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:: Friday, AUG. 22 -
Thursday, AUG. 28 ::
Alfred Hitchcock's MURDER! (British Revival)
Gene Siskel Film Center - Saturday, 4:45pm and Tuesday, 6:15pm
NOTE: Spoilers! -- In his famed book Hitchcock's Films Revisited critic Robin Wood categorized MURDER! as being a "Story About A Psychopath" in reference to the character of Handell Fane, who is not only the real killer, but also a "sexual half-breed," as stated by Eric Rohmer and Claude Chabrol in their book Hitchcock: The First Forty-Four Films. (As Wood elaborates, "the whole point about Fane is his deviance from social/sexual norms, and in terms of his function he belongs with the psychopaths.") And while all that is interesting, especially when considered in relation to some of Hitchcock's later films, including STRANGERS ON A TRAIN, SHADOW OF A DOUBT, and ROPE, the film is also notable as being the only one from Hitchcock's oeuvre in which a genuinely innocent female character is falsely accused of the crime that propels the narrative. (Even in DIAL M FOR MURDER, the falsely accused woman actually committed the crime in question, and, though done in self-defense, it was during a confrontation instigated by her infidelity. In STAGE FRIGHT, the woman is falsely accused of murder, but is still an accessory since she goaded a man into doing it.) It's about a young actress (Diana Baring, played by Norah Baring) who is convicted of murdering a colleague after she's discovered in a fugue state next to the body and murder weapon. On the jury is a more established actor, Sir John Menier (played by Herbert Marshall), who sets off to defend her innocence after he erroneously votes guilty under pressure from his fellow jurors. Rather than being a transference of guilt, it's a transference of innocence brought upon by feelings of guilt, and thus somewhat conforms to the regular man-falsely-accused trope in that he assumes her innocence and the subsequent quest to prove it. In addition to being somewhat of a thematic rarity in Hitchcock's filmography, it's also an early example of the self-reflexivity that makes REAR WINDOW and VERTIGO two of his most critically acclaimed films. In this instance, Hitchcock instead uses theater as a means of referencing the film's artifice, an element owed to Hitchcock's lifelong appreciation of the performing arts. In some scenes it feels as if Hitchcock is winking at the audience; Sir John refers to something as a "highbrow shocker," and at one point a B-character declares that she "can't handle the suspense, you know." The film also demonstrates Hitchcock's masterful use of sound in its beginning stages. (This is Hitchcock's third sound film after 1929's BLACKMAIL and JUNO AND THE PAYCOCK.) There's a wonderful scene in which Sir John's internal monologue is heard over a radio playing the prelude from Wagner's Tristan und Isolde, and it was filmed with a live orchestra on set playing over a recording of Marshall's dialogue. It's the kind of device we take for granted nowadays, but that scene, just like the rest of the film, is an early example of Hitchcock's innovative genius. (1930, 103 min, 35mm) KS
Also showing is Hitchcock's WALTZES FROM VIENNA (aka STRAUSS' GREAT WALTZ) (Saturday, 3pm), which has the distinction of not only being his most neglected film, but also the film of his that he hated most. Based on the eponymous operetta, Hitchcock only agreed to make it for an independent producer during a rut in his early career. Despite being largely disowned by Hitchcock, it's not without redemption. And the music's not bad, either. (1934, 80 min, Archival 35mm Print) KS
More info at www.siskelfilmcenter.org.
Alfred Hitchcock's UNDER CAPRICORN (American Revival)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) -- Thursday, 7pm
Perhaps the most overlooked of Hitchcock's films (not least by its director, who dismissed it as a failed experiment), this is in every way a deepening of the formal tactics first attempted by Hitchcock in ROPE. As in the previous feature, much of the film transpires in long-take tracking shots; what's different here is that Hitchcock often marries these shots to ambitious crane movements, resulting in complex manipulations of time, space, and emotion every bit as astonishing as those achieved by Max Ophuls at his peak. The film also bears resemblance to Ophuls' major late features (LETTER FROM AN UNKNOWN WOMAN, LA RONDE) in that it employs an expressive style to depict the repressive social codes of an earlier period: It is a work of ironic, often heartrending beauty. The setting is Australia in the early colonial era, when much of the population consisted of British prisoners working off their sentences. It's an ideal backdrop for Hitchcock, one of the most incisive filmmakers on the subject of guilt; and though UNDER CAPRICORN isn't a traditional suspense movie, Hitchcock's personal investment can be felt in every scene. The film's emotional impact nonetheless hinges on Ingrid Bergman's central performance (her last for Hitchcock), as the noblewoman driven mad by her loyalty to her husband (Joseph Cotten), a commoner who committed murder for her. It's a demanding performance, no less challenging than her subsequent work for Roberto Rossellini; as in her landmark performances in STROMBOLI and EUROPA '51, it requires that she evolve from a despair to a near-transcendental state. "The secret subject of this drama is confession," wrote Jacques Rivette in the early 1950s. His peers Claude Chabrol and Eric Rohmer later added, in their seminal book Hitchcock: The First Forty-Four Films, "Hitchcock embroiders the motif with a second idea: that of disintegration, of a taint which contaminates the soul and the body. This concept of a close affinity between the flesh and the spirit, a concept on which all western art is based, is much despised by our moderns: but suddenly the cinema, by simply presenting the evidence, furnishes it with a contemporary and irrefutable foundation." (1949, 117 min, 16mm) BS
More info at www.docfilms.uchicago.edu.
Howard Hawks' THE DAWN PATROL (American Revival)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) - Saturday, 7pm and 9:15pm
Describing the early talkies of Howard Hawks, Henri Langlois observed that they are "stripped bare almost to the point of abstraction--it is as if they are made of concrete." This applies especially to THE DAWN PATROL, an effort as orderly and grim as its subject matter. Coming after a cycle of elaborate Great War epics (THE BIG PARADE, WHAT PRICE GLORY, WINGS, and ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT), THE DAWN PATROL looks diminutive and rough. The cynical sobriety undercuts the action climax and the overarching fatalism preempts traditional character development. It lacks the vulgar immediacy of Howard Hughes's box office rival, HELL'S ANGELS. What makes THE DAWN PATROL haunting--and undermines the traditionalist reflex of assuming that early talkies were merely incompetent--is the fact that these choices were apparently deliberate. Interviewed by Joseph McBride in 1977, Hawks took credit for the undercooked intensity and creaky integrity of the production: "When I was making THE DAWN PATROL, which was my first talking picture, I got forty letters from the front office saying that I'd missed chances of doing good scenes because I'd underdone them so much. I've saved the letters just for fun. The dialogue before that reminded you of a villain talking on a riverboat, UNCLE TOM'S CABIN or something like that. They hammed it up. And I stopped them from doing that in DAWN PATROL. They weren't used to normal dialogue. They weren't used to normal reading. They wanted to have somebody beat his chest and wave his arms." This disavowal of melodrama is THE DAWN PATROL's most notable aspect: Hawks' next picture, THE CRIMINAL CODE, hinted at a reversion to the norm, while SCARFACE exploded the excess--and effectively purged it from Hawks' art. Hawks' visual sense isn't very developed here: the handling of confined spaces and restricted geography is threadbare next to RIO BRAVO or TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT. The themes, developed in concert with novelist John Monk Saunders, are visible in embryo: THE DAWN PATROL serves as a sketch and spiritual prequel to Hawks' ONLY ANGELS HAVE WINGS--another portrait of men so frightened by death that they can only mock it, disbelieve it, and gleefully submit. (The two pictures also share silent heartthrob Richard Barthelmess: his DAWN PATROL despair serves as an alternative biography, or perhaps an alibi, for his broken flier in ONLY ANGELS HAVE WINGS.) So, the pleasures of THE DAWN PATROL are largely auteurist--those not invested in the trajectory of Hawks' career need not apply. (1930, 108 min, 35mm) KAW
More info at www.docfilms.uchicago.edu.
Daniel Nearing's HOGTOWN (New American)
Gene Siskel Film Center - Friday, 8pm and Monday, 8:15pm*
The pleasures of Daniel Nearing's 2010 film CHICAGO HEIGHTS (now known as LAST SOUL ON A SUMMER NIGHT) were many, but primary among them was its inspired re-imagining of the central concept of the source material--Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio--in a radically different medium. Through high-contrast black and white cinematography, scenes that flickered and disappeared like transient memories, and the conceit of having his characters speak their interior monologues as well as the words of an omniscient narrator, Nearing accomplished something that was both resolutely literary and resolutely cinematic, "faithful" to the source material (if that's your thing) but an entirely new creation. His follow-up feature, HOGTOWN, is a sprawling expansion of the palette and themes of the earlier film into a story that's ostensibly about a black detective's search for a missing white man in the months surrounding the race riots of 1919. But from its Dickensian opening monologue, HOGTOWN announces that it's about bigger things--indeed, the history of race relations in Chicago for the past hundred-odd years, the history of nonwhite Chicago demanding justice from white Chicago. Thus Sanghoon Lee's camera captures a Chicago that's mostly that of the 21st century, from its iconic skyline to the economic devastation in many black and Latino neighborhoods--and thus Nearing's theme of a black man searching for his own human dignity resonates still, reinforced by the murders of Mike Brown, Eric Garner, and so many others. The stylistic flourishes that characterized CHICAGO HEIGHTS are elaborated on here: characters voice their motivations in both the first and third person, as dialog and as voiceover; floating blocks of text double as subtitles and intertitles while becoming part of the visual landscape. Traditional scene structure is nearly nonexistent; the film is composed predominantly of very brief vignettes, sometimes single shots, that are gone before we can really digest them. "Remember this" is the refrain, but the film constantly reminds us of the deficiencies of memory. Nearing's style is personal, cerebral, and demanding of a great deal of attention, even patience, but it's worth the investment. Director Daniel Nearing, actor Herman Wilkins, and selected cast and crew members in person at both screenings. (2014, 113 min., DCP) MWP
*Note: The Friday screening is sold out; the Monday screening still has tickets available as of late Thursday night, though we strongly recommend purchasing quickly.
More info at www.siskelfilmcenter.org.
David Lynch's MULHOLLAND DR. (American Revival)
Music Box Theatre - Friday and Saturday, Midnight
Call them phantom ladies over Los Angeles. Two curious girls play a dangerous game of house across the City of Angels in David Lynch's TV series-cum-film-cum-nightmare MULHOLLAND DR. Although already seen far and wide by cineastes and their ilk, this one has a knack for prompting repeat viewings, and everyone from stalwart mystery theorists to die-hard Billy Ray Cyrus fans will no doubt prick up their ears at the sound of a 35mm screening. Widely anointed one of the most significant films of the aughts, MULHOLLAND DR. gleefully resists intellectual interpretation at every turn; an emotional tour de force that borrows from the body genres as liberally as from noir. Lynch has made a sport out of yanking the rug out from under viewers, but when he does, it's never in the name of mind games, but rather, for that rare kind of visceral impact that ensures all spectators remain active ones. (2001, 147 min, 35mm) TJ
More info at www.musicboxtheatre.com.
Frank Borzage's HISTORY IS MADE AT NIGHT (American Revival)
Doc Films (University of Chicago) - Wednesday, 7pm
The quintessential Frank Borzage film, HISTORY IS MADE AT NIGHT is what most screenwriters seem to have in mind when invoking the romanticism of The Movies. The story takes place among the wealthy and in the bohemian paradise of what Ernst Lubitsch called "Paris, Hollywood." Hard social realities seem not to exist; all that counts is whether good-hearted people find love--a matter of life-and-death significance for Borzage. The film is most often remembered for its climax (inspired by the sinking of the Titanic) --a sequence that still generates tension and disbelief in equal measure. But there are moments of light comedy, melodrama, and slapstick just as grandly conceived: Indeed, few films better recreate how all emotions are felt more intensely upon falling in love. On the run from her jealous tycoon husband (Colin Clive, James Whale's Dr. Frankenstein), Jean Arthur shares an enchanted evening in Paris with maitre d' Charles Boyer. A spate of complications keeps the spirited couple from reuniting for more than a year; and when they finally do, it's on board that fateful ocean liner. The film contains numerous changes in tone more reminiscent of the early talkies than what Hollywood was regularly making at the time (though the nuanced cinematography, by David Abel and an uncredited Gregg Toland, looks forward to certain technical breakthroughs of the 1940s); given the fluidity of transition and the overall poetics, perhaps the 19th-century symphony would be a better point of reference than any film. The three leads, incidentally, were never better, so comfortable in their performances as to make all the narrative curveballs feel perfectly tenable. (1937, 97 min, 16mm) BS
More info at www.docfilms.uchicago.edu.
MORE SCREENINGS AND EVENTS
At The Nightingale (1084 N. Milwaukee Ave.) this week: Dearest Chicago, Please Love Me! Yours Truly, Detroit, a mini-festival of work from Detroit, takes place on Saturday with three different screenings at 6, 8, and 10pm, with programmer Brandon Walley in person. Program 1: We Hope for Better Things, at 6pm, includes Thomas Comerford and Bill Brown's CHICAGO DETROIT SPLIT (2005, 10 min, Unslit 8mm) and Brent Coughenour's feature film I PITY THE FOOL (2007, 83 min, Digital Projection). Program 2: Laugh to Keep from Crying (approx. 65 min total, Digital Projection), at 8pm, includes Oren Goldenberg and Jonathan Rajewski's DETROIT BRANDED (2013), David Gazdowicz' ROBOCOP WAS FILMED MOSTLY IN DETROIT (2004), Oren Goldenberg and Ari Rubin's DETROIT (BLANK) CITY, EP.1: DETROIT POP-UP CITY (2013), Jack Cronin's INVISIBLE CITY (2006), Brandon Walley's THE SMELL OF MOMMY'S HONEY MUFFINS (2007), Oren Goldenberg and Ari Rubin's EMERGENCY DETROIT (2013), Nicole Macdonald's CITY WITHOUT A PAST (2013), and Oren Goldenberg and Ari Rubin's DETROIT (BLANK) CITY, EP.2: DETROIT DIAMOND CITY, (2013); Program 3: Paris Of The Midwest, at 10pm, includes Brandon Walley's VACANCY, (2006, 7 min, Digital Projection) and Sabine Gruffat's feature I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN A DREAMER (2012, 78 min, Digital Projection).
And the touring Basement Media Festival is on Thursday at 8pm with programmer LJ Frezza in person. Screening are HOUSE (Andy Birtwistle), I AM ALL MEN AS I AM NO MAN AND THEREFORE I AM (Gilberto Alfredo SalazarCaro), ELECTION COVERAGE (Chris Paul Daniels), COLD BLOOD (Tyler Tamburo), QUEENS QUAY (Stephen Broomer), [phrases] (Ben Balcom), DOUBT #2 (Josh Lewis), SMASHED (Emma Varker), THE HANDEYE (BONE GHOSTS) (Anja Dornieden and Juan David Gonzalez Monroy), [RGB] (N. Heppding), SERIOUSLY DELINQUENT (Dylan Pasture), THE WAY YOU RECOGNIZE IT (Laura Thatcher), HOW TO DRAW CLOUDS (Salise Hughes), RIP GEOCITIES (Faith Holland), EVERY FEATURE FILM ON MY HARD DRIVE 3 PIXELS TALL AND SPED UP 7000% (Ryan Murray), HOLIDAY 13 (Jordan Lopez), and UP (Scott Fitzpatrick). (Approx. 60 min total, 16mm and Digital Projection)
Chicago Filmmakers presents Best of Summer Camp Films (Digital Projection - Unconfirmed Format) on Thursday at dusk (approx. 8pm) outdoors at Buttercup Park (4901 N. Sheridan Rd.). The program features a selection of youth-made works from the past ten years of Chicago Filmmakers' Digital Moviemaking Summer Camps for kids and teens. Prior to the screening, starting at 6:30pm, there will be a station for kids to make a collaborative handmade "animated" 16mm film by drawing on clear leader. This group film will be screened at the end of the evening and then cut up for each kid in attendance to take a piece home. Free admission.
Terror in the Aisles presents Kevin Tenney's 1988 film NIGHT OF THE DEMONS (90 min, Digital Projection - Unconfirmed Format) screens on Thursday at 9pm at the Davis Theater (4614 N. Lincoln Ave.), with actress Linnea Quigley in person.
AFTERGLOWINGS presents the program Heads, which includes films by Deborah Stratman, Ben Russell, and Michael Robinson (Unknown Running Time and Format) on Wednesday at 9pm outdoors at 3149 W. Lyndale, Apt. 1, in the back courtyard garden. Free admission.
Also at the Gene Siskel Film Center this week: Eric Rohmer's 1996 film A SUMMER'S TALE (113 min, Imported 35mm Print on Sunday, 3pm and Monday, 6pm/DCP Digital - New Restoration all other shows) screens for a week; Todd Douglas Miller's 2013 documentary DINOSAUR 13 (105 min, DCP Digital) concludes a two-week run; and the Black Harvest Film Festival enters it's final week with the feature films GRAND GESTURE, and THE FORGOTTEN KINGDOM, a retrospective screening of Bill Duke's 1991 film A RAGE IN HARLEM (in 35mm), the shorts program Black Noir, and the Closing Night film FROM ABOVE (aka CHASING SHAKESPEARE) (Check Siskel website for complete details).
Also at Doc Films (University of Chicago) this week: Claire Denis' 1996 film NENETTE AND BONI (103 min, 35mm) is on Friday at 7 and 9:15pm.
Also at the Music Box Theatre this week: Aaron Katz and Martha Stephens' 2014 film LAND HO! (95 min) and Charlie McDowell's 2014 film THE ONE I LOVE (91 min) both open; Mel Brooks' 1967 film THE PRODUCERS (88 min, 35mm) is on Saturday and Sunday at 11:30am; and Shingo Suzuki's 2014 Japanese animated film K: MISSING KINGS (73 min) is on Friday and Saturday at Midnight. Unconfirmed Formats except where noted.
At Facets Cinémathèque this week: Kim Ki-duk's 2013 South Korean film MOEBIUS (89 min, Video Projection - Unconfirmed Format) plays for a week's run; and the Chicago Latino Reel Film Club presents Eduardo Coraly Santaliz's 2013 Puerto Rican film HOPEFUL HOPELESS (97 min, Video Projection - Unconfirmed Format) is on Tuesday at 7pm (reception at 6pm). Special admission applies.
The Logan Theatre screens Rob Reiner's 1987 film THE PRINCESS BRIDE (98 min, Digital Projection - Unconfirmed Format) on Friday, Saturday, and Monday at 10:30pm.
The Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago (915 E 60th St.) screens Mark Levinson's 2013 documentary PARTICLE FEVER (99 min, Unconfirmed Format) on Tuesday at 6:30pm. Followed by a discussion with U of C faculty and representatives from Fermilab. Presented in conjunction with the 18th Annual International Conference on Particle Physics and Cosmology. Free admission.
The Chicago Cultural Center screens two Sun Ra documentaries, Robert Mugge's SUN RA: A JOYFUL NOISE (1980, 60 min, Video Projection - Unconfirmed Format) and Frank Cassenti's MYSTERY MISTER RA (1984, 54 min, Video Projection - Unconfirmed Format) on Monday and Tuesday at 6pm, with filmmaker Robert Mugge in person; and the Cinema/Chicago presentation of Gavin Hood's 1999 South African film A RESONABLE MAN (104 min, Video Projection - Unconfirmed Format) screens on Wednesday at 6:30pm. Free admission.
The Logan Square International Film Series at Comfort Station in Logan Square (2579 N. Milwaukee Ave.) presents and outdoor screening of John Coney's 1974 Sun Ra film SPACE IS THE PLACE (85 min, DVD Projection) on Friday at 8pm; and an outdoor screening of Paul Leni's 1928 silent film THE MAN WHO LAUGHS (110 min, DVD Projection) on Wednesday at 8:15pm, accompanied live by VAD and The Crystal Shop. Free admission.
At Chicago Public Library locations this week: an unlisted science fiction film (Video Projection - Unconfirmed Format) will screen at the Sulzer Regional Branch (4455 N. Lincoln Ave.) on Saturday at 1pm (call (312) 744-7616 for details); and an unlisted 1993 Robin Williams film (Video Projection - Unconfirmed Format) will screen at the Edgewater Branch (6000 N. Broadway St.) on Tuesday at 5:30pm. Free admission.
The Whistler presents the Odd Obsession Foreign Film Series on Saturday at 7pm, followed by a "Dance Party Ting" at 9pm. Screening is Sammo Hung Kam-Bo's 1980 film SPOOKY ENCOUNTERS (102 min, Video Projection - Unconfirmed Format).
ONGOING FILM/VIDEO INSTALLATIONS
SAIC's Sullivan Galleries (33 S. State St., 7th Floor) opens the show Surface Tension on August 26, running through October 4. Included is Kevin B. Lee's 3-D version of his video TRANSFORMERS: THE PREMAKE.
glitChicago: An Exhibition of Chicago Glitch Art opens at the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art (2320 W. Chicago Ave.) on Friday (opening reception 6-9pm) and runs through September 28. Work from 24 artists explores glitch across a variety of media.
The two-channel video installation Untitled (Structures) by Leslie Hewitt and Bradford Young is on view through August 31 at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.
The Northbrook Public Library film series is on hiatus during renovations at the library. Expected completion is Spring 2015.
The Portage Theatre has resumed occasional screenings (from Blu-Ray/DVD only we believe).
As of July 2014 the Patio Theater is up for sale.
The Northwest Chicago Film Society is again on hiatus for their weekly series, with the closing of the Patio Theater. They plan to do occasional screenings as opportunities arise.