Monthly Archives: March 2014

Tuning In, Taking Off, Dropping Out:
Forman’s American Odyssey in 35mm

The Patio Theater – 6008 W Irving Park Road – $5.00 per ticket
For the full schedule of classic film screenings at the Patio, please click here.

Taking Off_Henry
Wednesday, April 2 @ 7:30pm
TAKING OFF
Directed by Milos Forman • 1971
Roger Ebert said it best: “[Milos Forman has] a rich appreciation for the everyday lives of people who do not realize how funny they are.” Few people are as funny, sweet, or immensely human as the middle-aged couple Larry and Lynn Tyne (played by Buck Henry and Lynn Carlin), whose teenage daughter Jeannie (Linnea Heacock) has run away from home to be with the hippie weirdos of 1971 (led in part by Carly Simon). As the couple searches for their daughter, they meet other parents looking for their runaway children and inadvertently rediscover their youth with the help of the Society for Parents of Fugitive Children. At once a vibrant cultural artifact and a gentle social commentary, Forman has kinder things to say about dysfunctional people living in  dysfunctional times than any of his peers, and finds genuine joy even in the bleakest situations. With Paul Benedict, Vincent Schiavelli, and Ike and Tina Turner. (JA)
93 min • Universal Pictures • 35mm from Universal

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Louvain_A

Wednesday, April 23 @ 7:30pm
THE STRANGE LOVE OF MOLLY LOUVAIN
Directed by Michael Curtiz • 1932
Iowa cigarette counter salesgirl Molly Louvain (Ann Dvorak) has everything figured out until her country club boyfriend leaves her penniless and pregnant. Hitting the road with a greasy lowlife (Leslie Fenton), Molly eventually winds up in Chicago, where she gets mixed up with a cop killing. Fawned over by a hayseed hometown suitor (Richard Cromwell) and pursued by transparently cynical newspaperman Scotty “Peanuts” Cornell (Lee Tracy), Molly finds herself in a clinch that even blonde hair dye can’t fix. A rare starring showcase for the wonderful Dvorak, The Strange Love of Molly Louvain is a brisk maternal melodrama and a mettle-testing gauntlet of spontaneous sincerity. Based on a play by Chicago’s Maurine Watkins, this nevertheless rates as one of the most geographically inept depictions of the Second City on film: a key scene occurs at the intersection of Clark and Dearborn, while Hyde Park comes across as Lake Michigan’s version of The Bronx.  (KW)
73 min • First National • 35mm from Library of Congress, permission Warner Bros.
Co-sponsored by Park Ridge Classic Film Series
Introduced by Christina Rice, author of Ann Dvorak: Hollywood’s Forgotten Rebel

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Forman’s American Odyssey in 35mm

Home Movie Day – So Special It Now Comes Twice a Year

Wednesday, March 26 @ 7pm – Comfort Station Logan Square, 2579 N Milwaukee Ave.

LSHMDLOGAN SQUARE HOME MOVIE DAY – Free Admission
Go down to the basement and dig out your Super 8 memories of that interminable trip to Idaho or that embarrassing 16mm footage of your mother’s rockin’ bat mitzvah and bring them to the Comfort Station on Wednesday, March 26 for a Logan Square edition of Home Movie Day. Jointly presented by NWCFS, Chicago Film Archives, Logan Square International Film Series, and The Post Family, Home Movie Day offers Chicagoans the opportunity to gather together and share their celluloid histories. Home movies provide invaluable records of our families and our communities: they document vanished storefronts, questionable fashions, adorable pets, long-departed loved ones, and neighborhoods-in-transition. Many Chicagoans still possess these old reels, passed down from generation to generation, but lack the projection equipment to view them properly and safely. That’s where Home Movie Day comes in: you bring the films, and we inspect them, project them, and offer tips on storage, preservation, and video transfer–all free of charge. And best of all, you get to watch them with an enthusiastic audience, equally hungry for local history. Plus: CFA presents rare films from the JoAnn Elam, the best filmmaker and letter-carrier that Logan Square ever had!

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And join us the week after that for a very special, far out presentation:

The Patio Theater – 6008 W Irving Park Road – $5.00 per ticket
For the full schedule of classic film screenings at the Patio, please click here.

Taking Off_AWednesday, April 2 @ 7:30pm
TAKING OFF
Directed by Milos Forman • 1971
Roger Ebert said it best: “[Milos Forman has] a rich appreciation for the everyday lives of people who do not realize how funny they are.” Few people are as funny, sweet, or immensely human as the middle-aged couple Larry and Lynn Tyne (played by Buck Henry and Lynn Carlin), whose teenage daughter Jeannie (Linnea Heacock) has run away from home to be with the hippie weirdos of 1971 (led in part by Carly Simon). As the couple searches for their daughter, they meet other parents looking for their runaway children and inadvertently rediscover their youth with the help of the Society for Parents of Fugitive Children. At once a vibrant cultural artifact and a gentle social commentary, Forman has kinder things to say about dysfunctional people living in  dysfunctional times than any of his peers, and finds genuine joy even in the bleakest situations. With Paul Benedict, Vincent Schiavelli, and Ike and Tina Turner. (JA)
93 min • Universal Pictures • 35mm from Universal

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Crimes of Opportunity: Ben Hecht, Anti-Auteur

Crime Without Passion_FuryWe’re all auteurists now. The notion that the director is primary author of a film, once a fringe idea debated in little magazines and grindhouse theater lobbies, is now the implicit premise of movie production, criticism, and advertising. When 3 Days to Kill is promoted as “A McG Film” and Pompeii is, contractually speaking, “A Film by Paul W. S. Anderson,” we must recognize that the debate is well settled.

In our era of automatic auteurs, the contentious critical arguments of generations past can seem downright quaint, if not fitfully obscure. The once-controversial figure of the writer-director is a case in point.

In the earliest years of cinema, production roles were rarely delineated: actors and directors could improvise a scenario on standing sets, or a cameraman might call the shots. A quintessentially industrial art thrived on a pre-industrial division of labor. The growth of the studio system in the late 1910s and 1920s gradually forced filmmakers into more rigidly defined roles. The transformation culminated with the coming of sound, which introduced the idea of the modern screenwriter—not a semi-literate scenario scribbler or a witty intertitle aphorist, but someone who resembled a professional Broadway playwright.

The moguls aspired to employ sharp, college-educated playwrights, but the working conditions they offered were frequently demeaning and atrocious: no matter how fine a script was, the studio machinery would insist upon re-writes. The script would be passed from one employee to another as a matter of habit.  One cannot overstate how thoughtlessly this imperative unfolded in practice. The process that birthed Midnight (1939) may be apocryphal, but it remains illustrative: unsatisfied with Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett’s draft, Paramount threw the script into the rewrite pool and programmatically assigned the task to another team—Wilder and Brackett, as it turned out, who submitted their uncorrected ‘revision,’ which was judged a tremendous improvement. Continue reading

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Punch Cards, Veronica Mars, and the Digital No-Wave

votomaticLet Us Compare Mythologies
You’ve probably heard by now that the ongoing digital cinema conversion has fundamentally transformed the way movies are produced, distributed, and exhibited. Taken on their own, petitions and protests that aim to save 35mm film can look nostalgic, naïve, or simply Luddite. With 92% of American screens already film-free, this looks like a settled issue, with no outstanding questions.

The scene looks different at a farther remove. Cinema is hardly the only industry in the midst of a digital transition, after all, and comparative analysis promises fresh insight.

Let’s talk about the parallel upheaval in voting technology for a moment. In the wake of the Florida’s extraordinarily close vote totals in the 2000 presidential election, America focused anew on problems at the polling place. Poor ballot design, antiquated punch cards, obsolete lever machines—all came under post-mortem scrutiny. The technology was an incongruous, even dangerous, anachronism for the dot com economy. “In the age of the microchip,” CBS News opined, “the leadership of the free world is being decided by boxes of paper ballots with hanging and half-punched “chads,” leaving it to harried election officials to decide who meant to vote for whom.” In California, the ACLU cited the scattered usage of the much-maligned Votomatic machine as an impediment to equal protection guarantees and sued to delay a state-wide election until all the machines could be replaced. Continue reading

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