Chicago Guide to Independent and Underground Cinema
x x x x x x
> Sign up
> Editorial Statement
> Last Week > Next Week
a weekly guide to alternative cinema- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
:: Friday, JUNE 21 - Thursday, JUNE 27 ::


Starting this week, we will be making bigger twits of ourselves than usual, as the Cine-File Twitter account (@cinefile) will be actively updated with the most noteworthy film screenings in and around Chicago. We encourage readers to follow us for 140-character updates, reminders, and mini-mini reviews.


Mervyn LeRoy's HEAT LIGHTNING (American Revival)
Northwest Chicago Film Society (at the Patio Theater) — Wednesday, 8pm

In just a little over an hour, Mervyn LeRoy's HEAT LIGHTNING packs in so much pre-code drama that one might feel compelled to check the film's year of release. Aline McMahon and Ann Dvorak play two sisters who run a service station in the middle of hot southwest desert land; McMahon's Olga fixes the cars while Dvorak's Myra dreams of grand romance within the confined comfort of the station's inn-and-restaurant. When Olga's ex-flame rolls into town, their dynamic is challenged by the con's charm and Olga's wavering conviction. The inn's guests serve to move the plot along while also providing pre-code nuttiness of their own—a pair of man-eating divorcees have diamonds to steal and seductiveness to spare, adding more lewdness to a film already toeing the line between subtle and salacious. Despite the bawdy innuendo, the film is nothing short of progressive with its portrayal of strong female characters and their unashamed sexuality. The film is but a blip in LeRoy's prolific career, but one worthy of discovering as a showcase of the film's several stars. Preceded by a TBA cartoon. New Yorker staff writer Margaret Talbot will introduce the film and sign copies of her new book The Entertainer, a biography of her late father Lyle Talbot. (1934, 63 min, 35mm Archival Print) KK
More info at

Facets Cinémathèque - Check Venue website for showtimes 

Has anyone ever been as young as the characters in AN OVERSIMPLIFICATION OF HER BEAUTY feel? The film is a whirlwind of naval-gazing over-analysis, in the most charming (yet exhausting) way possible.  At its simplest level, it follows the romantic-ish relationship of two beautiful people, as perceived by the man whose date has cancelled on him. The obsessive, wormholing logic of an evening of frustrated attraction is given visible life through a variety of image styles, ostensibly comparing a fiction and an educational film, with gorgeously animated fantasies and histories. It's ambitious, constantly layering and re-evaluating the nuances of image and idea, and the openly addressed emotions are refreshing in their lack of cynicism or shame. Perhaps this is the film's greatest strength: it's utter shamelessness. It revels in exploring the visual and presenting as many beautiful things as possible, and it does this while investigating a familiar attraction in exacting detail. (2011, 95 min, Unconfirmed Format) CAM
More info at

Paul Newman's SOMETIMES A GREAT NOTION (American Revival)
Northwest Chicago Film Society (at the Patio Theater) - Monday, 8pm

Paul Newman's second directorial effort is a solid if unspectacular adaptation of Ken Kesey's 1964 novel. Leland Stamper (Michael Sarrazin), a hippie malcontent with demons in his past, comes home to Wakonda, Oregon after a long stint in New York to find his family locked in a battle of wills with the local loggers' union. Henry Fonda plays Leland's father, a crotchety old patriarch on the decline, and Newman is his half brother, a gruff but charismatic workaholic with a heart of gold. The logging scenes are done with the best sort of 70s blue collar romanticism. They are like short films within the film; telephoto documentary style vignettes that examine the wonders and horrors of manual labor in the machine age. These scenes, along with Newman's charisma and the eeriness of the Oregon riverscapes, make the film interesting. Take these away, and we are left with a fairly typical 70s melodrama (old America vs. new, small town vs. city, pop-country soundtrack, inevitable tragedy) with somewhat off-putting political implications. For all their warts, our sympathy never wavers from the stubborn strike-breaking Stampers whose struggle to "never give a inch" against the union is portrayed as heroic if Quixotic. The union members, on the other hand, are shown to be lazy, bumbling, vindictive, and cruel. It is doubtful that Newman, the famous leftist philanthropist, intended to make a reactionary film, but, in the case of SOMETIMES A GREAT NOTION, the romantic (and very cinematic) lure of rugged individualism seems to have won out. Tentatively preceded by Marc Terziev's 1967 film HOME MOVIES: SALMON FISHING (13 min, 16mm Kodachrome Print). (1971, 114 min, Original 35mm IB Technicolor Print) ML
More info at

Tomas Rehorek's SIGNÀL (New Czech) 
Gene Siskel Film Center — Sunday, 5.15pm and Wednesday, 8pm 

Twenty-somethings hold a certain negative connotation in the modern Western society; collectively written off as entitled, sarcastic, uninformed creatures with an obsession with too-tight pants. In SIGNÀL, director Tomas Rehorek goes against this grain. The film follows two con-men that travel throughout the rural Czech Republic, running a scam mobile signal scheme to quickly raise money for their respective goals (one wishes to showcase his operatic singing voice, the other to join physicists in Geneva, Switzerland). The two men, Filos and Kàja, successfully fool their latest town and are treated as local royalty as the townsmen jumble to impress and buy out the alleged scouts who promised the town to compensate one lucky local whose property would be the chosen building grounds of a grand signal tower. While the town's men distract themselves with dreams of sudden riches, Filos and Kàja distract themselves with the town's women. Rehorek creatively weaves together humor, serious internal quandaries, and moral questions, meanwhile leaving the audience to guessing whom they should trust. If anyone here can be considered 'good' it is only because of a lack of evil intent, despite the duplicity and greed that abounds; Rehorek very cleverly plays with this push and pull. He delivers some deceptive seriousness within a light-hearted framework that draws on the viewers' empathy and to question what it means to be a crook.  (2012, 115 min, HDCam Video) SW
More info at

Alex Cox's REPO MAN (American Revival) 
Gene Siskel Film Center - Saturday, 5pm and Monday, 6pm

Before he made Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen into the punk rock Romeo and Juliet (and incurred Johnny Rotten's lasting wrath in the process), British director Alex Cox directed this cult classic comedy about an LA punk turned car repossessor which Doc Films is showing as part of its (very loosely defined) "Heavy Metal on Film" series. Emilio Estevez is convincingly apathetic as the title character in his first starring role, but it's the other repo men who steal the show (particularly Harry Dean Stanton and Sy Richardson) with their grizzled looks, erratic behavior, and desperation to impart wisdom. The first half of the film has some really authentic moments, some nice surreal touches, and some great music (including a hilarious cameo by The Circle Jerks as the washed up nightclub band). The second half devolves into a more typical everything-but-the-kitchen-sink 80s romp which either is your thing or isn't, complete with the paranormal HAZMAT team from E.T. and dull witted machine gun toting mohawk sporting bad guys in the Bebop and Rocksteady mold. (1984, 92 min, 35mm) ML
More info at

Alice Nellis' PERFECT DAYS (New Czech) 
Gene Siskel Film Center — Sunday, 3pm and Monday, 8pm 

Alice Nellis' PERFECT DAYS (I ZENY MAJI SVE DNY) investigates the socially accepted unfair notion that women who are successful in business lack a strong family base and the converse, that women with a family most likely never earn top positions in the career world. The closest lead character Erika has to a family is an interfering mother whose kind intentions always seem to miss their mark, a man who is still only her legal husband because they've lost the marriage certificate and can't file for divorce, and said estrange husband's sister. Treated as a local Prague celebrity because of her hit makeover show and successful hair saloon, Erika doesn't have as much luck in finding a partner. Living in an empty, modern flat with only her mother as a constant visitor, Erika desires to try her hand at motherhood through artificial insemination. Fast-paced, the camera acts as an outside character that is too afraid to dive past the surface. The film zooms through two years and clear resolutions are most often left for the viewer to create internally, but the film does deliver a sense of humor that has an ability to cross cultures. Even in this light and airy film, different tragedies befall the characters; knees are scraped but bandages are hastily thrown on, either immediately or at the very end. It's far from a realistic style, but Nellis' film is a lot closer to 'reality' than most Hollywood films that deal with being a modern woman in a male-centered world. (2011, 108 min, 35mm) SW 
  More info at

Lloyd Bacon's 42ND STREET (American Revival)
Northbrook Public Library (1201 Cedar Lane, Northbrook) - Wednesday, 1 and 7:30pm (Free admission)

Between this, FOOTLIGHT PARADE, and the inaugural GOLD DIGGERS installment, Busby Berkeley launched a delirious overhaul of the movie musical in 1933, a genre previously dominated by staid Broadway recreations. Following Rouben Mamoulian's lead, Berkeley scrapped the proscenium arch and extravagantly embraced the possibilities of the medium, conjuring enough geometric choreography, bird's-eye camera angles, and endless rows of anonymous pawns to earn a famous (if unfortunate) comparison to Leni Riefenstahl by Susan Sontag. But for all Berkeley's grand indulgence, the let's-put-on-a-show plots propping up his spectacles are mired in the Depression-era desperation that was by now Warner Brothers' streetwise trademark (William Wellman crafted WILD BOYS OF THE ROAD and HEROES FOR SALE there that same year). While Ernst Lubitsch's contemporaneous Paramount confections promised audiences all-encompassing escapism, 42ND STREET's show-stoppers were an ecstatic release for the characters and spectators alike, an 11th-hour liberation Berkeley neatly subverted with the audaciously morbid finale of GOLD DIGGERS OF 1935. Independent filmmaker Reid Schultz will discuss the entire Busby Berkeley film series after each screening. (1933, 89 min, 16mm) MK
More info at

John Carpenter's ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK (American Revival) 
Music Box Theatre - Friday and Saturday, Midnight 

High concept and low class, John Carpenter's 1981 sci-fi/action film premises itself on a paranoid endgame scenario: what if crime just keeps going up? Carpenter settles on the conservative trajectory of 400 percent and cedes Manhattan to the most violent criminals, turning it into an island prison and letting it go to ruin. Only the most hardened offenders are sentenced there—new prisoners are given the option of cremation before arrival—making it a particularly bad place for the President (Donald Pleasance) to crash land. Charged with fishing him out within 22 hours, the police commissioner (Lee Van Cleef) offers a full pardon to incoming convict 'Snake' Plissken (Kurt Russell), a former Special Forces operative-turned-criminal—but only if he can successfully recover the President. ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK is a wild ride that is at times clever and at other times surprisingly dull. Most interesting is not the search-and-rescue but the creative depiction of a ruined New York and its ad hoc city-life, circumscribed by extreme danger. An old acquaintance, Cabbie (Ernest Borgnine), watches an all-convict Broadway production before making his way uptown with Molotov cocktails at the ready. Shot mostly in darkness, Carpenter succeeds in creating a closed-off atmosphere that is both somehow dingy and futuristic. These touches, along with several solid performances, breathe life into the rote barrel fire-pocked landscape, and Snake himself. (1981, 99 min, DCP Digital Projection) BW
More info at



The Nightingale (1084 N. Milwaukee Ave.) presents Deep Leap - Way Stations, curated by artist (and Cine-File contributor) Jesse Malmed on Wednesday at 8pm. Screening are Claire L. Evans and Mike Merrill's OK TO GO, Deborah Stratman's THE NAME IS NOT THE THING NAMED, Alejandro T. Acierto's performance work ( ), Clint Enns' SPLICE LINES, Duane Linklater's IT'S HARD TO GET IN MY SYSTEM, Chris Rice's 8 SEASONS (excerpt), Fern Silva's PASSAGE UPON THE PLUME, Christine Negus' FOR, LIKE EVER, and Mary Helena Clark's BY FOOT-CANDLE LIGHT. Malmed and select filmmakers/artists in person. (2008-13, approx. 60 min total, Digital File and Live Performance)

Black Cinema House and the Chicago Film Archives present Movies Under the Stars: Folktales and Folk Music on Friday at dusk (approx. 8:30pm) at the Rebuild Foundation Library House (6916 S. Dorchester Ave. in the back, across the street from Black Cinema House). Screening are four films from the Center for Southern Folklore: the Center for Southern Folkore's 1978 film HUSH HOGGIES HUSH: TOM JOHNSON'S PRAYING PIGS (4 min), Robert Gordon and Louis Guida's 1990 film ALL DAY & ALL NIGHT: MEMORIES FROM BEALE STREET MUSICIAN (26 min), David Evans, Bill Ferris, and Judy Peiser's 1972 film GRAVEL SPRINGS FIFE AND DRUM (10 min), and Bill Ferris, Judy Peiser, and Bobby Taylor's 1975 film I FANNIE BELL CHAPMAN: GOSPEL SINGER (42 min). Judy Peiser, filmmaker and co-founder & Executive Director of the Center for Southern Folklore, in person. All DVD Projection. Free admission. /

Landscrape (1850 S. Blue Island) presents mACRES & brACREs, a one night show of work by various new media artists, on Friday at 9pm. Featuring real time performances by SQUARESQUARE, Jon Satrom, Vaudeo Signal, James Connolly (of Cracked Ray Tube), and dither d00m/glitter gl00m, and an installation by Shawne Michaelain Holloway.

Chicago Filmmakers (5243 N. Clark St.) presents 2012 Chicago Digital Media Production Fund Presentation and Symposium on Saturday at 7:30pm. Spotlighting the recipients of the inaugural grant, the program will include excerpts from Brian Ashby's THE GRID, Anuradha Rana's PRESERVES, Madsen Minax's THE YEAR I BROKE MY VOICE, Hillary Bachelder's EMBODIES, Aaron Greer's GETTIN' GROWN TV, Janelle Vaughn Dowell's BARBERSHOP, Luiz Magana's RAINBOW ROOTS, and Brittany Douglas' BULLET. Select filmmakers in person.

The Chicago Film Archives and Comfort Station Logan Square (2579 N. Milwaukee Ave.) present After School Special...Starring Scott Baio on Tuesday at approx. 8pm. Screening are Richard Marquand's 1976 "NBC Special Treat" program LUKE WAS THERE (32 min abridged version, 16mm print described as faded) and John Herzfeld's 1980 "ABC Afterschool Special STONED (50 min, 16mm). Free admission.

Also at the Gene Siskel Film Center this week: Brad Bernstein's 2012 documentary FAR OUT ISN'T FAR ENOUGH: THE TOMI UNGERER STORY (98 min, DCP Digital Projection) plays for a week; Cristian Mungiu's 2012 Romanian film BEYOND THE HILLS (150 min, DCP Digital Projection) screens on Friday, Tuesday, and Thursday at 6:30pm and Saturday at 7:30pm; John Carpenter's 1988 film THEY LIVE (97 min, 35mm) screens on Saturday at 3pm and Wednesday at 6pm; and Cindy Kleine's 2013 documentary ANDRE GREGORY: BEFORE AND AFTER DINNER (108 min, HDCam Video) screens in a members-only show on Sunday at Noon (but also has a week run next week).

Doc Films (University of Chicago) kicks off its summer schedule with F. W. Murnau's 1930 film CITY GIRL (77 min, 16mm) on Wednesday at 7pm; and local filmmaker and film curator (and Cine-File contributor) JB Mabe's series The Least Foreign Films: A Survey Of Current Chicago Image Makers begins with the program Celluoid Shorts on Thursday at 7pm. Screening are Adam Paradis' FORGET THE PAST and EVERYTHING YOU DO WILL BE RECORDED, Mabe's own TO MARK THE SHAPE and TO QUIT, TO QUIET, Alexander Stewart's 100 FOOT PULL, Karen Johannesen's RESONANCE, Lyra Hill's THE MYSTIC, Fern Silva's PASSAGE UPON THE PLUME, Ian Curry's CIRCADIAN RHYTHM, and Lori Felker's MERE MYSTERY. Mabe and select filmmakers in person. (2009-13, approx. 62 min total, 16mm and 35mm)

Also at the Music Box Theatre this week: Alice Winocour's 2012 film AUGUSTINE (101 min, DCP Digital Projection) opens; Rama Burshtein's 2012 Israeli drama FILL THE VOID (90 min, DCP Digital Projection) continues; Jason Wise's 2012 documentary SOMM (94 min, DCP Digital Projection) is on Saturday at 11:30am only; Jayson Thiessen's 2013 children's animated feature MY LITTLE PONY: EQUESTRIA GIRLS (72 min, Blu-Ray Projection) screens on Saturday at 11:30am; Mark Sandrich's 1937 Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers' musical SHALL WE DANCE (109 min, 35mm) screens on Sunday at 11:30am; Brian Trenchard-Smith's 1980 Australian cult film STUNT ROCK (86 min, 35mm) is on Friday at Midnight; and Jim Sharman's 1975 film THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW (100 min, 35mm) is on Saturday at Midnight.

Also at Facets Cinémathèque this week: Facets Night School returns with Roger Young's 1987 film THE SQUEEZE (101 min, Unconfirmed Format) on Friday at Midnight, introduced by Chris Damen; and the Chicago Reel Latino Film Club presents Alfonso Sánchez's 2012 Spanish film THE WORLD IS OURS (87 min, Unconfirmed Format) on Tuesday at 7pm (cocktail reception at 6pm). Tickets are available online, or you can call the Latino Cultural Center at 312-431-1330.

Landmark's Century Centre Cinema opens Joss Whedon's 2012 film MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING (107 min) and Sofia Coppola's 2013 film THE BLING RING (90 min); and screens Michael Perlman's 2011 documentary FREE CHINA: THE COURAGE TO BELIEVE (53 min) on Tuesday at 7pm. All Digital Projection - Unconfirmed Formats.

The Italian Cultural Institute screens Paolo Sorrentino's 2008 film IL DIVO (110 min, Unconfirmed Format) on Saturday at 5:30pm at the AMC River East 21 (322 E. Illinois St.), with actor Toni Servillo in person. Presented in collaboration with the Chicago International Film Festival and Cinecitta' Luce.

 The Chicago Public Library screens local filmmaker Esau Melendez's 2010 documentary IMMIGRANT NATION! (96 min, Video Projection - Unconfirmed Format) at the Sulzer Regional Branch (4455 N. Lincoln Ave.) on Saturday at 2pm, with Melendez in person; and Christine Turner's 2013 documentary HOMEGOINGS (Unconfirmed Running Time, Video Projection - Unconfirmed Format) at the Legler Branch (115 S. Pulaski Rd.) on Saturday at 3pm. Free admission for both.

Alliance Française (54 W. Chicago Ave.) screens Michel Hazanavicius' 2011 film THE ARTIST (100 min, Unconfirmed Format) on Friday at 8pm. Preceded by a concert by harpist Isabelle Olivier. Free admission.

The Chicago Cultural Center continues the Cinema/Chicago international film series with Ami Drozd's 2011 Israeli film MY AUSTRALIA (97 min, Video Projection - Unconfirmed Format) on Saturday at 2pm; and Jesse James Miller's 2012 Canadian film BECOMING REDWOOD on Wednesday at 6:30pm (repeats June 29). Free admission for both.

The Logan Square International Film Series at Comfort Station Logan Square (2579 N. Milwaukee Ave.) screens Todd Holland's 1989 film THE WIZARD (100 min, DVD Projection) on Wednesday at dusk. Free admission.

The Logan Theatre screens Francis Ford Coppola's 1990 film THE GODFATHER: PART III (162 min, Unconfirmed Format) on Friday, Saturday, and Monday at 10pm; and Dennis Hopper's 1969 film EASY RIDER (95 min, Unconfirmed Format) on Thursday at 11pm.



The new owner of the Portage Theatre has abruptly closed the venue, for the foreseeable future. This unexpected decision may displace occasional and annual events, such as the Terror in the Aisles festival and the Silent Summer Film Festival (keep your eyes on Cine-File and the Chicago Reader for information on these). The closure's immediate impact has been on the Northwest Chicago Film Society, which has been holding regular weekly screenings there. Again, keep your eye on Cine-File, the Chicago Reader, and NWCFS's website for updates on alternate venues for their screenings.

The Patio Theater has announced that it will be closing for the summer (with a re-opening sometime in September) due to the excessive costs to repair their air conditioning system. While they have stayed open longer than expected, they will not have a week-run this week, but will again be hosting the Northwest Chicago Film Society screenings this Monday and Wednesday (see above).



I Think We're Ready to Go to the Next Sequence: The Legacy of HalfLifers at Gallery 400 (UIC, 400 S. Peoria St.) has been extended through Saturday (June 22). Included are works by the HalfLifers (Torsten Zenas Burns and Anthony Discenza) as well as work by 23E Laboratories, Jason Robert Bell, James Fotopoulos, Kari Gatzke, Lauren Marsden, Jennifer and Kevin McCoy, Bjørn Melhus, Shana Moulton, Caspar Stracke and MASTERS OF TIME AND SPACE, and Jennet Thomas.

The Museum of Contemporary Photography (Columbia College, 600 S. Michigan Ave.) continues the show Spectator Sports through July 3.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

CINE-LIST: June 21 – June 27, 2013

Patrick Friel

CONTRIBUTORS / Kat C. Keish, Mike King, Mojo Lorwin, Chloe A. McLaren, Shealey Wallace, Brian Welesko, Darnell Witt

> Editorial Statement -> Contact