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:: Friday, OCT. 3 - Thursday, OCT. 9::

CRUCIAL VIEWING

THE GODFATHER (THE COPPOLA RESTORATION) (Classic Revival)
Music Box
Check Reader Movies for showtimes
Recently rated #1 in Empire magazine's poll of the Best Movies of All-Time, it's tough (or impossible) to summarize the impact THE GODFATHER has had. So, instead, only three points. Gordon Willis's brilliant cinematography—Rembrandt by way of Manhattan—made it acceptable for studio-made color films to be as shadowy and moody as the black & white noirs had been earlier. Where would classic paranoiac thrillers be without that added palette? Its flowing, epic structure, courtesy of Mario Puzo's screenplay and Coppola's subtle, no-nonsense direction, remains a model of classic storytelling. And finally, because of its amazing critical and commercial success, gangster movies have been continuously in vogue ever since. Utterly disgraceful then that, according to a New York Times article, the original negatives "were so torn up and dirty that they could no longer be run through standard film laboratory printing equipment, and so the only option became a digital, rather than a photochemical, restoration." Luckily Robert A. Harris, working with Willis and Coppola, stepped in to save the day. The results have been universally lauded. Like most great sagas, and especially in a fine new print, this is one for the big screen. (1972, 175 min, 35mm) THE GODFATHER, PART II shows next week. RC
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More info at www.musicboxtheatre.com.

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Still Raining, Still Dreaming: Film & Video by Phil Solomon (Experimental)
Conversations at the Edge
(Film Center) – Thursday, 6pm

The first of three nights of in-person screenings by Boulder, Colorado-based filmmaker Phil Solomon (see next week for the other two) features his stunning trilogy with prelude IN MEMORIAM, MARK LAPORE. The four works in this series are made entirely from images from the Grand Theft Auto video games, though Solomon discards the violence the games are known for and instead mines them for their moody and haunting landscapes. Solomon turns a current pop-culture fixture into the raw material for a series of poetic and heartbreakingly bleak works that mesmerize and transfix their viewers. Also showing are two of Solomon’s earlier 16mm films, TWILIGHT PSALMS III: NIGHT OF THE MEEK (2002) and NOCTURNE (1980/89), in which he creates very different imaginary landscapes through his virtuoso use of optical printing and a variety of techniques to distress the film emulsion, causing it to crackle, ooze, and seemingly come to life in unexpected ways. Solomon in person. PF
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More info at conversationsattheedge.wordpress.com.
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ALSO RECOMMENDED

Lucio Fulci's ONE ON TOP OF THE OTHER (Cult Revival)
Doc Films
(University of Chicago)
– Tuesday, 7pm
After the success of his 1968 Western MASSACRE TIME, Lucio Fulci briefly came to the United States to direct his first giallo, ONE ON TOP OF THE OTHER. Less overtly Hitchcockian than the giallos of Mario Bava (such as BLOOD AND BLACK LACE), Fulci's film is a sultry psycho-sex drama about a doctor who becomes implicated in his wife's mysterious death. In his struggle to solve the case he becomes involved with a stripper who is a dead ringer for his deceased wife and who may know more about the murder than she lets on. Notable for its outstanding photography and Riz Ortilani's progressive jazz score, ONE ON TOP OF THE OTHER is the film that established Fulci as one of the most important Italian directors of his time. The film also features Jean Sorel (who had made a name for himself appearing in Bunuel's BELLE DU JOUR), Marisa Mell, and former western and noir player John Ireland in a supporting role. (1969, 97 min, 35mm) JR
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More info at www.docfilms.uchicago.edu.
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19th Annual Festival of Films From Iran (New Iranian)
Gene Siskel Film Center – Check Reader Movies for showtimes

Roughly ten years have passed since the U.S. releases of Abbas Kiarostami’s TASTE OF CHERRY and Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s GABBEH; and, barring some exceptions, American interest in Iranian cinema seems to have diminished ever since. This represents a real failure of U.S. film culture, as Iran continues to produce several masterpieces per year accessible to audiences everywhere—as anyone who caught the recent IRON ISLAND or TURTLES CAN FLY can attest. Thankfully, the Siskel Center’s annual Iranian film series allows Chicagoans to stay abreast of this ever-vital national cinema—the greatest heir of Italian neorealism, if not South American Magical Realism as well. The offerings in the series’ first week encompass both of these legacies, with AS SIMPLE AS THAT (2008, 97 min, Beta SP video; Saturday, 8:15pm & Sunday, 5pm) representing the former category and GREEN FIRE (2008, 110 min, 35mm; Saturday, 6pm & Monday, 7:45pm) assuming the latter. The fourth film by director Reza Mir-Karimi, AS SIMPLE AS THAT was recently lauded by Variety as “a milestone in current Iranian cinema as a rare realist depiction of a woman from the middle class” and by other critics for its accomplished minimalist approach. The film charts 24 hours in the life of a put-upon housewife: Festival reports have said the film is unsparing in its details of Iranian chauvinism but still manages moments of great poetry. GREEN FIRE is another milestone, as it’s the first film in over 25 years by noted author Mohammad Reza Aslani. Inspired by the Sufi mystic Rumi and Persian mythology, Aslani’s surrealist epic is said to be a real eyeful; indeed, its sets and costumes were recently awarded at the Fajr Film Festival in Tehran. Also playing this week is MOON SUN FLOWER GAME (2008, 90 min, HD video; Sunday, 3pm & Tuesday, 6pm). Subtitled “A True Fairytale,” this documentary is a portrait of Hossein Mansouri, who was born in a leper colony and adopted by the great poet Forough Farrokhzad (who depicted the colony in her documentary, THE HOUSE IS BLACK, in 1962). BS
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More info at www.siskelfilmcenter.org.

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Ingmar Bergman's THE MAGICIAN (Classic Revival)
Doc Films
(University of Chicago)
– Wednesday, 7pm & 9:15pm
We've recommended the perpetually underrated ANSIKTET (a.k.a. THE FACE; a.k.a. THE MAGICIAN) here before, but after the Q&A at Jonathan Rosenbaum's presentation last fall at the Siskel, it's easy to be concerned that contemporary audiences have yet to realize the significance of this thematic rarity: a mid-19th-century-set period deconstruction of the mythical opposition between magic and science one that shrewdly refuses to be pigeonholed as either glorification of the performing mystic or an disenchanted lament for the secular world. Perhaps the playful SMILES OF A SUMMER NIGHT-style spirit evoked by its scenery-chewing cast (particularly Max von Sydow as the mute, tormented warlock) has obscured its elaborate cleverness. Here, every character and every incident has two antithetical interpretations: we are either watching a dejected troupe of countryside charlatans at the end of their age of plausibility, faced with the rigorous municipal logic of self-styled lawmakers and surgeons; or there is magic in the air at every moment, and even the threshold of death is a mirage. And in the end, even if an insistently skeptical viewer resists every indeterminate enchantment through their final moments, Bergman has got one last trick up his sleeve: it's only a (deliriously charming) movie. (1958, 101 min, 35mm) MC
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More info at www.docfilms.uchicago.edu.
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Ernst Lubitsch’s TROUBLE IN PARADISE (Classic Revival w/ Lecture)
Gene Siskel Film Center – Friday and Wednesday, 6pm

Most romantic comedies possess a stalwart belief in the impracticality of love. In those movies, Love requires large romantic gestures and Herculean efforts against opposing circumstances. Think, for instance, of one of the very best, HIS GIRL FRIDAY, or one of the reputed first, IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT. Refreshingly, TROUBLE IN PARADISE immerses itself in the love we know. Set in Paris during the economic downtown of the 1930s, TROUBLE IN PARADISE’s robust take on the effects that class, vocation, and economics have on love is disarmingly insightful. Director Ernst Lubitsch uses his famous light touch to contrast the crooks born with silver spoons in their mouths with the self-made crooks who pulled themselves up by their bootstraps. The romantic triangles are composed of worthy adversaries. And the initial "meet cute” scenario is brilliant, but nothing compared to the elegant common sense espoused in the ending. A classic, ageless film that is even more appropriate for this week considering the financial straits it portrays. Jonathan Rosenbaum lectures on Wednesday only. (1932, 83 min, 35mm) WS
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More info at www.siskelfilmcenter.org.

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Andy Warhol’s BLOW JOB, EAT, and HAIRCUT NO. 1 (Experimental)
Doc Films
(University of Chicago)
– Thursday, 9pm
A trio of short masterpieces by Warhol, which, like last week’s films, all center on portraiture, but this week also are marked by varying degrees of sexual tease. BLOW JOB, one of Warhol’s best-known films, is a thirty-five minute long close-up of an anonymous young man’s face as he is, you know. We never see the titular act, only the response to it. EAT features artist Robert Indiana eating a mushroom. While it sounds dull, it is an entirely fascinating work, as Indiana plays with his food, swivels in his chair, and displays a wonderful array of expressions. It comes close to a documentation of performance art. HAIRCUT NO. 1 eroticizes this commonplace act, turning it into a site of gay fetish. Together, these three films serve as a mini-catalog of Warhol’s thematic interests and formal concerns which will resurface in many different ways throughout the rest of the series. (1963-64, 87 min total, 16mm) PF
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More info at www.docfilms.uchicago.edu.
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Azazel Jacobs’ MOMMA’S MAN (New Independent)
Music Box
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Writers like to point out that Azazel Jacobs is the son of experimental film great Ken Jacobs (whose own recent film screens this week at Chicago Filmmakers—see below); and Jacobs-fils confronts this head on in his new film MOMMA’S MAN, casting his father and his mother Flo as his protagonist’s parents. Ken and Flo Jacobs pretty much play themselves the majority of the film was even shot in their NYC loft and pretty much steal the film. Their “non-acting” is right at home with Azazel’s deftly reserved tone, minimal action, and fluid, subtle camerawork. Most of the film, about a young man visiting his parent and having a crisis of purpose in life that teeters on the edge of going out of control, is remarkable in its restraint. Jacobs avoids the showy acting and the obvious “style” that sink many independent films with the weight of their pretention. MOMMA’S MAN has some rough spots, but it’s clearly a work by a young director who understands his medium. (2008, 98 min, 35mm) PF
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More info at www.musicboxtheatre.com.

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Ken Jacobs’ RAZZLE DAZZLE: THE LOST WORLD (Experimental)
Chicago Filmmakers Saturday, 8pm

In 1969, Ken Jacobs cemented his legacy in the avant-garde canon by subjecting a 1905 Biograph short film to an inspired assortment of optical manipulations in TOM TOM THE PIPER'S SON. Four decades on, the septuagenarian wizard continues to breathe new life into musty celluloid artifacts (albeit digitally), often with staggering results. His 2007 piece RAZZLE DAZZLE: THE LOST WORLD casts a digital shadow over reworked merry-go-round footage from an early Edison film, dives deeply into some stereoscopic portraits from the 19th century, and launches a few psychedelic sneak attacks for good measure. It lacks the profound simplicity and gravitas of Jacobs' other recent work (e.g., CAPITALISM: SLAVERY and THE SURGING SEA OF HUMANITY, crafted exclusively with his immensely successful technique for "animating" stereoscopic photographs), but does its title some justice by delivering ninety minutes of evocative (if awkwardly assembled) eye candy. It's a suitable curio for Jacobs’ fans, a worthwhile distraction for the masses, and a must-see for the experimentally-inclined who've yet to see what this old master can do with his newest toys. (2007, 91 min, video) DW
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More info at www.chicagofilmmakers.org.
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Chicago Avant-Garde x 2 (Experimental)
The Nightingale Showtimes noted below

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15 Years of the Chicago Underground Film Festival – Friday, 8pm
A second program (after last week’s show at Conversations) highlighting Chicago-made work from CUFF’s past in anticipation of the 15th anniversary festival at the end of the month. The highlight of tonight’s show is likely to be animator Jim Trainor’s great film THE BATS (1999), in which he both anthropomorphizes his title creature and also allows it to exhibit very specific real-life attributes. By turns, funny, sad, creepy, and gross. Also on the bill: Shawn Durr’s MEAT FUCKER, Heather McAdams’ THE LESTER FILM, Deborah Stratman’s IT WILL DIE OUT IN THE MIND, and work by Usama Alshaibi, Dean Rank, Lili Carre, and Luis Sanchez Ramirez. CUFF Director Bryan Wendorf (and likely several of the artists) in person.
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Chicago Primer October Screamer (Animation) – Sunday, 2pm & 6pm
An all-local-animation show, screening as part of Chicago Artists Month. The Nightingale writes: “In order to gear up for Halloween, we have chosen some of the quirkiest, quietest, and creepiest short work to stimulate your amygdala region.” Included is Alexander Stewart’s amazing “Xerox” animation, ERRATA (2005), which creates a subtle and ever-changing abstract work reminiscent of Action painting through the use of hundreds of photocopied images. Plus work of all shades of animation-imagination by Jodie Mack, Jim Trainor, Yoonah Nam, Chris Hefner, Sean Buckelew, Seungwon Lee, Jason Halprin, Andy Cahill, Gretta Johnson, and David Essman. Several artists in person. PF
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More info at www.nightingaletheatre.org
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Joel and Ethan Coen’s BLOOD SIMPLE (Contemporary Revival)
Music Box
Saturday and Sunday, 11:30am
The Coen brothers are a dangerous combination of talent, irreverence, and misanthropy. One has a creeping suspicion that they like movies more than they like people. A trait which some, like Chicago's own Jonathan Rosenbaum, have insightfully argued leaves their films empty. It is only when they come up against the rigors of a motion picture genre that they worship that their talent delivers the emotional and dramatic impact it perennially promises. Those genres seem to be film noir and slapstick comedy. BLOOD SIMPLE, firmly in the film noir category, has the additional benefit of being their first feature and therefore imbued with a certain enthusiasm and respect for its characters, regardless of their many flaws. The result is the Coen brothers’ most suspenseful and terrifying movie that was not adapted from Cormac McCarthy. (1984, 99 min, 35mm) WS
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More info at www.musicboxtheatre.com.

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Also Playing at Doc Films
Of particular interest this week is MOON OVER HARLEM (1939, 67 min, 35mm; Sunday, 7pm), the first in this season's Edgar G. Ulmer retrospective. Ulmer's reputation is one of thriving in the most overlooked areas of film production, and in this movie it assumes truly radical implications: It's a musical produced by Oscar Micheaux, arguably the father of African-American filmmaking, starring an all-black cast. Anticipating Vincente Minnelli's comparable CABIN IN THE SKY by almost five years, this screening is a must for scholars of alternative film history. This week's schedule also features LEAVES FROM SATAN'S BOOK (1921, 116 min, 35mm; Monday, 7pm), the first major film by Carl Theodore Dreyer. Said to be inspired by Griffith's INTOLERANCE, this silent epic charts several episodes of human suffering from the point of view of the Devil, a device that, according to Strictly Film School's Acquarello, "provides a thoughtful and provocative examination of human weakness and provides a compassionate, universal metaphor for a soul's quest for transcendence." Also playing this week is the "first Yiddish talkie from Soviet Russia," THE RETURN OF NATHAN BECKER (1932, 72 min, 35mm; Thursday, 7:30pm). BS
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More info at www.docfilms.uchicago.edu.

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MORE SCREENINGS & EVENTS:

The Film Studies Center at the U of C screens (from DVD, alas) the rare 1971 Yugoslavian-Macedonian film BLACK SEED, by Kiril Tsenevski (Thursday, 6pm). Says the FSC: “The film, lauded as one of the cinematographic masterpieces of Yugoslav cinema, tackles the ordeal of ethnic Macedonian fighters in the aftermath of WWII imprisoned on a remote Greek island.”

The Film Centerr’s Russian series continues with Aleksandr Medvedkin’s rare Soviet comedy THE NEW MOSCOW (1938; Monday, 6pm & Thursday, 8:15pm) and Andrei Konchalovsky’s respected Chekhov adaptation UNCLE VANYA (1970; Friday, 7:45pm & Saturday, 3pm). The new documentary LOUISE BOURGEOIS: THE SPIDER, THE MISTRESS, AND THE TANGERINE, about the artist and sculptor, receives a week-long run; as does a second artist-focused doc, A MAN NAMED PEARL, about the topiary works of a self-taught African-American artist. Tuesday at 7pm sees a special event documentary presentation of CONSIDERING DEMOCRACY: 8 THINGS TO ASK YOUR REPRESENTATIVE, with filmmaker Keya Lea Horiuchi in person.

Bank of America Cinema presents the Orson Welles/Claudette Colbert weepie TOMORROW IS FOREVER, directed by John Huston, which also features a very young Natalie Wood (Saturday, 8pm).

Columbia College Professor Emeritus Michael Rabiger discusses the Rod Steiger thriller ACROSS THE BRIDGE at Facets Cinémathèque (Sunday, 10am). Also this week is a preview screening for the DVD release of local documentarian David Simpson’s film REFRIGERATOR MOTHERS (Saturday, 12:30pm); the 1999 Czech film COZY DENS (Sunday, 12:30pm); and a week’s run for CANARY (2005), which tells a story of two children entwined in the events surrounding the Aum Shinrikyo cult’s gas attack on the Tokyo subway.

Block Cinema’s new German series has MARSEILLE, a 2004 “mood piece” (Thursday, 8pm). The WWII series includes the Claudette Colbert-starrer THREE CAME HOME (Friday, 8pm) and a program of war-era short films from the Raymond Rohauer Collection (Wednesday, 8pm).

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CINE-LIST: October 3 October 9, 2008

MANAGING EDITOR / Patrick Friel

CONTRIBUTORS / Michael Castelle, Rob Christopher, Christy LeMaster, Joe Rubin, Ben Sachs, Will Schmenner

CONSULTING EDITOR & DESIGN / Darnell Witt

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