartheid. Rogosin's political anger is palpable, but what comes through even more strongly is his unparalleled gift for portraiture; as in ON THE BOWERY, his way of photographing his subjects' faces recalls Rembrandt more than Italian Neo-Realism. (1960, 82 min, 35mm) IV
More info at www.facets.org.
Onion City Experimental Film and Video Festival - Opening Night Program
Gene Siskel Film Center — Thursday, 8pm
The 24th edition of the Onion City Experimental Film and Video Festival, produced by Chicago Filmmakers, opens Thursday at the Gene Siskel Film Center (and continues next Friday and Saturday at Columbia College). This year, the Opening Night Program is a varied selection packed to the brim and begins with a new short by animator Lewis Klahr. Adapted from a 1980 script by John Zorn, WELL THEN THERE NOW (2012) is Klahr's best work since his switch to video. Klahr has finally achieved a clarity of purpose in his HD photography, making it a driving force for his myopic psychodrama. LINE DESCRIBING YOUR MOM (2011) is a work absolutely worthy of its exceptional title. After a few moments watching a dance troupe position themselves in a dragon-like pose, Michael Robinson drops the beat with a fiery explosion and what sounds like a karaoke version of a Gloria Estefan song, leaving behind a throbbing pulse of green light which washes over the audience and helps pull one out from the heavy flicker of the dance troupe. It's a heavily-layered, affecting work that recalls that initial moment of irrational fear after waking from a nightmare. It's definitely one of Robinson's best works, unquestionably meant for a large screen, and the festival could have gotten away with running the piece ten times in a row for its opening night. The late Chilean director Raúl Ruiz's LA MALETA (1963/2010) is very obviously a first film, replete with clumsy Buñuel-lite surrealism and a plodding pace, but when watched in comparison to last year's MYSTERIES OF LISBON, LA MALETA takes on an interesting evidentiary perspective. Luther Price's 35mm slides are an arresting collection of collages made from the detritus of his film work, featuring torn film frames, 35mm sprockets and soundtracks, as well as splicing tape chads, adhesives and paint. The slides generate an intriguing tension between a formalist composition and the expressive, highly-textured films Stan Brakhage made with Phil Solomon. Though Derick Hawksworth's MANEATER (2012) is certainly a derivative work, it winds up succeeding due to the singularity of its referent—Paul Sharits' T,O,U,C,H,I,N,G. It swaps chromatically shifting images of a great white shark in for Sharits' photos of poet David Frank putting scissors to his tongue, and features a computer-generated voice that repeats "maneater" over a looping sample of the JAWS soundtrack. Also showing are Mati Diop's BIG IN VIETNAM (2012), Raya Martin's BOXING IN THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS (2011), Scott Stark's ONE WAY TO FIND OUT (2012), and Robert Todd's DANGEROUS LIGHT (2012). (1963/2011-12, approx. 100 min total, Various Formats) DM
Check next week's list for coverage of the rest of the festival.
Note: Onion City is organized and programmed by C-F editor Patrick Friel.
More info at www.chicagofilmmakers.org/onion_fest/index.html.
Double Vision: Comics and Animation (Presented by Eyeworks)
Columbia College (1104 S. Wabash, 1st Floor Conway Stage) — Saturday, 1:30pm
Chicago's wonderfully-curated annual Eyeworks experimental-animation festival specializes in uncovering the stranger developments in the history of (otherwise commercially mass-produced) figural representation, which makes it a perfect match with CAKE, the Chicago Alternative Comics Expo, which returns this weekend after a 16-year hiatus. While the program leans more in the direction of narrative surrealism than confessional autobiography, some of the longer pieces—Dash Shaw's THE UNCLOTHED MAN IN THE 35TH CENTURY A.D. and David O'Reilly's PLEASE SAY SOMETHING find a recognizably extreme relational pathos among Nintendo-informed art-school satire and epic anthropomorphized vector-graphics urbanity. The highlights include Sally Cruikshank's groundbreaking 1975 film QUASI AT THE QUACKADERO, a Max Fleischer-on-mescaline epic, which was recently selected for preservation in the Library of Congress' National Film Registry; as well as Stefan Gruber's recent BOTH WORLDS, a collaborative journey of free-associations on Wittgenstein's duck-rabbit. Many other films on the bill feature excellent analog sonic textures to accompany the hand-drawn or stop-motion visuals, including Jo Dery's CHAPTER 3 and Nicolas Mahler's MYSTERY MUSIC. Also showing are THE PEOPLE AND THE WHALE (Peter Larsson), THE COLLAGIST (Amy Lockhart), HARMONY (Jim Trainor), BUOY BUOY (Jesse McManus), LA MUJER LAGARTIJA (Trixy Sweetvittles), and WARBLE AND BLEAT (Nate Beaty). Filmmakers Jim Trainor, Jo Dery, Nate Beaty, Amy Lockhart, and Marc Bell in person. (1975-2012, approx. 72 min total, Various Formats) MC
More info at www.eyeworksfestival.com.
Raoul Walsh's DARK COMMAND (American Revival)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) — Thursday, Check Doc website for screening time
While serious-minded John Ford and the Western revisionists that followed his lead were keen to debunk American legends, Raoul Walsh never let the truth get in the way of a good yarn; Walsh's "fact-based" films are so loose that they could qualify as historical fan fiction—which isn't to say there's anything remotely reverential about them. This flavorful Western recasts the Civil War's notorious Lawrence Massacre as a love triangle; Walter Pidgeon plays Confederate guerilla William Quantrill (renamed "Cantrell" here) and Walsh discovery John Wayne is the raw-potato-chewin' dentist's-assistant-turned-marshall who vies with him for the affections of a good local girl (Claire Trevor). This may sound like fluff, but Walsh—American cinema's patron saint of existential tension and pent-up manic energy—fills the movie up with enough low-angle shots, silhouettes, shadows, and moments of stark pitch-blackness to qualify it as an early Western noir. (1940, 94 min, 16mm) IV
More info at www.docfilms.uchicago.edu.
James Bond 50th Anniversary Celebration (British Revival)
Music Box — Friday-Sunday, Check Venue website for showtimes
Pushing back against decades of reruns on TV and myriad home video releases, Sinclair McKay's 2010 book The Man with the Golden Touch performs a valuable function. It reminds readers that, as asinine as it may be to point out, from the beginning the James Bond series was designed to get people into theaters, promising an experience that couldn't be had at home in front of a television. In his book McKay covers all the "behind the scenes" stuff of course, but it's leavened with his personal anecdotes from a lifetime spent experiencing 007 at the movies. Perhaps more than any other film series in history, the Bond series is inherently social entertainment; as McKay puts it, "Within any family, any circle of friends, any confederacy of colleagues there will, to this day, be disputes about who was the best Bond, the best Bond girl and the best/worst Bond film of all." Over Father's Day weekend, the Music Box is showing four of them. It's a wonderful chance to un-take them for granted, to watch them with friends and strangers alike and rekindle the old Connery vs. Moore debate. DR. NO (1962, 110 min. 35mm), the inaugural film in the series, is surprisingly straightforward. There's little of the globehopping or gadgetry that would soon follow. It's essentially an adventure mystery, fleetly told, with two outstandingly iconic elements: Ursula Andress wading ashore in a bikini, and the initial appearance of Ken Adam's extraordinary production design. It was soon followed by FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE (1963, 115 min, 35mm). Lotte Lenya may have been Kurt Weill's muse, but she'll be most remembered for her peerless villainess Rosa Klebb. There's also a scene of some brutal hand-to-hand combat on a train, which Steven Soderbergh obviously studied before shooting HAYWIRE. The Music Box jumps forward ten years to LIVE AND LET DIE (1973, 121 min, 35mm), Roger Moore's first appearance in Bond's loafers as well as a curious, brazen attempt to co-op the current success of the blaxploitation genre. Fairly dull, unfortunately, though its crude racial perspectives are fascinating. How about Bond using crocodiles as stepping-stones? Yaphet Kotto is dynamite as Mr. Big, a more intriguing baddie than the film surrounding him deserves. The mini-festival concludes with Louis Jourdan, a long way from GIGI, purring, "Octopussy, Octopussy." Between its title and Rita Coolidge's theme song "All Time High," OCTOPUSSY (1983, 131 min, 35mm) is one Bond film that never met a double entendre it didn't like. Most interesting is that the plot hinges on a rogue Soviet general who is equally frightening to both the Politburo and NATO. It cannily echoes the atomic age anxiety of THE DAY AFTER, THREADS, and (as McKay points out) even the Kate Bush song "Breathing." As in DR. STRANGELOVE, one mad general is enough trigger nuclear disaster. But as per usual with James Bond, it's all in good fun. RC
More info at www.musicboxtheatre.com.
Richard Press's BILL CUNNINGHAM IN NEW YORK (Contemporary Documentary)
Transistor (3819 N. Lincoln Ave.) — Monday, 8pm
Like some kook in a kids' book, New York Times photographer Bill Cunningham lives in a closet-sized space in Carnegie Hall. An affable enigma in a blue smock, an effortless workaholic, a perpetually friendly man who appears to have no interior life, he has no bathroom and no kitchen, sleeps on a cot stacked on two milk crates and hasn't listened to music in years. "It's not what I think, it's what I see," he says, and Richard Press' documentary does its best to follow that credo. In a sense, Press transposes the approach Cunningham himself uses for his popular "On the Street" column—which the photographer creates by compulsively photographing every interesting person he sees and then discerning fashion trends from his contact sheets—by largely avoiding speculation about his somewhat mysterious subject and instead focusing on what patterns and ideas can be gleaned from constantly filming him. It's interesting, entertaining, and, by design, significantly more revealing about the value of work in a person's life than it is about Cunningham himself. (2010, 90 min, DVD Projection) IV
MORE SCREENINGS AND EVENTS
The Northwest Chicago Film Society (at the Portage Theater) screens Fritz Lang's little-seen 1938 film YOU AND ME (90 min, 35mm) on Wednesday at 7:30pm. Showing with the 1943 Mighty Mouse cartoon HE DOOD IT (Eddie Donnelly, 7 min, 35mm).
Doc Films (University of Chicago) screens a program of Charlie Chaplin's Essanay Films (1915, Unconfirmed Running Time and Format) on Wednesday. We're not sure which films are showing, but they are Chaplin at Essanay; what else do you want? Check Doc's website for showtime.
Also at the Gene Siskel Film Center this week: Hayao Miyazaki's 1988 animated film MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO (86 min, 35mm) screens multiple times. The Friday and Tuesday shows are in Japanese with subtitles, the remaining shows are English dubbed. Jeffrey Westhoff, film critic for the Northwest Herald, will lead a discussion after the Saturday 4:45pm screening; Andrew Shea's 2012 documentary PORTRAIT OF WALLY (90 min, HDCam Video) screens for a week. Jan Lisa Huttner, film critic for the JUF News, will lead a discussion after the Thursday 7:45pm screening; Steven Feinartz's 2012 documentary THE BITTER BUDDHA (90 min, HDCam Video) screens on Friday at 8pm, with director Feinartz and comedians Eddie Pepitone and Patton Oswalt in person; former Chicagoan Braden King's 2011 drama HERE (126 min, 35mm) screens on Saturday at 7:30pm and Wednesday at 7:45pm; Vaclav Havel's 2011 Czech comedy LEAVING (94 min, 35mm) is on Sunday at 3pm and Monday at 8pm; and Ondrej Trojan's 2010 Czech/Slovak comedy IDENTITY CARD (137 min, 35mm) is on Sunday at 5pm and Tuesday at 8pm.
Also at the Music Box this week: Morten Tyldum's 2012 Norwegian thriller HEADHUNTERS (100 min) opens; Malgoska Szumowska's 2011 film ELLES (96 min, 35mm) continues; Philippe Falardeau's 2011 Canadian drama MONSIEUR LAZHAR (94 min) is held over for 1pm Saturday and Sunday screenings only; Scott Sanders' 2009 cult film BLACK DYNAMITE (84 min) screens on Friday at 8pm. New Cult Canon's Scott Tobias will conduct a Q&A with director Sanders via Skype; the touring Found Footage Festival, with hosts Joe Pickett and Nick Prueher, is on Saturday at 8:30pm. The collection of retro VHS oddities will be supplemented by a selection of 1960s and 70s classroom films, curated by A.V. Geek's Skip Elsheimer; Adam Cornelius' 2011 documentary, ECSTACY OF ORDER: THE TETRIS MASTERS (Unconfirmed Running Time), is on Wednesday at 7:30pm, with filmmakers in person; Billy Wilder's 1945 drama THE LOST WEEKEND (101 min) is the Saturday and Sunday 11:30am matinee; and the weekend Midnight films are Robert Zemeckis' 1985 BACK TO THE FUTURE (116 min, Friday and Saturday), Tommy Wiseau's 2003 THE ROOM (99 min, Friday only), and Jim Sharman's 1975 THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW (35mm, 100 min, Saturday only). Unconfirmed formats for all films except where noted.
Facets Cinémathèque presents the 10th Annual Chicago African Diaspora International Film Festival this week. In addition to a number of recent documentary and narrative films, Lionel Rogosin's rare 1960 film COME BACK, AFRICA is showing (see Crucial Viewing above) and Pim de la Parra's 1976 Surinamese/Dutch film ONE PEOPLE (111 min, Unconfirmed Format) screens on Sunday at 1pm and Wednesday at 8:30pm. Check Facets' website for a complete lineup.
The Chicago Cultural Center present the third and final program in the Studs Terkel Film and Video Festival (Video Projection - unconfirmed formats) this Saturday, from 2-8pm. Comprised mostly of television and video work from the 1970s through the early 2000s, the most intriguing segment is the 5:15 one, The Best of Studs, which will include selections of his very early television program Stud's Place, clips of short industrial films he appeared in, and footage of him with Mike Royko, Nelson Algren, and others. At 6:45pm, there will also be a panel discussion. Also this week are two screenings as part of the Cinema/Chicago summer series: Pau Freixas' 2010 Spanish film HEROES (104 min, Video Projection - unconfirmed format) is on Saturday at 2pm; and Peter Luisi's 2011 Swiss film THE SANDMAN (87 min, Video Projection - unconfirmed format) is on Wednesday at 6:30pm (repeats June 23).
Southside Hub of Production (5638 S. Woodlawn Ave.) screens Daphne Valerius' 2008 documentary THE SOULS OF BLACK GIRLS (58 min, Video Projection - unconfirmed format) on Friday at 6:30pm.
Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art (756 N. Milwaukee Ave.) presents Scott Ogden and Malcolm Hearn's 2011 documentary MAKE (69 min, Video Projection - unconfirmed format) on Saturday at 3pm. Ogden in Person.
Alliance Française screens Stanley Donan's 1957 film FUNNY FACE (103 min, Video Projection - unconfirmed format) on Thursday at 8:30pm.
The DuSable Museum presents an outdoor screening of Sidney Poitier's 1972 film BUCK AND THE PREACHER (102 min, Video Projection - unconfirmed format) on Saturday at 8pm.
The Logan Square International Film Series (Comfort Station, 2579 N. Milwaukee Ave.) presents Julian Schnabel's 2007 film THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY (112 min, DVD Projection) on Wednesday at 8pm.
Also at the Portage Theater this week: the indie drama GOD SHOULD HAVE MADE ME A MAN (Unconfirmed Running Time and Format) screens on Friday at 8pm; and local filmmaker Coquie Hughes' new film THE LIES WE TELL BUT THE SECRETS WE KEEP: THE SEQUEL (Unconfirmed Running Time and Format) screens on Thursday at 8pm.
The Landmark's Century Centre Cinema screens Rob Reiner's 1987 film THE PRINCESS BRIDE (87 min, Unconfirmed Format) on Friday and Saturday at Midnight.
The Chicago History Museum presents an outdoor screening of Penny Marshall's 1992 film A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN (128 min, Video Projection - unconfirmed format) on Wednesday at dusk.
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. Check last week's Cine-File for a review of SHUTTER INTERFACE. More info at here.
Adds Donna (4223 W. Lake St.) presents the exhibition Faith Made, featuring video installation work by Allison Trumbo and Michael A. Morris and additional work by Adam Farcus. The show runs through July 8.
Nocturama a video installation work by local filmmaker Melika Bass continues at Comfort Station Logan Square (2579 N. Milwaukee Ave.), running Friday-Tuesday (sundown to sun up), until July 15 (except for June 8 and July 13). Organized by Michael Green.