Chicago Guide to Independent and Underground Cinema
x x x x x x
> Sign up
> Editorial Statement
> Last Week > Next Week
a weekly guide to alternative cinema- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
:: Friday, SEPT. 20 - Thursday, SEPT. 26 ::


Blake Edwards' THE PINK PANTHER (American Revival)
Music Box Theatre - Saturday and Sunday, 11:30am

In his long career, Blake Edwards had perhaps his greatest impact on the cultural imagination of America with his series of detective comedies, inaugurated by THE PINK PANTHER, about the ridiculous and maniacally idiotic Inspector Clouseau. And while this lacks some of the surreal energy and the explosions of delightful meaninglessness of the best entries in the series (1964's A SHOT IN THE DARK and 1975's THE RETURN OF THE PINK PANTHER), there's an arch dreaminess and hell-bent theatricality about THE PINK PANTHER that makes it precious in its own right. For the first hour, essentially a very lengthy prologue to the movie proper, the narrative good-naturedly introduces us to a group of loveable fools: David Niven's urbane, sophisticated, and over-sexed Sir Charles, a master jewel thief and upper-crust Lothario; Robert Wagner's George, Sir Charles' jewel-thief aspirant nephew; Claudia Cardinale as the Princess Dala, who holds the worlds grandest gem (the titular Pink Panther diamond); Capucine as the duplicitous Madame Clouseau, married to the Police Inspector but sleeping with the Thief; and Peter Sellers as the Inspector, bumbling, clumsy, and stunningly incompetent. Scenes tracing their intersecting storylines move them from all over the world to a luxuriant ski resort in Cortina, in the north of Italy, staging their conflicts and goals as micro-moments of absurdity breaking into a fundamentally coherent and meaningful world. But an hour in, the film changes as on a hinge. This absurdity that like an attached shadow merely tracked our characters before, tied to their actions and only temporarily inflecting the space around them, becomes now a total eclipse of reason, showing a reality that is delirious, a weird fever-dream of a place that defies understanding. Three great set-pieces follow, each a small example of formal perfection: a bedroom farce in which two men, each hoping to sleep with Mme. Clouseau, panic in different ways at Clouseau's unexpected return to his hotel room; the robbery itself, staged in a costume party complete with indoor Roman candles and multiple gorilla disguises; and the ensuing chase as two thieves get lost trying to flee from the police. Edwards at his best has always been fascinated with rules (of decorum, of procedure, of law), an interest he shares with Kubrick, with Michael Mann, with Anthony Mann. But where they each in different ways interrogate those rules, bending and stressing them, exploring ways we depend on them, exploiting holes and contradictions within them, Edwards wants to set them up just so he can point out their uncomfortable artificiality. In these masterful segments, Edwards is at the top of his game, showing through brilliant example how the conventions we depend on to make sense of a motion picture fiction can just as easily twist us into making involuntary nonsense out of the same raw materials. I read a description once of clumsiness that said the clumsy person was one possessed of a special power, the ability to bring objects temporarily to life, but only when in physical contact with them, but that this person also had a special curse, for those objects found their brief lurch into life alarming, which is why they jerked away from contact. THE PINK PANTHER in its second half is clumsy in this sense, beautiful and broken all at the same time, all elements brought to life, not horribly, not gloriously, but absurdly. (1963, 115 min, 35mm) KB
More info at

Jacques Becker's CASQUE D'OR (French Revival)
Northwest Chicago Film Society (at the Patio Theater) - Wednesday, 7:30pm

It is not uncommon to read a piece of film criticism that compares the work in question to another type of art. When realistic, a film might be compared to a photograph. When long, an epic novel. When short, a literary work of similar structure. When lyrical, a song, and when languid, a ballet. Such analogies are rarely literal and are typically intended to provide a familiar standard against which a reader might better relate to a film's technical or narrative idiosyncrasies. So to say that Jacques Becker's CASQUE D'OR is like an impressionist painting might be to suggest that it merely resembles a style of art which originated in 19th-century France while remaining at its core a film with only suggestions as to another medium's influence, rather than a painting itself come to life and on its own borrowed journey. The latter, however, is true of CASQUE D'OR, a painting-as-film that takes the visible brushstrokes of the Belle Epoque off the canvas and onto the big screen. Made in 1952 and set fifty years beforehand, CASQUE D'OR is about the gloriously understated love between a beautiful gangster's moll and a reformed prisoner, and the inherent self-determination that brings them together and tears them apart. Initially disparaged as a humdrum period piece, the film has gone on to be lauded as Becker's magnum opus and credited as inspiration for generations of young filmmakers following suit. Its deceptive banality is the impetus for its staggering genius, further framing the series of paradoxes that linger below the surface of seemingly commonplace genre trope. A painting could be viewed in much the same way as Becker's film was originally received, with its rigid two-dimensional limitations leaving only the smallest amount of room for artistic nuance and viewer interpretation. Working with a story that was based on real events, it's no surprise that Becker would choose to utilize characteristics from one of the period's defining artistic movements, but the extent to which he does so beyond the obligatory aesthetic adherence is a testament to Becker as a sort of painter in addition to his title of director. As critic Philip Kemp noted in his essay for the Criterion Collection DVD release of the film, "It's a world seen whole, neither romanticized nor sensationalized, but presented as a complex, living community in its own right." Inspired by the advent of photography, impressionist artists aimed to capture the capricious nature of reality while maintaining the distinct aesthetic that would set them apart from their more literal peers. In Becker's case, it is a similar paradox that would both confuse and inspire young filmmakers; though cloaked in classicism, its devastating earnestness remains distinct from the self-consciousness of the New Wave which it helped to inspire. Even the black and white photography, a significant mainstay of Becker's predecessors, sets him apart. It serves to illuminate the rich narrative duality, while suppressing the technical possibilities in earnest- some of the scenes that take place within nature are so beautiful that it's almost a favor to the viewer for them to be shown in black and white, so as not to distract them from the wonderfully doomed romance taking place within the thick. But even without the impressionist color palette, the absence of which is the film's greatest irony, Becker uses his skills as a filmmaker to paint an impressionistic picture rather than to just project it.  Every aspect of the film, from the necessity of the actors for their specific roles to the subtext hidden behind their character's dress, is a perfectly applied brushstroke on the canvas that is Becker's great artistic vision. (1952, 94 min, 35mm) KK
More info at

Sprocket Hole / Speaker Box: The Lincoln Show (Experimental / Performance / Special Event) 
The Bijou Theater (1349 N. Wells St.) - Sunday, 9pm (Doors at 8pm)

It's been a busy year for Honest Abe. Just last November he was proclaiming emancipation with Steven Spielberg while striking an eerie resemblance to Daniel Day Lewis, and more recently he was 16th President of the United States by day, vampire hunter by night, all with the help of wifey Mary Todd and his merry band of political powerhouses. Abe could use a little break and some good, clean fun, which is exactly what he won't find at The Lincoln Show, a Sprocket Hole/Speaker Box production at The Bijou Theater, that will take the fun right out of history and put it into an adult theater and sex club where it rightfully belongs. The Lincoln Show will feature a slew of not-so-wholesome entertainment, including music from Mr. Mayor and the Highballers, two commissioned works from local found footage filmmakers Ian Curry and Adam Paradis, comprised of snippets from random 16mm educational films about Lincoln, and a staged reading of local freelance film critic and author Edward Crouse's screenplay, "Hung Mr. Lincoln," which will be lovingly performed by Dog's Best Friend, a group of local actors and improvisers led by the Annoyance Theater's Greg Ott. Previously, the Sprocket Hole/Speaker Box shows have examined broader themes such as music, performance, and words, but they are now narrowing their focus to a particularly local subject. One is obviously not like the others, and program organizer, local filmmaker and Cine-File contributor Josh Mabe said that he was duly inspired by Crouse's screenplay about Lincoln's sexual prowess and his own time as an archivist at the Chicago History Museum. The 16mm footage from educational films about the life and times of Lincoln was purchased by Mabe from Ebay, and was picked at random based solely on physical quality. Such a grab bag is a treat for artists and viewers alike, promising an element of surprise to an oftentimes-stodgy subject matter. What will these films and the artist's deviations teach us about Lincoln, if anything at all? Will Abe jive with the avant-garde, or will he be forever confined to the fjords of Ford? And the most pressing question of all—just how big was Lincoln's log? (16mm + live performance, Four Score and Seven Years) KK



King Vidor's THE CROWD (Silent American Revival)
Northbrook Public Library (1201 Cedar Lane, Northbrook) - Wednesday, 1 and 7:30pm (Free Admission)

One of the masterpieces of the silent era, Vidor's epic vision of American success and failure is also one of the director's greatest achievements. Vidor combines location shooting and outsized sets to compose the film on a gigantic canvas: some of the photographic effects (such as the crowd of the film's final image, which suggests a sea of anonymous humanity stretching out to infinity) still astonish today. Ironically the film's hero is not an epic figure but an ordinary man. John Sims spends his youth boasting of the great things he'll achieve one day, but he ends up a nameless bureaucrat with a home life he resents: an archetype of the modern Everyman. In terms of narrative structure, the film represents a great fall, from ambition to resignation, from idealism to cynicism. Indeed, it's hard to think of another film outside of IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE that feels so cheated by the promise of the American Dream. But the film's artistry is so powerful—and its melodrama is so expressive—that it inspires a sense of awe strong enough to counter the despair. Live piano accompaniment by Dave Drazin. Independent filmmaker Reid Schultz will discuss the entire Great Directors of the Silent Screen film series after each screening. (1928, 98 min, 16mm) BS
More info at

Howard Hawks' THE BIG SLEEP (American Revival)
Logan Theatre - Thursday, 10:30pm

Adapted from Raymond Chandler, here is a movie so storied and so central to so many mythologies that it can frustrate even the best-intentioned of appraisals. While many (including Jacques Rivette, who knows whereof he speaks) prefer the preview cut that surfaced several years back, the version being shown here is the more familiar, slightly shorter, slightly more incoherent, and considerably racier theatrical release, including many scenes re-shot and/or shuffled to capitalize on Bogart's then-escalating affair and all-but-incendiary onscreen chemistry with Lauren Bacall (whom he would marry shortly thereafter, following a nasty but necessary divorce). With a screenplay that seems as much a post-structuralist pastiche of the famous source novel as an honest attempt to "bring it to life"—courtesy screenwriter Jules Furthman, the legendary Leigh Bracket, and some guy named William Faulkner—SLEEP at best skims the surface of the genre tropes that it's often blamed for introducing: the film is a wonderful example of how plot, at its extremity, can be made into an instrument of utter exhaustion. (1946, 114 min, Digital Projection - Unconfirmed Format) JD
More info at

Teinosuke Kinugasa's A PAGE OF MADNESS (Silent Japanese Revival)
The Logan Square International Film Series at Comfort Station Logan Square (2579 N. Milwaukee Ave.) - Wednesday, Dust (approx. 8pm) (Free Admission)

Also known as A PAGE OUT OF ORDER or THE CRAZY PAGE, this is, regardless of the title, a madhouse riot of a movie. Traumatic and nauseating, it's easily the most horrifying movie made during the Silent Era, a weird and queasy dance of death directed by former female impersonator/future Oscar and Palme d'Or winner Teinosuke Kinugasa and written by future Nobel laureate Yasunari Kawabata. Part avant-garde suicide finale, part Lynchian creepshow, this unhinged Japanese contemporary to German Expressionism (a movement A PAGE OF MADNESS's makers were apparently unaware of) would be considered a seminal film if anyone had actually seen it, but it was forgotten and believed lost until the 1970s. The film's simple-yet-somehow-indescribable plot involves a janitor working at the asylum where his wife is a patient. Everything about this movie is borderline insane. Live musical accompaniment by Ho Etsu Taiko. (1926, 78 min, DVD Projection) IV 
More info at

Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi's 5 BROKEN CAMERAS (New Palestinian Documentary) 
Chicago Public Library (Bezazian Branch, 1226 W. Ainslie St.) - Saturday, 2pm

This collaboration between Palestinian farmer turned video journalist Emad Burnat and Israeli documentarian Guy Davidi is a powerful, straightforward piece of agit-prop filmmaking about the encroachment of the West Bank Wall into the Palestinian village of Bil'in and the protest movement that sprung up in response. Burnat initially buys a camera to document the early childhood of his youngest son, but as things escalate in Bil'in and clashes with the Israeli military become a daily occurrence, he turns into the de-facto chronicler of the resistance. Burnat's footage gives us an incredible insider's view into the workings of a grassroots protest movement from its inception to its (partial) victory. "When I film I feel like the camera protects me..." Burnat narrates as he films his brother being carted away in an army vehicle, "but it is an illusion." And indeed, during the five years in which he follows the protests, Burnat's illusion is smashed: he endures beatings, arrests, bullets, and the death of friends. As the title suggests, Burnat's cameras take a beating as well and the filmmakers have chosen to use the camera casualties as a structuring principle for the documentary. This conceit ends up distracting a little from the heart of the story, and there are some other aesthetic missteps as well—in particular, the narration can sometimes veer into cliché. Ultimately though, as a political tool and a portrait of a village joining together in the face of occupation, 5 BROKEN CAMERAS is extremely effective. (2011, 90 min, Video Projection - Unconfirmed Format) ML
More info at



Conversations at the Edge (at the Gene Siskel Film Center) presents Tomomi Adachi and Takahiko Iimura: Films and Performances on Thursday at 6pm. Acclaimed Japanese experimental filmmaker Iimura and Japanese sound artist Adachi will present a selection of solo and collaborative works in this rare joint appearance. Co-presented by Lampo.

Chicago Film Archive at Comfort Station Logan Square (2579 N. Milwaukee Ave.) presents Nom Nom Nom on Tuesday at 8pm. This food-themed screening includes KENTUCKY FRIED CHICKEN "SUNDAY DINNER" (Film Group/Mike Gray Associates, 1968, 1 min, presented in 16mm), FOOD PREPARATION (2nd Edition) (Journal Films, 1978, 15 min, 16mm), FLAVOR-KIST COOKIES "CRUNCH" (Film Group/Mike Gray Associates, 1967, 1 min, 16mm), Unknown Kid's Show excerpt (ca. 1960, 8 min, Unknown Format), MINNIE PEARL'S FRIED CHICKEN (Film Group/Mike Gray Associates, 1968, 1 min, 16mm), and GARLIC IS AS GOOD AS TEN MOTHERS (Les Blank with Maureen Gosling, 1980, 51 min, 16mm). Free admission.

The Chicago Cinema Society (at the Patio Theater) presents Eduardo Rodriguez's 2013 horror film FRIGHT NIGHT 2: NEW BLOOD (88 min, Unconfirmed Format) on Tuesday at 8pm. Free admission.

Black Cinema House (6901 S. Dorchester Ave.) screens Cauleen Smith's 1998 feature DRYLONGSO (86 min, Unconfirmed Format) on Sunday at 6pm, with Smith in person. Due to limited seating, RSVP to to insure a seat.

Chicago Filmmakers (5243 N. Clark St.) screens Désiré Ecaré's 1985 film FACES OF WOMEN (105 min, Video Projection - Unconfirmed Format, Ivory Coast) on Saturday at 7:30pm. Screening as part of the Blacklight Cinema Series and co-presented by Black Cinema House.

The Chicago South Asian Film Festival runs Friday-Sunday at ShowPlace ICON and at Columbia College's Film Row Cinema (1104 S. Wabash Ave., 8th Floor). The full schedule is at

At the Gene Siskel Film Center this week: Andrei Tarkovsky's 1983 classic NOSTALGHIA (120 min, New 35mm Print) continues the second half of its two-week run; Raoul Walsh's 1949 film WHITE HEAT (114 min, 35mm) screens on Friday at 6:15pm and Tuesday at 6pm, with a lecture by Laurence Knapp at the Tuesday show; Zeki Demirkubuz's 2012 Turkish film INSIDE (107 min, DCP Digital Projection) screens on Friday at 8:15pm and Saturday at 5:15pm; Kyle Patrick Alvarez's 2013 film C.O.G. (88 min, DCP Digital Projection) plays for a week; Quentin Tarantino's 2012 film DJANGO UNCHAINED (165 min, 35mm) screens on Saturday at 3pm and Monday at 7:30pm; Sergio Corbucci's 1966 Italian western DJANGO (92 min, 35mm) is on Saturday at 6pm and Wednesday at 8:15pm; local filmmaker Ky Dickens' 2013 documentary SOLE SURVIVOR (91 min, HDCam Video) is on Saturday at 8pm (sold out) and Thursday at 8:15pm, with Dickens and producer Amy McIntyre in person; a live discussion, Joan of Arc: The Icon Revealed, with film and opera clips, is on Sunday at Noon; Victor Fleming's 1926 silent film MANTRAP (75 min, Preserved 35mm Print) is on Sunday at 3pm and F. Harmon Weight's 1928 silent film MIDNIGHT MADNESS (65 min, Preserved 35mm Print) is on Sunday at 4:45pm, both with live piano accompaniment by Dave Drazin; Victor Halperin's 1933 film SUPERNATURAL (65 min, Preserved 35mm Print) is on Monday at 6pm; and Edward Sutherland's 1933 comedy INTERNATIONAL HOUSE (68 min, Preserved 35mm Print) and Lloyd French's 1933 Laurel and Hardy short BUSY BODIES (19 min, Preserved 35mm Print) are on Wednesday at 6:15pm.

Also at the Music Box Theatre this week: Zachary Heinzerling's 2013 documentary CUTIE AND THE BOXER (82 min) and Ryan White's 2013 documentary GOOD OL' FREDA (86 min) open; Régis Roinsard's 2012 film POPULAIRE (111 min) continues Friday-Wednesday at 5pm only; Gabriela Cowperthwaite's 2013 film BLACKFISH (83 min) screens Friday-Sunday at 2pm; Joshua Oppenheimer, Christine Cyn, and Anonymous' 2012 documentary THE ACT OF KILLING THE ACT OF KILLING (116 min) screens on Saturday and Sunday at 11:30am; and the weekend Midnight films are Tommy Wiseau's 2003 cult film THE ROOM (99 min, 35mm) on Friday, Herman Yau's 2013 film IP MAN: THE FINAL FIGHT (100 min) on Friday and Saturday, and Jim Sharman's 1975 film THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW (100 min, 35mm) on Saturday. Unconfirmed formats except where noted.

Facets Cinémathèque presents The 5th Annual Romanian Film Festival of Chicago Friday-Sunday. The festival will screen five features and three shorts (including Lucian Pintilie's 1994 film AN UNFORGETTABLE SUMMER) as well as a monologue recital by actor and director Horatiu M?l?ele and a shadow puppet performance (both in untranslated Romanian). See website for complete schedule; Kat Coiro's 2012 film AND WHILE WE WERE HERE (83 min) begins on Monday and continues through Sunday, September 29 (no screening on Tuesday); and the Chicago Latino Reel Film Club presents Carlos Bolado's 2012 Mexican film TLATELOLCO, SUMMER OF 68 (105 min) on Tuesday at 6 and 9:15pm. Check website for details.

Landmark's Century Centre Cinema opens Haifaa Al-Mansour's 2012 Saudi Arabian film WADJDA (98 min), Stuart Blumberg's 2012 film THANKS FOR SHARING (112 min), Shane Salerno's 2013 documentary SALINGER (120 min), and Jim Bruce's 2013 documentary MONEY FOR NOTHING: INSIDE THE FEDERAL RESERVE (104 min). All Digital Projection - Unconfirmed Format.

Also at the Patio Theater this week: Martin Scorsese's 1973 film MEAN STREETS (112 min, Digital Projection - Unconfirmed Format) screens on Sunday at 5 and 7:30pm; and local filmmaker Sara Peak Convery screens her 2013 documentary I NEVER SAID I WASN'T HAPPY (38 min, Unconfirmed Format) on Thursday at 7pm. Convery in person.

The Logan Theatre screens Martin Scorsese's 1980 film RAGING BULL (129 min, Unconfirmed Format) on Friday and Saturday at 10:30pm, and Monday at 10:40pm.

Also at Chicago Public Library branches this week: Marylou Tibaldo-Bonglorno's 2007 documentary REVOLUTION '67 (90 min, Video Projection - Unconfirmed Format) screens at the Edgewater Branch (6000 N. Broadway St.) on Saturday at 2pm; and Renee Tajima-Pena's 2008 documentary CALAVERA HIGHWAY (88 min, Video Projection - Unconfirmed Format) screens at the West Town Branch (1625 W. Chicago Ave.) on Thursday at 6pm.

Alliance Française (54 W. Chicago Ave.) screens Jean Renoir's 1939 film RULES OF THE GAME (110 min, Video Projection - Unconfirmed Format) on Wednesday at 6:30pm. Introduced by local author Aleksandar Hemon.

The Italian Cultural Institute (500 N. Michigan Ave.) screens Ivan Polidoro 's 2006 film BEFORE YOU KNOW IT (84 min, Video Projection - Unconfirmed Format) on Tuesday at 6pm.

At the Chicago Cultural Center this week: the Cinema/Chicago international film series continues with Armando Bó's 2012 Argentinean film THE LAST ELVIS (91 min, Video Projection - Unconfirmed Format) on Saturday at 2pm; and City & State Short Film Program (approx. 80 min, Video Projection - Unconfirmed Format) on Wednesday at 6:30pm. Free admission. And the Chicago Humanities Council presents the "From Selma to Soweto" episode from Connie Field's PBS documentary series HAVE YOU HEARD FROM JOHANNESBURG (56 min, Video Projection - Unconfirmed Format) on Tuesday at 5:30pm, with an accompanying panel discussion. Free admission, but reservations required at



ACRE Projects (1913 W. 17th St.) continues Fumbling Toward Ecstasy through October 7. The show, curated by Kate Bowen, features a video diptych by Georgia Wall, in which "nine people reenact a scene from Yvonne Rainer's 'A Film About A Woman Who' as they watch the action of the film unfold on the screen in front of them." The show also includes work by Elena K. Dahl. Open Sundays and Mondays, 12-4pm.

Roots & Culture (1034 N. Milwaukee Ave.) presents Of This Place, Or Thereabouts: New Work By Robert Chase Heishman & Megan Schvaneveldt, which features solo and collaborative lo-fi video work by the artists. Runs through October 12.

OTHERKIN (2013, 11 min), a new video work by Chris Naka, continues at Julius Caesar (3311 W. Carroll Ave.) through September 29. Hours: Saturday and Sunday, 1-4pm and by appointment.

Antena (1755 S. Laflin St.) continues the show "How Many Feminists Does it Take to Change a Light Bulb?" ... ...."That's not funny." through September 28 (hours by appointment only). "'How Many Feminists...' is a collection of comedic work by female video artists and performers who identity themselves as feminists and utilize humor as an important part of their work." With video work by Sarah Kelly, Marisa Williamson, Katya Grokhovsky, Rachelle Beaudoin, Andrea Hidalgo, Roxy Farhat, Em Meine, Cristine Brache, T. Foley, Lex Brown, Lilly McElroy, Molly Shea, Shana Moulton, and Becky Sellinger; and Photographic work by Rosemarie Romero.



The Portage Theatre remains closed for the foreseeable future.

The Patio Theater has discontinued its regular programming and will instead focus on presenting special events, rental screenings, revival screenings in digital, and The Northwest Chicago Film Society's weekly screenings.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

CINE-LIST: September 20 - September 26, 2013

Patrick Friel

CONTRIBUTORS / Kian Bergstrom, Jeremy M. Davies, Kat Keish, Mojo Lorwin, Ben Sachs, Ignatiy Vishnevetsy, Darnell Witt

> Editorial Statement -> Contact