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:: Friday, MAR. 29 - Thursday, APR. 4 ::

CRUCIAL VIEWING

Marshall Neilan's DOROTHY VERNON OF HADDON HALL (Silent American Revival) 
Northwest Chicago Film Society (at the Portage Theater) - Wednesday, 7:30pm

Though DOROTHY VERNON OF HADDON HALL was directed by Marshall Neilan, it would be unfair and incorrect to not give Mary Pickford credit where it's rightfully due: "America's Sweetheart" not only lent her famous face to the ambitious costume drama, but was also almost solely responsible for its production. In addition to preparing the script, Pickford handpicked Neilan to be the director after Ernst Lubitsch declined the job due to it involving too many and not enough queens, and even directed a few scenes herself when Neilan was too drunk to do so. In the film, Pickford, a then 30-something actress who was viewed by audiences as still being the childlike "Little Mary," shines in her portrayal of a headstrong woman who was similar to the star in real life. The film is based both on the eponymous 1902 novel by Charles Major and true events; the legend of Dorothy Vernon's alleged elopement to John Manners has inspired the film, a few plays, several novels and even an opera. In Pickford's adaptation, Dorothy Vernon's arranged marriage to Manners is rendered null when word of his involvement with Mary Queen of Scots reaches England and she is instead betrothed to her cousin, Malcolm Vernon. Hilarity and hijinks ensue after Manners' family pursues the Vernons for reparations due to the broken engagement and a chance meeting between Dorothy and John set into motion a tale that is equal parts romantic comedy and historical fiction. The "too many queens" in question are Queen Elizabeth and the aforementioned Bloody Mary, whose respective reigns and lives are dependent on the lovers' cunning. Despite its uneven tonal fluctuation, the film is genuinely comical in a way that feels distinctly modern; even the physical humor, a touchstone of silent films for obvious reasons, includes sight gags that surpass those of any multiplex farce. Pickford has never been spunkier, for lack of a better word—her long-lashed beauty is balanced by those crazy eyes and limb-flailing tantrums during which its impossible to look at anything else. The film is also impressive for the stunning costume design, which includes period recreations that are not detracted from by the standard black and white format. The same sentiment could be applied to the film overall, as even when silent and colorless, the Pickford and Co. production is more vibrant than just about any other similar film made thereafter. Live organ accompaniment by Jay Warren. The screening will be introduced by film scholar Christel Schmidt, who will also sign copies of her new book, Mary Pickford: Queen of the Movies, after the film. (1924, 135 min, Imported Restored 35mm Print) KK
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More info at www.northwestchicagofilmsociety.org.


Resurrections: Rare Super-8 Films & Handmade Slides by Luther Price (Experimental)
White Light Cinema at The Nightingale (1084 N. Milwaukee Ave) - Sunday, 7:30pm
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Early Super 8 Films of Luther Price (Experimental)
Eye & Ear Clinic (School of the Art Institute of Chicago, 112 S. Michigan Ave., Maclean Ballroom) - Tuesday, 6pm

First things first—for the unfamiliar—Luther Price's work is eye-rupturingly, soul-stirringly, gut-punchingly, throat-clenchingly great. You will be missing out on something extraordinary if you let these screenings pass. His work is violent—if not always in content, then in approach. The film frames are shredded and abused. His work is intense. Even in silence and stillness, his work can overwhelm. There's a tendency to focus on the emotionally and physically painful elements of his work, but there is a strong streak of the uplifting that often goes ignored. The last time Price visited Chicago, an audience member commented on how painful it was to watch a film containing surgical footage. A bit perplexed, Price spoke of how the film was—for him—about healing. For all the pain on display, the film was about coming out the other side. Even if you can't find the grace in these mottled and wrenched images, you must feel joy from the potency of the technique and the spirited wallowing in the messiest of humanity. The Sunday show will feature a selection of Price's recent 35mm handmade slides and mostly very rare early films: UTOPIA (2012, slides), RIBBON CANDY (2012, slides), COLD COLD HEART (1986), PORTRAIT (1986), LETTER TO TOM RHOADS (1987, by Joe Shepard), #12 (1990) [tentative, based on projectability], HOUSE (1990), FUMF UND FUNF SIG (1990), RUN (1994), plus additional films to be announced. The Tuesday show will feature better-known early works, highlighted by a rare double-projector version of his infamous film 1989 SODOM, plus WARM BROTH, GREEN, RED ROOSTER, ERRUPTION ERECTION, and MEAT BLUE O3. Luther Price in person at both screenings. (1986-2012, Super-8mm and 35mm Slides) JBM
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Note: the Sunday screening is presented by C-F editor Patrick Friel.


Akram Zaatari's Tomorrow everything will be alright (Experimental Video Installation) 
Museum of Contemporary Art - Continuing through May 12

Two ex-lovers send one-line missives to each other in this short work, whereby Zaatari cleverly transforms a typewriter into an analog text message machine. Modern society's usual method of texting back and forth with someone over a cell phone can feel sterile and abstract. You press some colored shapes on a screen, a message is sent into the ether, and, later, your phone buzzes in reply. Zaatari's display, in contrast, is like "watching stiffened insect legs fly up from the oily basket and kick letters onto the page" (to quote Paul Theroux). Seeing red and black ink punching out characters on fibrous paper in extreme closeup gives the teasing back-and-forth conversation a fresh charge. It's also mysteriously, wonderfully expressive; when the machine pauses, to finish a thought or go back to cross out a typo, you sense the mind behind the machine. (2010, 12 min loop, Single-Channel HD Video) RC 
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More info here.


The Rebuilt Environment: Film & Video by Jason Livingston
(Experimental/Documentary)
The Nightingale (1084 N. Milwaukee Ave.) - Saturday, 8pm

Currently based in Iowa City, film and video maker Jason Livingston's works, at first glance, may seem rather scattered. He's worked in a variety of styles and modes over the past decade, and treated a number of different subjects and themes. But, taken together, Livingston's work is working at the many intersections of history (personal and public), politics, and specificities of time and place. Tonight's program includes deliberately ambiguous experimental video works that let political meaning filter up (ACID REIGN, 2010; LAKE AFFECT, 2007), his lovely quasi-narrative short THE TWO BOYS (1999), and a few short I've not seen. But the cornerstone film (in impact and in length) is his 2005 experimental documentary UNDER FOOT & OVERSTORY, a remarkable work that combines audio of a "friends of the park" committee meeting, as the members work on drafting a mission statement, and shots of nature footage complement, contrast, and compete with their discussions. This is political filmmaking at its finest. Livingston allows viewers to make connections and suss out meaning on their own. One become intimately involved with the imagery and the sound, feeling personally invested in the community politics and decision making presented. A film about land use in Iowa City opens up and the local specifics suddenly seem of universal concern. It's sneaky progressive agitprop that doesn't forget that it's also art. Livingston in person. (1998-2013, approx. 61 min, Video Projection) PF
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More info at nightingaletheatre.org.

     

ALSO RECOMMENDED

SPIN/VERSO/CONTOUR: An Evening with Hannes Schüpbach (Experimental)
Conversations at the Edge (at the Gene Siskel Film Center) - Thursday, 6pm

Swiss filmmaker and artist Hannes Schüpbach works in a lyrical mode, perhaps most reminiscent of Nathaniel Dorsky or Robert Beavers, with beautifully composed fragmentary shots weaved together in an associational manner. Unlike Dorsky or Beavers, though, Schüpbach frequently (more often than not in these films) breaks up the shot-to-shot continuity with black, giving his films a strong disjunctive quality. Tonight's program includes the decade-in-the-making trilogy SPIN/VERSO/CONTOUR (2001-11), a portrait series of his aging parents. Despite some quite lovely passages, I found these too random and repetitive across the films to maintain much interest (but then, I'm seemingly one of a handful of people that has problems with Dorsky's recent work, so make of that what you will). The other film on the program, 2008's L'ATELIER, however, is terrific. A "documentation" of an artist's space, Schüpbach's fragmentation here—complimented by varying angles, shot scales, and focal play—is dynamic and connected in a much more resonant way with his subject than in the trilogy. Schüpbach often films through windows or other architectural framings—the visualization of the space itself broken up and disconnected similarly to his editing structure. Parallels of imagery and form build up and are disrupted, rhythms take hold and fall away, space opens up and collapses, inside and outside merge. Schüpbach activates the space is a remarkable way, and challenges us to keep up. Hannes Schüpbach in person. (2001-11, approx. 60 min total, HD Digital Projection) PF
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More info at www.blogs.saic.edu/cate/spring-2013-season.


Joey Garfield's A LOVE LETTER TO YOU (New American) 
Logan Theatre - Sunday, 7pm

What constitutes a documentary? Does it count if it's about an actual Philadelphia public art installation but tells the fictional story of an ex-graffiti artist newly out of jail, trying to get his life back in order? Or is it only a fictional feature that is filmed in a documentary style that slides in actual interviews from the director of the public art initiative and of community members? Could it be a mockumentary if it doesn't mock anything? Joey Garfield's A LOVE LETTER TO YOU sets it fake plot in the middle of a real public mural project that has the challenge to reinvent the drab brown walls of low-income housing units into works of art that not only inspire local residents, but also commuters on the Philly subway system who ride past the community. Enter lead character Fire, an ex-graffiti artist who just got out of jail and is set on reconnecting with his daughter and girlfriend, who wants nothing to do with him. This incredibly fictional character mixes his way in the incredibly factual story of a community art program that shares its name with the film. Garfield takes the best of two distinct film genres—the facts and security of a documentary paired with the heart-tugging (and sometimes over-the-top) storylines of a fictional story—to create a work about redemption and love structured around the empowering and important effects of community artwork. (2011, 48 min, Video Projection - Unconfirmed Format) SW 
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More info at www.thelogantheatre.com.


Toshio Matsumoto's FUNERAL PARADE OF ROSES (Classic/Cult Revival)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) - Tuesday at 7pm

A frequent subject in Amos Vogel's seminal Film as a Subversive Art, Toshio Matsumoto's work is rarely mentioned in the United States anymore, FUNERAL PARADE OF ROSES is an unflinching look at drug abuse, counterculture, and transvestism in 60s Tokyo, purportedly similar to contemporaneous work by Andy Warhol and William Klein in its collage of documentary and pop-art sensibilities. (It also shares a financier—the Art Theater Guild—with some of the most challenging Japanese films of the era, including Shohei Imamura's A MAN VANISHES, Yoshishige Yoshida's EROS PLUS MASSACRE, and Oshima's DIARY OF A SHINJUKU THIEF.) The film was all but unprecedented in Japanese cinema for its (male) homoeroticism, and this trait only helped to make it more controversial at home. But in spite of these potentially dating aspects, this remains powerful filmmaking to many contemporary viewers. Writing on the film a few years ago, Philadelphia City Paper's Sam Adams still found its despair troubling: "Dipping into Greek mythology as well as Japanese popular culture...FUNERAL PARADE is alternately haunting and frenetic, a ghost story for a generation still twitching on the slab. Clinging to appropriated identities, the film's wayward youth wind up in a flooded graveyard, where [transvestite hero] Eddie muses, 'I wish the whole world would sink.'" (1969, 105 min, Unconfirmed Format—though likely a film print) BS
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More info at www.docfilms.uchicago.edu.


Joseph L. Mankiewicz's ALL ABOUT EVE (American Revival)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) - Thursday, 7pm

Joseph L. Mankiewicz, an ubiquitous presence in Hollywood thanks to some early string pulling by his brother Herman, was a screenwriter for Paramount and a producer for MGM before he realized his second-greatest ambition and became a director for 20th Century Fox (his first was to make it as a Broadway playwright). Ambition is written on the walls of ALL ABOUT EVE, Mankiewicz's sharp and ever-popular comedy of self-comment in which a dissembling fan (Anne Baxter) insinuates herself into the personal and professional life of an aging Broadway star (Bette Davis) until the sparks and epithets really begin to fly. A feeling of ersatz-ness reigns in much of Mankiewicz's cinema: Bette Davis seems to be impersonating Bette Davis, much as EVE is striving for the deeper themes of SUNSET BOULEVARD, released the same year. But Mankiewicz stuck bravely to his guns, impressing upon his actors the need to step outside their roles and acknowledge their theatrical conceits—and many an adoring fan has followed along. (1950, 138 min, Unconfirmed Format—though likely a film print) JB
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More info at www.docfilms.uchicago.edu.


Stanley Kubrick's THE SHINING (American Revival)
Music Box Theatre - Friday and Saturday, Midnight

Though it had been made famous already by ROCKY, it wasn't until THE SHINING that the Steadicam yielded an aesthetic breakthrough in movies. Garrett Brown's innovation—a gyroscope mounted to the bottom of a camera, which allowed cinematographers to create hand-held tracking shots that didn't record their own movement—became in Kubrick's hands a supernatural presence. The film's justly celebrated Steadicam shots evoke a cruel, judgmental eye that does not belong to any human being, a perspective that's harrowing in its implications. (GOODFELLAS, SATANTANGO, and Gus Van Sant's ELEPHANT, to name just three examples, are inconceivable without the film's influence.) In this regard, the horror of THE SHINING makes manifest one subtext running through all of Kubrick's work: that humanity, for all its technical sophistication, will never fully understand its own consciousness. Why else would Kubrick devote nearly 150 takes to the same scene, as he did several times in the film's epic shooting schedule? With the only exceptions being other movies directed by Stanley Kubrick, no one moves or speaks in a film the way they do in THE SHINING. Everything has been rehearsed past the point of technical perfection; the behavior on screen seems the end-point of human evolution. What keeps it all going? (To invoke another great horror film of the era: the devil, probably.) The demons of the Overlook Hotel may very well be a manifestation of the evil within Jack Torrance, a recovering alcoholic who once nearly beat his four-year-old son to death. Or they could be, like those Steadicam shots, evidence of an alien consciousness here to judge the vulnerabilities of mankind. Kubrick never proffers an explanation, which is why THE SHINING is one of the few horror films that actually remains scary on repeated viewings. Nearly every effect here prompts some indelible dread: the unnatural symmetry of Kubrick's compositions; Shelly Duvall's tragic performance (which suggests that horrible victimization is always just around the corner); and the atonal symphonic music by Bartok, Lygeti, and Penderecki that make up the soundtrack. (1980, 142 min, 35mm) BS
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More info at www.musicboxtheatre.com.


Mel Stuart's WILLY WONKA & THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY (American Revival)
Music Box Theatre - Sunday, 2pm

Even though the lackluster Peter Ostrum (who played Charlie and thankfully retired from the acting business to become a veterinarian) covers the film in a slimy, sentimental goo, Mel Stuart's exceptional but uneven WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY still remains a visual and rather perverse delight. Get past the interminable "Cheer up Charlie" song and the flimsy ending and you're left with some gorgeous color cinematography and the pleasure of watching half a dozen pre-pubescent miscreants get their comeuppances while Gene Wilder acts bewildered. Most of the musical numbers are quite good too, and the classroom scenes with David Battley as an inept grade school teacher are worth the price of admission alone. (1971, 100 min, Unconfirmed Format) JA
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More info at www.musicboxtheatre.com.

   

ONGOING FILM/VIDEO INSTALLATIONS

PSA Projects (2509 N. Lawndale Ave.) presents Jovencio de la Paz's Chicago Sky Interior, on view Sundays through April 7. Details and screening schedule here.

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). See review above.

   

MORE SCREENINGS AND EVENTS

Roots & Culture Contemporary Art Center (1034 N. Milwaukee Ave.) presents an out-of-season (rescheduled) edition of their Zummertapez summer series (curated by filmmaker Alexander Stewart) on Sunday at 8pm. Zummertapez/Vintervidz - Thomas Comerford will feature the local filmmaker and musician presenting a "video mixtape/artist's talk" that will include excerpts from his own work from 1993-2010 along with complete and excerpted works that have influenced him.

The Black Cinema House (6901 S. Dorchester Ave.) presents L.A. Rebellion Filmmaker Discussion on Friday at 7pm, with filmmakers O. Funmilayo Makarah, Ben Caldwell, and Barbara McCullough discussing their work and showing selected examples. (Films by each can also be seen in the L.A. REBELLION screening on Saturday at the Gene Siskel Film Center—see below for details). More info at www.blackcinemahouse.org. Due to limited space, RSVPs are encouraged; email blackcinemahouse@rebuild-foundation.org.

The Northbrook Public Library (1201 Cedar Lane, Northbrook) screens George Sidney's 1957 film PAL JOEY (111 min, 35mm) on Wednesday at 1 and 7:30pm. More info at www.northbrook.info/events/film.

ICE Movie Theatre Chatham 14 screens Shola Lynch's 2012 documentary FREE ANGELA & ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS (101 min, Digital Projection - Unconfirmed Format) on Thursday at 7pm. Tickets available at www.freeangeladavis-chicago.eventbrite.com.

The Chicago Cinema Society (at the Patio Theater) has a busy weekend: Kristina Buozyte's 2012 Lithuanian sci-fi film VANISHING WAVES (124 min, DCP Digital Projection) screens on Friday at 10pm and Monday at 7:30pm; Michel Ocelot's 2011 French animated film TALES OF THE NIGHT (84 min, DCP Digital Projection) is on Saturday and Sunday at 3pm; and Robert Houston's 1980 martial arts film SHOGUN ASSASSIN (85 min, 35mm) is on Saturday at 10pm. More info at http://chicagocinemasociety.org.

Also at Doc Films (University of Chicago) this week: Fritz Lang's 1945 masterpiece SCARLET STREET (103 min) screens on Monday at 7pm; Werner Herzog's 1968 film SIGNS OF LIFE (91 min) is on Wednesday at 7 and 9:30pm; and Gerald Potterton's 1981 animation HEAVY METAL (86 min) is on Thursday at 9:30pm. Unconfirmed Formats, though all are likely to be film prints.

Also at the Gene Siskel Film Center this week: Allan King's classic 1967 Canadian documentary WARRENDALE (100 min, DigiBeta Video) screens on Friday and Tuesday at 6pm, with a lecture by SAIC professor Mary Patten at the Tuesday show; Sacha Gervasi's 2012 biopic HITCHCOCK (98 min, 35mm) plays for a week; Alfred Hitchcock's great 1960 film PSYCHO (109 min, 35mm) also plays for a week (Lesley L. Coffin, author of the upcoming book Hitchcock's Stars: Alfred Hitchcock and the Hollywood Star System, in person after the Wednesday 8pm screening); Till Schauder's 2012 film THE IRAN JOB (90 min, DCP Digital Projection) plays for a week; Isaki Lacuesta's 2011 film THE DOUBLE STEPS (86 min, DigiBeta Video; Saturday at 5pm and Monday at 7:45pm) and Jaume Balagueró's 2011 film SLEEP TIGHT (102 min, HDCam Video; Sunday at 3pm and Wednesday at 7:45pm) both show in the Festival of New Spanish Cinema; and the shorts program L.A. Rebellion (1971-2006, 77 min total, Various Formats) screens on Saturday at 12:30pm.

Also at the Music Box Theatre this week: Matteo Garrone's 2012 Italian comedy/drama REALITY (116 min, Unconfirmed Format) and Adam Leon's 2012 comedy/drama GIMME THE LOOT (81 min, Unconfirmed Format) both open; Sing-A-Long Sound of Music (Unconfirmed Format) is on Saturday at 2pm; Bob Byington's 2012 film SOMEBODY UP THERE LIKES ME (76 min, DCP Digital Projection) is on Friday and Saturday at Midnight; and Cate Shortland's 2012 drama LORE (109 min, Unconfirmed Format) is in the Saturday and Sunday 11:30am matinee slot.

Chicago Filmmakers presents Evan Grae Davis' 2012 documentary IT'S A GIRL (64 min) and Kate Nace Day's 2012 documentary A CIVIL REMEDY (23 min) (both Video Projection - Unconfirmed Formats) on Saturday at 7:30pm at Chicago Filmmakers (5243 N. Clark St.); and Yves Sioui Durand's 2011 Canadian aboriginal drama MESNAK (96 min, Video Projection - Unconfirmed Format) screen on Wednesday at 7:30pm at Columbia College Chicago's Hokin Hall (623 S. Wabash Ave.). Co-presented by the First Nations Film and Video Festival.

New this week at Landmark's Century Centre Cinema: Goro Miyazaki's 2011 anime FROM UP ON POPPY HILL (91 min, Digital Projection - Unconfirmed Format), Wayne Blair's 2012 film THE SAPPHIRES (103 min, Digital Projection - Unconfirmed Format), and Ken Scott's 2011 comedy STARBUCK (109 min, Digital Projection - Unconfirmed Format) all open; Sergio Leone's classic 1966 western THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY (161 min, Digital Projection - Unconfirmed Format) on Friday and Saturday at Midnight; and Stevie Nicks and David A. Stewart's 2013 music documentary STEVIE NICKS: IN YOUR DREAMS (112 min, Digital Projection - Unconfirmed Format) is on Tuesday at 7pm only.

Facets Cinémathèque screens Quentin Dupieux's 2013 US/French film WRONG (94 min, Unconfirmed Format) for a week's run; and the Facets Night School series returns, kicking off with Chicago Cinema Society's Jason Coffman presenting exploitation-meister Al Adamson's 1981 "kid's" film CARNIVAL MAGIC (86 min, 35mm) on Saturday at Midnight.

The Harold Washington Library Center (Cindy Pritzker Auditorium, 400 S. State St.) screens William Friedkin's 1971 film THE FRENCH CONNECTION (104 min, DVD Projection) on Wednesday at 6pm.

The Alliance Française (54 W. Chicago Ave.) screens Jacques Audiard's 2005 film THE BEAT THAT MY HEART SKIPPED (107 min, Video Projection - Unconfirmed Format) on Wednesday at 6:30pm, with an introduction by Bob Dalhin, an assistant director in L.A. for over 25 years.

Also at the Logan Theatre this week: Jean-Pierre Jeunet's 2001 film AMELIE (122 min, Unconfirmed Format) is on Friday, Saturday, and Monday at 11:15pm; Steven Spielberg's 1982 film E.T. THE EXTRA TERRESTRIAL (115 min, Unconfirmed Format) is on Friday, Saturday, and Monday at 11:45pm and Saturday and Sunday at Noon; the Wednesday Rewind film is Slava Tsukerman's 1982 cult film LIQUID SKY (122 min, Unconfirmed Format) at 10:30pm; and Michael Wadleigh's 1970 concert documentary WOODSTOCK (184 min, Unconfirmed Format) is on Thursday at 10pm
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CINE-LIST: March 29 – April 4, 2013

MANAGING EDITOR /
Patrick Friel

CONTRIBUTORS / Julian Antos, Jeffrey Bivens, Rob Christopher, Kat C. Keish, Josh B. Mabe, Ben Sachs, Shealey Wallace, Darnell Witt


> Editorial Statement -> Contact