Chester N. Turner's TALES FROM THE QUADEAD ZONE (American Revival/Cult)
Lincoln Hall (2424 N. Lincoln Ave.) - Saturday, 6pm
For years the holy grails of underground video obscurities, the films of Chester N. Turner were the stuff of legend, near impossible to find and, if one could somehow manage, almost as impossible to comprehend. While Turner's 1984 debut, BLACK DEVIL DOLL FROM HELL, presents a fascinating psycho-sexual riff on the final segment of the TV horror anthology Trilogy of Terror, it's unfortunately bogged down by an excessive running time in relation to its narrative content. Thankfully, TALES FROM THE QUADEAD ZONE, Turner's sophomore effort, proves far more sprightly, plowing through three stories in slightly more than an hour. Stuck at home while her brutish husband is off at work, a housewife occupies her time reading her dead son ghastly bedtime stories from the titular book of the damned. In Food For ?, a poor family of eight struggles to make ends meet without enough vittles to go around, while The Brothers presents a tale of ghastly, clown-suited revenge from beyond the grave. Like all the best paracinema, however, the real joy of QUADEAD lies not in these off-the-shelf scenarios, but the wholly alien perspective through which they're transmitted. How dressing your dead brother in a clown suit constitutes a satisfactory form of revenge, or why a family of eight finds itself incapable of splitting four full-sized sandwiches between them are questions even Mr. Turner doesn't seem able to answer (he offers less an explanation than a dismissal on the newly-released DVD), yet their pregnant surrealist possibilities are what lend the film its enduring fascination. Playing like one more nightmare dispatch from its own eponymous beyond, QUADEAD may not be a film for all tastes, but for those with who can appreciate its unique dream logic, it's well worth experiencing. Co-presented by Massacre Video and Everything Is Terrible, on the occasion of the publication of the new book Bleeding Skull! A 1980s Trash-Horror Odyssey. Chester N. Turner in person. (1987, 62 min, Video Projection - Unconfirmed Format) JK
More info at www.lincolnhallchicago.com.
Extinct Entities x 2 (Experimental)
Reverse Shot: Rehydrating the Randolph Street Gallery's Experimental Film Coalition
The Rhinos, Small Gauge, and Logan Square
Links Hall at Constellation (3111 N. Western Ave.) - Saturday, 7pm (Reverse Shot) and Monday, 7:30pm (Rhinos)
Two of three screenings (see next week's list for the third) taking place as part of the larger Extinct Entities series of events, which seeks to excavate now-defunct Chicago arts groups and organizations. The first of these, Reverse Shot, curated by Jesse Malmed, is a program of new film and video work and performances inspired by the descriptions of work that screened at Experimental Film Coalition shows. More of an homage than an historical re-creation, the show aims to replicate the spirit of the original EFC shows indirectly. Performances by Alejandro T. Acierto and Rob Lundberg and film and video work by Marianna Milhorat, Melissa Myser, Ian Curry, Matt Shaw, Kera MacKenzie and Andrew Mausert-Mooney, Lori Felker, Theo Darst, Eric Fleischauer, Jeremiah Jones, and Jesse Malmed. The second show, The Rhinos, does aim partly for some direct historicity. Curator JB Mabe has gathered a group of works by members of the informal 1970's Logan Square screening collective The Rhinos, whose work often featured the neighborhood, and has supplemented it with more recent work that is neighborhood specific. Showing are INTEGRATION (Michelle Citron, 1974), SATURDAY MORNINGS (Dan Curry, 1979), LAS NICAS (excerpt) (Julia Lesage and Carole Isaacs, 1984), BACK PORCH (Chuck Kleinhans, c. 1970s), BACKYARD (JoAnn Elam, c. 1970s), BOYERS & RHINOS (JoAnn Elam, c. 1981), COBRAFACE (Nelson Carvajal, 2011), RESONANCE (Karen Johannesen, 2010), THIRD LAW: N KEDZIE BLVD (Mike Gibisser, 2011), and SHOOT OUT THE STAR (Jason Halprin, 2010). Many artists in person. PF
More info at www.constellation-chicago.com.
Brian De Palma's SISTERS (American Revival)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) - Wednesday, 7 and 9pm
After a decade in training, making movies that are variously interesting (GREETINGS, THE RESPONSIVE EYE), fascinating (HI, MOM!, MURDER A LA MOD), or catastrophic (GET TO KNOW YOUR RABBIT), De Palma burst into artistic maturity with this astonishingly accomplished and subtle masterpiece. It marks the moment De Palma went from being the geekiest of the American New Wave brats to simply the greatest American filmmaker working, a title he's maintained with an almost unbroken string of subsequent wonders. Like many of De Palma's films, SISTERS is antagonistic towards its audience, barraging us with images of brutality, damaged bodies, damaged people, pushing us uncomfortably interrogating us at all times to defend our continual decision to keep watching. It is as though every segment were structured around a question, asked of the audience, as to whether the upcoming visual offense would finally prove to be too much for us to justify. Is it OK to watch this? would be film's ideal motto, with the emphasis on the question mark. At its heart are the Blanchion twins (in a disarming and mesmerizing performance by Margot Kidder), conjoined at birth but surgically cloven from one another as young women. A young model in New York, Danielle picks up a fellow game show contestant, only to find her erotic trajectory frustrated by her astonishingly creepy ex-husband, Emil. Eluding Emil, the amorous couple finds their way into bed together with the casual revelation that the next day will be Danielle's birthday. But that birthday brings with it not joy but murder as Dominique, the evil twin of sweet-natured Danielle takes control of the narrative. As always with De Palma, though, there's much more at play than there seems. Quick as a knife-strike, he introduces the real main character, Jennifer Salt's Grace Collier, a combative investigative journalist whose apartment overlooks the twins' abode. Desperate to discover who her strange neighbors really are, and what they really did with the body she saw killed there, Grace and a private detective pry into the history of the Blanchions, only to discover that peering to closely into their lives threatens indeed their own very existences. SISTERS moves rapidly through a succession of set-pieces, each extraordinary in stylization, exacting in execution, and monstrous in implication: invasions of privacy, hypnotism, madness, and horrifying errors of judgment. This is a film troubled by doubles, by two detectives, by two policemen, by twins, and also by duplication: the duplication of a person when death strikes, the duplication of an image by the television screen, the duplication of cells within a woman's womb, the duplication of space by the split screen. Many critics of De Palma see him as working in hermetic structures, narratives so precise and specifically and idiosyncratically realized that his films are comprehensible only when we understand them to be entries in grand artistic conversations with his inspirations (Hitchcock, Hawks, Lang, Welles). They miss so much: the nausea the film expresses towards the casual misogyny and power of the mysterious Emil; the fragility of the social world, as easily ripped to shreds as a Grace's thin shirt; the arbitrariness of the normal, broken and shattered by the slightest action. SISTERS is no insular work, pillaging all its best ideas from Hollywood's graying masters, but a living, beating, furious wasp's nest of a work, stable at a distance, but ready to explode with the slightest touch. (1973, 92 min, 35mm) KB
More info at www.docfilms.uchicago.edu.
José Padilha's ELITE SQUAD: THE ENEMY WITHIN (Contemporary Brazilian)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) - Sunday, 7pm
One of the stranger recent inconsistencies of American culture was the unambiguous critical affection for HBO's The Wire, a sociology-porn serial featuring an imaginary pan-ethnic data-collecting subdivision of the Baltimore Police Department. Can armchair-liberal ideologies regarding drug wars, union busting, and political corruption only be satisfactorily expressed via simultaneous glorification of a rational, technocratic police state? The original ELITE SQUAD (2007), a DIRTY HARRY-esque box office smash in Brazil, suggested as much: omniscient narrator Lt. Col. Nascimento (of BOPE, Rio de Janeiro's infamous shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later Special Police team) reveled in the methodical elimination and torture of "scumbags"--who freely ranged from gun-toting soldados do morro to Foucault-spouting university students. Director José Padilha, apparently deeply affected by this (unfortunately unambiguous) characterization of his film as a right-wing recruiting film for BOPE, has since caught David Simon fever and, in this visually-impressive potboiler sequel, has imported much of The Wire's (arguably incoherent) rage against "The System" by systematically staging its most appalling characteristics (gun violence, torture, corruption at the highest levels of government, and other assorted cartoonish villainy) as high-art, "realistic" drama. (2010, 116 min, 35mm) MC
More info at www.docfilms.uchicago.edu.
Ingmar Bergman's PERSONA (Swedish Revival)
Gene Siskel Film Center - Sunday, 3 and 6:30pm and Monday, 6pm
Ever since it exploded onto the international art film scene in the mid-60s, PERSONA has continued to keep audiences guessing and discussing. Both a simple story about an emotionally traumatized actress and her nurse and a complex meditation on the nature of cinema, Bergman himself cited it as the work where he went "as far as he could go" as a film artist. After a stunning avant-garde prologue, the film moves fluidly between realistic and dream-like passages, culminating in some space where the two converge. For all the different cinematic forms on display, its most memorable sequences are arguably two highly theatrical monologues delivered by the nurse (Bibi Andersson, in her greatest performance)--frank considerations of sex and psychology that marked a new triumph over film censorship. Readers who aren't familiar with the legacy of criticism devoted to this hallmark work are encouraged to check out Susan Sontag's essay, anthologized in her collection Styles of Radical Will. (1966, 85 min, 35mm) BS
More info at www.siskelfilmcenter.org.
Pablo Lorrain's TONY MANERO (Contemporary Chilean)
Museum of Contemporary Art - Saturday, 2pm and Tuesday, 4pm (Free with museum admission)
We had Westerns in Italy; we can handle a Romanian film from Chile. That is, director Pablo Lorrain has set out to do for Pinochet what the Romanian New Wave has done for Ceausescu. Maybe what he doesn't realize is that a movie like 4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS AND 2 DAYS isn't really about the late Ceausescu period to begin with. If the "Ceausescu movie" has become the Romanian genre du jour lately, it's because, like the Western for the US, it finds in a nation's history a convenient moment when people were at their most desperate. Sure, Lorrain and the lead actor of TONY MANERO, Alfredo Castro, have made a big hubbub about the metaphorical implications of their film. But TONY MANERO isn't about Chile and it isn't about Pinochet. It's images and not intentions that matter, and what matters in TONY MANERO isn't the period (and anyway, this is a movie where the theaters all somehow project DVDs), but squalor, and not the fascist regime but "fascism" with the quotes around it. A good little bit of fiction and a fine movie about a killer, a little bit like Vincent Price's SCREAM AND SCREAM AGAIN. Regardless of what they've set out to do, the result is "an entertainment," and that should be good enough--we should be content with Castro's gait and his stare, and with the story of a committed John Travolta impersonator who kills on the side, shot by committed Oleg Mutu (4 MONTHS...) impersonator, cinematographer Sergio Armstrong. It goes well with HALLOWEEN II. (2008, 98 min, DVD Projection) IV
More info at www.mcachicago.org.
MORE SCREENINGS AND EVENTS
The Film Studies Center (University of Chicago) presents Interval: Recent Work by d.n. rodowick on Friday at 7pm. Rodowick, an experimental film and video artist and faculty member at the U of C, will screen a program of work made since 2010, including several new pieces. The screening takes place at the Logan Center for the Arts (915 E. 60th St.). Free admission.
Proj*ect Pro*ject: One-Night Exhibition takes place at the SAIC Sullivan Galleries (33 S. State St., 7th Floor) on Thursday from 5-10pm. The event features artwork by SAIC students, alumni, faculty, and AIC/SAIC staff. The evening begins with a lecture by event organizer Will Robertson, along with faculty members Nick Briz and John Cates. Attendees are welcome to bring projection-ready artwork on a flash drive or laptop. Projection stations are available on a first come, first served basis. Free admission.
The Chicago Film Seminar presents Pamela Robertson Wojcik (Notre Dame) on Thursday at 6:30pm, who will present a talk entitled Shirley Temple as Streetwalker. The respondent is Miriam Petty (Northwestern Univ.). The event is at the DePaul University Loop Campus (The Daley Building, 14 E. Jackson Blvd., Room LL 102; use the entrance at 247 S. State St.). Free admission.
Lincoln Hall (2424 N. Lincoln Ave.) hosts two preview screenings of local filmmaker Chris Hefner's new feature film THE POISONER (2013, Unconfirmed Running Time, Video Projection - Unconfirmed Format) on Friday at 7 and 10pm. Each screening will be preceded by a set of songs performed live by Daniel Knox, composer of the film's score. Tickets available at www.lincolnhallchicago.com.
Chicago Filmmakers (5243 N. Clark St.) presents two films by local filmmaker Joseph R. Lewis on Friday. At 8pm, Lewis' 2007 web series THE ADVENTURES OF MISS GIRL (2007, 57 min, Video Projection - Unconfirmed Format) screens, followed by a live performance by Dr. Dredd, who will present his Wagon on Wonders. At 9:30pm, Lewis and Dave Asher's 2013 rock opera SCI FI SOL (46 min, Video Projection - Unconfirmed Format) screens. Co-presented by The Underground Multiplex. Artists in person. On Saturday at 7pm, the Dyke Delicious series returns with An Evening with Yvonne Welbon (1991-2003, 70 min). The former Chicago filmmaker will be in person to present a selection of her short films and excerpts of longer pieces.
The Northbrook Public Library (1201 Cedar Lane, Northbrook) screens Nicole Holofcener's 2013 film ENOUGH SAID (93 min, 35mm) on Saturday at 2pm and 7:30pm. Local filmmaker Reid Schultz will discuss the film after each screening; and Ken Hughes' 1960 film THE TRAILS OF OSCAR WILDE (123 min, 35mm) screens on Wednesday at 1pm and 7:30pm. Free admission for both films. www.northbrook.info/events/film
Also at the Gene Siskel Film Center this week: Joseph Levy's 2012 documentary SPINNING PLATES (93 min, DCP Digital Projection) concludes a two-week run; Abdellatif Kechiche's 2013 film BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR (179 min, DCP Digital Projection) plays for a week; Local filmmaker May May Tchao's 2013 documentary SPILLED WATER (53 min, HDCam Video) screens on Friday at 8pm and Saturday at 3pm. Tchao and producer Xan Aranda in person at both shows; Local filmmakers Sharon Karp and Silvia Malagrino's 2014 documentary A SONG FOR YOU (87 min, DigiBeta) is on Saturday at 5pm and Tuesday at 8pm, though the Saturday show is Sold Out. Karp and Malagrino in person at both shows; Ingmar Bergman's 1972 film CRIES AND WHISPERS (91 min, 35mm) is on Sunday at 4:45pm and Wednesday at 6pm; Frederick Wiseman's 2013 documentary AT BERKELEY (244 min, DCP Digital Projection) is on Wednesday at 6:30pm; Marcus Markou's 2012 UK film PAPADOPOULOS & SONS (105 min, HDCam Video) opens the Greek Film Fest Chicago on Thursday at 8pm, preceded by George Angeludis' 2013 Greek short THE FEAR (11 min); and an 86th Academy Awards Nominations Panel takes place on Thursday at 4:30pm with panelists Alison Cuddy (WBEZ), J.R. Jones (Chicago Reader), Michael Phillips (Chicago Tribune), Steve Prokopy (Ain't It Cool News), and Ignatiy Vishnevetsky (MUBI, The A.V. Club, and Rogerebert.com), and moderator Betsy Steinberg of the Illinois Film Office. Free admission. Followed by a reception.
Also at Doc Films (University of Chicago) this week: Tim Burton's 1985 film PEE-WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE (90 min, 35mm) is on Friday at 7, 9, and 11pm and Sunday at 1pm; Edgar Wright's 2013 film THE WORLD'S END (109 min, 35mm) is on Saturday at 7 and 9:30pm and Sunday at 3pm; Lowell Sherman's 1933 film MORNING GLORY (74 min, 35mm) is on Monday at 7pm, followed by George Cukor's 1932 film A BILL OF DIVORCEMENT (70 min, 35mm) at 9pm (the originally scheduled show last week was cancelled due to the frigid weather); Chia-Liang Liu's 1980 Hong Kong film RETURN TO THE 36TH CHAMBER (99 min, 35mm) is on Tuesday at 7pm; Alile Sharon Larkin's 1982 independent African American feature A DIFFERENT IMAGE (51 min, 16mm) and her 1979 short YOUR CHILDREN COME BACK TO YOU (27 min, 16mm) are on Thursday at 7pm; and Mike Figgis' 1995 film LEAVING LAS VEGAS (111 min, 35mm) is on Thursday at 9pm.
At the Music Box Theatre this week: Clio Barnard's 2013 UK drama THE SELFISH GIANT (91 min, Digital Projection - Unconfirmed Format) opens; Paolo Sorrentino's 2013 film THE GREAT BEAUTY (142 min, DCP Digital Projection) and Wladyslaw Pasikowski's 2012 film AFTERMATH (107 min, DCP Digital Projection) both continue; Paul Iribe and Frank Urson's 1924 silent comedy CHANGING HUSBANDS (70 min, Archival Print 35mm) screens on Saturday at Noon, with live organ accompaniment by Dennis Scott; Sundance Shorts screens on Saturday at 11:30am; David Lynch's 1992 film TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME (135 min, 35mm) and Hideaki Anno, Mahiro Maeda, Masayuki, and Kazuya Tsurumaki's 2012 anime EVANGELION 3.0: YOU CAN (NOT) REDO (96 min, Digital Projection - Unconfirmed Format) are both on Friday and Saturday at Midnight. Note that the originally scheduled screenings of ARSENIC AND OLD LACE have been cancelled.
Facets Cinémathèque screens Omar Mullick and Bassam Tariq's acclaimed 2013 documentary THESE BIRDS WALK (72 min, Unconfirmed Format) this week. Co-director Bassam Tariq in person at the 7pm Sunday show.
The Logan Theatre screens John Ford's 1959 western RIO BRAVO (141 min, Digital Projection - Unconfirmed Format) on Friday, Saturday, and Monday at 10:30pm; and Michael Cimino's 1980 western HEAVEN'S GATE (219 min, Digital Projection - Unconfirmed Format) on Thursday at 9pm.
The Museum of Contemporary Art presents three films by the Chilean artist Pablo Larraín this week. In addition to TONY MANERO (see Also Recommended above), the other films screening are POST MORTEM (2010, 98 min, Blu-Ray Projection) on Saturday at Noon and Tuesday at 2pm; and NO (2012, 110 min, Blu-Ray Projection) on Saturday at 4pm and Tuesday at 6pm. Free with museum admission.
The Goethe-Institut Chicago (150 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 200) screens A Crush on German Short Films (109 min total, Video Projection - Unconfirmed Format) on Thursday at 6pm. Showing are eight German shorts from 2010-11. Free Admission.
ONGOING FILM/VIDEO INSTALLATIONS
The Mission (1431 W. Chicago Ave.) opens the show Dis/placement on Friday, with a reception from 6-8pm. The show runs through February 22. Included are video and photography works by Ella de Burca (Dublin, Ireland), Cameron Gibson (Chicago), Orr Menirom (Tel Aviv/Chicago), and Bryan Zanisnik (New York)
The Museum of Contemporary Art continues Chicago Works: Lilli Carré through April 15, 2014. The show includes a video work by Carré.
The Museum of Contemporary Art continues City Self through April 13. The show includes Sarah Morris's 2011 film Chicago.
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).