Author Archives: Chicago Film Society

20th Anniversary Screening of Tsai Ming-Liang’s
Modern Masterpiece The River – May 30 in 35mm

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

Tuesday, May 30 @ 7:30 PM
THE RIVER
Directed by Tsai Ming-liang • 1997
In Mandarin with English subtitles
By the late ’90s, director Tsai Ming-liang had established himself as one of the leading lights in Taiwanese filmmaking, a favorite with critics and adventurous film festival programmers alike. The River was the last film Tsai would make that would hew towards narrative convention while also embracing the radical slowness that would become a stylistic signature for him. While hanging around a movie set with a female acquaintance, Lee Hsiao-Kang (played by Tsai’s persistent leading actor and closest collaborator Lee Kang-sheng) is cast to play a dead body floating in the polluted Tamsui River. Almost immediately after the shoot is over, he begins to develop a mysterious illness, causing him physical pain and a great deal of emotional distress. Meanwhile, both his mother and father carry on affairs with men in between taking Hsiao-Kang to various medical specialists and spiritual healers. As with all of Tsai’s films, there are moments of strange, Keaton-inflected, nonverbal deadpan humor as well as a surfeit of water imagery and free-floating, quietly tumultuous, queer desire. Featuring an emotionally decimating ending stretch unparalleled in Tsai’s filmography (or most of cinema for that matter), The River earns its reputation as one of the greatest films of the ’90s. (CW)
115 min • Taiwan Central Motion Pictures Corporation • 35mm from Leisure Time Features

Preceded by: “sound of a million insects, light of a thousand stars” (Tomonari Nishikawa, 2014) – 35mm – 2 min

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Modern Masterpiece The River – May 30 in 35mm

May 22: See Popeye As It Was Meant To Be Seen — In Robert Altman’s Personal 35mm Print – One Nite Only

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

Monday, May 22 @ 7:15 PM
POPEYE
Directed by Robert Altman • 1980
Robin Williams and Shelley Duvall are Popeye and Olive Oyl in this unlikely and sublime live-action adaptation of the timeless Fleischer Studios cartoons. Paramount went all out on their 1980 mega-production, which involved building an entire village in Malta (“Popeye Village” still exists as a tourist attraction), though domestic grosses fell significantly short of expectations. Producer Robert Evans hoped to tame the barbarous Robert Altman as he had Roman Polanski (Chinatown) and Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather), but this was not the right film. Long overlooked in favor of more “serious” Altman pictures, Popeye, writes Scott Tobias, “is like a family-friendly re-imagining of McCabe & Mrs. Miller, moving the same mud-caked, dilapidated town from the Pacific Northwest to the Mediterranean seas without losing the anti-capitalist sentiment in the process.” The result is both heartfelt and manic, and exceedingly faithful to the original work. Why can’t all comic book movies be this great? With music by Harry Nilsson and Van Dyke Parks (later used to great effect in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Punch Drunk Love). Screening in a one-of-a-kind 35mm print from the Robert Altman Collection at the UCLA Film and Television Archive. (JA)
114 min • Paramount Pictures • 35mm from UCLA, Permission Paramount
Cartoon: Popeye the Sailor in “Goonland” (Dave Fleischer, 1938) – 16mm – 8 min
Advance tickets available on Brown Paper Tickets

Co-sponsored by CHIRP – Chicago Independent Radio Project

 

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May 16: Dorothy Davenport’s Linda with Live Accompaniment from Jay Warren – 35mm Archival Print

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

Tuesday, May 16 @ 7:30 PM
LINDA
Directed by Dorothy Davenport • 1929
With live organ accompaniment from Jay Warren!
When her husband Wallace Reid, “the world’s most perfect lover,” died in a sanitarium from complications related to his morphine addiction, actress Dorothy Davenport began producing what were essentially exploitation films, beginning with the now-lost 1923 anti drug feature Human Wreckage, the first in a planned “Sins of the World” series co-produced by Thomas Ince. Linda, her last silent picture and second for her independent production company, is more of a straightforward melodrama, but Davenport’s roots as a low-budget filmmaker make it all the more immediate and effective—it’s Human Wreckage without the drugs. Helen Foster is forced to marry an old lumber dealer (Noah Beery) by her evil father. Beery isn’t such a bad guy, it turns out, but Foster eventually flees to the city and falls in love with kindly doctor Warner Baxter. Originally distributed through a decentralized “states rights” system that almost guaranteed Linda would be left unscreened in the decades to come, Davenport’s film has been newly preserved by the Library of Congress. You’d be forgiven for not being familiar with this one, especially since the only post-1929 reviews so far are tweets from last year’s Capitolfest in Rome, New York. We trust @NitrateDiva, who calls Linda “a lyrical, outstanding melodrama ripe for rediscovery!” (JA)
75 min • Mrs. Wallace Reid Productions • 35mm from the Library of Congress
Preceded by: Laurel and Hardy in “The Finishing Touch” (Clyde Bruckman, Leo McCarey, 1928) – 35mm from Library of Congress – 19 min

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“The Devil Got Him First!” – New Season Begins May 3 with Rare 35mm Screening of Mitchum’s Thunder Road

Our 17th season begins on May 3 with Thunder Road. Check out the rest of the schedule.

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

Wednesday, May 3 @ 7:30 PM
THUNDER ROAD
Directed by Arthur Ripley • 1958
Following the release of his first LP, Calypso Is Like So ..., Robert Mitchum delivered an even more personal testament, Thunder Road, a no-frills hillbilly thriller rooted in the eternal struggle between the moonshiners and the revenue men. Though nominally directed by silent film survivor Arthur Ripley, Thunder Road is definitely Mitchum’s show: he concocted the story, produced the movie, wrote the Billboard-charting theme song “Ballad of Thunder Road,” starred as veteran distiller Lucas Doolin, and cast his son James Mitchum as Doolin’s kid brother. Shot on location in Asheville, North Carolina, it played near-continuously in that state for three decades. The filmmaking is basic as a bag of dirt, but that’s an essential part of Thunder Road’s effortlessly elemental power: it’s a backwoods Beowulf that lumbers as storytelling and stumbles when it gropes for poetry but remains unassailable, irreducible. Richard Thompson’s evocative appreciation in Kings of the Bs remains definitive: “As a work, it shrinks from art straight toward its own truth. It transcends the limits of art because it is uncompromised by any elevated artistic intent: it exists at the white-hot juncture of fact and legend …. The film exists for a postwar subculture built on adolescence, cars, roads, night, windows rolled down, sleeves rolled up, and Chuck Berry on the radio.” (KW)
92 min • DRM Productions • 35mm from private collection, permission Park Circus
Preceded by: Meta-Four” (Wade Novy, 1964) – 16mm – 14 min
“Meta-Four” appears courtesy of Berkeley Film Museum and Pacific Film Archive

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Danny Lyon Presents Willie and Born to Film:
Filmmaker in Person at the Logan Center for the Arts

Thursday, April 20 @ 7:00 PM – Free Admission
Logan Center for the Arts – 915 E. 60th St

TWO FILMS BY DANNY LYON
Danny Lyon in Person!
Danny Lyon’s iconic photographs have been  acclaimed since the early 1960s, but his intimate non-fiction films have long remained criminally underseen. Renewed interest in this beautiful body of work has arisen following a 2016 retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Lyon’s films haven’t screened in Chicago in over two decades. Tonight we’re thrilled to present two of them with the artist in person. Born to Film (1982, 33 min) is a funny and ethereal autobiographical meditation on filmmaking and fatherhood, in which the two are more intertwined than a bull snake in a bin full of celluloid. Made over the course of several years, Willie (1985, 82 min, Newly Restored Print) follows Willie Jaramillo, whom Lyon met as a child near his home in Bernalillo, New Mexico (he appears in two of his previous films Llanito (1971) and Little Boy (1977)) as he repeatedly cycles in and out of prison for minor offenses. A dignified and heartbreaking portrait where scenes of the everyday are just as memorable as those of the bizarre. There is an emotional depth and compassion to Willie often not felt in works about “outsiders” (a frequent subject in Lyon’s photographs and films). It’s clear that Willie wasn’t just a subject, but a friend, and as he speaks to Danny through the camera he reminds us, “This is my life we’re talking about.” Don’t miss this chance to see two films you should have seen years ago.
Total Program: 115 min • 16mm from Anthology Film Archives
Co-presented with the Film Studies Center

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Filmmaker in Person at the Logan Center for the Arts

Get to Know the Sadomasochists, the Voyeur Masochists, the Exhibitionists, and the Necrophiliacs in Joseph Cates’s Rare Thiller Who Killed Teddy Bear? – 35mm Screening

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

Wednesday, April 19 @ 7:30 PM • Please note new screening date!
WHO KILLED TEDDY BEAR?
Directed by Joseph Cates • 1965
When a nightclub DJ (Juliet Prowse) receives threatening phone calls in the middle of the night, she enlists the help of detective Dave Madden (stand-up comedian and game show host Jan Murray, whose small time television personality is perfect for the role), specialist in “the sadomasochists, the voyeur masochists, the exhibitionists, the necrophiliacs,” to find the culprit. Sal Mineo, unable to avoid typecasting, is the brooding, sex-obsessed busboy who makes the calls and lives alone with his sister. A snaggly, nightmarish answer to Rebel Without a Cause, Who Killed Teddy Bear? was ahead of its time in dealing with sexual frankness, more empathetic than exploitative. Beautifully shot on location in New York by the underrated Joseph Brun (Cinerama Holiday, Wind Across the Everglades), Teddy Bear keeps its characters at arm’s length, obscured in flickery shadows and crying out for help. With Elaine Stritch in a heartbreaking turn as the nightclub manager. (JA)
94 min • Magna Pictures Distribution Corp. • 35mm from the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research
Preceded by: “Odyssey of a Dropout” (Coronet Films, 1966) – 16mm – 18 min

Due to circumstances beyond our control, our screening of Who Killed Teddy Bear? has been re-scheduled from Tuesday, April 18 to Wednesday, April 19. We apologize for the inconvenience and hope that you can still make it!

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And join us on Thursday for another very special program …


Thursday, April 20 @ 7:00 PM / Logan Center for the Arts / Free Admission
TWO FILMS BY DANNY LYON
Danny Lyon in Person!
Danny Lyon’s iconic photographs have been  acclaimed since the early 1960s, but his intimate non-fiction films have long remained criminally underseen. Renewed interest in this beautiful body of work has arisen following a 2016 retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Lyon’s films haven’t screened in Chicago in over two decades. Tonight we’re thrilled to present two of them with the artist in person. Born to Film (1982, 33 min) is a funny and ethereal autobiographical meditation on filmmaking and fatherhood, in which the two are more intertwined than a bull snake in a bin full of celluloid. Made over the course of several years, Willie (1985, 82 min, Newly Restored Print) follows Willie Jaramillo, whom Lyon met as a child near his home in Bernalillo, New Mexico (he appears in two of his previous films Llanito (1971) and Little Boy (1977)) as he repeatedly cycles in and out of prison for minor offenses. A dignified and heartbreaking portrait where scenes of the everyday are just as memorable as those of the bizarre. There is an emotional depth and compassion to Willie often not felt in works about “outsiders” (a frequent subject in Lyon’s photographs and films). It’s clear that Willie wasn’t just a subject, but a friend, and as he speaks to Danny through the camera he reminds us, “This is my life we’re talking about.” Don’t miss this chance to see two films you should have seen years ago.
Total Program: 115 min • 16mm from Anthology Film Archives
Co-presented with the Film Studies Center

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The Lost City of Z – Special Advance 35mm Screening with James Gray in Person – April 16 at the Music Box Theatre

Please join us for a free advance screening of James Gray’s latest film, The Lost City of Z, presented in a luscious 35mm print! Director James Gray will be appearing in person and participating in a Q&A after the screening.

Music Box Theatre – 3733 N. Southport Ave.
Sunday, April 16 @ 7:00 PM
THE LOST CITY OF Z

Directed by James Gray • 2016
Based on author David Grann’s nonfiction bestseller, The Lost City of Z tells the incredible true story of British explorer Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam), who journeys into the Amazon at the dawn of the 20th century and discovers evidence of a previously unknown, advanced civilization that may have once inhabited the region. Despite being ridiculed by the scientific establishment who regard indigenous populations as “savages,” the determined Fawcett — supported by his devoted wife (Sienna Miller), son (Tom Holland) and aide-de-camp (Robert Pattinson) — returns time and again to his beloved jungle in an attempt to prove his case, culminating in his mysterious disappearance in 1925. An epically scaled tale of courage and passion, told in writer/director James Gray’s classic filmmaking style, The Lost City of Z is a stirring tribute to the exploratory spirit and a conflicted adventurer driven to the verge of obsession. Rated PG-13. (Description courtesy of Bleecker Street)
140 min • Bleecker Street Films/Amazon Studios • 35mm

Co-presented by Chicago Film Society, the Music Box Theatre, Bleecker Street Films, and Amazon Studio

THE LOST CITY OF Z opens in theatres nationwide on April 21st!

UPDATE: We have reached capacity for this event. If you already RSVPed, thank you! The theater has been overbooked, so please arrive early to assure a seat. If you were unable to RSVP, any unclaimed seats will open to the general public at 6:45pm.

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And please join us WEDNESDAY for another rare screening:

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

NOTE NEW SCREENING DATE: Wednesday, April 19 @ 7:30 PM
WHO KILLED TEDDY BEAR?
Directed by Joseph Cates • 1965
When a nightclub DJ (Juliet Prowse) receives threatening phone calls in the middle of the night, she enlists the help of detective Dave Madden (stand-up comedian and game show host Jan Murray, whose small time television personality is perfect for the role), specialist in “the sadomasochists, the voyeur masochists, the exhibitionists, the necrophiliacs,” to find the culprit. Sal Mineo, unable to avoid typecasting, is the brooding, sex-obsessed busboy who makes the calls and lives alone with his sister. A snaggly, nightmarish answer to Rebel Without a Cause, Who Killed Teddy Bear? was ahead of its time in dealing with sexual frankness, more empathetic than exploitative. Beautifully shot on location in New York by the underrated Joseph Brun (Cinerama Holiday, Wind Across the Everglades), Teddy Bear keeps its characters at arm’s length, obscured in flickery shadows and crying out for help. With Elaine Stritch in a heartbreaking turn as the nightclub manager. (JA)
94 min • Magna Pictures Distribution Corp. • 35mm from the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research
Preceded by: “Odyssey of a Dropout” (Coronet Films, 1966) – 16mm – 18 min

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Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Penultimate Film:
Veronika Voss – 35mm Screening at the Music Box

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

Monday, April 3 @ 7:00 PM
VERONIKA VOSS
Directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder • 1982
In German with English subtitles
Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s most unambiguously beautiful film was also the last one he lived to see released. Months after Veronika Voss premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival, where it would win the Golden Bear, Fassbinder would be dead of a drug overdose and his penultimate film would take on autobiographical echoes. Veronika Voss draws from the life and mysterious death of German actress Sybille Schmitz, best known abroad for her work in Carl Dreyer’s Vampyr but notorious in her home country for remaining active in the German film industry throughout the Third Reich. Fassbinder tracks the final days of his titular character (played with otherworldly abandon by the phenomenal German TV actress Rosel Zech), a has-been movie star with a paralyzing morphine addiction, as she is besieged by parasitic medical professionals, carries on an affair with a local sports reporter, and attempts to mount a comeback in the German film industry of the 1950s. Recalling the heyday of American film noir, as well as the horror-tinged melodramas Sunset Boulevard and The Seventh Victim, with the addition of more than a smidge of pitch-black humor and a quietly droning soundtrack of country music hits, Veronika Voss is an icy, monochrome masterpiece, in love with classic cinema and at odds with the industry behind it. (CW)
104 min • Tango Film • 35mm from Janus Films
Short: TBA

Advance tickets available on Brown Paper Tickets

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Veronika Voss – 35mm Screening at the Music Box

That’ll Do, Pig: George Miller’s Disorderly and Psychedelic Babe: Pig in the City Returns on 35mm – One Nite Only

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

Monday, March 13 @ 7:00 PM
BABE: PIG IN THE CITY
Directed by George Miller • 1998
Plot takes a backseat in George Miller’s disorderly and psychedelic sequel, which has more in common with films like Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory and The Wizard of Oz than it does with its heartwarming predecessor. When circumstances force our little pink hero to leave his idyllic home for the city, he finds himself in a twisted Frankenstein of a place, a mix of Baz Luhrmann’s Paris and all the cities you’ve ever known. Babe is quickly severed from his companion Mrs. Hoggett (Magda Szubanski) and left to discover the city’s untold wonders (and horrors) alone. Bizarre characters abound in this bestial Mad Max: a pregnant chimp in a dress, a paraplegic Jack Russell Terrier (Adam Goldberg), a poodle the color of cotton candy, and a ghastly clown (played by Mickey Rooney, of course). It’s a film that delighted critics (it was Gene Siskel’s best film pick of 1998), horrified parents, and developed a deserved cult following since its release. One website that rates media for kids produced such choice parental reviews as “It’s dark, depressing, scary, sad…How ANYONE (let alone Roger Ebert) could say this is BETTER than the first, I will never know.” I think Bob the chimpanzee (voiced by the great Steven Wright) would respond, “It’s all illusory – it’s ill, and it’s for losers.” (RL)
97 min • Universal Pictures • 35mm from Universal
Preceded by: “The Dancing Pig” (“Le cochon danseur”) (Pathé Frères, 1907) – 16mm – 4 min

Buy Tickets in advance on Brown Paper Tickets.

 

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Goy Meets Girl: Frank Capra’s Fable of Jewish-American Assimilation The Younger Generation – 35mm Screening

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

Wednesday, March 8 @ 7:30 PM
THE YOUNGER GENERATION
Directed by Frank Capra • 1929
Adapted from a play by Humoresque author Fannie Hurst, The Younger Generation is Columbia Pictures’s answer to The Jazz Singer, an altogether heartbreaking portrait of intergenerational conflict in New York’s Jewish community. Julius Goldfish (Jean Hersholt, namesake for the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences’s Humanitarian Award) is a modest man who lives on Delancey Street and earns his living by hawking kitchenwares from a pushcart. His son Morris (Ricardo Cortez) has his eyes set on tonier things; after demonstrating marketing acumen at an early age by turning a tragic tenement fire into a fire sale, Morris grows his father’s business until it becomes a respectable Fifth Avenue antique dealership. Faced with pressure to assimilate into Park Avenue society, our striver changes his name to the decidedly goyish Maurice Fish and proceeds to push away his family, particularly his sister (Lina Basquette) and her song-plugger boyfriend (Rex Lease). Originally shot as a silent picture, four talking sequences were added prior to release, if only to demonstrate the proper pronunciation of “Oy gevalt” to inhabitants of America’s Heartland. (KW)
84 min • Columbia Pictures • 35mm from Sony Pictures Repertory
Preceded by: “The Spider and the Fly” (1938) – 16mm – 12 min

Introduced by Nancy McVittie, Instructor in the College of Arts and Sciences at NEIU, and co-author of Fade to Gray: Aging in American Cinema

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