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:: Friday, NOV. 22 - Thursday, DEC. 5 ::

Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, this edition of Cine-File covers a two-week span. Crucial Viewing listings are combined for both weeks; Also Recommended and More Screenings and Events listings are separated by week. Information for some venues during the second week was not available; check venue websites for more up-to-date listings.—Ed.

CRUCIAL VIEWING

Martin Scorsese's THE KING OF COMEDY (American Revival)
The Museum of Contemporary Art  — Tuesday, December 3, 6pm (Free Admission*)

Note: Spoiler! - Robert De Niro is fine, and Sandra Bernhard is aces. But without Jerry Lewis there would be no KING OF COMEDY. The proof of it is the look on Jerry's face in his final scene. After Masha serenades him with the creepiest/loveliest rendition of "Come Rain or Come Shine" ever captured on celluloid, he gently convinces her to untie him. As the last bit of packing tape is about to come loose, he quickly breaks free, stands up, advances towards her. Her expression, all lustful anticipation, says, "He's about to ravish me." Instead he smacks her once, hard, and runs out of the room. When we see him next he's alone on a New York City street. He pauses in front of a shop window that's filled with televisions, all showing Rupert Pupkin as he delivers his monologue on Jerry's hijacked program. Then, the look on Jerry's face (which is the very last time we see him): the look of a man who realizes that he's just been beaten, that he's suddenly much closer to the end than the beginning, that in due time he will cease to have a place in the new order of things. We are now living in that new order, confirming that KING OF COMEDY is one of the most prescient satires of the 20th century. *Free with museum admission; museum admission is free on Tuesdays for Illinois residents. (1982, 109 min, 35mm) RC
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More info at www.mcachicago.org.


DINCA Vision Quest 2013 (Experimental)
Mana Contemporary (2233 S. Throop St.) - Friday and Saturday, November 22 and 23, 7pm

Badgers do not like being observed in their dens, and will scream at intruding cameras. TV's Dynasty uses only one shot-setup per character. The human face, when even slightly distorted, becomes an Other worthy of any nightmare. All sunsets look the same. These are only a few of the facts that will be proven during Dinca Vision Quest 2013, a 3-day festival (sorry we missed the first day this past Thursday!) of experimental films, videos, and related live performances. With only one screening per day (a long screening, with an intermission, followed by a performance and then a party) curators Fern Silva and Andrew Rosinski have been able to craft immersive experiences within the broad themes they've set for themselves (Friday's screening "sails the psychedelic sea of cinema" while Saturday's "examines the enigma of existence.") Fine threads of concept and image lead from one piece to the next and the succession of individual works only adds to the pleasure of viewing the whole. Though the programs are best viewed as wholes, the following pieces are standouts. Michael Robinson's THE DARK, KRYSTLE (2013) could well be renamed REPEAT PERFORMANCE, as the characters of Dynasty are trapped in an ever-tightening gestural loop, doomed to repeat the same over-the-shoulder glance or swill of white wine for all eternity. Or at least for nine seasons. Basma Alsharif's FARTHER THAN THE EYE CAN SEE (2012) aims for a Godardian totality of cinema, combining multiple competing subtitle languages and double-exposed, often flickering shots to tell no less than a Palestinian recounting of the violent birth of Israel in 1948. The science of color models is explored briefly at Vision Quest with a quartet of films, two of which are from Kerry Laitala: CHROMATIC FRENZY (2009) and AFTERIMAGE: A FLICKER OF LIFE, VERSION 1 (2010) utilize the ChromaDepth stereoscopic process to create 3D through the foregrounding of primary colors. Both DEEP RED (Esther Urlus, 2012) and 457 BROADWAY (Tomonari Nishikawa, 2013) use color separations and optical printing to create dense, vibrant collages of color and motion. Possession and its consequences are seen in Jesse McLean's THE INVISIBLE WORLD (2012) and Ben Russell's LET US PERSEVERE IN WHAT WE HAVE RESOLVED BEFORE WE FORGET (2013), though what is claimed in each is radically different. Shana Moulton's singular New Age yearnings are some of the most expressive, soul-stirring existential explorations of our modern time, and her two pieces here travel further down that path, as shopping woes distress in UNIQUE BOUTIQUE (2013) and makeup application reduces the human form to clay, ready to be made anew in SWISSPERING (2013). BINOCULAR SERIES: ZEBRA 2 (2013) by Leslie Thornton possesses the kind of short, joyful simplicity that should excite viewers of all stripes, and should be mandatory viewing for those who claim to dislike experimental work. A single take of a zebra in profile provides the raw data to generate an adjacent kaleidoscope image, pulsing with the slight (and not so slight) movements of the animal. CAM & DM
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More info at www.visionquest.dinca.org.


Claire Denis' THE INTRUDER and BASTARDS (French Revival and New French)
Gene Siskel Film Center - Saturday, November 30, 3pm and Thursday, December 6, 6pm (INTRUDER); Check Venue website for showtimes (BASTARDS)

Though her films are notably free of conventional narrative constraints, Claire Denis is fascinated with the ties that bind the characters. Each of her eleven features is a study in the connections between family, friends, and lovers in loosely constructed narrative worlds. The two films showing this week at the Film Center deal primarily with familial bonds, but that's where the similarities end. One is based on an autobiographical essay by an esteemed philosopher, the other inspired by sordid headlines of recent years. Based on an essay by Jean-Luc Nancy, THE INTRUDER (2004, 130 min, 35mm) is about an older French man, Louis, who receives a black market heart transplant in Switzerland, then relocates to Tahiti in search of an illegitimate son he sired while working there as some sort of mercenary. Her most elliptical film to date, it cannot be condensed into summary, and any attempt to do so is often done in vain. It's a film that exists in the watching of it, not in reading or talking about it. Though singular, it encapsulates themes that Denis has worked with since her debut film, CHOCOLAT—namely, the tenuous connection between Denis's home country of France and the French former colonies in Africa where Denis grew up and which she thinks of as her true home. Louis is an intruder in the countries he visits and in the lives of people he encounters, much like his foreign heart is an intruder within him. Receiving the new heart spurs Louis's desire for his foreign son; in another parallel, both ultimately reject him. Inspired by William Faulkner's Sanctuary and, likely, Denis's outrage with French politician Dominique Strauss-Kahn, BASTARDS (2013, 100 min, DCP Digital Projection) tells a story of two families and the secrets that connect them. It's easier to summarize than THE INTRUDER, though Denis still tells the story by working from the outside in, forming connections between characters and shots in a manner unique to her. Each moment escapes from memory and is tucked away into the viewer's subconscious, to emerge only when Denis recalls it. KS
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More info at www.siskelfilmcenter.org.


John Cassavetes' LOVE STREAMS (American Revival)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) - Wednesday, December 4, 7 and 9:45pm

John Cassavetes' final film, LOVE STREAMS, is both his most fully realized in its portrayal of the fallacy of human connection and his most conventional in cinematic style. Working in front of the camera for the last time, he once again cast his wife Gena Rowlands in the female lead—a fitting public bow for their long collaboration. They play Robert and Sarah, a dysfunctional brother and sister—he's never learned to love and she loves too much—who lean on each other as their lives fall apart. LOVE STREAMS lacks anything that could be called an exposition despite the heaviest use of non-diegetic music and the only use of dream sequences in any of Cassavetes' work. We are dropped into the lives of an aging, drunk, womanizing, and wealthy writer and his clinically depressed, soon-to-be divorced sister, initially by following them separately on parallel paths and downward trajectories. Each sibling has a child that they make a genuine but clumsy attempt to bond with, but ultimately they prove unfit as parents. Sarah shows up on Robert's doorstep just as he's taking the 8 year-old son he's never met before on a weekend bender to Las Vegas. When he returns without his son, Cassavetes and Rowlands are left to act out the end of this tragedy. The story is somewhat secondary here, though, as the film functions as a recap of Cassavetes' previous directorial themes. Cassavetes' lonely artist is colored by his own tinge of personal regret (he ad already been diagnosed with the liver cirrhosis that would kill him five years later). His sister, on the other hand, echoes the absurdist antics that Cassavetes was known for as a younger man, going further and further to keep everything cheery in the face of her own depression. Rowlands continually makes us forget her character's mental instability only to unleash it again like a tantrum. As his life was coming to a close, Cassavetes seemed willing to yield a little of his standard formal difficulty in order to be understood more clearly. What he would not yield, though, was an insistence that Hollywood sold the public a false bill of goods regarding love and marriage. It is through understanding the pain of life that Cassavetes depicts on the screen that we gain greater appreciation for the joys of our own lives off it, not the other way around. (1984, 141 min, 35mm) JH
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More info at www.docfilms.uchicago.edu.


Chris Sullivan's CONSUMING SPIRITS (Experimental/Narrative Animation)
Film Studies Center (University of Chicago) - Friday, 7pm (Free Admission)

Chris Sullivan's otherworldly animation is full of tiny, odd, and potent details: the tremor of a hand, the turn of a radio dial, a bird on a tree limb. It is this world of small things that draws one in slowly. CONSUMING SPIRITS, local filmmaker and SIAC professor Chris Sullivan's decade in the making animated feature, is an Appalachian gothic with four main characters—all trapped by some problem of their own making and held together by a sad and inescapably interconnected past. It is a remarkable achievement that such a simple story isn't overwhelmed by the fractured visual world Sullivan builds. CONSUMING SPIRITS glides through stop-motion animation, pencil drawing, collage animation, and Sullivan's signature style of cutout animation, and the movement is fragile and corporeal. While all of the characters in his film are grotesquely rendered, it is hard to imagine them as lifeless pieces of paper. The film is something akin to the magical animation of Yuri Norstein—more cinematic than cartoonish. It often delivers surprising moments of translucence or a mystifying depth of field or a strange spot of light, which all seem to be more captured than constructed. It is also often ruthlessly funny and gruesome, deepening our look at these troubled characters as they attempt to deal with their individual tragedies and disappointments. CONSUMING SPIRITS is exactly as advertised—a consumption. Sullivan in person. (2011, 129 min, Blu-Ray Projection) CL
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More info at www.filmstudiescenter.uchicago.edu.

 

ALSO RECOMMENDED: November 22-28

Joe Brewster and Michele Stephenson's AMERICAN PROMISE (New Documentary)
Gene Siskel Film Center - Check venue website for showtimes

In this grass-root social experiment that documents the primary and secondary education of two male African-Americans living in modern day New York City, directors (as well as parents) Brewster and Stephenson wanted to show the still-existing racial tension still ingrained in the majority upper-crust New York society. The documentary follows the evolution of the two boys for thirteen straight years, from kindergarten to their college move-in days. The filmmakers' direct link to the community of the boys and connecting families, and being parents to one of the boys in the film, allows them to integrate themselves into the story instead of being a mere observational outsiders. The boys, Seun and Idris, are never viewed as spectacles or oddities because they are the minority in a majority-white school system; instead the white majority is turned into the exhibition to be watched. The film follows the evolution of the two young boys into adults without extended focus on any specific periods of their lives, allowing for a range of problems associated with childhood and teenage years be explored. Co-directors Brewster and Stephenson in person at all shows on Friday and Saturday and at the 2pm Sunday show. (2013, 132 min, DCP Digital Projection) SW
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More info at www.siskelfilmcenter.org.


Werner Herzog's NOSFERATU THE VAMPYRE (German Revival)
Gene Siskel Film Center - Saturday, 3 and 7:45pm; Wednesday, 8pm

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, New 35mm Print) LN
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More info at www.siskelfilmcenter.org.


Claire Denis' 35 SHOTS OF RUM (Contemporary International)
Gene Siskel Film Center - Sunday, 3pm and Wednesday, 6pm

Claire Denis is the greatest director of our time. Every new film of hers provides sufficient evidence to prove that statement. Let's take the case of 35 SHOTS OF RUM, which isn't her newest film (that would be WHITE MATERIAL), but the newest to screen in Chicago. 35 SHOTS is set, like her earlier NENETTE & BONI, in a small world, one that consists largely of a handsome, quiet train operator approaching 50 (Alex Descas, who gets better with every gray hair) and his beautiful college student daughter (Mati Diop). Crossing over their borders are three intruders: a neighbor (Gregoire Colin, almost as familiar a face in Denis' films as Descas) threatening to move away while playing out a sort of romance with the daughter; the train operator's on-and-off girlfriend (Nicole Dogue), a cab driver that he tries to keep at arm's length; and Rene (pensive Julieth Mars Toussaint), the train operator's melancholic ex-colleague. There are a few locations: two apartments in Paris, two bars, a balcony, a car, a classroom, a locker room, a train, an apartment in Hamburg. What Denis is able to make out of these elements isn't a lesson in economy, but a story of how the most mundane things (a For Sale sign, a blue door, two rice cookers, a cerulean table top, an iPod's white headphones, a bar's asparagus-colored walls, The Commodores' post-Lionel Richie hit "Nightshift") and gestures (half-hearted dancing, a kiss on the cheek, a lean, a glance) acquire meaning in our lives, and how, through that shared meaning, we come to understand one another. Denis' previous non-documentary feature, THE INTRUDER, was arguably the most revolutionary film since Tati's PLAYTIME (which screens next month at the Film Center). It rediscovered of the world by divorcing itself from consciousness. It wasn't concerned with who was experiencing what or why, or the traditional delineations of character and time. 35 SHOTS OF RUM rediscovers both character and time by showing us things that seem to lie outside both. (2008, 100 min, Archival 35mm Print) IV
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More info at www.siskelfilmcenter.org.


David Fincher's THE SOCIAL NETWORK (American Revival)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) - Friday, 7pm, 9:30pm, and Midnight; Sunday, 1pm

In his essay for the Criterion Collection DVD release of David Fincher's THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON, critic Kent Jones had this to say about the film whose protagonist defies time: "Just as in [Fincher's] ZODIAC, there is an extremely precise sense of what it's like to be alive in a certain place, during a certain time, from moment to moment. It's not just the curtains and the clothing and the music and the cars that are right, but the gestures, the sounds, the blending of the public and the private, the way that every sign of this or that zeitgeist...is filtered through personal experience." Though he's primarily talking about a film in which a man ages backwards and referencing a film about a serial killer from several decades past, his remarks ring especially true for one of Fincher's more recently released films. THE SOCIAL NETWORK is an "extremely precise" representation of that which it is portraying, and as with most Fincher films, there's a catch: it isn't a story about bygone times or set in the typical alternate universe of narrative cinema, but instead is based on true events that took place within the last decade. In 2004, Harvard freshman Mark Zuckerberg revolutionized the way we communicate, operating from his dorm room with only his peers as guidance. Just six years later, Fincher made this film about the origins of his creation, the now-ubiquitous Facebook, and those who helped bring it to fruition. Fincher's distinct style of filmmaking has worked wonderfully with those previously mentioned bygone times, but his styling of such recent events exemplifies Fincher's status as a current master of American cinema. One could argue that it is more difficult to capture the essence of a time still fresh in an audience's memory, and Fincher's technical expertise, along with his excellent choice in cinematographer (Jeff Cronenweth), exhibit Fincher's ability to overcome that dilemma. One scene in particular feels oddly out of place—Edvard Grieg's "In the Hall of the Mountain King", performed by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for the film's soundtrack, crescendos as the infamous Winklevoss twins participate in the prestigious Henley Royal Regatta. This scene feels more like an ode to yesteryear rather than a depiction of modern-day life, complete with a concert band and men in boater hats. It feels most alien in its focus on physical activity, with the Winklevoss' arduous rowing providing a strict contrast to the seemingly inactive lifestyles of the programming clan. But despite their athleticism and go-getter attitudes, the Winklevoss twins lose the race, and while in real life they would eventually go on to win the lawsuit, they are shown in Fincher's film to be continually skimming the surface of genuine success. Zuckerberg blended the public and the private to recast modern communication as we know it, and Fincher uses both of those perspectives of the real-life events to filter out the zeitgeist. And not dissimilar to ZODIAC, it's a scary one in which fresh air is passé and pernicious obsession is all the rage. (2010, 120 min, 35mm) KS
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More info at www.docfilms.uchicago.edu.


Park Chan-wook's OLDBOY (Korean Revival)
Music Box Theatre - Friday and Saturday, Midnight

Chan-wook's slick mindfuck single-handedly launched a vogue for all things Korean among Stateside genre enthusiasts; it may not hold much water as narrative, but as a display of technical skill and showmanship, it's hard to beat. The premise is, admittedly, pretty damn neat: ordinary schlub Dae-su (revenge movie staple Choi Min-sik) is kidnapped and held prisoner in a cell for fifteen years; suddenly released by his mysterious captors, he must now figure out who held him prisoner and why. The double-revenge plot—Dae-su seeks revenge against his captor, who in turn kept him prisoner as part of an elaborate retribution—is a bit of a MacGuffin; for all of its (underdeveloped) capital-T Themes, this is really a movie about Park's ability to construct a grisly, entertaining sequence—something that he does very, very well. (2003, 120 min, 35mm) IV
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More info at www.musicboxtheatre.com. 


Jean-Luc Godard's PIERROT LE FOU (French Revival)
Music Box Theatre - Sunday, 2:45pm and Wednesday, 5 and 9:30pm

This favorite of Godardophiles marked a transition between the aspirations towards narrative and genre of the director's early films and the more essayistic style to come. Godard's final collaboration with his two most iconic actors-Jean-Paul Belmondo and Anna Karina-PIERROT is formally playful while maintaining an emotional tug unlike any that would be seen in his work for a decade (the film famously mirrors Godard and Karina's own crumbling relationship). Belmondo and Karina play two lovers on the run, as they escape from civilization. Their desert island fantasy doesn't last, of course, and things rapidly deteriorate, leaving Belmondo's character to pine after his lost love. More than any of his other works, PIERROT masterfully walks the line between Godard's expressed intention to throw everything he can into a film and the compelling, immediate charms of classical cinema-the result being a surprisingly accessible film that will richly repay repeat viewings. (1965, 110 min, 35mm) AH
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More info at www.musicboxtheatre.com.


Orson Welles's CITIZEN KANE (American Revival)
Music Box Theatre - Saturday, 2pm and Monday, 7pm

What's left to say about CITIZEN KANE? These days, it's difficult to imagine anyone sitting down to watch it without first being warned that they are about to view The Greatest Film of All Time, an accolade so frequently affixed that it should by now count as a subtitle. Yet it remains a master class in aesthetic design in which all the production elements (bustling staging, overlapping dialogue, choose-your-own-adventure plotting, lighting so chiaroscuro that most of the shadows fall on the ceiling, editing so fluid it is better described as rhythm) work together so seamlessly as to seem impossible without one another. Famously the first and last studio project the boy wonder had final cut on, this boasts an unusually tidy rise-and-fall narrative for Welles; if his later, compromised studio films (THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS, LADY FROM SHANGHAI, TOUCH OF EVIL) ultimately prove more rewarding, it is perhaps because their Rosebuds are obscured and their mysteries preserved. (1941, 119 min, 35mm) MK
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More info at www.musicboxtheatre.com.


Sophie Fiennes' THE PERVERT'S GUIDE TO IDEOLOGY (New Documentary)
Block Cinema (Northwestern University) - Friday, 7pm

Psychoanalytic film theory had its moment in the early '70s, but has since been dismissed as an outmoded, myopic form of interpretation that assumes a lack of self-awareness on the part of the subject. As emancipated spectators we no longer seek to excavate the latent content of a text, eschewing a hermeneutic paranoia in favor of reparative reading, sensitivity for affect, and an erotics of art. Enter Slavoj Zizek: Slovenian philosopher, ivory tower court jester, and torchbearer of Freud et al. In THE PERVERT'S GUIDE TO CINEMA he deconstructs Hollywood classics to reveal hidden Oedipal subplots and freaky fantasies. With the help of director Sophie Fiennes, Zizek inserts himself into meticulously recreated scenes from THE BIRDS, BLUE VELVET, and others. The duo employ the same gimmick in their follow-up feature, THE PERVERT'S GUIDE TO IDEOLOGY, otherwise known as the invisible apparatus that reproduces the hegemonic relations of production, or as Marty Rubin succinctly puts it, "that seductive tool of the system that uses our desires to make us freely choose our lack of freedom." Without ever mentioning the names Louis Althusser or Jaques Lacan, Zizek demonstrates how even the most mainstream movies, say THE SOUND OF MUSIC or WEST SIDE STORY, can serve as a subversive critique of ideology. This dialectical practice of looking awry is a trademark of his work. In typical Zizek fashion, the film is less a cohesive argument, more a clusterfuck of outlandish statements (some genius, others jejune). For example, his musing on the symbolic capital of Coke feels like Marshall McLuhan era ad busting, while his exegesis on the Mojave Desert airplane graveyard is apropos of our contemporary moment. If you've been following his writing for the past several years, this material comes off as a greatest hits album. All the classics are here: rants on cultural consumerism vis-à-vis Starbucks and class politics in TITANIC, as well as meditations on violence and Christian atheism. What detractors don't seem to realize is that Zizek is always in on the joke, and if psychoanalytic film theory is poised for a comeback its because it can now laugh at itself. (2012, 134 min, DCP Digital Projection) HS
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More info at www.blockmuseum.northwestern.edu.


Joshua Oppenheimer, Christine Cyn, and Anonymous' THE ACT OF KILLING (Documentary/Experimental)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) - Saturday, 7 and 9:30pm; Sunday, 3:45pm

Grotesque, absurd, and stunningly strange, THE ACT OF KILLING is a full-bodied treatise on violence, as it's imagined, organized, and performed. One of its directors, Joshua Oppenheimer, spent years working with survivors of political violence in Indonesia and in the process developed a robust frame on the region's terrifying history of paramilitary control. The movie follows a few aging members of one of the country's death squads, the Pancasila Youth—chiefly one man, Anwar Congo—as they live now, enjoying the privilege afforded to victors. Adding a layer to the story, the filmmakers collaborate with the killers to create filmed re-enactments of the murders they committed. Oppenheimer, his collaborator Christine Cyn, along with a rotating cast and crew of Indonesian people, participate in a bizarre creative process. The work required simultaneously engages the history of the murders and evokes rich portraits of the murderers themselves as they conceptualize and perform their own artistic interpretations of their actions. THE ACT OF KILLING is an elusive piece on non-fiction that slips in and out of several realms at once: a conventional doc view of a country whose chaotic government openly colludes with thugs, at times a darkly comic look at the close familial bond of Anwar and his men, and finally a chilling look at how the brutal logic of violence reverberates out into personal, national, and global consequences. (2012, 116 min, DCP Digital Projection) CL
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More info at www.docfilms.uchicago.edu.


Joel and Ethan Coen's THE BIG LEBOWSKI (American Revival)
Music Box Theatre - Friday, 9:45pm and Tuesday, 8:45pm

Dude, people love this movie—and with good reason. THE BIG LEBOWSKI is what so few modern comedies are: legitimately good. Between all the "dudes" and "fucks," it's easy to miss some of the underlying themes of the film; but beyond its oft-quoted dialogue and obsessive fan base, THE BIG LEBOWSKI is an LA noir for the modern age. It's also a gigantic metaphor for the Gulf War, a true testament to the time in which it is set, and eerily prophetic to watch today. A Bush is in office, we're in a recession, and we're fighting a fatuous war in the Middle East, so boy is this film still relevant. Don't forget, though, that it's also hilarious. Fix yourself a White Russian, folks. Let's see what happens when you fuck a stranger in the ass. (1998, 117 min, 35mm) CS
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More info at www.musicboxtheatre.com.


  

MORE SCREENINGS AND EVENTS: November 22-28

The Nightingale Theatre (1084 N. Milwaukee Ave.) presents Strange Attractors on Friday at 8pm. The program features eleven of the short films and readings by Vanessa Roveto of selected texts included in the book/DVD Strange Attractors: Investigations in Non-Humanoid Extraterrestrial Sexualities. Screening are Kate Gilbert and Jenn Kolmel's ALIEN SEX VIDEO, Bum Lee's RECOMBINATION, Torsten Zenas Burns and Darrin Martin's ANIMATRONLOVE, Jacob Ciocci's TAKE ME, Peggy Ahwesh's THE THIRD BODY, Amy Johnson's SING SIREN SONG, Mike Harringer and Joshua Thorson's MASTURBATION IN SPACE, Scott Andrew's NERAIDES FALL OF SUBTERRESTRIAL HIVE, Shana Moulton's GREEN PORTAL 43, Hilary Harp and Suzie Silver's THE OBLIGATE SYMBIONTS OF CLUMBUS GRAND, and Michael Mallis and Mikey McParlane's LOVE PUDDLES.

Northwest Chicago Film Society (at the Gene Siskel Film Center) screens Robert Mulligan's 1965 film BABY THE RAIN MUST FALL (99 min, 35mm) on Sunday at 11:30am.

Also at the Gene Siskel Film Center this week: Mary Harron's 2000 film AMERICAN PSYCHO (102 min, 35mm) screens on Friday and Tuesday at 6pm, with a lecture by Lawrence Knapp at the Tuesday show; Jan Ole Gerster's 2012 German film OH BOY (83 min, DCP Digital Projection) has an advance screening on Friday at 8pm, with director Gerster in person; Neil Jordan's 2012 film BYZANTIUM (118 min, DCP Digital Projection) is on Saturday at 5:15pm and Monday at 7:45pm; and Claire Denis' 1990 film NO FEAR, NO DIE (90 min, Archival 35mm Print) is on Sunday at 5pm and Monday at 6pm.

Also at Doc Films (University of Chicago) this week: Robert Zemeckis' 1988 film WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT? (104 min, 35mm) is on Sunday at 7pm; Terence Davies' 2000 film THE HOUSE OF MIRTH (140 min, 35mm) is on Monday at 7pm; Dziga Vertov's 1931 experimental documentary ENTHUSIASM (67 min, 35mm) is on Tuesday at 7pm; Oliver Assayas' 2004 film CLEAN (90 min, 35mm) has a re-screening on Tuesday at 9pm; and John Cassavetes' 1977 film OPENING NIGHT (144 min, 35mm) is on Wednesday at 7 and 9:45pm.

Also at the Music Box Theatre this week: Jia Zhangke's 2013 film A TOUCH OF SIN (133 min, Unconfirmed Format) opens; Charles Waters' 1946 film GILDA (110 min, 35mm) screens on Saturday and Sunday at 11:30am; Jem Cohen's 2012 film MUSEUM HOURS (107 min, Unconfirmed Format) is on Sunday at 11:30am; Giulio Paradisi's 1979 sci-fi/horror/cult film THE VISITOR (90 min, DCP Digital Projection) is on Friday and Saturday at Midnight; and as part of their 30th anniversary in operation as an art house theater, the Music Box is showing a slate of classic films including Alfred Hitchcock's 1959 NORTH BY NORTHWEST (136 min, 35mm), Howard Hawks' 1940 HIS GIRL FRIDAY (92 min, 35mm), Fred C. Newmeyer and Sam Taylor's 1925 silent Harold Lloyd comedy THE FRESHMAN (76 min, DCP Digital Projection), Arthur Penn's 1967 BONNIE AND CLYDE (111 min, 35mm), Stanley Donen's 1952 SINGIN' IN THE RAIN (103 min, 35mm), and Stanley Kubrick's 1971 A CLOCKWORK ORANGE (136 min, 35mm). Check the MB schedule for showtimes.

Chicago Filmmakers (5243 N. Clark St.) screens Joe Clarke and Tim Nash's 2013 independent feature THE FORMULA (90 min, Video Projection - Unconfirmed Format) on Saturday at 7:30pm at Chicago Filmmakers and on Wednesday at 6:30pm at Columbia College's Ferguson Theater (600 S. Michigan Ave.). Actor Brendon Baker and Co-Director Joe Clarke in person at the Saturday screening.

Facets Cinémathèque screens Shaka King's 2012 film NEWLYWEEDS (87 min, Unconfirmed Format) for a week run (no screenings on Thursday); and hosts the Chicago Latino Reel Film Club's presentation of Ariel Winograd's 2011 Argentinean film MY FIRST WEDDING (102 min, Unconfirmed Format) on Tuesday at 7pm (reception at 6pm and special ticket prices apply).

The Logan Theatre screens Chuck Russell's 1994 Jim Carey film THE MASK (101 min, Digital Projection - Unconfirmed Format) on Friday, Saturday, and Monday at 10:30pm; and John Hughes' 1987 film PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES (93 min, Digital Projection - Unconfirmed Format) on Thursday at 10:30pm.

The Chicago Public Library screens Adam Larsen's 2013 documentary NEUROTYPICAL (57 min, Video Projection - Unconfirmed Format) at the Bezazian Branch (1226 W. Ainslie St.) on Saturday at 2pm; and selections from Adam Curtis' 2002 documentary THE CENTURY OF THE SELF (Unconfirmed Running Time, Video Projection - Unconfirmed Format) at the Edgewater Branch (6000 N. Broadway St.) on Saturday at 2pm. Both Free admission.

The Chicago Cultural Center presents the talk The Science of Cinema and the Cinema of Science by Dr. Marius Stan on Saturday at Noon. Stan is "a senior scientist with the Nuclear Engineering Division at Argonne National Laboratory, a senior fellow with the Computation Institute at the University of Chicago, and a senior fellow with the Institute for Science and Engineering at Northwestern University. He is also an actor and writer. Most recently he played Bogdan, the car wash owner, in the TV series 'Breaking Bad.'"

The Logan Square International Film Series at Comfort Station Logan Square (2579 N. Milwaukee Ave.) presents Peter Hedges' 2003 film PIECES OF APRIL (80 min, DVD Projection) on Wednesday at 7pm. Free admission. www.facebook.com/squarelogan

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ALSO RECOMMENDED: Nov. 29 - Dec. 5

Dario Argento's SUSPIRIA (Classic/Cult Revival)
Terror in the Aisles (at the Patio Theater) - Saturday, 9:30pm

Dario Argento is one of Italy's greatest living artists, and his 1977 SUSPIRIA is one of his greatest achievements in both storytelling and visual design. Jessica Harper plays Suzy, a dance student who becomes embroiled in a plot by her ballet school's faculty (revealed to be witches) to unleash the forces of hell onto the world. The first in Argento's "Three Mothers" trilogy (the subsequent features are 1980's INFERNO and 2008's MOTHER OF TEARS), SUSPIRIA may not be the director's most complex or visually stunning work, but it's perhaps the crux of Argento's canon, the film that firmly established him as an auteur worthy of international discussion and analysis. Loved by genre fans for its excessive violence and pulsating score by the rock group Goblin, SUSPIRIA is as much a testament to Argento's love for classical art, which can also be seen in 1987's OPERA and 1995's THE STENDHAL SYNDROME. Argento's genius is to set these films, all of them bloody and relatively sleazy, in the world of "high" art. By doing so, he not only satirizes the pompous nature of "connoisseurs" who dismiss cinema—particular genre films—as a "lower" form, but also recontextualize these "higher" forms to fit in the realm of "commercial" work. (1977, 92 min, 35mm) JR
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Lucio Fulci's THE BLACK CAT (Italian Revival)
Terror in the Aisles (at the Patio Theater) - Saturday, 11:30pm

Edgar Allan Poe belongs to the very small, very specific pantheon of authors every good director seems to like (see also: Melville, Kafka, Balzac, Maupassant). And while Lucio Fulci's adaptation of THE BLACK CAT isn't terribly Poe-esque, goddamn if it ain't an Italian horror movie: Fulci tosses out everything but the cat and the violence and then piles on the requisite psychics, POV shots, photographers, vaguely English locations, down-on-their-luck Anglophone actors (in this case, Patrick Magee) and even giallo regular Mimsy Farmer, continuing Italy's storied tradition of producing murder-mysteries whose solution involves negating all accepted ideas about time, space, death, and logic. (1981, 91 min, 35mm) IV
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Also showing is Gary Schultz's 2013 film DEVIL IN MY RIDE (Unconfirmed Running Time and Format) at 7:30pm, with Schultz in person.
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More info here.


Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's BLACK NARCISSUS and THE RED SHOES (British Revivals)
Gene Siskel Film Center - Friday, 3pm and Tuesday, 6pm (SHOES); Friday, 5:30pm and Monday, 6pm (NARCISSUS)

In Powell and Pressurger's colonial fever dream, BLACK NARCISSUS (1947, 103 min, 35mm), an Anglican nun (Deborah Kerr) attempts to make peace with her past in a remote Himalayan convent, but falls prey to the locale's mystery and exoticism. Unsparingly shot in vivid Technicolor, BLACK NARCISSUS is a curiosity in an Edward Said-"Orientalism" sort of way. But beyond that, it expounds on what Jonathan Rosenbaum identified as the prevailing push-and-pull of P&P's leads: "the complex truces between the social and asocial self that make up the English character." All the more reason to partake in THE RED SHOES (1948, 133 min, 35mm), arguably The Archers' most beloved film. In it, a ballerina (Moira Shearer) joins a company for a new production and becomes torn between love for her husband and love for her art. Everything clicks here; Powell's penchant for spectacle and grown-up fantasy is on full display, as well as Pressburger's intricate handling of inner upheaval. Like so many of The Archers' films, the conflict of the ballerina's two desires are at odds, though they share so much in common. BW
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More info at www.siskelfilmcenter.org.


Jean-Luc Godard's CONTEMPT (French Revival)
Gene Siskel Film Center - Check Venue website for showtimes

All the films that Jean-Luc Godard made in the 1960s are readily rewatchable for their infectious, trailblazing energy, but CONTEMPT also possesses a magisterial authority that anticipates the poetry of his awesome late period. The primary concern, as always, is Cinema: Taking place on the set of a big-budget film of The Odyssey improbably directed by Fritz Lang (who plays himself), CONTEMPT contains still-pertinent ideas about the ethics of making movies, with Lang representing artistic integrity and producer Jeremy Prokosch (Jack Palance) representing the crassest instincts of the medium. Torn between them is Paul, an ambitious writer coerced into penning the film's script; not only must he play mediator on the troubled shoot, but his professional commitments are about to cost him his marriage. The way in which Godard sets these conflicts against the classical presence of Homer inspired Jonathan Rosenbaum to write that CONTEMPT is a look at modern man as he may appear to the Greek gods. (Godard, writing in 1963, put it more obliquely: "It is about characters from L'AVVENTURA who wish they were characters in RIO BRAVO.") But the film is shot through with a sense of immediacy—especially during the 25-minute centerpiece depicting an argument between Paul and his wife (Brigitte Bardot). Playing out in real-time and jumping nervously from antagonism to reconciliation to sympathy, the scene is instantly recognizable to anyone who has experienced the death of a romance. Godard does little to hide the fact that his own marriage to Anna Karina was failing at the time (Bardot even dons a black wig at one point to resemble Karina), and his candor makes CONTEMPT perhaps the most confessional work of career. (1963, 103 min, DCP Digital Projection; New Restoration) BS
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More info at www.siskelfilmcenter.org.


Terence Davies' OF TIME AND THE CITY (Documentary)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) - Monday, 7pm

OF TIME AND THE CITY is Terence Davies' elegiac history of growing up in Liverpool, spanning the 50s to the present, mixing vintage archival material with newer location footage. "We love the place we hate, and we hate the place we love," he says early in the movie. Like Guy Maddin in MY WINNIPEG he seems both nostalgic and bitter about his hometown, typified by a montage of gutted buildings and rubble-filled lots accompanied on the soundtrack by Peggy Lee lushly crooning "The Folks Who Live on the Hill." As he's done before, he contrasts the hardscrabble working class character of Liverpool with the fantasy world of escapism embodied by Hollywood movies and the occasional summertime seaside holiday. He rhapsodizes over Gregory Peck and Dirk Bogard, connecting his adolescent fascination with the concurrent realization that he was gay. His narration, blending slightly overripe stream-of-conscious remembrances with quotes from the likes of James Joyce and Engels, is like listening to a grumpy intellectual grandfather. But the wisdom and feeling buried beneath the sarcastic sourness is somehow oddly endearing. When he gripes about The Beatles and rock & roll displacing the smoothness of pop you're almost ready to agree with him. (2008, 74 min, 35mm) RC
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More info at www.docfilms.uchicago.edu.


Tod Browning's DRACULA (American Revival)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) - Tuesday, 7pm

In DRACULA, Tod Browning, the greatest horror director of the silent period, famously inaugurated Universal's long cycle of scary movies. Browning's Dracula, played with astounding charisma by Béla Lugosi, is a handsome, collected, and hyper-civilized monster whose lust for blood and power plays out not in fangs, hairy palms, and vivid, animalistic transformations (as in Bram Stoker's novel) but in the pregnant look, the deliberate pause, and the contorted, barely controlled fury threatening to boil over in every gesture.  Lugosi's performance as the titular count was a radical departure from the rat-like portrait drawn in the novel, but has become the gold standard in stately and erotic menace, haunting the nightmares of the susceptible for three-quarters of a century now. The product of a deep collaboration with Karl Freund, perhaps the greatest cinematographer ever to live, DRACULA is a beautiful and disturbing film, one of the great financial successes in Universal's history, and a high-point in any consideration of the genre. The film's oneiric pacing and logic defy summary: nothing makes any sense at all, and yet feels so utterly and terrifyingly inevitable. For years, critics were fond of dismissing DRACULA as a shallow and sloppy exercise that contrasted poorly to James Whale's FRANKENSTEIN, arriving later the same year. But in the roughness of DRACULA's style, its stagy performances, its incoherent plotline, its strange, stuttery dramaturgy, they missed the ways all of these ostensive faults only enhanced the film's true power. Dracula is a demonic, supernatural force of evil that, repeatedly, is equated in power and malice, to cinema itself. His hypnotic gaze penetrates into our eyes as much as into those of the innocent flower-vendor he murders upon his arrival in England, and that gaze is symbolically and visually linked to that of his exact opposite, the mysterious foreigner Van Helsing, whose glasses have the unearthly power to reflect the lights of artifice itself. (1931, 75 min, 35mm) KB
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More info at www.docfilms.uchicago.edu.


Olivier Assayas' CARLOS [Roadshow Edition]
(Contemporary French) Doc Films (University of Chicago) - Thursday, 7pm

Olivier Assayas' longest work to date is also, surprisingly, his most conventional as narrative. Even though CARLOS takes place across numerous countries and contains dozens of major characters, the film delineates cause and effect more clearly than anything Assayas has done before: The director's knack for blissful disorientation, present even in his historical drama LES DESTINEES, is relatively absent. The other trademarks of his style, though, remain in full force. Assayas maintains a near-constant sense of movement (in terms of both the camera and the storytelling overall), an ability to convey entire milieus through seemingly casual detail, an invigorating use of music (particularly early post-punk), and a confidence with actors that yields uniformly charismatic performances. And yet these qualities have been streamlined in such a way that CARLOS works as an exemplary suspense movie or a docudrama. The critic Todd McCarthy has compared it to GOODFELLAS, and, indeed, there are few other film epics that remain so engaging for so long. As in Scorsese's masterpiece, it's difficult to identify a moral framework (or at least at first; the film will surely deepen across repeated viewings), since to become absorbed in it is to acknowledge the seductiveness of criminality. CARLOS traces the "career" of Ilich Ramirez Sanchez and—by extension, the evolution of global terrorism from the mid 1970s to the early 1990s—as something of a mammoth international co-production, filled with constant travel, opulence, sex, and great action sequences. Remarkably, the film does not condescend to the radical politics of various movements, even when terrorists exploit them to justify heinous acts. Assayas seems most interested in the character of history, and, as such, it's a remarkable history lesson. (For me, the most surprising details concern the state sponsorship of terrorism—what inspired different states to initiate and cease sponsorship at what times.) On a formal level, Assayas uses the epic structure to find new ways to convey the passage of time: Where the first and third of the movie's three parts condense years into familiar two-hour segments, most of the second is devoted to a single event, Carlos' "famous" hijacking of the OPEC headquarters in 1975. The momentary sits side-by-side with the epochal, and one becomes a mirror of the other. (2010, 319 min, 35mm) BS
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More info at www.docfilms.uchicago.edu.


 

MORE SCREENINGS AND EVENTS: November 29-December 5

Local filmmaker Clara Alcott has organized Orbitz, a program of recent shorts and excerpts of works-in-progress, at the Chopin Theater (1543 W. Division) on Monday at 7:30pm. In addition to selections from two of Alcott's own upcoming films, the event will include work by The program also includes work by Chris Hefner, Sarah Weis, Arturo Cubacub, Erica Schreiner, Steve Wood, Todd Tue, Lyra Hill, Daniel Pico, Marc Riordan, Jess Mattison, Ellen Lake, and more.

Northwest Chicago Film Society (at the Gene Siskel Film Center) presents a comedy double feature on Sunday at 11:30am, with Eddie Cline's insane 1932 film MILLION DOLLAR LEGS (64 min, 35mm) and George Cukor's 1931 rarity GIRLS ABOUT TOWN (66 min, 35mm).

The Film Studies Center (University of Chicago) screens Jean Michel Bruyère's 2012 French experimental film FROM 2337 WEST MONROE STREET (120 min, DCP Digital Projection) on Wednesday at 8pm at the Logan Center for the Arts (Performance Center, 915 E. 60th St.).

Black Cinema House (6901 S. Dorchester Ave.) screens Andrew Garrison's 2007 documentary THIRD WARD TX (57 min, Video Projection - Unconfirmed Format) on Sunday at 4pm. Seating is limited; RSVP at the BCH website: www.blackcinemahouse.org.

 The Northbrook Public Library (1201 Cedar Lane, Northbrook) screens James Whale's 1936 version of SHOW BOAT (113 min, 16mm) on Wednesday at 1 and 7:30pm. Free admission. www.northbrook.info/events/film

 Also at the Gene Siskel Film Center this week: Joseph Losey's 1963 film THE SERVANT (116 min, DCP Digital Projection; New Restoration) plays for a week; and Ben Safdie and Joshua Safdie's 2012 documentary LENNY COOKE (88 min, DCP Digital Projection) also plays for a week, with Co-directors Ben and Joshua Safdie and producer Adam Shopkorn in person at the Friday show and executive producer Joakim Noah in person at the Sunday show.

Also at Doc Films (University of Chicago) this week: Joe Dante's 1989 film THE 'BURBS (101 min, 35mm) is on Sunday at 7pm.

Also at the Music Box Theatre this week: Stacie Passon's 2013 film CONCUSSION (96 min, DCP Digital Projection) and the Sound of Music Sing-A-Long (DCP Digital Projection) open; on Wednesday at 5:30pm, the Music Box hosts a double feature of Robert Stevenson's 1964 film MARY POPPINS (139 min, DCP Digital Projection) and a sneak preview of a new Disney feature, John Lee Hancock's 2013 film SAVING MR. BANKS (125 min, DCP Digital Projection). See the MB website to register for this free event; Rob Reiner's 1986 film STAND BY ME (89 min, 35mm) is on Friday and Saturday at Midnight; and the MB's 30th anniversary series continues with screenings of Fred C. Newmeyer and Sam Taylor's 1925 silent Harold Lloyd comedy THE FRESHMAN (76 min, DCP Digital Projection), Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones' 1975 film MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL (91 min, 35mm), Steven Spielberg's 1989 film INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE (127 min, DCP Digital Projection), and Andrew Cohn and Davy Rothbart's 2013 documentary MEDORA (100 min, DCP Digital Projection). Check the MB website for showtimes.

Facets Cinémathèque screens local filmmaker Joe Swanberg's 2012 feature ALL THE LIGHTS IN THE SKY (72 min, Unconfirmed Format) for a week run. Swanberg in person at the 7pm Saturday screening.

Block Cinema (Northwestern University) hosts a sneak preview screening of Joel and Ethen Coen's 2013 film INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS (105 min, 35mm) on Thursday at 7pm. Free admission.

The Logan Theatre: Check venue website for listings. 

Philippe Niang's 2012 French TV miniseries TOUSSAINT L'OUVERTURE (180 min total, 4K Digital Projection) will show in two parts at Chatham 14 Theaters (210 W 87th St.). Part One is on Sunday at 4pm, and Part Two is on Thursday at 7pm.

The Goethe-Institut Chicago (150 N. Michigan Ave. Suite 200) screens Georg C. Klaren's 1947 film WOZZECK (101 min, DVD Projection) on Tuesday at 6pm; and Roland Gräf's 1990 film THE TANGO PLAYER (96 min, DVD Projection) on Thursday at 6pm. Free admission.

The Alliance Française (54 W. Chicago Ave.) screens Rodolphe Marconi's 2007 documentary LAGERFELD CONFIDENTIAL (89 min, Unconfirmed Format) on Tuesday at 6:30pm, with Chicago fashion icon Nena Ivon in person.

Intuit (756 N. Milwaukee Ave.) screens Bill Siegel's 2013 documentary THE TRIALS OF MUHAMMAD ALI (94 min, Video Projection - Unconfirmed Format) on Thursday at 6pm.

The Whistler (2421 N. Milwaukee Ave.) presents the Odd Obsession Foreign Films Series on Saturday at 7pm, followed by the Impala Sound Champion DJs. Film title unconfirmed at press time.

 

ONGOING FILM/VIDEO INSTALLATIONS

The Museum of Contemporary Art opens City Self on November 29. The show includes Sarah Morris's 2011 film Chicago. Runs through April 13.

Iceberg continues an exhibition of work by local filmmaker and artist Melika Bass on through December 16. Showing is the "immersive multi-channel video installation" Slider Chamber.


UPDATES/CLOSURES

The Portage Theatre remains closed for the foreseeable future.

The Patio Theater has discontinued its regular programming and seems to only be hosting irregular special events. Note that the Northwest Chicago Film Society screenings for the remainder of 2013 have moved to Sundays at the Gene Siskel Film Center (11:30am or 7:30pm - check the NWCFS website for details).

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CINE-LIST: November 22 - December 5, 2013

MANAGING EDITOR /
Patrick Friel

CONTRIBUTORS / Kian Bergstrom, Rob Christopher, Jason Halprin, Adam Hart, Mike King, Christy LeMaster, Chloe A. McLaren, Doug McLaren, Liam Neff, Joe Rubin, Ben Sachs, Kathleen Sachs, Carrie Shemanski, Harrison Sherrod, Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, Shealey Wallace, Brian Welesko, Darnell Witt

> Editorial Statement -> Contact