Shinoda’s Pale Flower, Mother of All Yakuza Movies, Screens June 12 at the Music Box Theatre in 35mm

Music Box Theatre – 3733 N. Southport Ave.
General Admission: $7

Monday, June 12 @ 7:00 PM
PALE FLOWER
Directed by Masahiro Shinoda • 1964
In Japanese with English subtitles
Masahiro Shinoda was only a few years into a remarkable five-decade directing career when he made Pale Flower, his most popular and enduring work and the yakuza film by which all others in the genre would be measured. Muraki (played by Ryo Ikebe, some years past his gentler turn in Ozu’s Early Spring) has recently been released from a three-year prison stint (for murder, naturally) and cannot help but throw himself, with studied indifference, into the scrum of Yokohama night-life. Meanwhile, the reckless and inscrutable Saeko (Mariko Kaga, giving Pale Flower‘s scariest and most internalized performance amidst her co-stars’ macho smoldering) has taken to haunting yakuza-overseen gambling dens, a notable and disruptive feminine presence in a stiflingly masculine underworld. Immediately drawn to one another, Muraki mentors Saeko in tehonbiki, their game of choice, as she attempts to stave off corrosive and self-destructive boredom and he attempts to keep his homicidal impulses at bay. A master class in widescreen composition from cinematographer Masao Kosugi with a score by legendary avant-garde composer Toru Takemitsu, Pale Flower matches its pitch black amour fou narrative with hard-as-nails stylistic pyrotechnics and lurid Baudelairean cinematic poetry. (CW)
96 min • Shochiku • 35mm from Janus Films
Preceded by: “Dance Squared” (Danse carrée) (René Jodoin, 1961) – 16mm – 4 min

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And join us later this week for something different:

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

Wednesday, June 14 @ 7:30 PM
CLUNY BROWN
Directed by Ernst Lubitsch • 1946
Lubitsch’s last completed film is everything one would hope for from one of Hollywood’s (and the Chicago Film Society’s) most beloved directors. Set in England on the verge of WWII, it’s a pithy commentary on class, with much of the film spent poking fun at the fumbling of British aristocrats and impotent liberals (“I’ve written a letter to the Times!” is one character’s earnest response to Hitler), while simultaneously managing to remain a weirdo romance. Destined to cross paths, two kindred misfits—Adam Belinski (Charles Boyer), a Czech intellectual hiding out from the Nazis (albeit leisurely), and Cluny Brown (Jennifer Jones), a bright plumber’s niece—both end up at the country estate of the wealthy Carmel family, Belinski as a guest and Cluny as a parlor maid. Belinski manages to charm his hosts with his knowledge of Shakespeare and purposeful ignorance of societal rules, while Cluny chips the china and goes on some soul-crushing dates with local pharmacist Jonathan W. Wilson (played beautifully by Richard Haydn). We pray Cluny isn’t lulled into the pharmacy life by Wilson’s mind-melting harmonium playing; just listen closely to the way Belinski says “Cluny” compared to Wilson’s clenched “Miiizzz Brown” and your ears will confirm where true love lies. It’s a film for anyone who’s ever been put in their place, ever felt out of place, or ever found their place in the arms of another. A strong supporting cast includes Una O’Connor, who literally snores her way through the film, and Helen Walker (Nightmare Alley) as a brassy society lady with all the best comebacks. (RL)
100 min • 20th Century-Fox • 35mm from Criterion Pictures, USA
Preceded by: Popeye the Sailor in “Plumbing is a ‘Pipe’” (Dave Fleischer, 1938) – 16mm – 8 min

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