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:: Friday, DEC. 6 -
Thursday, DEC. 12 ::
John and Faith Hubley's EVERYBODY RIDES THE CAROUSEL (Animation Revival)
Columbia College's Film Row Cinema (1104 S. Wabash Ave., 8th Floor) - Friday, 6pm (Free Admission)
John and Faith Hubley were brilliant experimental animators, collaborating as husband and wife for two decades and dozens of films that radically expanded the possibilities of visually exploring the inexpressible and depicting through cinema the otherwise invisible interiority of feelings and ideas. EVERYBODY RIDES THE CAROUSEL is a dramatization of the eight stages of psycho-social development theorized by Erik Erikson and draws heavily on a course the Hubleys taught at Yale called 'Visualization of Abstract Concepts.' Taking its structure from Erikson's sub-Freudian pseudoscience, the film challenges and undermines any attempt at coherent systematizing of infancy, childhood, or adulthood, instead showing each of the different moments as a tonally incoherent amalgam of nightmare, ecstasy, of exterior action and interior melodrama. Central to the film's success is the fascinating structural disjunction between the fantastic transformations of shape, line, color, and form that appear on screen and the soundtrack, a wash of dialogue and sonic effects improvised largely by Yale actors (including a very young Meryl Streep) prior to any animation or drawing having been made. These directed but unscripted scenes, which move effortlessly from heartbreak to lovemaking, from anguished weeping to delighted satiation, form a skeleton that is permanently working in opposition to the fleshy, kinetic, deeply designed watercolors and ink sketches that 'illustrate' them. As in earlier Hubley films (in particular THE ADVENTURES OF AN * and the shorts they made for Sesame Street), EVERYBODY RIDES THE CAROUSEL constructs itself as revelation, showing the world not as we happen, in our too-limited quotidian way, to experience it, but rather as one of perpetual transformation, one in which no distinction between things, experiences, and thoughts is made because none is possible, and one in which the strange and artificial gulf that divides each of us from one another, each of us from our surroundings, each of us from our interior lives, is understood as wholly absurd. No finer cinematic evisceration of psychoanalysis exists this side of Sartre's screenplay biopic of Freud. This is a strange double-agent of a film: violently careful, lovingly destructive, at every moment its structure and its style work to neutralize one another. True outsiders, the cinema of the Hubleys dwells at an otherwise untenable point of unstable equilibrium between a vast cavalcade of temporarily equalized forces. They present not a vision of a cinema to come, or a direction to follow, but rather the promise of a private one, a secret cinema that cannot be emulated, and instead must be admired. The screening will be presented by Emily Hubley, daughter of the filmmakers (and herself an accomplished filmmaker), who will be joined by Columbia College Professor Ron Fleischer for a conversation about the lives and careers of the John and Faith Hubley. The screening is part of a series of events honoring the late composer and Columbia instructor William Russo (who wrote the score for CAROUSEL). (1975, 72 min, Unconfirmed Format) KB
More info here.
Ernst Lubitsch's NINOTCHKA (American Revival)
Northwest Chicago Film Society (at the Gene Siskel Film Center) - Sunday, 7:30pm
In his interpretation of the phrase "The Lubitsch Touch," critic Jonathan Rosenbaum opined that this so-called touch is made up of three distinct qualities that both set German-born Ernst Lubitsch apart from his contemporaries and account for his being a significant source of inspiration to his successors. The first two parts of his definition refer to Lubitsch's "specifically Eastern European capacity to represent the cosmopolitan sophistication of continental Europeans to Americans" and "[his] way of regarding his characters that could be described as a critical affection for flawed individuals who operate according to double standards"; the third part refers to Lubitsch's incorporation of music in his films, but while Werner R. Heymann's score is certainly a compliment to the wonderfully funny and romantic story in NINOTCHKA, it is not as necessary to his distinct style in this film as it was in his acclaimed musicals from the late 20s and early 30s. Though Rosenbaum acknowledges that all three elements are not present in every one of Lubitsch's films, the first two most definitely account for the winning effect of "The Lubitsch Touch" in this 1939 MGM production that is often overlooked in lieu of his earlier and later successes (the musicals and TROUBLE IN PARADISE before, THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER immediately thereafter). Similar to his 1942 film TO BE OR NOT TO BE, NINOTCHKA satirizes and even romanticizes a touchy but timely subject using Lubitsch's above-mentioned abilities. In the film, a typically steely Greta Garbo plays a Russian envoy sent by the Soviet Union to Paris in order to broker the sale of the dissolved aristocracy's opulent jewels. The jewels once belonged to the former Grand Duchess Swana, who now resides in Paris and has the charming Count Leon as her uncommitted romantic companion. Much to their own surprise, Ninotchka and Count Leon meet and fall in love; as a Communist from the Soviet Union and a capitalistic Count living lavishly in Paris, respectively, their coupledom is the base double-standard from which Lubitsch's 'touch' emanates. As with couples from other Lubitsch films, their romance is seemingly ill-fated, not so much against the odds as just odd, and insurmountable only in that, in a film by anyone else but Lubitsch, it wouldn't work at all. But above their romantic dynamic in terms of a double-standard is their political and cultural dynamic, which calls back to Rosenbaum's ideas about Lubitsch's sophistication. Film historian Jeremy Mindich declared NINOTCHKA "arguably the most complex American movie ever made about the Soviet Union," and while that is definitely arguable, it says a lot about Lubitsch's own cosmopolitan sophistication that his film both satirizes and humanizes Communist characters. Billy Wilder, who also co-wrote the script, once described the Lubitsch Touch as being the "elegant use of the Superjoke. You had a joke, and you felt satisfied, and then there was one more big joke on top of it. The joke you didn't expect." When asked by the three envoy-stooges who preceded her to Paris about the mass trials happening in their home country, Ninotchka replies that they were a great success, declaring, "There will be fewer but better Russians." In NINOTCHKA, political humor one-ups sexual humor in terms of salaciousness, so such an off-color joke is satisfying to the viewer who expects as much from Lubitsch. But the big joke no one is expecting is Count Leon's response to Ninotchka's communist ideals. He reads Marx and even tries to convince his personal attendant that their professional dynamic is unfair. From there, the jokes get bigger and bigger until even Lenin is cracking a smile. In his essay for the Criterion Collection DVD release of TROUBLE IN PARADISE, critic Armond White observes that Lubitsch is "able to indulge carefree behavior because it is undergirded with his appreciation of life's hard facts." No less than such a sophisticated double standard is to be expected from Lubitsch, and NINOTCHKA is a prime, yet underrated, example from his canon. And the music is great, too. (110 min, 35mm) KS
More info at www.northwestchicagofilmsociety.org.
Fritz Lang's THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW (American Revival)
Gene Siskel Film Center - Saturday, 3pm and Thursday at 6pm
The first thing that strikes you about WOMAN IN THE WINDOW is that you're expected to believe that Edward G. Robinson is a fogeyish square in baggy trousers and striped socks; this movie's a parade of physiognomies (just look at the membership of the club Robinson hangs out in--one fat, one short, one lean...), and E.G.R.'s harsh face hints otherwise. But maybe that's because WOMAN IN THE WINDOW is a film that intends to make us see through the way the characters present themselves and how they rationalize their actions. After all, if they're so erudite and educated, why are Robinson and his friends so struck by a kitschy portrait? If they're real intellectuals, then why does the intellectualism they practice consist of sitting around in armchairs smoking? If Dan Duryea's supposed to be such a smooth operator, why does he wear that ridiculous boater that makes his ears look like snowshoes? If Joan Bennett is so universally beautiful, why does she put on so much make-up? The truth is that in this movie, everything's a sham, especially the ending. It is, along with CLASH BY NIGHT, one of the cruelest of Fritz Lang's American movies, which Cine-File's Rob Christopher succinctly dubbed "majestic downers" when writing about SCARLET STREET (made the next year with the same cast and a similar set-up). Maybe the cruelest aspect of WOMAN IN THE WINDOW is that the camera always moves a beat too early, as though in anticipation of the next step. And it always guesses right. (1944, 99 min, 35mm) IV
More info at www.siskelfilmcenter.org.
Jeremiah S. Checik's CHRISTMAS VACATION (American Revival)
Music Box Theatre - Thursday, 7:30pm
It may seem odd to compare the first (and by far the best) of John Hughes' Christmas themed screenplays to REMEMBER THE NIGHT, but here goes. In Mitchell Leisen's holiday classic (penned by Preston Sturges) there's a pivotal scene where Lee, the thief played by Barbara Stanwyck, has just discovered that her hopes for a tearful Christmas reunion with her estranged family are utterly misguided. She's desperate, completely broken up. Then John, played by Fred MacMurray, who has taken it upon himself to escort Lee on this cockeyed errand, makes a decision; as casually as he can, tells her that she's welcome to spend Christmas with his own family. She cries, "Gee!" and collapses into his arms. But rather than linger on this sentimental moment, Leisen immediately dissolves to a close up of a painting of John's cross-eyed grandfather. This dissolve to the wacky painting immediately wipes away any whiff of heavy-handedness; in effect, comedy has been used as a tool to "sober up" the movie. Hughes does exactly the same thing in CHRISTMAS VACATION. Clark has locked himself in the attic, watching in vain as his family drives away for a holiday excursion without him. Stuck where he is, what can he do but dig out an old 8mm projector and watch some home movies from his childhood? As he rediscovers the tender scenes of yesteryear and Ray Charles croons "That Spirit of Christmas" on the soundtrack, something remarkable happens. A movie which up until now has been silly, vulgar, and sarcastic suddenly becomes downright, unapologetically sentimental. For a moment. But then the family returns and Beverly pulls down the attic door that Clark happens to be sitting on ...wham-o. CHRISTMAS VACATION also captures to a tee that hothouse, semi-claustrophobic atmosphere caused when too many relatives take up residence together during the holidays. "Can I refill your eggnog for you? Get you something to eat? Drive you out to the middle of nowhere and leave you for dead?" Doors open at 7pm; admission includes one complimentary beer, and a cash bar will also be available. The first-prize winner of a concurrent ugly sweater contest gets a $250 prize. (1989, 97 min, Unconfirmed Format) RC
More info at www.musicboxtheatre.com.
MORE SCREENINGS AND EVENTS
The Nightingale presents Looking at Live Sharks in a Tank: Screen Based Work by SAIC Shapeshifters on Saturday at 7pm. This screening features work by students in SAIC instructor Frédéric Moffet's interdisciplinary Shapeshifters class; On Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30pm, Out of Sight 2013: Neighborhood Performance Art Documentation Screening features the video documentation of Out of Sight Chicago's public performances in Wicker Park, Bucktown, and West Town this past year.
Afterglowings (3149 W. Lyndale, Apt. 1) presents Floor Cinema on Saturday at 8pm. The program of shorts includes James Whitney's 1966 abstract film LAPIS (16mm), Timothy Asch and Napoleon Chagnon's 1973 ethnographic film MAGICAL DEATH (16mm), Naomi Uman's 1988 experimental documentary LECHE (DVD Projection), and Ben Rivers' 2006 experimental film THIS IS MY LAND (DVD Projection). Approx. 83 min total.
The Chicago Film Seminar presents PhD candidates Meenasarani Linde Murugan (Northwestern University) with the talk "Offbeat: Afro-Orientalism in Postwar Music on Television" and Hannah Frank (University of Chicago) with the talk "What Happens Between Each Frame: Or, The Photographic Reproduction of Documents." Susan Ohmer (Notre Dame) will provide the response. It's on Thursday at 6:30pm at DePaul's Loop Campus in the Daley Building (14 E. Jackson Blvd., Room LL 102; use the entrance at 247 S. State.)
The Northbrook Public Library (1201 Cedar Lane, Northbrook) screens John M. Stahl's 1935 version of MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION (112 min, 35mm) on Wednesday at 1 and 7:30pm. Free admission. www.northbrook.info/events/film
Also at the Gene Siskel Film Center this week: Michel Gondry's 2013 animated documentary IS THE MAN WHO IS TALL HAPPY? (89 min, DCP Digital Projection) begins a two-week run; Morgan Neville's 2013 documentary 20 FEET FROM STARDOM (91 min, DCP Digital Projection) plays for a week; Pete Travis' 2012 film DREDD (95 min, DCP Digital Projection) is on Friday at 7:45pm and Tuesday at 6pm, with a lecture by Lawrence Knapp at the Tuesday show; Lake Bell's 2013 film IN A WORLD... (93 min, DCP Digital Projection) plays for a week; and Robert Siodmak's 1944 film CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY (93 min, 35mm) is on Saturday at 5pm and Monday at 6pm.
At Doc Films (University of Chicago) this week: Darren Aronofsky's 2010 film BLACK SWAN (108 min, 35mm) is on Friday at 7, 9:15, and 11:30pm and Sunday at 1pm; and Lee Daniels' 2013 film LEE DANIELS' THE BUTLER (132 min, 35mm) is on Saturday at 7 and 9:45pm and Sunday at 3:30pm.
Also at the Music Box Theatre this week: Mark Mori's 2012 documentary BETTIE PAGE REVEALS ALL (101 min) and Liz Marshall's 2013 documentary THE GHOSTS IN OUR MACHINE (93 min; director in person at the Friday and Saturday 7:20pm and Sunday 2pm shows) both open; Richard Knight Jr. and Peter Neville's 2012 film SCROOGE & MARLEY (91 min) is on Sunday at 2:15pm; Yukihiro Miyamoto's 2013 anime MADOKA MAGICA 3: REBELLION (116 min) is on Sunday and Monday at 9:45pm; an advance screening of David O. Russell's 2013 film AMERICAN HUSTLE (138 min) is on Tuesday at 7pm; Jem Cohen's 2013 film MUSEUM HOURS (106 min) is on Saturday and Sunday at 11:30am; Lloyd Kaufman's 2013 film RETURN TO NUKE EM HIGH VOLUME 1 (Unconfirmed Running Time) is on Friday and Saturday at Midnight, with Kaufman in person; Giulio Paradisi's 1979 film THE VISITOR (90 min) is on Friday at Midnight; and Jim Sharman's 1975 film THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW (100 min, 35mm) is on Saturday at Midnight. All Unconfirmed Format except where noted.
Chicago Filmmakers (5243 N. Clark St.) screens Anthony Powell's 2013 documentary ANTARCTICA: A YEAR ON ICE (91 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.).
Block Cinema (Northwestern University) screens Jem Cohen's 2013 film MUSEUM HOURS (106 min, DCP Digital Projection) on Friday at 7pm.
Facets Cinémathèque plays Jeffrey Schwarz's 2013 documentary I AM DIVINE (90 min, Video Projection - Unconfirmed Format) for a week's run; and Eric England's 2013 horror film CONTRACTED (85 min, Unconfirmed Format) screens on Friday and Saturday at 11pm and Sunday at 9pm.
The Logan Theatre screens Tim Burton's 1990 film EDWARD SCISSORHANDS (105 min, Digital Projection - Unconfirmed Format) on Friday, Saturday, and Monday at 10:30pm; Jon Favreau's 2003 film ELF (97 min, Digital Projection - Unconfirmed Format) on Saturday and Sunday at 12:30pm; and George Seaton's 1947 film MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET (96 min, Digital Projection - Unconfirmed Format) on Thursday at 10:30pm.
The Goethe-Institut Chicago (150 N. Michigan Ave. Suite 200) screens Joachim Herz's 1964 film THE FLYING DUTCHMAN (101 min, DVD Projection) on Tuesday at 6pm; and Janos Veiczi's 1963 film FOR EYES ONLY - TOP SECRET (103 min, DVD Projection) on Thursday at 6pm. Free admission.
The Alliance Française (54 W. Chicago Ave.) screens Pascal Chaumeil's 2012 film FLY ME TO THE MOON (104 min, Unconfirmed Format) on Wednesday at 6:30pm, with General Consul of France in Chicago, Graham Paul in person.
The DuSable Museum screens Ava DuVernay's 2012 film THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE (97 min, Unconfirmed Format) on Friday at 7pm (Free admission); and Dalian Adofo and Verona Spence's 2011 documentary ANCESTRAL VOICES: ESOTERIC AFRICAN KNOWLEDGE (73 min, Unconfirmed Format) on Thursday at 6:30pm, followed by a panel discussion from a diverse panel of religious experts.
ONGOING FILM/VIDEO INSTALLATIONS
The Museum of Contemporary Art continues City Self through April 13. The show includes Sarah Morris's 2011 film Chicago.
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. Bass will participate in a Dialogue with Robyn Farrell on Saturday at 1pm.
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).