The 2012 Eyeworks Festival of Experimental Animation
Chicago Cultural Center and DePaul School of CIM - Saturday and Sunday
Curated by local filmmakers Alexander Stewart and Lilli Carré, Eyeworks features four different programs this Saturday and Sunday. Frame by frame by tween by clay by mash by mumble in dimensions 1, 2 and 3: part of what makes Eyeworks—now in its 3rd year—so special is its commingling of historical (if underseen) films alongside recent works by contemporary filmmakers. This year, the former is represented by the likes Frank and Caroline Mouris' doubly-narrated FRANK FILM (1973); genre grand-progenitor Norman McLaren and Evelyn Lambart's BEGONE DULL CARE (1949); and Oskar Fischinger's COMPOSITION IN BLUE (1935); while the latter includes Peter Burr's black-and-white existential space-scape ALONE WITH THE MOON (2012) and the Estonian BREAKFAST ON THE BRASS (2011), a drowsy and rousing post-bacchanal for transient and gutter punk puppets. Any festival that includes forty distinct works (including the lobby loops by Jo Dery and Joe Tallarico) is a challenge to the notion of easy totalizing. The works' methods vary as vastly as their subjects. In addition to the puppets, paper cutouts, sophisticated motion graphics, sharpies, and other unusual suspects, the inclusion of works like Al Jarnow's CELESTIAL NAVIGATION (1985) and Tomonari Nishikawa's MARKET STREET (2005)—which are both shot in real, physical spaces using motion picture cameras—remind us of how diffuse and wide-ranging the notion of animation can be. In addition to the local filmmakers in attendance, Maine-based (and SAIC MFA) Nancy Andrews will present a program of her work Saturday evening. JM
Complete schedule and more info at www.eyeworksfestival.com.
Peter Weir's PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK (Australian Revival)
Northwest Chicago Film Society (at Cinema Borealis, 1550 N. Milwaukee Ave., 4th Floor) - Sunday, 6 and 8:30pm
In 1967, Australian author Joan Lindsay published her popular novel Picnic at Hanging Rock, and it soon provoked the belief that its subject is a true, but undocumented event. Eight years later, Peter Weir and screenwriter Cliff Green adapted the novel into Weir's second feature film to explore this new subject of national folklore. In the film, several young women and their teachers from Appleyard College picnic at Hanging Rock near Mount Macedon, Victoria on Saint Valentine's Day in 1900. During the afternoon, Irma, Marion, and Miranda quietly leave their classmates to further explore "the geological marvel," and they never return. In time, the disappearance of the girls leads to greater tragedy at the college. Similar to his contemporary Terrence Malick's attention to American landscapes, Weir focuses his camera on the natural landscape of the Australian bush and its dynamic animal and plant life. Often shot from varying low angles, Hanging Rock appears to be very powerful and possibly dangerous. It arrests the sight of the small men and women who climb its steep slopes in search of an answer. While many films encourage viewers to solve their mysteries, PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK asks them to accept it. In contrast, the film's characters cannot face the unknown, and their reactions in turn obscure them from each other and from us. For Weir, Hanging Rock holds the last memory of Irma, Marion, and Miranda, yet no one can interpret what nature recounts. In the interview "Picnic under Capricorn" published shortly after the film's release, Weir described his uncommon aim: "We worked very hard at creating a hallucinatory mesmeric rhythm, so that you lost awareness of facts, you stopped adding things up, and got into this enclosed atmosphere. I did everything in my power to hypnotize the audience away from the possibility of solutions...There are, after all, things within our own minds about which we know far less than about the disappearances at Hanging Rock. And it's within a lot of those silences that I tell my side of the story." (1975, 115 min, 35mm) CW
More info at www.northwestchicagofilmsociety.org.
REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE (American Revival)
Gene Siskel Film Center - Friday and Tuesday, 6pm
REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE has had more lives than many auteurist causes: it's A Film By Nicholas Ray, but also a genuine popular classic sustained by an endless supply of James Dean posters, magnets, t-shirts, and tchotchkes. Modern viewers often find it dated, largely because fashion dictates a less didactic and purpose-driven form of expression. If the psychological jargon and parenting advice are hopelessly rooted in the 1950s, the sex is something else again. Here, the title is misleading, perhaps disingenuous: treating Dean's Jim Stark as a privileged creature of inchoate disaffection is only possible by willfully turning a blind eye to the quite legible and articulate critique of straight sexuality that limns nearly every exchange. It's in Sal Mineo's tentative entreaties to Dean, but even more brashly in the moment Natalie Wood interrogates William Hopper on the proper way for a teenager to express love for her father; her desires literally know no established form. It's a movie about people denied a framework and vocabulary for coming to terms with themselves and their environments. Luckily, this confusion does not infect the movie's craft. Ray's JOHNNY GUITAR bustles with so much action that its cramped frames feel primed to burst, as if the director had exhausted the limits of flat cinematography; REBEL, Ray's Cinemascope debut, reverses course and uses the wide canvas to describe new dimensions of loneliness and isolation. Critic and artist Fred Camper lectures at the Tuesday screening. (1955, 111 min, 35mm) KAW
More info at www.siskelfilmcenter.org.
Films by Martin Arnold (Experimental Revival)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) - Sunday, 7pm
Martin Arnold's films are detailed explosions of micro gestures of found cinema. Brief shots, off-hand glances, and blank moments from classic Hollywood cinema are repurposed into extraordinarily complicated repeating patterns revealing hidden motion, secret lusts, and horrifying dreads ready to spring into animation at any moment. Re-editing frame-by-frame the slick productions of industrial Hollywood style, Arnold reconstructs the briefest of clips into intricate systems of visceral roughness, revealing himself to be one of the great found-footage filmmakers working today. In PIÈCE TOUCHÉE (1989), a woman sits in an easy chair reading while a man enters the room. They walk together for a few seconds, smiling. Altogether, the single shot Arnold excerpts from THE HUMAN JUNGLE, a forgettable 1954 juvenile crime film, lasts about a third of a minute, but in Arnold's hands it's expanded into more than a quarter of an hour. The footage is bent and coerced to reveal strange, vertiginous slides, amazing dances of doors opening and closing, and the instantaneous destruction of space. PASSAGE À L'ACTE (1993) follows, dissecting an innocent breakfast-table discussion from Robert Mulligan's TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. The children's petty disagreements become epic confrontations of dueling compulsions, the father a robotic figure of law, and the mother a silent non-entity. Voices are reduced to mere sound, and when words do finally emerge from the son and daughter, it is with a new-found urgency and terror. The final film in the program, ALONE. LIFE WASTES ANDY HARDY (1998), is Arnold's masterpiece; an astonishing exploration of invisible moments in the films Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland made for MGM. At once the most moving and most elaborate of Arnold's works, one of the film's central concerns is to reveal the subtle undercurrents of despair and longing that pervade apparently neutral character interactions. Here, a blink is an admission of guilt, the flexing of a muscle is an urgent threat, and an exhalation of breath is the expression of overwhelming sexual desire. Arnold has spoken of his viewing of Hollywood films at extremely low frame-rates as revelatory, saying that 'every minimal movement was transformed into a concussion.' In these works, those concussions are repurposed into assaults on the fabric of continuity itself, on Hollywood's domination of the rules of representation. They are profoundly liberating, and deeply beautiful. (1989-98, 43 min total, 16mm) KB
More info at www.docfilms.uchicago.edu.
Stephen Cone's THE WISE KIDS (New American)
Gene Siskel Film Center - Check Venue website for schedule
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. 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. Director Stephen Cone and members of the cast and crew will appear at both screenings on Friday, the 7:45 screening on Saturday, and the 5:15 screening on Sunday. (2011, 95 min, HDCam Video) MC
More info at www.siskelfilmcenter.org.
Jafar Panahi and Mojtaba Mirtahmasb's THIS IS NOT A FILM (New Iranian)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) - Saturday, 7 and 9pm; Sunday, 3:15pm
The disingenuously titled THIS IS NOT A FILM, Jafar Panahi and Mojtaba Mirtahmasb's surprise entry to last year's Cannes Film Festival (it was smuggled to France via a pen drive inside of a cake), is by its very nature one of the most vital films in recent memory. Simply made but far from simple, it's a radical cri de coeur from a filmmaker whose itch to express himself remains intact despite efforts by Iranian authorities to silence him. As Panahi makes unambiguous in the film through candid mobile-phone conversations, he will likely go to jail. This devastating reality does not seem to interfere with his capacity to reflect lucidly on his filmmaking process in relation to Iranian censorship, and to speak playfully and generously with the (few) people around him. The film reaches an unexpected crescendo in the final ten minutes or so, as Panahi follows his doorman on rubbish-collection routine. Unexpectedly cathartic, this sequence is a powerful testament to Panahi's filmmaking dexterity, his capacity to find poetic substance in the most ordinary of situations. THIS IS NOT A FILM is built from nothing, and yet every moment has a powerful urgency to it. (2011, 75 min, Unconfirmed Format) GK
More info at www.docfilms.uchicago.edu.
Henri-Georges Clouzot's THE WAGES OF FEAR (French Revival)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) - Monday, 7pm
Though THE WAGES OF FEAR is often grouped with Clouzot's taut thrillers like DIABOLIQUE and THE RAVEN, it might be more appropriately labeled as a melodrama, as Pauline Kael originally suggested. The film takes place in a remote, dilapidated South American oil town home to French, Italian, and Dutch vagabond expatriates. With no means of escape or promising job opportunities, four men undertake the suicidal mission of transporting jerrycans of hazardous nitroglycerin to a raging fire at an oil field across the mountains. The gig pays well, but the stakes are high: they're warned that even the smallest bump or pothole will result in an instantaneous death. This plot device makes for one of the longest sequences of sustained suspense ever committed to film; however, the nitroglycerin is really just a pretext for an exploration into the fortitude of human nature under pressure. The central theme of THE WAGES OF FEAR, and of Clouzot's work on the whole, is trust (or a lack thereof). The film supports the idea of Clouzot as misanthropic or nihilistic filmmaker, as evidenced by its absurd, almost Sartre-esque conclusion. Like THERE WILL BE BLOOD, the film captures the obsession and mania that seem like an inevitable byproduct in the quest for oil. Though THE WAGES OF FEAR isn't an explicitly political film, it is decidedly anti-American, offering a critique of corporate imperialism, indigenous exploitation, and a division of labor in which (for the underclass) work and death are essentially one and the same. (1953, 148 min director's cut, 35mm) HS
More info at www.docfilms.uchicago.edu.
ONGOING FILM/VIDEO INSTALLATIONS
The Art Institute of Chicago opens the exhibit focus: Hito Steyerl, which features six of the artist's video installations, on Thursday. It runs through January 27.
Cinema Culture's Peek In Window Cinema video installation, viewable outside and inside Threads Etc (2327 N. Milwaukee Ave.), features work by Timothy David Orme, Simo Ezoubeiri, Joseph Waggoner, Nelson Carvajal, and Jason Ogawa. On display until November 1.
The Art Institute of Chicago continues an exhibition of work by artist Steve McQueen, which features a number of his film/video installation pieces, on Sunday. The show runs through January 6.
Ongoing at the Museum of Contemporary Art though May 12 is MCA Screen: Akram Zaatari, featuring the artist's 2010 Single-channel HD video Tomorrow everything will be alright (12 min loop).
Local artist Brittany Pyle's site-specific installation Night Witch continues at The Mission (1431 W. Chicago Ave.) through October 27. From the press release: "Influenced by 1970s-1980s horror cinema, Pyle is interested in the mise-en-scéne of a bedroom or living room just before terror strikes. In contrast to a horror film, however, the viewers of Pyle's installation are no longer restricted to acting as a detached, third party observer. Conversely, the viewer is now immediately implicated in the participation, experiencing the scene just as the intruder does." More info at http://themissionprojects.com.
On view daily through November 25 at the Art Institute of Chicago as part of the Film and Photo in New York exhibition are several films showing in Gallery 4. Included are Paul Strand's MANHATTA (1921), Louis Faurer's TIME CAPSULE (1960s), Weegee's WEEGEE'S NEW YORK (1948), Helen Levitt's IN THE STREET (1952), Morris Engel's LITTLE FUGITIVE (1953), and Robert Frank's PULL MY DAISY (1959). Check the museum's website for the screening schedule. www.artic.edu.
MORE SCREENINGS AND EVENTS
The Conversations at the Edge series at the Gene Siskel Film Center presents Vincent Grenier: Tabula Rasa (1976-2011, approx. 75 min total, Various Formats), featuring a selection of experimental film and video maker Grenier's stunning work, on Thursday at 6pm. Grenier in person.
The Nightingale presents VIDEO MUSICS III: FLOATING OCEANS - A Multi-Media Opera by Alexis Gideon (Digital File Projection) on Friday at 8pm. The event will also include a live reading of, and musical accompaniment to, an excerpt from Ezra Claytan Daniels' sci-fi graphic novel Upgrade Soul. Gideon and Daniels in person. On Saturday, the Chicago Underground Film Festival co-presents the second in the Nightingale's "Gateway Drugs" series. Katrina del Mar will be in person for two screenings (7 and 9pm) of her GIRL GANG TRILOGY (1999-2010, 87 min total, Digital File Projection).
On Friday at 6pm, the Eye & Ear Clinic series at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (112 S. Michigan Ave., Rm. 1307) presents two films (unconfirmed titles) by local filmmaker Deborah Stratman. Stratman in person.
Chicago Filmmakers presents the shorts program Fright Night! (2012, approx. 60 min total, Video Projection - Unconfirmed Formats) on Friday at 8pm at Columbia College's Hokin Hall (623 S. Wabash Ave.). Screening are FISH by Marc Riordan, WHITE FLAG by Chris Colucci, THE SHADOW IN THE WALL by Rebecca Nolin, and APOCALYPSE OF DEATH: PT. 1 - FAREWELL WHITE CITY by Matthew O'Shaughnessy. Filmmakers in person.
The Englewood Film Festival and continues through Sunday at Kennedy King College (6258 S. Halsted) and Ice Theater (210 W. 87th St.). More information at www.englewoodfilmfest.com.
The Patio Theater screens Sean S. Cunningham's FRIDAY THE 13th (1980, 95min, 35mm) on Friday and Saturday at 10pm.
The Northbrook Public Library (1201 Cedar Lane, Northbrook) screens Terence Young's 1967 film WAIT UNTIL DARK (108 min, 16mm) on Wednesday at 1 and 7:30pm. Reid Schultz will discuss the entire Audrey Hepburn series after the movie. More info at http://www.northbrook.info/events/film.
The Film Studies Center (University of Chicago) presents Daisuke Ito's 1931 silent Japanese film JIROKICHI THE RAT (Oatsurae Jirokichi Koshi) (63 min, DVD Projection) on Saturday at 7pm, featuring a live benshi performance in Japanese by Ichiro Kataoka, musical accompaniment by the Tatsu Aoki Quartet, and an introduction by Phil Kaffen, lecturer, Department of Cinema and Media Studies, and the College. On Thursday at 7pm, Lucia Puenzo's 2011 Argentinean drama THE FISH CHILD (96 min, Digital Projection - Unconfirmed Format) screens. Both events at the Logan Center for the Arts (915 E. 60th St.).
The Whistler presents the Odd Obsession Foreign Film Series on Saturday at 7pm. The film screening is Lamberto Bava's 1985 DEMONS (88 min, Video Projection - Unconfirmed Format). Afterwards, at 9pm, is a DJ set from Impala Sound Champion.
Landmark's Century Centre Cinema screens Eli Craig's TUCKER & DALE VS. EVIL (2010, 89 min, Digital Projection - Unconfirmed Format) on Friday and Saturday at Midnight; and John Carpenter's HALLOWEEN (1978, 91 min, Digital Projection - Unconfirmed Format) on Tuesday at 9pm.
Also at the Gene Siskel Film Center this week: Sean Branney's 2011 horror film THE WHISPERER IN DARKNESS (103 min, DigiBeta Video) screens Friday at 8:15pm and Wednesday at 8pm; Aleksei Guerman's 1971 film TRIAL ON THE ROAD (96 min, New 35mm Print) screens on Saturday at 3pm and Wednesday at 6pm, and his 1967 film THE SEVENTH COMPANION (96 min, New 35mm Print) is on Saturday at 5pm and Monday at 6pm; Rambod Javan's 2011 Iranian film NO MEN ALLOWED (102 min, DCP Video) is on Saturday at 8pm and Sunday at 5:15pm; Mehdi Bagheri's 2011 RELUCTANT BACHELOR (58 min, BetaSP Video) and Mohsen Amiryousefi's 2012 MY HOME (50 min, DCP Video) also screen in the Iranian festival, on Sunday at 3pm and Thursday at 8:15pm; and local filmmaker John Mossman's 2012 drama INTO THE WAKE (76 min, HDCam Video) returns for a single screening on Monday at 7:45pm. Director/co-writer John Mossman and actor/producer/co-writer Tim Miller will be present for audience discussion.
Also at Doc Films (University of Chicago) this week: Isao Takahata's 1994 animated feature POM POKO (119 min, 35mm) screens Friday at 7, 9:15, and 11:30pm, and Sunday at 1pm; Eliyahu Ungar-Sargon's 2007 documentary CUT! SLICING THROUGH THE MYTHS OF CIRCUMCISION (70 min, Unconfirmed Format) is on Sunday at 8:30pm; John Waters' 1990 film CRY BABY (85 min, 35mm) is on Tuesday at 7pm; John Carpenter's 1978 film HALLOWEEN (91 min, 35mm) and James R. Rokos' 1970 short (co-written by Carpenter) RESURRECTION OF BROCHO BILLY (23 min, Unconfirmed Format) are on Wednesday at 9pm; Roger Corman's 1956 film IT CONQUERED THE WORLD (71 min, 35mm) is on Thursday at 7pm; and Liu Chia-Liang's 1978 Hong Kong action film THE 36th CHAMBER OF SHAOLIN (115 min, 35mm) is on Thursday at 9pm.
At the Music Box this week: Ira Sachs' new gay drama KEEP THE LIGHTS ON (DCP Projection) opens; Eugene Jarecki's 2012 documentary THE HOUSE I LIVE IN (108 min, Unconfirmed Format) is held over; selected program in the Chicago International Children's Film Festival (see Facets' Cinémathèque) take place throughout the week; Mark Cousins' 2011 documentary series THE STORY OF FILM: AN ODYSSEY continues with the episodes "European New Wave (1960's)" and "New Directors, New Form (1960's)" (approx 60 min each, Blu-ray Projection) on Saturday and Sunday in the 11:30am matinee slot; Jim Sharman's 1975 cult film THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW (35mm) screens Friday and Saturday at Midnight and Wednesday at 10pm; Michael Paul Stevenson's 2012 documentary THE AMERICAN SCREAM (Unconfirmed Running Time and Format) is the other Friday and Saturday Midnight film; and on Saturday at 12:15pm, it's Alliance Française Presents Méliès (Digital Projection - Unconfirmed Format), a program of sixteen films by cinema pioneer Georges Méliès, with Georges Méliès' great-grand children Lawrence Lehérissey-Méliès on piano and Marie-Hélène Lehérissey-Méliès providing French narration. Award-winning Chicago-based actress Barbara Robertson will be providing English narration.
Block Cinema (Northwestern University) screens Linda Goldstein Knowlton's 2011 documentary SOMEWHERE BETWEEN (94 min, Video Projection - Unconfirmed Format) on Thursday at 7pm.
Facets Cinémathèque presents the Chicago International Children's Film Festival (at Facets and other venues around Chicago; check the website for complete schedule and details); also at Facets this week are two entries in the Facets Night School series: on Friday at Midnight is Adam Deyoe and Eric Gosselin's PSYCHO SLEEPOVER (2008, 87 min, Video Projection - Unconfirmed Format), introduced by Joseph R. Lewis, and on Saturday at Midnight it's Jack Perez's AMERICA'S DEADLIEST HOME VIDEO (1993, 87 min, Video Projection - Unconfirmed Format), introduced by Chris Damen.
The Italian Cultural Institute (500 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 1450) screens Gianni Di Gregorio's 2011 film THE SALT OF LIFE (90 min, Video Projection - Unconfirmed Format) on Tuesday at 6pm. Reservation recommended: call (312) 822-9545.
The Goethe Institut-Chicago (150 N. Michigan Ave. Suite 200) screens Dominik Graf's 2010 television production IN FACE OF THE CRIME - EPISODE 3: THE RAID (50 min, Video Projection - Unconfirmed Format) on Monday and Tuesday at 6pm.
Transistor (3819 N. Lincoln Ave.) screens Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman's 2010 documentary CATFISH (87 min, DVD Projection) on Monday at 8pm.
The Logan Theater presents William Friedkin's 1973 film THE EXORCIST (122 min, Video Projection - Unconfirmed Format), John Carpenter's 1978 film HALLOWEEN (91 min, Video Projection - Unconfirmed Format), and Roman Polanski's 1968 film ROSEMARY'S BABY (136 min, Video Projection - Unconfirmed Format). Check the Logan website for schedule.
The Portage Theater presents Halloween Havoc 5 (Unconfirmed Formats) from Sunday to Thursday. Check the Portage website for full schedule.
The Chicago History Museum presents John Carpenter's 1978 film HALLOWEEN (91 min, Unconfirmed Format) on Sunday at 7pm in the beer garden at Sheffield's (3258 N. Sheffield Ave.).
The Logan Square International Film Series (at Comfort Station, 2579 N. Milwaukee Ave.) presents a Viewer's Choice screening (title unconfirmed at press time) on Wednesday at 8pm.