Maureen Blackwood and Isaac Julien’s THE PASSION OF REMEMBRANCE (British Revival)
Conversations at the Edge at the Gene Siskel Film Center – Thursday, 6pm
THE PASSION OF REMEMBRANCE was the first feature-length work by the Sankofa Film and Video Collective, a British arts group that came together in 1983 with the purpose of developing an independent black film culture. The group’s formation came at a critical time in modern British history, as heightened racial tensions brought about by the Thatcher government provoked cultural responses from various marginalized peoples. True to the group’s mission, PASSION explicitly concerns the construction of a post-colonial black historical consciousness. It’s a collage-like work that juxtaposes documentary footage and fictional episodes, the latter being divided into two primary story lines. One consists of allegorical scenes set in a barren desert landscape where an unnamed black man and woman discuss the plight of black people in the UK; the other concerns the experience of a black family in England between the 1950s and the 1980s. As in the Black Audio Film Collective’s HANDSWORTH SONGS (released the same year), the modernist, fragmentary structure speaks to the plurality of voices within England as well as the complex dialogue between past and present. (1986, 80 min, 16mm) BS
More info at saic.edu/cate.
Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami's SONITA (New Iranian Documentary)
Film Studies Center (at the Logan Center for the Arts
915 E. 60th St., University of Chicago) – Thursday, 7pm (Free Admission)
In 1993, photojournalist Kevin Carter won a Pulitzer Prize for his now-iconic photo of a young girl being preyed upon by a vulture in the midst of severe famine in Sudan. He allegedly spent twenty minutes preparing the shot before chasing the bird away, a claim that's since fueled numerous discussions about ethics in his and other similarly journalistic fields. I recalled this story when watching Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami's SONITA as much of it has to do with the director's influence on the title character's life. Sonita Alizadeh, a teenage refugee whose family fled to Iran from Afghanistan, aspires to be a rapper. She has the skills and the style, so what's stopping her? In Afghanistan, young girls are frequently sold into marriages with older men, and Sonita's family wants her to get married so her brother can afford his own bride. It's revealed midway through that Maghami and her crew gave Sonita's mother $2000 to keep her free for another six months. The rest of the film depicts how both subject and filmmaker worked to ensure that she would completely avoid that fate—the ethical lines completely blurred but in an admittedly satisfying way. What does this mean for documentary filmmaking? When does it cross the line into artistic philanthropy, or, if used for "bad" rather than "good" (an already problematic binary opposition), the filmic equivalent of overly produced reality television? These questions aside, it's nonetheless a scathing indictment of a culture that considers women not only as property, but as commodities. Introduced by Purdue University professor Su’ad Abdul Khabeer, author of Muslim Cool: Race, Religion, and Hip Hop in the United States. (2015, 91 min, DCP Digital) KS
More info at www.filmstudiescenter.uchicago.edu.
The Chicago Feminist Film Festival continues on Friday at Film Row Cinema (Columbia College, 1104 S. Wabash Ave., 8th Floor) with shorts programs and Julie Sokolow’s 2016 documentary WOMAN ON FIRE (85 min), about the first openly transgender firefighter in New York City. Sokolow and her subjects Brooke Guinan and James Baker will be in person. Check last week’s list for a write up of the festival and more info and the full schedule is at http://chicagofeministfilmfestival.com/2017-schedule.
Gallery 400 (400 S. Peoria, UIC) screens Cassie Quarless and Usayd Younis’ 2016 documentary GENERATION REVOLUTION (74 min, Digital Projection), about “how a new generation of black and brown activists are changing the social and political landscape in London,” is on Tuesday at 5pm. Followed by a panel discussion with the filmmakers and local activists, with dinner provided. Free admission, but RSVP required; visit: http://irrpp.uic.edu/events/rsvp.shtml; and Eden Batki’s 2015 documentary WEEDEATER (68 min, Digital Projection), about “plant communicator and radical environmentalist” Nance Klehm, is on Wednesday at 6pm, with Klehm in person. Free admission.
Block Cinema (Northwestern University) screens Canadian Bruce LaBruce’s 2004 German-made film THE RASPBERRY REICH (90 min, Digital Projection), about a group of present-day radical militants who fashion themselves after the Red Army Faction, is on Friday at 7pm. Preceded by A FEW HOWLS AGAIN (Silvia Kolbowski, 2008-9, 11 min, Digital Projection)
Free admission. Free admission.
West Coast Experimental Animation: Adam Beckett and His Peers (Experimental Revival)
Film Studies Center (at the Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E. 60th St., University of Chicago) – Friday, 7pm (Free Admission)
Ferociously talented and explosively imaginative, Adam Beckett was one of the foremost experimental animators of his time, a man obviously destined to revolutionize his art form. His shocking death in a house fire in 1979 when he was just 29 cut short his career when it was just on the cusp of maturity, leaving him with only six major completed films and a vast collection of fragments and sketches. Five of his shorts are being shown in this program (the absent film, the pornographic FLESH FLOWS, is just as brilliant as those being shown). DEAR JANICE (1973, 13 min) is a complex web of letters and visual baubles in flux cycling through one another’s forms. A cinematic love letter, the film attempts to find a way to represent the tension felt between two people as they begin losing themselves in one another. Intricate shapes and colors collide, circle around one another, and enframe a rotoscoped home movie, reinforcing the delight and the terror of realizing someone else has one’s heart. EVOLUTION OF THE RED STAR (1973, 7 min) follows growing geometries as they intersect and collide, creating in their interferences a vertiginous and terrible topography of exacting impossibilities. As the lines grow in intensity, the film’s clinical mood turns hallucinatory, turns aggressive, the destructive reverse to the constructive obverse of the first half. By the time the movie has ended, any hope of order built up by the first half has been destroyed by the mad fury of the second. HEAVY-LIGHT (1973, 7 min) is quite justifiably known as Beckett’s masterpiece, a haunting work of abstraction that resembles nothing quite so much as the shifting swirls and apparitions seen by eyes squeezed tightly shut against a too-bright sun. It is a film of off-putting, jarring strangeness and beauty, one that boldly imagines a wholly new way of seeing and dares to put it in play. No other film I’ve ever seen is quite like it in its audacity and its cryptic wonder. SAUSAGE CITY (1974, 6 min) attacks perspectival animation head-on, taking the conventions of the illusion of depth and systematically dismantling them with a conceptual ruthlessness and rhythmic glee that’s as infectious as it is deadly. Finally, KITSCH IN SYNC (1975, 5 min) is an exploration of symmetries and shape, a rigorous formal play in which the left and right halves of the screen are set against one another in a battle of light and movement and fervency. Urgently original and frame-to-frame more dangerous than most animations are over their whole runtimes, the film catapults the viewer into a rushed world of Euclidian miracles and Pollock-like deviances. Also showing are TRAIN LANDSCAPE (1974, 3 min) and SHAPES AND GESTURES (1976, 7 min), Richter-like abstractions by Beckett’s mentor Jules Engel and LUMA NOCTURNA (Sky-David, 1974, 4 min), a hand-drawn aquatic fantasia, and FILM ACHERS (Beth Block, 1976, 5 min), an uncompromising experiment in optical-printing, psychedelia, and pain. Introduced by Pamela Turner, a multimedia artist working in experimental animation. (1973-76, approx. 57 min total, 16mm) KB
More info at www.filmstudiescenter.uchicago.edu.
Charles Chaplin’s A KING IN NEW YORK (British Revival)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) – Wednesday, 7 and 9:30pm
Chaplin’s post-Tramp features all build upon the theme of MODERN TIMES, bemoaning the loss of longstanding human values in the midst of unrestrained technological progress. In A KING IN NEW YORK, the threats to humanism are pandemic: they appear in the form of soulless advertising and factory-assembled pop culture and in the institutionalized cruelty of McCarthy’s anti-Communist witch-hunts. Chaplin attacks these subjects as bluntly as he did Nazism in THE GREAT DICTATOR, his vitriol emerging as much from his leftist politics as from his experience of being all but expelled from the United States by the FBI, who had been keeping a file on him for years. (Chaplin remained a persona non grata in the U.S. for some time after his self-imposed exile; case in point, KING wasn’t released here theatrically until 1972.) Yet time has proven this a remarkably wise picture, defined by a generosity towards nearly all of its characters—even the various American hucksters met by Chaplin's deposed King Shahdov, who visits New York City after a revolution forces him to flee his home country. The film hinges on the King's friendship with a very funny Marxist caricature (played by Chaplin's 11-year-old son, Michael, whose beautiful, precise gestures were devised, down to the last detail, by his father), whose parents end up victims of the McCarthyite witch-hunts. Chaplin presents the relationship with surprisingly little sentimentality, which might be why the film's ending—a tragic reversal of the reunion that closes CITY LIGHTS—is among the most devastating moments in Chaplin’s career. (1957, 110 min, 35mm) BS
More info at www.docfilms.uchicago.edu.
Reel Film Day: A Celebration of 35mm Cinema
The Music Box Theatre is participating in this international effort to spotlight celluloid projection in this increasingly digital age. A double feature of Paul Fejos’ great part silent/part talkie film LONESOME and celluloid-advocate Paul Thomas Anderson’s PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE will be accompanied by two terrific shorts and possibly other non-announced tidbits.
Paul Fejos' LONESOME (American Revival)
Music Box Theatre - Sunday, 3:30pm
The first time I saw LONESOME was on the late Miriam Hansen's DVD-R copy, itself ripped from a VHS tape dubbed from a camcorder attached to the Steenbeck at the George Eastman House. If there was another generation or five tucked away somewhere in there, I wouldn't have doubted it. And yet, despite LONESOME's complex and virtuosic visual style, this degradation tarnished the experience hardly at all. Don't get me wrong: the restored 35mm print that will be screening on Sunday as part of the Kodak- and Alamo Drafthouse-initiated Reel Film Day is an object of great beauty and I envy those who will see the film for the first time under such blessed circumstances. But the mongrelized bootleg of LONESOME tapped into something elemental and true about this very special film, which would be impure and compromised in any version. Predicated on the cacophonous collision of competing aesthetics, LONESOME is a Janus-faced artifact, looking back on silent cinema's artisanal past while casting a gaze towards the talking horizon. By 1928, most American feature films eschewed tinting and toning, the techniques that a newly respectable industry regarded as classless regression to the emotional crudity of an earlier era. The hand-colored aesthetic was more retrograde still, suggestive of French imports from a quarter-century before—but those delicate efforts are front-and-center in LONESOME, and utilized to tremendous effect. (As all modern copies of LONESOME descend from a single nitrate French distribution print, the authenticity of the color effects is all-but-impossible to verify.) The color is especially strange when glimpsed alongside three brief dialogue sequences. For many years, fanciers of LONESOME tended to write these sequences off, attributing them to a janitor or perhaps a Laemmle relative who happened to be on set that day. With their pedestrian photography and risible dialogue, the talking sequences would appear to confirm, in almost diagrammatic fashion, the priors of the silent film chauvinists who insist that Hollywood lost the poetic core of its craft in the transition to sound. Of course, those who truly love LONESOME also love the dialogue sequences for their novelty and guilelessness. These scenes were shot before Hollywood executives became convinced that the talking cinema required the literate patter of Broadway-bred screenwriters, and their casual, unremarkable ease suggests more about the way regular people actually talked in 1928 than any other movie ever could. More important than any of the dialogue, though, is LONESOME's canny use of Irving Berlin's "Always," which is ultimately held up as an earnest apologia for popular culture, that protean vehicle of everyday salvation. It would be both a stretch and a bum rap to call LONESOME self-reflexive, but I know of no other work of art so sanguine about its place in the world. Hyperbole also goes against everything this innately modest movie stands for, but to hell with it: LONESOME is a plausible candidate for the greatest film ever made, and someday we may even be worthy of it. Preceded by Ted Parmelee’s excellent 1953 cartoon THE TELL TALE HEART (7 min, 35mm). (1928, 35mm, 69 min, 35mm Restored Print) KAW
Paul Thomas Anderson's PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE (American Revival)
Music Box Theatre – 5:30pm
Praising a big film is easy. It's enveloping, cushioning in its self-importance. Praising a small film, a movie that doesn't necessarily want to be praised, means taking a plunge. For example: PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE is Paul Thomas Anderson's greatest work. This little 95-minute movie, made between two projects intended to be "epic" (MAGNOLIA and THERE WILL BE BLOOD) comes across as more epic than either--a struggle that's almost comically ordinary instead of one maximized for "meaning." It's also his most beautiful musical without being a musical; it could be a ballet, a little operetta, or a children's symphony. Plunger salesman Adam Sandler, wandering through a world of Andreas Gursky colors in a blue suit, alternately pursues and is pursued by Emily Watson, a friend of his overbearing sister. It's a romance that's not so much about finding love as being able to outrun the world for long enough to let that love become something. Preceded by Johann Lurf’s excellent 2014 experimental short TWELVE TALES TOLD (4 min, 35mm). (2002, 95 min, 35mm) IV
More info at www.musicboxtheatre.com.
European Union Film Festival
The EU Festival begins this week at the Gene Siskel Film Center, running throughout the month. Additional highlights this week include: Karel Zeman’s 1962 film THE FABULOUS BARON MUNCHAUSEN (83 min, DCP Digital; New Restoration), with Ludmila Zeman and Linda Zeman-Spaleny, Zeman’s daughter and granddaughter, in person; and Jean-Gabriel Périot’s 2015 documentary A GERMAN YOUTH (93 min, DCP Digital). Visit the Siskel’s website for a full list.
Albert Serra's THE DEATH OF LOUIS XIV (New French)
Gene Siskel Film Center – Sunday, 3pm
In his bedchamber deep in Versailles, Louis XIV (Jean-Pierre Léaud), the beloved Sun King, is burning out, having ruled for over 70 years. Albert Serra's gorgeous film is rigorous, quiet and still. We stick close to the monarch's deathbed, surrounded by his bandying, floundering retinue. The room is a synecdoche for the silky grandeur of the age, a feast of candlelit textures, reds, golds, and exquisite chiaroscuros. The poignant subtext is the mortality of the great Léaud himself, whom we watched grow up onscreen as Antoine Doinel. He gives a tremendous, ironic performance, saying volumes with a quivering cheek, a twinge at the corner of the mouth. The elegant parties and playboy's pleasures a distant glimmer in his faraway eyes, Louis is suffering, though he comes alive in the presence of his beloved dogs, or when he hears the far-off drums and oboes of St. Louis Day. (2016, 115 min, DCP Digital) SP
Olivier Assayas' PERSONAL SHOPPER (New French)
Gene Siskel Film Center - Check Venue website for showtimes
PERSONAL SHOPPER continues to explore themes that run throughout Olivier Assayas' oeuvre, especially CLEAN (2004) and CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA (2014). Much like CLEAN, which starred Maggie Cheung, the film centers on an isolated, inward-facing character recovering from trauma in the city of Paris. Much like CLOUDS, the film stars Kristen Stewart, who plays a personal assistant (specifically in this case, a personal shopper) to a glamorous actress entrenched in the world of celebrity and fashion. Unlike CLOUDS, however, PERSONAL SHOPPER delves into the world of the assistant, and the single-name celebrity, Kyra (Nora von Waldstätten), is seen rarely. Kristen Stewart commands almost every second of screen time, much like Maggie Cheung does in CLEAN. Drawing comparisons among these three films is helpful in finding more depth and meaning in PERSONAL SHOPPER, which suffers in some ways from a meandering, underdeveloped screenplay that elicits accidental laughs and does too much juggling of tone to strike a resounding emotional chord. Assayas called the movie a "collage," but unfortunately the collage is uneven in execution, despite an incredibly impressive performance from Stewart. Apart from the unevenness of the screenplay, the movie has many interesting aspect, and one of the most inspired is allowing Kristen Stewart to do things without being highly sexualized and without speaking. She emotes in a subterraneously explosive manner, indicating the enormous tension within her character without overtly emoting. It's surprisingly captivating. PERSONAL SHOPPER vacillates between several genres, from dark comedy to coming-of-age to psychological thriller, and lastly to horror. The reason the film vacillates so much is due in part to the actual plot: Maureen (Stewart) is a personal shopper by day, and a medium on nights and weekends, mourning her dead twin brother who said he would send her a sign from beyond. She is in Paris for an indefinite amount of time, putting off her own life, and existing as something of a ghost herself, just waiting. Because the movie accepts the existence of ghosts as a given, it turns into a psychological thriller (revolving around an exchange of text messages with an unknown number who may or may not be Maureen's brother...it gets old, fast, watching text messages pop up on a screen), and then a spooky horror (by far the weakest element of the movie), while exploring elements of Maureen's character in quieter, sadder, less suspenseful scenes, hinting at depths the movie never quite reaches. Critics have disagreed widely in their reviews of the film, and it is easy to see why, but it is still highly recommended to see the film for yourself and wonder what this could have been with a stronger screenplay, given how fascinating it is to watch already. (2016, 105 min, DCP Digital) AE
More info at www.siskelfilmcenter.org.
Danièle Wilmouth's ELEANORE & THE TIMEKEEPER (Contemporary Experimental Documentary)
The Nightingale (1084 N. Milwaukee Ave.) – Saturday, 7pm
ELEANORE & THE TIMEKEEPER is a beautifully-lensed and patient documentary by local filmmaker Danièle Wilmouth, set in rural Pennsylvania. Eleanore is the matriarch of Wilmouth's family (her grandmother) and the timekeeper is Ronnie, her developmentally disabled adult son (Wilmouth's uncle). As Eleanore has cared for Ronnie for over 60 years, their lives have become a quiet dance of routine and companionship, until Eleanore's failing health requires her to seek other ways to make sure Ronnie is cared for after her death. Wilmouth tells the story gracefully and doesn't push her subjects to talk about how they are handling the change. Rather, her camera focuses in on the tiny details of small town living. A moving portrait of separation and mortality, ELEANORE gracefully displays the heart-wrenching sadness of losing your other half. Wilmouth in person. Local musician and filmmaker Thomas Comerford and his band will also be performing. (2010, 76 min, Digital Projection) CL
More info at http://nightingalecinema.org.
Jacques Demy's THE UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG (French Revival)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) – Friday, 7 and 9pm and Sunday, 1:30pm
Jacques Demy is a cinematic alchemist. Ever present in his body of work is an uncanny ability to transform or combine standard, even banal, elements of various genres into 'gold'—or, rather, something so luminous and rarefied that it can only be Demy who's created it. THE UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG is arguably the best of his films, and almost certainly the first film of his to so fully bend genre and style convention. Demy was both inspired by and considered to be a member of the French New Wave, and like several of his peers, he had an unabashed love for Hollywood studio musicals of the era. Demy's most 'New Wave-ish' films preceded THE UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG; LOLA (1960) and BAY OF ANGELS (1962) were shot in black and white, and dealt more straightforwardly with themes inherent to the movement. Both hinted at Demy's progression, but THE UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG, when viewed in the context of his first three features, certainly stands out. (It's also his first film in color.) In an essay about the film for the Reader, critic Jonathan Rosenbaum admitted that he originally considered it to be a commercial sellout, comparing it to other "corny pretenders" allegedly borne of the New Wave but merely ascribing the label where it didn't belong. Demy's vision, especially in his later films, is understandably confounding, as he uses elements that, when mixed, shouldn't create gold. Virtually undefinable, THE UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG is neither just a musical nor entirely an opera. The film's narrative is completely conveyed through song, with a jazzy score by longtime Demy collaborator Michel Legrand providing the music against which the sung dialogue is set. It's about a young couple, Guy and Genevieve; she's the too-young daughter of an overbearing mother who owns an umbrella shop in Cherbourg, he's a mechanic who hasn't yet served his time with the French military. Their courtship is shown in the first part of the film, titled "Departure." Naturally, he's drafted to fight in the Algerian War and soon thereafter Genevieve learns she is pregnant. In this part, titled "Absence," Genevieve's mother compels her to consider the overtures of a well-to-do jeweler while Genevieve wonders if her and Guy's love is waning. (It was common among the New Wave filmmakers to reference other films in their work, and here Demy references himself. The jeweler, Roland Cassard, was a suitor of Lola's in LOLA, and Lola herself returns in Demy's 1969 film MODEL SHOP.) Genevieve soon gives in to Roland, who accepts that she is pregnant with another man's child. In the third and final part, "Return," Guy is back from the war and spiraling out of control, likely due to Genevieve's desertion. The ending is bittersweet and surprisingly cynical, two hallmarks of Demy's romantic pragmatism. It has this in common with his previous films, and somewhat separates it from his 1967 film THE YOUNG GIRLS OF ROCHEFORT, in which all is happy in the end despite Demy's overall tone of deceptively joyful endurance. This and THE YOUNG GIRLS OF ROCHEFORT are noted for their use of color, but the schemes are distinct. In the latter, the fluffier of the two, sunny pastels and bright whites obscure any hint of grimy realism. In THE UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG, which is more operatic in tone and structure, Demy utilizes bolder, more primary colors. This further allows for hints at the film's fateful bitterness. All that glitters is gold in Demy's world, but his is a gold that illuminates the screen while revealing its own artifice. (1964, 91 min, DCP Digital) KS
More info at www.docfilms.uchicago.edu.
Ceyda Torun’s KEDI (New Turkish Documentary)
Music Box Theatre - Check Venue website for showtimes
In Istanbul, Turkey, feral cats can be found everywhere; however, unlike the rats of our fair Chicago, these animals experience a peaceful co-habitation with the populace that, for some, borders on the reverential. KEDI packages Istanbul’s admiration for its felines in several vignettes and is meant for cat lovers and non-cat lovers alike. The stories told are uplifting. For some of the interviewees, these cats represent a tangential relationship between themselves and their beliefs in religious omnipotence. The cinematography found in KEDI is superb and beautiful. At times providing a cat’s eye view of the city, the camerawork bounces from rooftop to rooftop, scurries up trees, and dives down pathways that only the nimble footed could traverse. Combined with the staccato score, KEDI has succinct and upbeat tempo. The film follows seven cats’ lives and the nuances of their individual personalities are allowed to flourish on screen. Ceyda Torun explores the circumstances of how these animals came to become so prevalent in Istanbul and to paint a portrait of why their existence is a joyous thing for everyone. KEDI is the kind of film that gives essence to mankind’s love for cats and showcases all of the natural and urban beauty that can be found in Istanbul. (2016, 80 min, DCP Digital) KC
More info at www.musicboxtheatre.com.
Michael Dudok de Wit’s THE RED TURTLE (New Animation)
Music Box Theatre - Check Venue website for showtimes
Over the course of its thirty plus year existence, Studio Ghibli has been celebrated for its anime releases, but in that time, have never produced a non-Japanese film. Hayao Miyazaki was so impressed by Michael Dudok de Wit’s FATHER AND DAUGHTER that he had his studio reach out to the Dutch director to collaborate, and THE RED TURTLE was born. This taut, dialogue-free film depicts a shipwrecked sailor marooned on a tropical island. After a mysterious red sea turtle prevents his numerous attempts to flee the island, he flips the creature onto its shell and leaves it to bake in the sun on the beach. When the animal dies, the body is seemingly replaced with that of a red haired woman, and the man gains a companion. Many of the themes of THE RED TURTLE revolve around loneliness, acceptance, and man’s will to survive and, coupled with its basic narrative premise, draw an easy comparison to Robinson Crusoe. The film’s color palette is vibrant and lush and this brightness instills a sense of vitality and tranquility that invites the viewer to imagine the warm breezes rustling through the trees and the cool water lapping along the shores. There is a sense of whimsy that pervades the film and juxtaposed with the lack of dialogue, attunes the eye to the subtleties of the gorgeous animation and the mind to the minimalist, but affecting, story. (2016, 80 min, DCP Digital) KC
More info at www.musicboxtheatre.com.
Maren Ade’s TONI ERDMANN (New German)
Music Box Theatre – Check Venue website for showtimes
On paper, TONI ERDMANN is the stuff of early-aughts awards fodder, the sort of vehicle that might've starred Dustin Hoffman opposite Julia Roberts in an Alexander Payne production. And were Hollywood to remake it today, as they have already threatened, one easily imagines an Adams-De Niro pairing helmed by David O. Russell. As it is, it goes something like this: after the death of his beloved dog, Winfried Conradi, an eccentric music teacher of the hippie generation, alone, divorced, and on the wrong side of the retirement age, sets out on a desperate attempt to woo back his estranged daughter Ines, an eighties child turned management consultant in Romania, and a good soldier in the neoliberal conquest of Eastern Europe. With the aid of a set of false teeth and an ill-fitting wig, Winfried, an outrageous prankster, crashes Ines in Bucharest, assumes the role of Toni Erdmann, “consultant and coach," and proceeds to upend her scrupulously cultivated professional life through a slew of haphazard, grotesquely humiliating sneak attacks. Sound familiar? In Maren Ade’s hands, this story of generational conflict is anything but. There is an extraordinary level of attentiveness and restraint to Ade’s regard here. On the one hand, this is a matter of camerawork and editing that always respect the evolving moment. On the other, it’s a matter of a screenplay that refuses to take even standard shortcuts to hit its beats. At no point, does any hand-of-god logic assert itself to steer things more quickly or more surely to their end. Instead, Ade preserves a deep, abiding trust in her leads Peter Simonischek and Sandra Huller, coupled with a refusal to allow them even momentary transcendence of the discomfort of their situation, and deepened by a wry, alert sense for the banal absurdities of self-presentation that dominate far too much of our contemporary lives. The result achieves a momentousness of both scale and intimacy the cinema simply hasn’t seen since the likes of Maurice Pialat and John Cassavetes. It’s also hilarious. (2016, 162 min, DCP Digital) EC
More info at www.musicboxtheatre.com.
MORE SCREENINGS AND EVENTS
The Chicago Film Society (at Northeastern Illinois University, The Auditorium, Building E, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave.) screens Frank Capra’s 1929 film THE YOUNGER GENERATION (84 min, 35mm) on Wednesday at 7:30pm. Introduced by Nancy McVittie, Instructor in the College of Arts and Sciences at NEIU, and co-author of Fade to Gray: Aging in American Cinema. Preceded by the currently-anonymous home movie reel THE SPIDER AND THE FLY (c. 1938, 12 min, 16mm).
South Side Projections and the DuSable Museum (740 E. 56th Place) screen Debra J. Robinson’s 1984 documentary I BE DONE BEEN WAS IS
(58 min, DVD Projection) on Tuesday at 7pm, with director Robinson and comedian Kellye Howard in person. The online RSVP is full, but the likelihood of showing up and gaining admittance is very good (but not guaranteed, obviously).
The Chicago Irish Film Festival continues through Sunday. Schedule and more info at www.chicagoirishfilmfestival.com.
The Park Ridge Classic Film Series screens Edward Sedgwick’s 1930 film FREE AND EASY (92 min, Unconfirmed Format) on Thursday at 7pm at the Park Ridge Public Library (20 S. Prospect Ave., Park Ridge). Free admission. http://parkridgeclassicfilm.com
Black Cinema House (at the Stony Island Arts Bank, 6760 S. Stony Island Ave.) presents Mapping Cinema In The City, a viewing of “miniature, multi-media screening projections of significant Chicago films” and panel discussion about “the history and significance of cinematic spaces in Chicago.” The panel discussion will include Alissa Starks (founder, Inner City Entertainment), Gordon Quinn (Kartemquin Films), Raul Benitez (Nightingale Cinema), and Nando Espinosa (Comfort Station). Free admission.
At the Northbrook Public Library (1201 Cedar Lane, Northbrook) this week: David Mackenzie’s 2016 film HELL OR HIGH WATER (102 min, DCP Digital) is on Wednesday at 1 and 7:30pm; and a discussion about the films of John Hughes with author Kevin Smokler (Brat Pack America: A Love Letter to '80s Teen Movies) and Billy Higgins, former location manager for John Hughes, is on Thursday at 7pm. Free admission. www.northbrook.info/events/film
Also at Doc Films (University of Chicago) this week: Damien Chazelle’s 2016 musical LA LA LAND (128 min, DCP Digital) is on Saturday at 7 and 9:30pm and Sunday at 3:30pm; John Waters’ 1970 film MULTIPLE MANIACS (91 min, DCP Digital; New Restoration with altered music) is on Sunday at 7pm; Jonathan Demme’s 1993 film PHILADELPHIA (125 min, 35mm) is on Monday at 7pm; Grímur Hákonarson’s 2015 Icelandic film RAMS (93 min, DCP Digital) is on Tuesday at 7pm; the Fire Escape Films: Winter Premiere, a program of shorts by the U of C’s student filmmaking group, is on Thursday at 7pm; and James Cameron’s 1984 film THE TERMINATOR (108 min, 35mm) is on Thursday at 9:45pm.
Also at the Music Box Theatre this week: the conclusion to Jake Jarvi’s locally-made webseries The Platoon of Power Squadron (100 min, Digital Projection) is on Saturday at 9:30pm, with cast and crew in person; Sylvester Stallone’s 1985 film ROCKY IV (91 min, 35mm) is on Friday and Saturday at Midnight; the Juggernaut Sci-Fi/Fantasy Short Film Festival takes place on Saturday, with shorts program screenings at 11am, 12:30pm, 2pm, and 3:30pm; Margy Kinmonth’s 2016 documentary REVOLUTION: NEW ART FOR A NEW WORLD (85 min, DCP Digital) is on Wednesday at 7:30pm; Michael P. Noens’ 2016 film BEAUTIFUL BROOKE (92 min, DCP Digital) is on Thursday at 7pm; Tomoiko Ito’s 2017 Japanese animated film SWORD ART ONLINE THE MOVIE – ORDINAL SCALE (120 min, Digital Projection) is on Thursday at 9:30pm; and the 2017 horror anthology film XX (80 min, DCP Digital), with segments directed by Roxanne Benjamin, Karyn Kusama, St. Vincent, and Jovanka Vuckovic, is on Friday at 11:45pm and Saturday at Midnight.
Facets Cinémathèque plays Onur Tukel’s 2016 film CATFIGHT (96 min, Digital Projection) for a week-long run.
ONGOING FILM/VIDEO INSTALLATIONS
The Art Institute of Chicago exhibition Hélio Oiticica: To Organize Delirium is on view through May 7. The large exhibition of work by the acclaimed Brazilian artist includes several films by him, and some related films. Included are Oiticica’s films BRASIL JORGE (1971), FILMORE EAST (1971), and AGRIPPINA IS ROME-MANHATTAN (1972); two slide-show works: NEYRÓTIKA (1973) and CC6 COKE HEAD’S SOUP (1973, made with Thomas Valentin); and Raimundo Amado’s APOCALIPOPÓTESE (1968) and Andreas Valentin’s ONE NIGHT ON GAY STREET (1975, 16mm).
Olympia Centre (737 N. Michigan Ave. - entrance at 151 E. Chicago Ave.) presents Virginio Ferrari & Marco G. Ferrari: Spirit Level through April 6. The show features sculpture, 16mm film, video and installations by artists Virginio Ferrari and Marco G. Ferrari, including Marco Ferrari’s SPIRIT LEVEL (2015-16, 30 min) and CONTRAILS WITH BODY (2011-16, 3 min).
The Art Institute of Chicago (Modern Wing Galleries) has Dara Birnbaum’s 1979 two-channel video KISS THE GIRLS: MAKE THEM CRY (6 min) currently on view.
The Art Institute of Chicago (Gallery 186) has Rodney McMillian: A Great Society on view through March 26. The exhibition features three video works by McMillian: UNTITLED (THE GREAT SOCIETY) I (2006, 16 min loop), A MIGRATION TALE (2014-15, 10 min loop), and PREACHER MAN (2015, 6 min loop).