Monthly Archives: April 2016

A Breach of Natural Law: Allan Arkush’s Get Crazy
Beautiful 35mm Print – Unavailable on Home Video

The Auditorium at Northeastern Illinois University – Building E, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave
General Admission: $5 • NEIU Students: $2

09 Get CrazyWednesday, May 4th @ 7:30 PM
GET CRAZY
Directed by Allan Arkush • 1983
When veteran concert promoter and Saturn Theater leaseholder Max Wolfe (Allen Garfield) suffers a heart attack, it falls to his staff to organize the Saturn’s most ambitious New Year’s Eve party ever in hopes of saving Max and staving off his parasitic rival (Ed Begley Jr.), who plans on demolishing the venue. Financed primarily as a tax shelter and dumped into release with the understanding that it wouldn’t make any money (this turned out to be true), Get Crazy evinces the same go for broke attitude as its characters, cramming in more jokes, songs, drugs, cult screen and music personalities (Mary Woronov! Lee Ving! Paul Bartel! Lou Reed!!) and miscellaneous craziness than any American film of its day. Compulsively, incessantly hilarious, the lineage of Get Crazy can be traced to the Marx Brothers and Jerry Lewis, and in a just world, it would be regarded as a crass masterpiece on the order of The Ladies Man. Few films are as joyful in the face of embattlement and changing currents—no surprise it’s a personal favorite with the NWCFS staff. (CW)
92 min • Embassy Pictures • 35mm from Park Circus

Preceded by: Excerpts from Alice Cooper’s “Billion Dollar Baby” (Alive Productions, 1973) – 16mm – 16 min

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Beautiful 35mm Print – Unavailable on Home Video

Mosey On Down to the Midway to See the Most Spectacular Attraction of Modern Times: King’s State Fair in 35mm

The Auditorium at Northeastern Illinois University – Building E, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave
General Admission: $5 • NEIU Students: $2

08 State Fair_600
Tuesday, April 26th @ 7:30 PM
STATE FAIR
Directed by Henry King • 1933
Before State Fair was a melody in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s ears, it was a popular novel by Phil Stone and a lovely film adaptation that became a heartland hit and earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture. Long overshadowed by its musical remakes, the original State Fair is a winning collaboration between two titans of homespun patois, comedian Will Rogers and director Henry King. Dropping his trademark topical humor, Rogers delivers a stirringly sincere portrayal of a farmer simultaneously devoted to his wife, Louise Dresser, and his prize pig, Blue Boy. (Old-fashioned or not, Rogers isn’t above spiking Dresser’s mincemeat with apple brandy.) Post-pubescent ragamuffins Janet Gaynor and Norman Foster accompany their parents to the Iowa State Fair and find love on roller coasters and inside trapeze tents. The whole thing is tied together by King’s preternatural talent for mining nostalgia from the everyday. Once asked whether he considered himself a creator of Americana, King replied, “Can only say that I love Americana and do not feel we have to create it. It is already here—but I do like to interpret it for the screen.” (KW)
99 min • Fox Film Corp • 35mm from Fox Library Services

Preceded by: “The Immigrant” (Charles Chaplin, 1917) – 35mm – 21 min

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Sit Down: The Vanishing World of The Flick

The Flick at Steppenwolf. Photo credit: Michael Brosilow

In 2012, when I was between gigs, I picked up a few shifts a week as a projectionist at a struggling movie theater, among the last in the city that had yet to convert to digital projection. It wasn’t an act of principled resistance or anything—the management was just too undercapitalized to acquiesce. I always got paid in cash at the end of the night—often in the manager’s office, in the dark, with the hours calculated in a hurried whisper. Never before had I held down a job that felt so unashamedly transactional.

The projection booth was grotty from years of neglect. Posters from the early ’90s covered up the stains on the wall. When I started there, the work room didn’t have a real rewind bench. The booth port holes didn’t even have any glass, but the auditorium was so large that no one would’ve heard anything up there anyway, unless a projector fell over.

And then one day, enough money had been miraculously borrowed from banks and scrounged up from couch cushions to buy a digital projector. The projectionists had a few weeks’ warning, but we were never explicitly told we’d be out of a job. I offered to help the manager set it all up, but he told me he’d be fine. Even though he was more a businessman than a cinephile, the manager wasn’t quite ready to let 35mm go. We’d still be running film for some shows and digital for others during the first week, so the projectionists kept their shifts.

I showed up for work on a Friday night, hours after the digital projector had been installed. I peeked inside the theater and saw a meager audience enjoying a Blu-ray screening of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. I found the manager at the concession stand and asked how the afternoon had gone.

“Great,” he beamed, “there’s a movie running right now and no projectionist upstairs!” Continue reading

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