Chicago Guide to Independent and Underground Cinema
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:: Friday, JULY 12 - Thursday, JUNE 18 ::


Andy Warhol's LUPE (Experimental Revival) 
Doc Films (University of Chicago) - Wednesday, 7pm 

Inspired by a slanderous tale from Kenneth Anger's Hollywood Babylon, Andy Warhol cast Edie Sedgwick as the suicidal ingénue Lupe Velez, a Mexican actress whose career as an energetic South-of-the-Border caricature peaked soon before her deliberate overdose of Seconal pills in 1944. In Anger's rendition of her life, Velez eventually died not from the sleeping pills but by drowning in her toilet (note: she died in bed; Anger's just making things up). Warhol's LUPE, in contrast to Anger's myth-mongering, is clinical, almost medical in its distance from Sedgwick's body, her beauty, her stardom. The film comes in two reels, which may be played subsequently or simultaneously, side-by-side. (Originally, a third reel accompanied these two, but this seems to have dropped out of circulation and this reviewer has not seen it.) Sedgwick is at best an enigmatic choice to play Lupe Velez—she looks nothing like her, behaves nothing like Velez's performances—but despite its many descriptions as a biopic, the similarities the film has to Velez's life are thematic, not biographical, iconic, not faithful. As the first reel begins, Sedgwick is shown, for a long time, sleeping. A mirror to the right of her reflects her face back to us. Eventually, after a stunningly disruptive zoom-out, it becomes clear that a man is in bed with her, and the drama begins: she will answer the telephone, luxuriously chew gum, get a haircut, and apply make-up, before an abrupt shift in tone reveals her face within the bowl of her toilet. It is a reel of intricate negotiations: interpersonal, sexual, financial (she seems to be having trouble with her agent), and, most importantly, physical and chromatic. Every aspect of the space she inhabits seems to be in communication with her, seems to be in keeping with her presence. So often do reflections, both mirror images and color doubles, surround her that she is transformed from a woman into a living object, one thing among many things arranged for our inspection, submitted for our approval. The second reel represents a full-scale shift in perspective: into a tasteful dining room a blue-clad Sedgwick enters, carrying flowers of a shocking yellow. She drinks both red and white wine, smokes, dances alone, and consumes the pills that will end her life. Again, the reel ends with Sedgwick's head submerged in the toilet, this time much more elaborately filmed, dissected, torn apart. As Douglas Crimp has noted, in LUPE "the camera becomes an autonomous 'player,' as it zooms in on extraneous details, pans distractedly away from the action, even tilts down to the floor or up to the ceiling." Indeed, almost nowhere else is Warhol as precise and as elaborate in his camera moves and zooms, delivering a devastatingly moving commentary on the falseness of fame, the addiction of stardom, and the loneliness and suffocation of dwelling in a world of beauty. Sedgwick would never work with Warhol again. Dismissed out of hand by Stephen Koch, deeply misunderstood by Callie Angell, ignored by Patrick Smith, this is in fact one of Warhol's greatest films, perhaps indeed his best. (1966, 72 min, 16mm) KB
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Tod Browning's THE UNHOLY THREE (Silent American Revival) 
Music Box Theatre - Saturday, Noon 

In his recent appreciation of TRISTANA, Dave Kehr provided a lucid avenue into Luis Buñuel's late period, praising "a style so rigorously neutral that it became deeply, inimitably personal." The same sentiment can profitably be applied to Tod Browning's breakthrough picture, THE UNHOLY THREE. At first glance, we find a film less immediately compelling than many previous Lon Chaney vehicles: it lacks the brilliant San Francisco location photography of THE PENALTY, the masochistic intensity of HE WHO GETS SLAPPED, the scale of THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME or THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. By comparison, THE UNHOLY THREE is a grammatically pedestrian effort. Aside from a few shadowy shots establishing the criminal trio, the film is remarkably devoid of Expressionist flourishes, relying instead on the milquetoast naturalism peculiar to its studio. Confined to the generic Cedric Gibbons sets shared by many M-G-M pictures of the period, the film is finally not dissimilar to, say, a Norma Shearer picture. But the placid surface provides an outlet for a special kind of madness within. This is a film that matter-of-factly presents a semi-domesticated gorilla, a snarling midget, and Chaney in a grandmother's get-up. As with the best melodramas, THE UNHOLY THREE approaches its conflicts with absolute seriousness and cannot recognize the possibility of any other position. Like Buñuel, Browning tosses off the darkest perversions as if they were unremarkable, suggesting a deceptively familiar world positioned upon an obscure moral fulcrum. Live organ accompaniment by Dennis Scott (1925, 85 min, 35mm) KAW 
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Jerzy Rose's CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY (New American) 
Gene Siskel Film Center - Saturday and Thursday, 8:30pm, Monday, 7:45pm 

The stories of Chicago-born cartoonist Daniel Clowes, presently the subject of an exhibit at the MCA, often feature smug, cynical misanthropes and ghastly happenings juxtaposed against the banalities of everyday life. Both of these elements are also present in CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY, the second feature from local filmmaker Jerzy Rose, which comes off as an outré variation on ART SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL. The film follows Lewis, a self-righteous dean's assistant tasked with scoping out a satanic sex cult operating within the ethnomusicology department at the U of C. As the investigation is underway, his perpetually lachrymose girlfriend Brownie becomes the victim of several freak accidents. The term anti-thriller is an understatement here—the plot is a loosely strung together series of surreal non-sequiturs, including a traffic stop turned role-playing game and a supernatural cameo from Gaia. If Miranda July were to direct a neonoir film, it might look something like this, however the Freudian uncanniness that drives her work is absent here. Though it fails to live up to its potential, CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY manages to be charming in spite its aimlessness and lack of narrative cohesion. Director Jerzy Rose and screenwriter Halle Butler in person at all screening; actors Lyra Hill, Mike Lopez, and Ted Tremper also in person at the Saturday show. (77 min, DCP Digital Projection) HS
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Haskell Wexler's MEDIUM COOL (American Revival)
Logan Center for the Arts (915 E. 60th St.)/South Side Projections - Friday, 7pm (Free Admission)

How many times have you gone somewhere expecting a massive riot? And if you did go, did you also expect to come away with cinematic gold? That's pretty much what Chicago native Haskell Wexler did in 1968 when he decided to shoot footage of protesters outside the Democratic National Convention. Already an Oscar-winning cinematographer for his work on WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?, he set a fictional film about the ethics of a TV news cameraman amongst the actual chaos in the city. In MEDIUM COOL he used what was essentially a documentary crew (operating the camera himself), and had the actors intermingle with real protesters and police as all hell broke loose in Chicago. Other documentary footage was repurposed and additional narrative scenes were shot to fill in the gaps of the superficial plot, and Wexler used these elements to walk the line between fact and fiction while addressing the political climate of the times. Perhaps more than any other filmmaker, Wexler is responsible for the shooting style used in films by directors like John Cassavetes, John Sayles, and Kelly Reichardt, who all seem to have taken his advice: "If your film can reflect areas of life where people feel passion, then it will have genuine drama." Textile artist Robert Paige, who played one of the black revolutionaries in the film, in person for Q&A. (1969, 111 min, 16mm) JH
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Michael Winterbottom's THE LOOK OF LOVE (New British) 
Gene Siskel Film Center - Check Venue website for showtimes

The decade-old collaboration between director/writer Michael Winterbottom and actor Steve Coogan seems to remain strong by evidence of their latest film, THE LOOK OF LOVE. Coogan stars as England's richest man, Paul Raymond. Set in the modern day, Raymond, who in his final days is prompted by a VHS documentary, in which he stars, to reflect upon his life and his monetary success. Once the tape begins, the film transforms into a period piece beginning in the late fifties when Raymond opened the first strip club in Britain. Using his increased wealth to buy property in West London, Raymond quickly becomes known as the King of Soho. Raymond exchanges his wife of twenty-years for a girlfriend from one of his theater shows, becomes a publisher of 'lad mags' and owner of numerous clubs and theaters—a British equivalent to Donald Trump. Monetary success is what counts; his troubles with the law and with his own family are quick to be forgotten. Coogan imbues Raymond with an easy wit and humor—a sharp contrast to his daughter's descent into the London drug scene—and creates a multi-dimensional portrait of England's original Porn King. (2013, 101 min, DCP Digital Projection) SW
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Jeff Nichols' MUD (New American) 
Northbrook Public Library (1201 Cedar Lane, Northbrook) - Saturday, 2 and 7:30pm (Free Admission)

Following the critical success of his first two films, SHOTGUN STORIES and TAKE SHELTER, Jeff Nichols said he wanted to deviate from his emerging brand of reserved austerity. "MUD is a movie," he told SundanceNOW in a recent interview. "My other two might be considered films, but MUD [is] a movie." The distinction is a subtle one; MUD retains the aesthetic of his first two films, which were widely received by critics and film festival juries alike, while veering into its own territory of narrative guilelessness. Matthew McConaughey plays Mud, a slow, romantic outlaw hiding out on an island in the Arkansas delta who is discovered by two local boys with a thirst for adventure and a predilection for Mud's brand of rustic sentimentality. Mud is both a stand-in father and brother figure for the young country boys, one of whom is an orphan and the other whose parents are contemplating divorce. In their world of childhood tragedy, he is a tenacious hero—an outdoorsy type with a gun in his back pocket and a beautiful woman waiting to be saved. The truth is far from their naive reality and Nichols unravels their expectations with a series of events that take the film from Americana classicism to backwoods thriller. Nichols balances this narrative asperity with surprising deftness—he maintains a sense of evenness while the drama unfolds, a hallmark of his work to date. Such continuity can somewhat be attributed to his aesthetic; like his contemporaries Terrence Malick and David Gordon Green, Nichols has an unusual eye for agrarian wonder. He frequently cites Mark Twain as inspiration for his tale of youthful adventure and much like Twain, Nichols has a knack for storytelling that places narrative within the natural world. (2012, 130 min, 35mm) KK
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Isao Takahata's GRAVE OF THE FIREFLIES (Japanese Animated Revival) 
Gene Siskel Film Center - Friday, 6:15pm, Sunday, 3pm, Monday, 6pm, and Tuesday, 8pm 

The Siskel's mini-retrospective of six Studio Ghibli's films continues with Isao Takahata's period animation GRAVE OF THE FIREFLIES. Takahata creates a proud Japan during the Second World War where, despite the numerous air raids, the people seem to be eerily firm in their belief in their Emperor and their country's power. Seita, brother to young Setsuko, is a young boy who is left in charge of his even young sister after an American air raid caused their mother's death. With their father away on war duty, Seita bears the burden and stress of surviving and remaining spirited while everywhere the pair goes, bombs destroy familiar villages. Nationalism is personified in Seita, who continues to hold his country in high esteem even after rations and much-needed items are restricted even more as the war continues. The duo descends further into despair; Japan declines until its ultimate surrender to the American government. Emotionally-draining in a most positive manner, the audience will know the film's outcome but may wish for another alternative in order to ease the plight of hero and heroine. Takahata creates an animation that is more human than many live-action war films. (1988, 89 min, DCP Digital Projection; all screenings subtitled) SW
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Samuel Fuller's BARON OF ARIZONA (American Revival)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) - Friday, 7 and 9pm

Sam Fuller's eccentric second feature is a talky, largely action-less Lippert Western nearly as baroque as his 1989 nightmare-fest STREET OF NO RETURN. Vincent Price (!) at his most feline plays James Reavis, the 19th century conman who concocted a complicated scheme (which included, amongst other things, becoming a monk) to lay claim to the entirety of Arizona. Co-written by Fuller and novelist Homer Croy (provider of the source material for Frank Borzage's Will-Rogers-as-a-country-bumpkin-on-the-Continent movie THEY HAD TO SEE PARIS, home of cinema's most disarming Ku Klux Klan joke), it's probably the only one of Fuller's American movies that could conceivably be called a comedy, though it's much weirder than that. Fuller's brings out the goofiness in Price's creepy charm, pitching Reavis somewhere between anti-hero dreamer and mincing pedophile. The whole thing was shot in two weeks, and it looks like it, though in the best possible ways: Fuller and cinematographer James Wong Howe seem to have decided to work patiently, with scenes pieced together from carefully lit and framed shots interspersed with a lot of explanatory narration. (1950, 97 min, 16mm) IV  
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Satyajit Ray's CHARULATA (Indian Revival)  
Doc Films (University of Chicago) - Saturday, 7 and 9:15pm

Though his name is familiar to American cinephiles and his debut feature, PATHER PANCHALI, has been a staple of film school curricula for decades, Satyajit Ray remains something of an unknown quantity in the United States: a writer and filmmaker with a vast and diverse body of work who is known chiefly for a handful of early features. If you only known Ray for his Apu trilogy—or for his reputation as a dude who, like, made some important movies—then this nuanced masterpiece about a lonely, neglected upper-class housewife in 19th century Calcutta should be an eye-opener. The son and grandson of illustrators, Ray had a background in graphic design (PATHER PANCHALI was adapted from a novel for which Ray has designed the cover), and his masterful sense of visual composition comes to the forefront in CHARULATA, a film where the visible—the framings, the careful dolly movements, even the wallpaper—somehow communicates invisible undercurrents and subtexts. The gorgeous score—composed by Ray himself—is nothing to sneeze at either. (1964, 117 min, 35mm) IV 
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Francis Ford Coppola's THE GODFATHER (American Revival)
Gene Siskel Film Center - Saturday, 3pm and Wednesday, 6:15pm

It's tough (or impossible) to summarize the impact THE GODFATHER has had. So, instead, only three points. Gordon Willis's brilliant cinematography—Rembrandt by way of Manhattan—made it acceptable for studio-made color films to be as shadowy and moody as the black & white noirs had been earlier. Where would classic paranoiac thrillers be without that added palette? Its flowing, epic structure, courtesy of Mario Puzo's screenplay and Coppola's subtle, no-nonsense direction, remains a model of classic storytelling. And finally, because of its amazing critical and commercial success, gangster movies have been continuously in vogue ever since. Utterly disgraceful then that, according to a New York Times article, the original negatives "were so torn up and dirty that they could no longer be run through standard film laboratory printing equipment, and so the only option became a digital, rather than a photochemical, restoration." Luckily Robert A. Harris, working with Willis and Coppola, stepped in to save the day. (1972, 175 min, 4K DCP Digital Projection) RC
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Steve James' THE INTERRUPTERS (New Documentary)
Chicago Public Library North Austin Branch (5724 W. North Ave.) - Monday, 5: 30pm (Free Admission)

Steve James (HOOP DREAMS) and Alex Kotlowitz' bleeding-heart slam-dunk migrates the fascinating street-level ethnography of fellow local documentary SCRAPPERS to a new kind of day job: those of Ceasefire's charismatic "Interrupters," a group of reformed reformers entrusted with stopping the spread of violent retribution in Chicago's toughest neighborhoods. Their work is predicated on the analogizing of violence to a communicable disease—a radical epidemiological paradigm which might call into question conventional understandings of both "violence" and "disease"—but the film's success is in convincing the viewer of a different truth: the ability of actual humans to decisively and consciously turn their lives around, in spite of (and not because of) the existing criminal justice system. As James follows three interrupters and their young charges in Englewood, Little Village, and Auburn Gresham over the course of 2009-2010, their role as interventionist anthropologists goes unquestioned onscreen—downplaying the obvious opposition to the two major existing credentialed authorities on urban conflict: the ivory-tower public policy apparatus and the Chicago Police Department. For this powerful and affecting film is also a compelling advertisement for Ceasefire's methodology, which poses as much of a threat to researchers running spatial regressions in air-conditioned offices as it does to the District 008 hair-gel rookies (who could probably use some training in non-violent ideologies themselves). (2011, 125 min, Video Projection - Unconfirmed Format) MC
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Peanut Gallery (1000 N. California Ave.) presents The Sun Also Despises: Film + Video Work by Michael Wawzenek on Saturday at 7:30pm. The local artist will screen a program of nine 16mm and video works from 2010-13. Free Admission.

 South Side Projections presents Out of Bounds: In the Shadow of His Airness on Saturday at 7pm at the South Side Community Art Center (3831 S. Michigan Ave.). Screening are Tom Weinberg's 1999 documentary THE OTHER MJ (28 min, DVD Projection) and Joel Cohen and Joe Angio's 1992 documentary MORE THAN A GAME (48 min, DVD Projection). Filmmaker and Media Burn founder Tom Weinberg, director Joel Cohen, and Michael Johnson, the man featured in The Other MJ, in person.

The Northwest Chicago Film Society (at the Patio Theater) screens Richard Fleischer's 1958 film THE VIKINGS (116 min, 35mm) on Wednesday at 7:30pm. Preceded by a to-be-determined cartoon.

 Also at the Gene Siskel Film Center this week: Hayao Miyazaki's 1997 anime PRINCESS MONONOKE (134 min, 35mm) is on Sunday at 4:45pm (English dubbed) and Thursday at 6pm (subtitled); and Stanley Kubrick's 1964 black comedy DR. STRANGELOVE OR; HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE BOMB (95 min, 4K DCP Digital Projection) is on Friday at 8pm, Saturday at 6:30pm, and Tuesday at 6pm.

 Also at Doc Films (University of Chicago) this week: Films by Melika Bass (86 min total, Video Projection - Unconfirmed Formats) is on Thursday at 7pm. Screening are Bass' 2011 film SHOALS and WAKING THINGS, with Bass in person.

Also at the Music Box Theatre this week: Jeff Garlin's 2013 comedy DEALIN' WITH IDIOTS (Unconfirmed Running Time) opens (with Garlin in person at the Friday and Saturday 7:20 shows); Tobias Lindholm's 2012 Danish thriller A HIJACKING (103 min) continues; Drew DeNicola and Olivia Mori's 2012 music documentary BIG STAR: NOTHING CAN HURT ME (113 min) is on Monday and Wednesday at 7:30pm; Sergio Sollima's 1966 Italian western THE BIG GUNDOWN (110 min) is on Saturday and Sunday at 11:30am and  Tuesday at 2pm; Jayson Thiessen's 2013 children's animated feature MY LITTLE PONY: EQUESTRIA GIRLS (72 min, Blu-Ray Projection) screens on Sunday at 11:30am; and Steven Spielberg's1989 film INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE (127 min) and Franck Khalfoun's 2012 horror film MANIAC (89 min) are showing in the Friday and Saturday Midnight slots. Unconfirmed Formats except where noted.

 Facets Cinémathèque screens Matthew Cooke's 2012 documentary HOW TO MAKE MONEY SELLING DRUGS (100 min, Unconfirmed Format) for a week run; Mirko Popadic and Kathy Cottong's 2012 documentary STANLEY M. FREEHLING: CHICAGO'S MAN OF THE ARTS (Unconfirmed Running Time, Video Projection - Unconfirmed Format) is on Sunday at 11am (Free Admission, but RSVP to Mary Hayes: (773) 281-9075 ext. 3076 or; and Robert Downey, Sr.'s 1969 independent classic PUTNEY SWOPE (84 min, Video Projection - Unconfirmed Format) is the Facets Night School film on Saturday at Midnight, introduced by Melody Kamali.

 Also at the Northbrook Public Library (1201 Cedar Lane, Northbrook) this week: Francis Ford Coppola's 1986 film PEGGY SUE GOT MARRIED (103 min, 35mm) screens on Wednesday at 1 and 7:30pm. Free admission. More info at

Landmark's Century Centre Cinema screens Alfonso Cuarón's 2004 film HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN (142 min, Digital Projection - Unconfirmed Format) on Friday and Saturday at Midnight; and opens Morgan Neville's 2013 documentary 20 FEET FROM STARDOM (91 min, Digital Projection - Unconfirmed Format).

The Chicago Cultural Center continues the Cinema/Chicago international film series with Hervé Mimran and Géraldine Nakache's 2010 French film ALL THAT GLITTERS (100 min, Video Projection - Unconfirmed Format) on Saturday at 2pm; and David Paul Meyer's 2012 South African film YOU LAUGH BUT IT'S TRUE (84 min, Video Projection - Unconfirmed Format) on Wednesday at 6:30p (repeats July 20). Free admission.

The Logan Square International Film Series at Comfort Station Logan Square (2579 N. Milwaukee Ave.) screens Michael Schultz's 1985 film THE LAST DRAGON (109 min, DVD Projection) on Wednesday at dusk. Free admission.

Also at Chicago Public Library locations this week: Nancy D. Kates and Bennett Singer's 2003 documentary BROTHER OUTSIDER: THE LIFE OF BAYARD RUSTIN (83 min) is at the Edgewater Branch (6000 N. Broadway St.) on Saturday at 2pm; Ethan Bensinger's 2012 documentary REFUGE: STORIES OF THE SELFHELP HOME (60 min) is at the Bezazian Branch (1226 W. Ainslie St.) on Monday at 6pm, with director Bensinger in person; Katie Dellamaggiore's 2012 documentary BROOKLYN CASTLE (101 min) is at the Douglass Branch (3353 W. 13th St.) on Tuesday at 5:30pm; Esau Melendez's 2010 documentary IMMIGRANT NATION! (96 min) is at the Harold Washington Library Center (400 S. State St., Cindy Pritzker Auditorium) on Wednesday at 5:30pm, with director Melendez in person and the film's subject, Elvira Arellano, appearing via Skype, moderated by contratiempo's Moira Pujols; Matthew A. Cherry's 2012 drama THE LAST FALL (98 min) is at the Legler Branch (115 S. Pulaski Rd.) on Wednesday at 5:30pm; and Pamela Sherrod Anderson's 2011 documentary THE CURATORS OF DIXON SCHOOL (80 min) is at the Woodson Regional Branch (9525 S. Halsted St.) on Thursday at 6:30pm. All Video Projection - Unconfirmed Format. All Free Admission.

The Logan Theatre screens Christopher Guest's 1996 film WAITING FOR GUFFMAN (84 min, Unconfirmed Format) on Friday, Saturday, and Monday at 11pm; and Nicholas Ray's 1955 classic REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE (111 min, Unconfirmed Format) on Thursday at 11pm.



Co-Prosperity Sphere (3219-21 S. Morgan St.) presents Tom Palazzolo Retrospective: Film, Photographs, Paintings, Watercolors & Sculpture from July 12-21. Opening Party on Friday from 6-11pm. Featuring video installation, photographs, paintings, sculpture, and previously printed material documenting the long-time local filmmaker and artist's career over the decades. The films AT MAXWELL STREET, LABOR DAY, and I MARRIED A MUNCHKIN will be screening on monitors.



The Portage Theatre remains closed for the foreseeable future.

The Patio Theater will not be doing its own programming during the summer (tentatively resuming sometime in September) due to the excessive costs to repair their air conditioning system. The Northwest Chicago Film Society will be holding its screenings there, however, and additional special events may take place there.

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CINE-LIST: July 12 - July 18, 2013

Patrick Friel

CONTRIBUTORS / Kian Bergstrom, Michael Castelle, Rob Christopher, Jason Halprin, Kat C. Keish, Harrison Sherrod, Shealey Wallace, Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, Kyle A. Westphal, Darnell Witt

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