Monthly Archives: July 2017

Experience America in Jonathan Demme’s Melvin and Howard – 35mm Screening on August 2 @ 7:30pm

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

Wednesday, August 2 @ 7:30 PM
MELVIN AND HOWARD
Directed by Jonathan Demme • 1980
Milkman, aspiring country-western singer, and perennial loser Melvin Dummar is the unlikeliest personage ever to see his life turned into a movie but Jonathan Demme’s Melvin and Howard isn’t a particularly likely film to begin with: a dusty and sun-blasted, meandering and downbeat comedy defined as much by its low stakes as by its irrepressibly sweet and egalitarian worldview, arriving as ambivalence and anti-heroics were going out of fashion with the crumbling New Hollywood. In a life chock-full of colorful anecdotes, the time Dummar (played by a perpetually flummoxed Paul Le Mat) gave a ride to a hitchhiking Howard Hughes (an appealingly sour Jason Robards)—an event that would bring him into the public eye when a will naming him the recipient of 156 million dollars from the Hughes estate would surface a decade later—is perhaps the most extraordinary and least believable. While Dummar came to be widely defined by the incident and ensuing legal battle, Melvin and Howard spends relatively little time on Hughes, relegating him mostly to the film’s first reel. Instead, Melvin and Howard chooses to focus on Melvin’s repeated marriages to and divorces from his wife Lynda (Mary Steenburgen, who won an Academy Award for her performance), his struggles to win and maintain the title of “Milkman of the Month,” and the persistent money troubles that hound him and his family. Demme does the best work of his career here, vividly rendering Melvin and Howard‘s world of polyester, formica, and bologna sandwiches with inestimable love and respect. (CW)
95 min • Universal • 35mm from Universal
Film Stock: Eastman SP (1980)
Preceded byThe Three Stooges in “Busy Buddies” (Del Lord, 1944) – 35mm – 17 min

For the full schedule of our classic film screenings, please click here.

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No Match for Warren William in The Match King – Pre-Code Drama in 35mm Print from Library of Congress – July 26

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

Wednesday, July 26 @ 7:30 PM
THE MATCH KING
Directed by Howard Bretherton and William Keighley • 1932
Warner Bros.-First National made its share of risqué and radical films during the pre-Production Code era, but none is so crammed with topical incident as The Match King. Based on the life of Ivar Kreuger, the Swedish con artist who popularized the superstition that “three on a match” brought bad luck (and boosted sales volume accordingly), The Match King chronicles Warren William’s rise from lowly Chicago Cubs sanitation worker to continental matchstick magnate. (Talk about efficiency: Kreuger killed himself in March 1932, and his life story reached the screen before year’s end.) A man capable of bluffing from the heart, leveraging assets out of thin air, and outright stealing whatever he needs to stay one step ahead of his creditors and competitors, William’s Paul Kroll is a tycoon only Ayn Rand could love. (Indeed, Rand brought her own version of Kreuger’s death to the stage as Night of January 16th, which naturally presented the so-called criminal as a victim of a mediocre, conformist society.) Like the best pre-Code films, The Match King subsists on a simple moral imperative, but ultimately stands apart from its brethren on the basis of its globe-trotting scope, ruthless forward momentum, and ever-timely warning against trusting a dealmaker in sheep’s clothing. (KW)
78 min • First National Pictures • 35mm from Library of Congress, permission Swank

Preceded by: Bugs Bunny and Yosemite Sam in “Buccaneer Bunny” (Friz Freleng, 1948) – 16mm – 8 min

Photo courtesy of Museum of Modern Art/Film Stills Archive

For the full schedule of our classic film screenings, please click here.

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That’s Something That I Understand: Claudia Weill’s Girlfriends – Rare 35mm Screening – July 19

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

Wednesday, July 19 @ 7:30 PM
GIRLFRIENDS
Directed by Claudia Weill • 1978
After being dumped by her roommate (Anita Skinner) at the corner laundromat, Susan Weinblatt (Melanie Mayron) sets out to chart a new life for herself as a twentysomething single New Yorker who can paint her apartment any damn color she wants now. An aspiring photographer whose eye for the female body finds only fitful expression in bar mitzvah and wedding gigs, Susan struggles to keep the electricity on, but ultimately values her solitude over material comfort. She ascertains that most men her age are just interested in football or John Ford movies, but the women aren’t much better: Ceil (Amy Wright), the hitchhiker who becomes her involuntary roommate, can’t keep her hands away from Susan’s closet—or her body. Then again, neither can Susan’s rabbi, played with disarming sweetness by Eli Wallach (!). Shot cheaply on 16mm and pieced together over a year with the support of the AFI, the NEA, and New York State Council on the Arts, the feature debut of producer-director Claudia Weill is a landmark of low-key, unprepossessing feminism, sexual frankness, and Upper West Side Jewish ethnography. A key antecedent of Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach’s Frances Ha and Lena Dunham’s Girls, Girlfriends is the tender human comedy you never knew you’d been missing. (KW)
88 min • Cyclops Productions • 35mm from Warner Bros.

Preceded by: Joyce at 34” (Joyce Chopra and Claudia Weill, 1973) – 16mm – 28 min

“Joyce at 34” courtesy of the Reserve Film and Video Collection of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. “Joyce at 34” has been preserved with funding from the National Film Preservation Foundation.

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Can It Happen Here? Too Late: Brownlow and Mollo’s Speculative Newsreel It Happened Here – 35mm Screening

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

Wednesday, July 12 @ 7:30 PM
IT HAPPENED HERE
Directed by Kevin Brownlow & Andrew Mollo • 1964
What if the Nazis had invaded Britain after the retreat from Dunkirk? As an opening title establishes, this is the world of It Happened Here: Britain, 1944, occupied by the Nazis. As U.S.-backed partisans attempt to take England back from fascist control, nurse Pauline Murray is evacuated from her village to the demilitarized city of London. Director Kevin Brownlow started the project as a teenager with help from friend, fellow teenager, and history buff Andrew Mollo. Over an eight-year production schedule, the two managed to complete It Happened Here on a microscopic budget without recourse to stock footage, finishing the film with raw stock donated by Stanley Kubrick from the production of Dr. Strangelove. The high-contrast photography is a perfect match for British newsreels of the period, as would be expected for any effort from future film scholar and preservationist Brownlow (The Parade’s Gone By), but everything here is a skillful recreation utilizing legions of amateur volunteer actors, including real British anti-Semites. Even leading lady Pauline Murray was an amateur actress, essentially playing herself after working as a nurse during World War II. The guilelessness Murray brings to the role keeps the film’s ethics from being black-and-white: as Pauline seeks normalcy amidst violence, no choice is as morally straightforward as the government of her world (or ours) might like us to believe. The film’s polemical vision of a Fascist “new normal” feels particularly relevant given the resurgence of far-right ideologies in the U.S. and Europe. (JR)
96 min • Rath Films • 35mm from Milestone Films
Film Stock: Eastman B+W (1996)
  Preceded by: Selected Cartoon

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A Movie So Large It Demands Large Gauge: Robert Altman’s Short Cuts in 70mm – Music Box Theatre – June 9

Music Box Theatre – 3733 N. Southport Ave.
General Admission: $12
Screening in conjunction with The Music Box 70mm Film Festival

Sunday, July 9 @ 8:00 PM
SHORT CUTS
Directed by Robert Altman • 1993
Adapting nine stories and a poem from Raymond Carver and transposing the action from the Pacific Northwest to the sprawling working class Los Angeles suburbs inhabited by chauffeurs, birthday clowns, motorcycle cops, waitresses, pool cleaners, phone sex operators, and assorted ne’er-do-wells, Robert Altman crafts a one-of-a-kind, eccentric epic which he alone could pull off. A long-gestating project that became one of several commercially dubious Altman ideas financed in the giddy aftermath of the Cannes premiere of The Player, Short Cuts finds the director returning to the intersecting tableau style of Nashville and A Wedding, this time with twenty-two major characters, including spectacular turns by Lily Tomlin, Tom Waits, Jack Lemmon, Andie MacDowell, Lyle Lovett, Julianne Moore, and Frances McDormand. A work of astonishing sociological and geographical density, Short Cuts perfectly captures the free-floating fin de siècle anxieties coursing down the 405 freeway and over the KCAL-9 airwaves—the Big One is coming. Although Altman had been experimenting with multi-track recording since the 1970s, Short Cuts was the first and only one of his films to be granted a 70mm release with six-channel Dolby Stereo. Released a few months after Jurassic Park introduced DTS digital sound to multiplexes across America and seemingly rendered hulking magnetic prints obsolete, Short Cuts was among the last studio features distributed in a 35mm-to-70mm blowup … at least until Inherent Vice brought the tradition back. (Short Cuts was shot in Super35, so don’t expect pictorial miracles, but blowup prints generally had sharper and steadier laboratory work than the general run of 35mm release prints in the early 1990s.) As an art house movie replete with full-frontal nudity and bad vibes, Short Cuts is the most unlikely candidate for 70mm blowup this side of Three Men and a Baby. (KW)
188 min • Fine Line Features • 70mm from Chicago Film Society Collections, Permission WB
Preceded by a 70mm Blowup Trailer Reel

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And join us later this week for something completely different:

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

Wednesday, July 12 @ 7:30 PM
IT HAPPENED HERE
Directed by Kevin Brownlow & Andrew Mollo • 1964
What if the Nazis had invaded Britain after the retreat from Dunkirk? As an opening title establishes, this is the world of It Happened Here: Britain, 1944, occupied by the Nazis. As U.S.-backed partisans attempt to take England back from fascist control, nurse Pauline Murray is evacuated from her village to the demilitarized city of London. Director Kevin Brownlow started the project as a teenager with help from friend, fellow teenager, and history buff Andrew Mollo. Over an eight-year production schedule, the two managed to complete It Happened Here on a microscopic budget without recourse to stock footage, finishing the film with raw stock donated by Stanley Kubrick from the production of Dr. Strangelove. The high-contrast photography is a perfect match for British newsreels of the period, as would be expected for any effort from future film scholar and preservationist Brownlow (The Parade’s Gone By), but everything here is a skillful recreation utilizing legions of amateur volunteer actors, including real British anti-Semites. Even leading lady Pauline Murray was an amateur actress, essentially playing herself after working as a nurse during World War II. The guilelessness Murray brings to the role keeps the film’s ethics from being black-and-white: as Pauline seeks normalcy amidst violence, no choice is as morally straightforward as the government of her world (or ours) might like us to believe. The film’s polemical vision of a Fascist “new normal” feels particularly relevant given the resurgence of far-right ideologies in the U.S. and Europe. (JR)
96 min • Rath Films • 35mm from Milestone Films
  Preceded by: Selected Cartoon

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