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:: Friday, MAY 10 - Thursday, MAY 16 ::


Orson Welles' CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT (International Revival)
Music Box Theatre - Sunday, 11:30am

A thoroughly thrilling experience, inspiring on every conceivable level, and one of the saddest films ever made. Welles made a life-long study of Shakespeare, adapting him on stage many times and making, in MACBETH and OTHELLO, two of his best movies. As a very young man, he attempted a mammoth adaptation he called Five Kings, combining scenes from the eight history plays revolving around the War of the Roses and The Merry Wives of Windsor, a project that here, transformed from a youth's ambition to a mature artist's melancholy, forms the seed for CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT, a sprawling, strange, and deeply big-hearted melodrama of love and death, honor and betrayal, cowardice and duty, profligacy and desperation. In his films he has always demonstrated a fascination with texture, with visual patterning, with the complex choreographies of incoherent human figures made possible through spaces of grotesque and labyrinthine depth. This is nowhere more apparent than here. In a series of grand kinetic dances, Welles arranges haunting specters of death, swirling amongst and engulfing the lusty, hot-blooded, and immanently life-loving commoners and nobles that populate Shakespeare's version of history. There is no-one so ignoble not to deserve the adoration of Welles's camera, or the dignity of Welles's staging. As Hal, the wastrel son of the usurper King Henry IV, Keith Baxter deserves particular note: he is as affectionate and as cruel as can be borne by one mere character, and his masterful portrayal of Hal's contradictions mirror the contradictions at the heart of the film. No one for more than a moment here is what he or she seems, no space is wholly trustworthy, and no plot truly secret, for the most serious of all games, and the most pleasurable, is that which is played with one's own life as the stake and with no hope of surviving to collect the winnings save in the songs of our loved ones. In short, this film is magic itself, a celebration of cinema as the grandest of tricks, that which alone can transform the past into the present as palpably as memory, and the whole of the material world into the effervescence of poetry. The greatest film by the greatest director. (1966, 119 min, 16mm) KB
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Jacques Demy's THE YOUNG GIRLS OF ROCHEFORT (French Revival) 
Northwest Chicago Film Society (at the Portage Theater) -- Monday 7:30pm

Jacques Demy, in the preparation for his follow-up to the downbeat psychedelic jazz opera UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG, reportedly waited two years to cast Gene Kelly as a love-struck American composer in this symmetrical ensemble of Crayola-coded seaside romantics--a move which helps place the perpetually sunny ROCHEFORT as one of the best "date movies" in Demy's otherwise surprisingly existentialist oeuvre. Taking place over the course of one weekend in and about the town square of the namesake Atlantic seaport, the film literally "transports" us (via the opening crane shots on an extended mechanical gondola) into a harmonious lattice of unresolved heterosexual affinities established through two complete hours of straight-faced song and dance in Iambic hexameter. With each character in the network colored fairly exclusively by garish pastel wardrobe signifiers (e.g. Catherine Deneuve's canary yellow and her sister Françoise Dorléac's lavender), the viewer--at least on the big screen--can relax their focus on the protagonists and enjoy the kaleidoscopic spectacle of public space dispersed into a chromatic orgy of pirouetting passersby. Initially criticized for a level of semi-professionalism unworthy of its ostensive Hollywood musical progenitors, the essentially half-assed choreography remains one of the film's most glorious attributes--a singular mode of expression that attempts to dissolve the distinction between the individual and the collective. And in a tableau that reduces the missed connections of a complex urbanity into the orchestrations of 8-10 amorous souls, Michel Legrand's hyperactive score projects a traditional musical narrative into just four or five essential themes that mirror and overlap each other in tandem; behold, the first (and last) great fugue musical. Also showing is Mikheil Kobakhidze's 1967 film UMBRELLA (QOLGA) (20 min, 16mm). (1967, 125 min, 35mm) MC
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Andre de Toth's DARK WATERS (American Revival) 
Northwest Chicago Film Society (at the Portage Theater) - Wednesday, 7:30pm

"I got the screenplay and, to that time, it was the biggest piece of shit I had ever read," Andre de Toth said about his second American-made film in an interview for Film Noir Reader 3. That film is DARK WATERS, a Gothic noir about a young woman who survives a submarine attack and is then sent to live with her unknown distant relatives in the Louisiana bayous. All is not as it seems, though, and the suspense unfolds as her family begins to test her mental thresholds in the wake of her post-traumatic stress. The cast includes Merle Oberon, Franchot Tone, Thomas Mitchell, and Elisha Cook, Jr., but the film's writing credits are more impressive than its stars: Joan Harrison of Hitchcock notoriety worked on the script with an uncredited John Huston, who allegedly required payment per page. Though the swampy Louisiana bayous provide a perfect setting for de Toth's unique brand of film noir, he claims in the aforementioned interview to have used tight close-up shots to prevent viewers from being distracted by those "pretty pictures of locations." Ironically enough, the film was made at a Hollywood studio rather than down South. That de Toth's demands an attention to detail in even the most seemingly B-movies are one reason why he is continually lauded by such writers as Fred Camper and Anthony Slide. Also showing is Jules White's 1943 comedy short YOU DEAR BOY (16 min, 16mm). (1944, 90 min, 35mm) KK
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Yasujiro Ozu's AN INN IN TOKYO (Japanese Silent Revival) 
Music Box Theatre - Saturday, Noon

The silent films of Yasujiro Ozu are a one-way conduit of innovation and empathy. While Hollywood gangster films and screwball comedies were widely seen in Japan, contemporary American audiences never got to see the way a talented young filmmaker like Ozu re-worked the genre conventions and deepened the stakes of these familiar commercial formulas. Perfecting the grammar of silent movie-making long after cosmopolitan audiences around the world had switched their allegiance to the talkies, Ozu was working in fertile isolation. By the time he made AN INN IN TOKYO, even his home studio Shochiku favored the talkies and pressured Ozu to modernize. (To Ozu's dismay, Shochiku added a music and effects soundtrack; since the Music Box is forgoing that track in favor of live organ accompaniment, I suppose they're belatedly making up for it.) It's a testament to Ozu's power and prescience that he might reasonably be put forward as a cosmic influence on filmmakers who had no plausible chance of viewing his work. It's now become a critical cliché to cite the urban poverty chronicle AN INN IN TOKYO as a precursor to the neorealist methods of De Sica, particularly LADRI DI BICLETTE. (Alternatively, perhaps Ozu was channeling the nascent miserablist subgenre pioneered by Griffith in ISN'T LIFE WONDERFUL and THE STRUGGLE.) Either way, AN INN IN TOKYO represents one of Ozu's last engagements with a distinctly downtrodden milieu. (His talkies tend to be tonier, although not without disjunctive aberrations like A HEN IN THE WIND.) If there's any Ozu film that isn't worth your time, I haven't seen it yet. Live organ accompaniment from Dennis Scott. (1935, 82 min, 35mm) KAW 
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We Found a Fire: Film & Video Work by Carolyn Faber (Local/Experimental)
The Nightingale (1084 N. Milwaukee Ave.) - Saturday, 8pm

Carolyn Faber currently works as an archivist--and there's strong streak of that influence in her work. But her films are also the work of a poet, a quiet observationalist, and a strict documentarian. She has the offhanded knowledge of a scholar and the passion of an amateur. In this program Faber will be showing early celluloid work and current video work. Some of the current videos mine imagery from old films of her own making, and some of the early films mine imagery from even older films of other's making. There's a purposeful looking-back in her work--a useful necessity to inquire about the personal and the shared past. Plus, most of it is damned beautiful! Screening are IOTA (1998), FOR THE RECORD (2003), POSTCARD #1: NORTH SEA HARBOR (2004), POSTCARD #2: WEATHER, CHANNEL (2002), POSTCARD #3: NIAGARA RISES (2009), WE FOUND A FIRE (2013), CHRISTMAS AT THE B&S LOUNGE (2013), and SHORTY'S LAST STAND (2013). (1998-2013, approx. 50 min total, Various Formats) JBM
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SAIC Undergrad/Grad FVNMAS Festival: This Is It (Local/Experimental/Animation)
Gene Siskel Film Center - Friday, 8pm (FREE)

The final screening in the School of the Art Institute of Chicago's Film, Video, New Media, Animation, and Sound Festival, this program includes some strong highlights from this year's graduating class. Adam Paradis has been showing amazingly good work around town for the few years he's been here--from dancing Super 8 ditties about colorful cloth to angular 16mm appropriations of pop culture found footage. His two 35mm pieces premiering tonight will certainly be fascinating. Jeremy Bessoff's ANOTHER SONG ABOUT THE SEA looks to be his most beautifully lit (sometimes beautifully-murkily lit) and emotionally engrossing film yet. It's a melancholy movie about the ocean--undoubtedly the Atlantic Ocean, since dramaturgically, the Pacific Ocean is about bounty and pleasure, the Atlantic's the one that crushes souls. Peter Kusek's THESE IMPULSES ARE GREATLY AMPLIFIED is a lovely cosmic swirling glitchy black-and-white dance film. Calum Walter's HEIGHTS looks upon city activity from the high-rise view. Anahita Ghazvinizadeh's Cannes-bound NEEDLE is an expertly-made coming-of-age tale. Also screening are works by Ni Shu and Daviel Shy. Screenings begin on Friday at 4:30pm, with additional programs preceding this one. (2013, 128 min total, Various Formats) JBM
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Stanley Donen's CHARADE (American Revival) 
Doc Films (University of Chicago) - Thursday, 7pm

Which dish is more difficult to prepare: beef stew or a lemon soufflé? Meat-and-potato dramas and action yarns are a dime a dozen. Light movies, fun movies, "frivolous" movies are the most difficult movies to make, requiring exquisite balance to succeed. Almost as difficult is any movie aspiring to the descriptor "Hitchcockian." CHARADE, which falls under both categories, improbably, sweetly, and unfussily pulls it off. The presence of Cary Grant is, of course, a key ingredient; Audrey Hepburn is another. Together they're both chic and playful, and perfect interpreters of Peter Stone's screenplay, which is both a satire of NORTH BY NORTHWEST and an homage. Nearly every character has a spare identity or two to call upon as needed, as much for the mechanics of the plot as for the audience's amusement. Donen choreographs the action in a fleet style which never drags or risks heavy-handedness. Also not to be overlooked is Henry Mancini's score. He was the only composer in filmdom capable of such delightful cues as "Latin Snowfall," "The Drip-Dry Waltz," and "Mambo Parisienne." Anyone who thinks of CHARADE as just tossed-off fluff should watch THE TRUTH ABOUT CHARLIE, the leaden retread. Even as gifted a filmmaker as Jonathan Demme couldn't keep his soufflé from falling. (1963, 113 min, 35mm) RC 
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Abbas Kiarostami's LIKE SOMEONE IN LOVE (Japanese Contemporary)
Gene Siskel Film Center - Check Venue website for showtimes

In recent years, master filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami has moved out of his native Iran into the eclectic arena of world cinema: LIKE SOMEONE IN LOVE, set and shot in Japan, is his second film to be made outside of his home country after the critically acclaimed CERTIFIED COPY (2010). Despite his emerging status as a symbol of international cinema, Kiarostami remains true to his roots in both of his recent productions. That's not to mean that aspects of Iranian culture are evident in these films, but that his artistic voice remains the same despite the stamps in his passport. LIKE SOMEONE IN LOVE is about the chance meeting between a young call girl and an elderly client, a deceptive union that is more familial than sexual. Such seemingly chance meetings occur often in Kiarostami's films, with the relationships toeing a fine line between being fortuitous or fated. Much of the film takes place in a car, bringing to mind his films TEN (2002) and the Palme d'Or winning film TASTE OF CHERRY (1997). And just as in those and some of his previous films, the forward shots of singular persons within such a claustrophobic space combine uneasy feelings of voyeurism with replications of personal conversation, which create a perplexity that parallels the story. That which is lurid might actually be innocent, or even pure: prostitution is maybe just friendship, broken marriage could be a chance at new love, and death can be overruled by life. As always, Kiarostami doesn't care to correct his viewer's assumptions one way or the other. Though his work provides a wealth of material over which one could exhaust their brain, it's better to watch with the heart. (2012, 109 min, DCP Digital Video) KK
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Richard Linklater's SCHOOL OF ROCK (American Revival)  
Doc Films (University of Chicago) - Thursday, 9:30pm

Last year's BERNIE confirmed that director Richard Linklater is essentially a shaggy moralist--an artist whose work suggests how society ought to function and how people ought to treat one another. In retrospect, his previous Jack Black vehicle, SCHOOL OF ROCK, reveals similar interests. Aside from ROCK 'N' ROLL HIGH SCHOOL, I can't recall another teen film that so blithely dismisses the cynical clichés of campus cliques, rival gangs, or the bright line that separates cool kids from everyone else. Black might rail against The Man, but that can't disguise SCHOOL OF ROCK's insistence on the classroom as a functional and egalitarian polity. In its vision of rock music as consensus, SCHOOL OF ROCK is something like an inversion of SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL: in Linklater's movie, the fragmented rehearsals suggest the slow stirrings of creation. These unostentatious but fluidly masterful sequences form the backbone of the film, real-time demonstrations of collaboration and outstanding classroom management in action. (In the ten years since its release, SCHOOL OF ROCK has become more political--a vision of ed reform that doesn't kowtow to neoliberal priorities like high-stakes testing or union busting.) Black's performance is typically remarkable--he cavorts like a cartoon character, congenitally incapable of small gestures. Black's every line of dialogue is accompanied by two or three irrelevant bits of business. (Compared to Black, every other adult in the movie turns in a notably self-effacing performance, particularly the uncharacteristically uptight Sarah Silverman.) What ultimately sets SCHOOL OF ROCK apart from its aspirational bullshit peers like DEAD POET'S SOCIETY or CONRACK is Linklater's habitual assertion that slackers and punks already make a valid contribution to society without cleaning themselves up or even leaving the house. (2003, 109 min, 35mm) KAW
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Werner Herzog's NOSFERATU THE VAMPYRE (German Revival)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) - Wednesday, 7 and 9pm

NOSFERATU THE VAMPYRE is Werner Herzog's homage to F.W. Murnau's glooming, swirling, haunting masterpiece--the 1922 original, NOSFERATU, A SYMPHONY OF HORRORS. As moody as its predecessor, this NOSFERATU dwells in the caverns and misty crossings of Herzog's Caspar David Friedrich-esque film landscapes. The centerpiece is Klaus Kinski's performance as Count Dracula--a limping, aching vampire who has lured an ambitious gentleman to his castle. Though radically differing from the original, NOSFERATU THE VAMPYRE does represent an interesting moment in the history of German cinema. Herzog, perhaps more than his contemporaries, is credited with bridging the gap of the so-called "lost years" of German cinema--those between Expressionism and the Neue Deutsche Film. Despite this film and his admiration of Murnau, Herzog has distanced himself from his esteemed predecessor in German film: "SUNRISE is a great movie... but there's really no connection." Agreed. (1979, 107 min, DCP Digital Projection) LN
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Agnes Varda's VAGABOND (French Revival)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) - Sunday, 7pm

It is often said that not all who wander are lost, and thus it could logically be surmised that not all who wander wish to ever find or be found. Some are happy to be forever sans toit ni loi (the film's original French title)--without roof or law. Such is the case of Mona, the protagonist of Agnes Varda's auteurist narrative VAGABOND. The aimless wanderer in question is played by a teenaged Sandrine Bonnaire; her greasy-haired, fresh-faced lack of naïveté brings an additionally enigmatic element to the film's already elusive structure. Similar to Orson Welles' CITIZEN KANE, the plot looks back on its protagonist's life after it's revealed that she freezes to death in a ditch. Varda employs her auteurism through a signature combination of narrative enactments and documentary-like interviews with those who encountered Mona before she died. A mysterious narrator voiced by Varda herself declares that no one claimed her body after she died and that she seemed to originate from the sea; Mona is then seen emerging naked from a cold ocean while two boys admire her from afar. Thus begins the film's overarching point of view, one in which the vagabond is little known and used only as a blank slate onto which her acquaintances project their own expectations and disappointments. Though it opens with Mona's death, the rest of the film is not at all hampered by the inter-film spoilers. She lived just as haphazardly as she died, and the details of her life just weeks before her demise present another slate onto which the viewers can project their hopes for the seemingly apathetic drifter. Varda's poetic filmmaking encourages the disconnect between the viewers and the characters and even between the characters themselves. Slow tracking shots imitate voyeuristic gaze and first-person interviews reveal some deceit among the fictional subjects; such aspects of the film refer back to Varda's seminal LA POINTE COURTE, while the no-nonsenseness of Mona provides a full-circle come-around of the vanity-obsessed Cleo in CLEO FROM 5 TO 7. A string-heavy score betrays underlying anxiety, while songs from The Doors and Les Rita Mitsouko highlight Mona's rebellious nonchalance. The film's disarray comes together to present only one knowable fact about the girl: that no one really knew her at all. (1985, 105 min, 35mm) KK
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Billy Wilder's DOUBLE INDEMNITY (American Revival) 
Doc Films (University of Chicago) - Monday, 7pm

Raymond Chandler shepherds his procedural style to the screen in Billy Wilder's quintessential noir, DOUBLE INDEMNITY, helping to bring the genre to a boil. Ironic, given that its placement in the canon of Hollywood cinema is attributable to a chilly murder plot by two frozen-souled conspirators. Told in flashback from his desk and in a bloody suit, insurance salesman Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray) narrates how, while an on a routine sales visit, he falls for Mrs. Dietrichson (Barbara Stanwyck), a femme fatale housewife plotting her husband's demise. Fully seduced, Neff uses his knowledge of his industry to foil investigators and kill Mrs. Dietrichson's husband "accidentally"--invoking a clause in the policy that pays double. Mrs. Dietrichson's dark past crops up to break the spell on Neff--who even then stays in it too long--as Keyes (Edward G. Robinson), fellow insurance agent and confidant, sniffs out their scheme. With so many imitators, DOUBLE INDEMNITY shines with wonderful idiosyncrasies: Neff on crutches imitating a broken-legged Mr. Dietrichson, the unabashed sexiness of Mrs. Dietrichson, the authentic bare bulb dialogue, and so many venetian blinds. Without them, the murder and investigation might become overly flat. But through its methodical telling, Wilder's film allows us to contemplate the significance of what is essentially a fatalist's cynicism--after all, we know the ending the whole time--" killed him for money, and for a woman. I didn't get the money, and I didn't get the woman." (1944, 107 min, 35mm) BW
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Paul Verheoven's SHOWGIRLS (American Revival)
Landmark's Century Centre Cinema - Friday and Saturday, Midnight

Beautiful as money, Nomi Malone hitches a ride to Las Vegas in this film's opening moments, vividly asserting, switchblade at the ready, that she's going to be a dancer. Already she's a commodity, a body circulating through a network of temporary owners for a price, though this won't be fully clear until her past's revealed near the end of the narrative. Vegas proves exactly her equal, a hometown for people rejecting their origins, a city that Verhoeven shows to thrive precisely on the dissemination of dashed dreams and rude awakenings. Any sense of what a 'real' Vegas might look like, how an actual dancer's career trajectory might be completed, is jettisoned in favor of a variegated torrent of imagery drenched in kitsch, in expertly ham-handed appeals to emotional response, in intricate and deadening formal maneuvers. But SHOWGIRLS isn't interested in characters, in narrative, but in glamour, in work, and in the tremendous effort that sexual entertainment takes to produce. 'You like her? ... I'll buy her for you,' the film's substitute Svengali says of Nomi, watching her gyroscopic breasts and buttocks slide around a stripper pole. This is of the falsest of films, constructed out of a series of intersecting surfaces utterly evacuated of substance. Its performers blandly dissemble wide, desperately erotic smiles, force their bodies into simulations of arousal, sweat through humiliating routines of grunt-and-thrust choreography, paint and festoon themselves with lacquer-thick make-up and acres of rhinestones. Verhoeven has always been a master of the physical object, at understanding human relationships as systems of conflicting and merging material engagements, but there has elsewhere always been the underlying hope that reason could see its way clear to an unmediated, somehow genuine connection between real people, could abolish, could transcend the mere appearances of things and give us access to ourselves as whole. Robocop finding, recuperating his family. Doug Quaid claiming interplanetary heroism. Nick Curran catching the killer. SHOWGIRLS will have none of this. It is the ne plus ultra and culmination of Verhoeven's cinema, a film that allows us no escape, that finds beneath every skin and layer nothing other than yet more sequins, glitter, ejaculate, and grime. No film takes American mass culture more seriously, or skewers it more dispassionately. (1995, 132 min, Digital Projection - Unconfirmed Format) KB

Alfred Hitchcock's THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY (American Revival)
Northbrook Public Library (1201 Cedar Lane, Northbrook) - Wednesday, 1 and 7:30pm (FREE)

From Dave Kehr's brilliant essay "Hitch's Riddle," reprinted in his recent collection When Movies Mattered: "Sam Marlowe's [the painter character played by John Forsythe] art is an idealized image of Hitchcock's own. In the 50s, Hitchcock's work had begun to move toward a greater abstraction, leaving behind the bothersome details of plot construction and character psychology. Sam Marlowe's work (he's an abstract expressionist) has already achieved a perfect freedom. He's discarded narrative entirely, and he expresses himself directly. Marlowe isn't bound by the commercial considerations that haunted Hitchcock; he hangs his paintings at the local produce stand and isn't much bothered when nobody buys them.... Marlowe is free in his work and he's free in his life. As the plot progresses, all the major characters come to believe that they've killed Harry: Captain Wiles [Edmund Gwenn, playing a loving caricature of Hitchcock himself] because he shot him, Jennifer Rogers (Shirley MacLaine) because she hit him with a milk bottle when he came to her door, Miss Gravely (Mildred Natwick) because she hit him with the heel of her shoe when he dragged her into the bushes. Only Marlowe remains outside the widening circle of guilt; he is, somehow, above such feelings. He begins to acquire the godlike status of Brandon and Jeffries [the Nietzschean protagonists of Hitchcock's ROPE (1948)], but this artist is a benign deity. When the other characters come to him to confess their guilt, Marlowe forgives instead of judging them; he counsels them to hide the corpse and forget about it." It's worth noting that THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY is also very funny--and often because of, not in spite of, its uncharacteristic gentleness. The Technicolor cinematography (by Hitchcock's regular cameraman of this period, Robert Burks) is a marvel, too, finding so many warm, expressive tones within the New England foliage that the real world seems to be transforming into a Walt Disney creation. (1955, 99 min, 35mm) BS
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Steven Spielberg's JAWS (American Revival) 
Doc Films (University of Chicago) - Friday, 7 and 9:30pm and Sunday, 1pm

If PSYCHO forever changed bathroom behavior, then JAWS no doubt gave us pause before diving head first into the ocean; but like the best horror movies, the film's staying power comes not from it's superficial subject matter, in this case a mammoth, man-eating shark and the ominous abyss of the deep blue sea, but from the polysemic potential and wealth of latent meanings that these enduring symbols possess. JAWS marks a watershed moment in cinema culture for a variety of reasons, not excluding the way it singlehandedly altered the Hollywood business model by becoming the then highest grossing film of all time. A byproduct of such attention has been the sustained output of scholarly criticism over the years. At the time of its release, JAWS was interpreted as a thinly veiled metaphor for the Watergate scandal (an event that was slightly more conspicuous in the book), but since then a variety of readings have emerged, including socioeconomic and feminist analyses; however, Marxist theorist Fredric Jameson may provide the most intriguing interpretation by connecting the shark to the tradition of scapegoating. Like Moby Dick or Hitchcock's titular birds, the shark functions a sacrificial animal onto which we project our own social or historical anxieties (e.g., bioterrorism, AIDS, Mitt Romney). It allows us to rationalize evil and then fool ourselves into thinking we've vanquished it. But by turning man-made problems into natural ones we forget that human nature itself is corrupt, exemplified here by Mayor Vaughn who places the entire population of Amity Island in peril by denying the existence of the shark. Jameson's reading is in keeping with the way in which Spielberg rarely displays the shark itself (the result of constant mechanical malfunctions); as opposed to terrifying close-ups, we get point of view shots that create an abstract feeling of fear, thus evoking an applicable horror film trope: the idea is much more frightening than the image. JAWS is a timeless cautionary tale because it appeals to the deep-rooted fears of any generation. And because sharks are scary. (1975, 124 min, 35mm) HS
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Frank Perry's MOMMIE DEAREST (American Revival) 
Music Box Theatre -- Sunday, 2pm

DIARY OF A MAD HOUSEWIFE, THE SWIMMER, LADYBUG LADYBUG--any of these three would cement Frank Perry's legacy as a great American filmmaker. But among the general public the rest of his oeuvre pales mightily in comparison to MOMMIE DEAREST, his notorious adaptation of Christina Crawford's memoir. The film's portrait of Joan Crawford, thanks to a no-holds-barred performance/recreation by Faye Dunaway, decades of cable TV repeats and hearsay drag queen re-enactment, has cemented MOMMIE DEAREST's status as a true cult classic. But experiencing it solely as an over-the-top melodrama sells the movie short. Viewed differently, it's actually a vivid and disturbing examination of child abuse, the perils of being a movie star, and of being the child of a star. And Perry uses the same cool, clean style as in DIARY OF A MAD HOUSEWIFE. His objective camera, usually at some distance from the action, makes Joan's outbursts of aggression and violence that much more unsettling. This apparent detachment confounds any easy emotional release on the part of the audience, most notably during the infamous "wire hanger" sequence (which, by the way, unfolds without music). So it's no wonder that the movie has long been experienced as camp; without using humor as a shield, the events onscreen would be much too disturbing to take at face value. Here is a film that cries out for a re-evaluation. But that will have to wait. This Mother's Day screening will be a celebration of the film as camp, including pre-show entertainment featuring Dick O'Day and the Hell in a Handbag players, a mother/daughter matching outfit contest, and running commentary from members of Camp Midnight and audience participation during the film. (1981, 129 min, DCP Digital Projection) RC 
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The Film Studies Center (University of Chicago) continues the L.A. Rebellion series on Thursday at 7pm with Shorts Program 2. Screening are S. Torriano Berry's 1982 film RICH (22 min, 16mm), Jacqueline Frazier's 1981 film SHIPLEY STREET (25 min, Video Projection), Gay Abel-Bey's 1991 video FRAGRANCE (38 min, Video Projection), and Alile Sharon Larkin's 1979 film YOUR CHILDREN COME BACK TO YOU (30 min New 16mm Print). Free Admission.

Defibrillator (1136 N. Milwaukee Ave.) hosts No Media on Saturday at 8pm. Organized by Jason Soliday, Nick Briz, and Jeff Kolar, No Media is "an open [sign up] improvisational realtime/performance media art event. Participating artists are randomly matched in sets of 3 && given 10mins to perform w/&& in re:to each other." Participants include: brett ian balogh, Jennifer Mills + Partner, Jeremiah, Stephen Germana, Courtney Mackedanz, will soderberg, Stephanie Acosta, Daviel Shy, Alyssa Moxley, andy slater, kg price, Emily K., Elena Tejada-Herrera, Alex Halbert, bbEDit, Rlstein, and nick kegeyan.

Lake Street Church (607 Lake St., Evanston) screens Bob Hercules and Dan Chace's 2012 documentary PERSEVERANCE: THE STORY OF DR. BILLY TAYLOR (52 min, Video Projection - Unconfirmed Format) on Wednesday at 8pm. A post-screening discussion will feature Hercules and Dr. Billy Taylor. Presented by Percolator Films in collaboration with Lake Street Church, the McGaw YMCA, and Hilda's Place/Connections for the Homeless.

Also at the Gene Siskel Film Center this week: Dror Moreh's 2012 Israeli documentary THE GATEKEEPERS (97 min, 35mm) plays for a week, with a panel discussion following the Thursday screening; Matthew Barney's Cremaster Cycle concludes its short run: CREMASTER 1 & 2 (1996/99, 40/79 min, 35mm; Saturday, 3pm and Tuesday, 8pm), CREMASTER 3 (2002, 182 min, 35mm; Monday, 6:30pm), and CREMASTER 4 & 5 (1995/97, 42/55 min, 35mm; Saturday, 5:15pm); and Robert Cicchini's 2012 film WATERWALK (121 min, DCP Digital Projection) screens on Saturday at 7:30pm and Sunday at 5pm. Check the Siskel's website for details on filmmaker/cast appearances and talkback sessions after each screening.

Also at Doc Films (University of Chicago) this week: Kathryn Bigelow's 2012 film ZERO DARK THIRTY (157 min, 35mm) is on Saturday at 7 and 9:45pm and Sunday at 3:30pm; Anand Patwardhan's 2011 Indian documentary JAI BHIM COMRADE (199 min, DVD Projection) is on Tuesday at 5:30pm; and Hiroshi Teshigahara's 1962 film PITFALL (97 min, 35mm) is on Tuesday at 9pm.

Also at the Music Box Theatre this week: Olivier Assayas' 2012 film SOMETHING IN THE AIR (122 min, DCP Digital Projection) opens; Baz Luhrmann's 1996 film ROMEO + JULIET (120 min, DCP Digital Projection) is on Friday and Saturday at Midnight; and Steven Zaillian's 1998 film A CIVIL ACTION (115 min, DVD Projection) is on Friday at Noon, in the occasional "Movies on Trial" series. The film is followed by a panel discussion moderated by Bradley P. Nelson (Schopf & Weiss LLP). Panel members include The Hon. Virginia M. Kendall (U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois), Anton R. Valukas (Jenner & Block), and Thomas A. Demetrio (Corboy & Demetrio).

Chicago Filmmakers (5243 N. Clark St.) presents May Shorts!, as part of the monthly Dyke Delicious series, on Saturday at 8pm (social hour at 7pm).

Block Cinema (Northwestern University) presents their annual film with live musical accompaniment show, Sonic Celluloid, on Friday at 8pm. This collaboration with NU's student radio station, WNUR, will include performances from Madalyn Merkey, Autumn Drones, Expo '70, and others. The films showing are not listed. And on Wednesday at 7pm, Clayton Brown and Monica Long Ross' 2012 documentary THE BELIEVERS (83 min, Video Projection - Unconfirmed Format; Free Admission) screens, with Brown and Ross in person.

Facets Cinémathèque screens Antonio Méndez Esparza's 2012 Mexican/Spanish/US film AQUÍ Y ALLÁ (HERE AND THERE) (110 min, Unconfirmed Format) for a week's run; and the Saturday Midnight Facets Night School film is Sam Mraovich's 2002 film BEN & ARTHUR (85 min, Video Projection - Unconfirmed Format). Introduced by Lew Ojeda.

Also at the Northbrook Public Library (1201 Cedar Lane, Northbrook) screens Fisher Stevens' 2012 film STAND UP GUYS (95 min, 35mm; Free Admission) on Saturday at 2 and 7:30pm. Independent filmmaker Reid Schultz will discuss the film after each screening. More info at

The Logan Square International Film Series at Comfort Station Logan Square (2579 N. Milwaukee Ave.) screens Rebecca Miller's 2009 film THE PRIVATE LIVES OF PIPPA LEE (98 min, DVD Projection) on Wednesday at dusk.

The Chicago Cultural Center continues the Cinema/Chicago international film series with Dietrich Brüggemann's 2010 German film RUN IF YOU CAN (112 min, Video Projection - Unconfirmed Format) on Saturday at 2pm; and Manjeet Singh's 2012 Indian film MUMBAI'S KING (78 min, Video Projection - Unconfirmed Format) on Wednesday at 6:30pm. Also showing is Sonali Aggarwal's documentary WHATEVER HAPPENED TO HIP HOP? (Unconfirmed Running Time, Video Projection - Unconfirmed Format) on Tuesday at 6pm. Free Admission for all shows.

The Italian Cultural Institute (500 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 1450) screens Nina Di Majo's 2010 film WEDDINGS AND OTHER DISASTERS (91 min, Video Projection - Unconfirmed Format) on Tuesday at 6pm.

The Logan Theatre screens Penelope Spheeris' 1992 film WAYNE'S WORLD (94 min, Unconfirmed Format) on Friday, Saturday, and Monday at 11:30pm; and John Sturges' 1963 action film THE GREAT ESCAPE (172 min, Unconfirmed Format) on Thursday at 11pm.



I Think We're Ready to Go to the Next Sequence: The Legacy of HalfLifers continues at Gallery 400 (UIC, 400 S. Peoria St.) through June 15. 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 Presence of Absence continues at the Hairpin Arts Center (2800 N. Milwaukee Ave., 2nd Floor) through June 2. Curated by Northwestern University Department of Radio-TV-Film Professors Dave Tolchinsky and Debra Tolchinsky, and presented by Contemporary Arts Council, the show features work by installation/conceptual artist Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, new media artist Christopher Baker, filmmaker/installation artist Melika Bass, sculptor and School of the Art Institute professor Laurie Palmer, Colombian/Chicago painter Paola Cabal, installation artist Katarina Weslien, and filmmakers Robert Chase Heishman and Brendan Meara. The opening reception is Friday, May 10, from 5-7pm. Curators and Artists Talk, Saturday, May 18, 2-3pm. 

Carrie Secrist Gallery (835 W. Washington Blvd.) continues Circle Spectre Paper Flame, a one-person show of recent work by Michael Robinson, including his 2012 video CIRCLE IN THE SAND, through May 18.

Andrew Rafacz Gallery (835 W. Washington Blvd.) continues Psychosexual through May 25. The show, which includes at least one video work (by former Chicagoan Kirsten Stoltmann).

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

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
More info here.

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CINE-LIST: May 10 – May 16, 2013

Patrick Friel

CONTRIBUTORS / Michael Castelle, Kian Bergstrom, Rob Christopher, Kat C. Keish, Josh B. Mabe, Liam Neff, Ben Sachs, Harrison Sherrod, Brian Welesko, Darnell Witt

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