Author Archives: Chicago Film Society

Alan Rudolph’s Unwashed Soap Opera Afterglow in 35mm, Plus Everyone’s Favorite Unwashed Comedians

The Auditorium at Northeastern Illinois University – Building E, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave
General Admission: $7 • NEIU Students: $3

Wednesday, August 22 @ 7:30 PM
AFTERGLOW
Directed by Alan Rudolph • 1997
While CFS maintains this program is firmly not nostalgic, we can still get a little sad thinking about long-gone Chicago venues where a Sony Pictures Classics release like Afterglow might have screened. (It’s been so long, SPC doesn’t even own the copyright anymore.) Here in 2018, Robert Altman protégé Alan Rudolph’s affectionate portrait of two couples’ dysfunctional marriages feels like it’s from a different planet entirely. A former B-movie actress (Julie Christie, who was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance) and a splendiferously greasy handyman named Lucky Mann (Nick Nolte), have been married for years, but have slowly drifted apart. In a futuristic yuppie condo a few kilometers away, Lara Flynn Boyle tries to convince her petulant stuffed-shirt husband Jonny Lee Miller to have a baby, and hires Nolte to build the nursery. Inevitably, Nolte and Boyle get in the tub together, and the rest is history. Asked if Afterglow was a romantic comedy, Rudolph answered: “It’s more of an unwashed soap opera. Or a serious farce. The whole film is designed to be simultaneously humorous and serious, familiar and strange. Just like real life.” (JA)
119 min • Sandcastle 5 Productions • 35mm from Chicago Film Society Collections, permission Moonstone
Short: The Three Stooges in “Corny Casanovas” (Jules White, 1952) – 16 min – 16 mm

 Check out the rest of the season here!

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They Don’t Make ’em Like This Anymore – Fortunately: Juleen Compton’s Plastic Dome of Norma Jean – 8/15

The Auditorium at Northeastern Illinois University – Building E, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave
General Admission: $7 • NEIU Students: $3


Wednesday, August 15 @ 7:30 PM
THE PLASTIC DOME OF NORMA JEAN
Directed by Juleen Compton • 1966
One of the strangest independent features of the 1960s, The Plastic Dome of Norma Jean plays like a sun-bleached, bubblegum messiah variant on A Hard Day’s Night or perhaps a Roger Corman AIP youthpic remake of Corn’s-A-Poppin’. Teenage clairvoyant/divining rod/beat poet Norma Jean (Sharon Henesy) and her boyfriend (Robert Gentry) order a plastic dome from a catalog, but before they can even unload the crate, their Ozark hoedown is spoiled by the appearance of a huckster boy band (whose members include a 25-year-old Sam Waterston!). The rock ’n’ roll mop tops co-opt the dome and try to turn it into a tent revival scam, an effort made easier when the mayor of Cablerock, Missouri, gets involved and springs for some spotlights. Norma runs away and takes refuge in an abandoned school bus at the town dump, where she meets a happy hobo and his beloved rabbit. Though comparatively obscure in film circles, Juleen Compton was a prominent member of the New York theater scene — a protégé of Clifford Odets and Lee Strasberg, the wife of Harold Clurman, and later the director of the Century Center for the Performing Arts.  Compton self-financed Plastic Dome and its predecessor, Stranded, her career in real estate and interior design, but never managed to break Hollywood’s glass ceiling. Restored by UCLA Film & Television Archive with funding provided by Century Arts Foundation. (KW)
82 min • Compton Films • 35mm from UCLA Film & Television Archives
Short: “Scarface and Aphrodite” (Vernon Zimmerman, 1963) – 15 min – 16mm from Film-makers Coop

 Check out the rest of the season here!

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More Is More: Tsui Hark’s Green Snake Screens at the Music Box on August 13 – 35mm Archival Print

Music Box Theatre – 3733 N. Southport Ave.
General Admission: $10 •  Advance Tickets Here


August 13 @ 7:00 PM
GREEN SNAKE
Directed by Tsui Hark • 1993
In Cantonese with English subtitles
Hong Kong pop cinema wasn’t exactly sober or sedate before the arrival of Tsui Hark, but once the master of renegade Cantonese genre fare hit the scene in the late ’70s, things got decidedly wilder and weirder. Tsui was 14 years and 22 films deep into his career as a director and had moved from punk rock outsider to studio mogul when he made his revisionist wuxia masterpiece Green Snake, a film that married the surface appeal of a special effects-heavy martial arts blowout with a colorful, hyperactive style and subversive sense of humor reminiscent of Frank Tashlin played at centuple speed. An update of the undying folk tale Madame White Snake, Green Snake features Hong Kong superstars Maggie Cheung and Joey Wong as a pair of sororal snake spirits hunted by a puritanical Buddhist monk after taking human form. Wong’s White Snake, whose human existence is validated by romantic love and motherhood, may have been the focus of the original story, but Tsui’s film is equally concerned with Cheung’s Green Snake, a character more comfortable eating rats and slithering through the marshes abutting her palatial estate than living among people. Tsui’s apparent working maxim of “more is more” pays off in spades here, as every overindulgent camera tilt and oversized snake prosthetic serve to push this outrightly ridiculous pulp concoction ever closer to the sublime. (CW)
99 min. • Film Workshop • 35mm from the Academy Film Archive
Preceded by: ’90s Hong Kong Trailer Reel

——

The Auditorium at Northeastern Illinois University – Building E, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave
General Admission: $7 • NEIU Students: $3


Wednesday, August 15 @ 7:30 PM
THE PLASTIC DOME OF NORMA JEAN
Directed by Juleen Compton • 1966
One of the strangest independent features of the 1960s, The Plastic Dome of Norma Jean plays like a sun-bleached, bubblegum messiah variant on A Hard Day’s Night or perhaps a Roger Corman AIP youthpic remake of Corn’s-A-Poppin’. Teenage clairvoyant/divining rod/beat poet Norma Jean (Sharon Henesy) and her boyfriend (Robert Gentry) order a plastic dome from a catalog, but before they can even unload the crate, their Ozark hoedown is spoiled by the appearance of a huckster boy band (whose members include a 25-year-old Sam Waterston!). The rock ’n’ roll mop tops co-opt the dome and try to turn it into a tent revival scam, an effort made easier when the mayor of Cablerock, Missouri, gets involved and springs for some spotlights. Norma runs away and takes refuge in an abandoned school bus at the town dump, where she meets a happy hobo and his beloved rabbit. Though comparatively obscure in film circles, Juleen Compton was a prominent member of the New York theater scene — a protégé of Clifford Odets and Lee Strasberg, the wife of Harold Clurman, and later the director of the Century Center for the Performing Arts.  Compton self-financed Plastic Dome and its predecessor, Stranded, her career in real estate and interior design, but never managed to break Hollywood’s glass ceiling. Restored by UCLA Film & Television Archive with funding provided by Century Arts Foundation. (KW)
82 min • Compton Films • 35mm from UCLA Film & Television Archives
Short: “Scarface and Aphrodite” (Vernon Zimmerman, 1963) – 15 min – 16mm from Film-makers Coop

 Check out the rest of the season here!

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Follow the Blue Bird of Happiness to the Music Box on August 11 – Maurice Tourneur’s Masterpiece in 35mm

Music Box Theatre – 3733 N. Southport Ave.
General Admission: $11 •  Advance Tickets Here

Saturday, August 11 @ 11:30 AM / Live Organ Accompaniment by Dennis Scott
THE BLUE BIRD
Directed by Maurice Tourneur • 1918
Nobel laureate Maurice Maeterlinck’s 1908 play The Blue Bird had already charmed audiences in Moscow, London, and New York by the time this magical adaptation reached the screen. The simple fairy tale of Mytyl and Tytyl, children who journey through enchanted lands in search of the Bluebird of Happiness, provided the ideal material for Maurice Tourneur, the French émigré who brought a wispy Pictorialist sensibility to the wilds of New Jersey. Aided immensely by the craftwork of Tourneur’s regular collaborators — the elaborate set design of Ben Carré, the expert trick photography of John van den Broek and Charles Van Enger — this delicate dream of a film excels in realizing the stranger aspects of Maeterlinck’s play with wide-eyed, guileless gusto: the spirits and fairies, the living souls of everyday objects like bread and milk, the Cathedral of Happiness, and more. The reviews were sensational, but The Blue Bird was roundly rejected by exhibitors as too arty for its own good. Seen now in a tinted preservation print, The Blue Bird fully earns the hyperbole of Photoplay a century ago: “It is so beautiful from beginning to end that it fairly stings the senses, awakening in the spectator esthetic emotions so long dormant, so seldom exercised, that the flashing light of the awakening is almost a surfeit of joy.” (KW)
80 min • Artcraft Pictures Corporation • 35mm from George Eastman Museum
Short: “Voice of the Nightingale” (Wladyslaw Starewicz, 1925) – 13 min – 16mm

——
Music Box Theatre – 3733 N. Southport Ave.
General Admission: $10 •  Advance Tickets Here


August 13 @ 7:00 PM
GREEN SNAKE
Directed by Tsui Hark • 1993
In Cantonese with English subtitles
Hong Kong pop cinema wasn’t exactly sober or sedate before the arrival of Tsui Hark, but once the master of renegade Cantonese genre fare hit the scene in the late ’70s, things got decidedly wilder and weirder. Tsui was 14 years and 22 films deep into his career as a director and had moved from punk rock outsider to studio mogul when he made his revisionist wuxia masterpiece Green Snake, a film that married the surface appeal of a special effects-heavy martial arts blowout with a colorful, hyperactive style and subversive sense of humor reminiscent of Frank Tashlin played at centuple speed. An update of the undying folk tale Madame White Snake, Green Snake features Hong Kong superstars Maggie Cheung and Joey Wong as a pair of sororal snake spirits hunted by a puritanical Buddhist monk after taking human form. Wong’s White Snake, whose human existence is validated by romantic love and motherhood, may have been the focus of the original story, but Tsui’s film is equally concerned with Cheung’s Green Snake, a character more comfortable eating rats and slithering through the marshes abutting her palatial estate than living among people. Tsui’s apparent working maxim of “more is more” pays off in spades here, as every overindulgent camera tilt and oversized snake prosthetic serve to push this outrightly ridiculous pulp concoction ever closer to the sublime. (CW)
99 min. • Film Workshop • 35mm from the Academy Film Archive
Preceded by: ’90s Hong Kong Trailer Reel

 Check out the rest of the season here!

Posted in News | Comments Off on Follow the Blue Bird of Happiness to the Music Box on August 11 – Maurice Tourneur’s Masterpiece in 35mm

UFOria – A Down Home Comedy That Out of This World! Rare 35mm Screening on Tuesday, August 7 at NEIU

The Auditorium at Northeastern Illinois University – Building E, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave
General Admission: $7 • NEIU Students: $3

Tuesday, August 7 @ 7:30 PM / NEIU
UFORIA
Directed by John Binder • 1985
What to do with an imminently sweet, critic-pleasing romantic comedy about the love between a supermarket checkout lady and a Waylon Jennings lookalike that tackles belief in God and flying saucers with great care and sensitivity? Bury it, apparently. Despite strong notices from pretty much every critic who saw it in 1985 (including a four star rave from Roger Ebert), UFOria failed to make any waves upon release and its subsequent scarcity on home video has kept the film from the adoring public it so clearly deserves. A never-sexier Fred Ward stars as layabout small-time crook Sheldon, who falls head over heels for the deeply religious and UFObsessed Arlene (Cindy Williams) after she catches him shoplifting beer. The two end up in bed together pretty quickly and soon enough they’re playing house. When Arlene begins developing premonitions of a coming extraterrestrial visit, Sheldon is forced to contend with his own skepticism and the craven advances of a revival tent preacher (Harry Dean Stanton, well within his comfort zone) looking to exploit his paramour. Reminiscent of no less than Dreyer’s Ordet (or would that be UFOrdet?) in its unadorned view of the miracle of love, UFOria may not have set the world on fire upon initial release, but that won’t stop it from finding apostles one repertory screening at a time. (CW)
93 min. • Melvin Simons Productions • 35mm from Universal
Short: “The Divine Miracle” (Daina Krumins, 1973) – 6 min – 16mm from Canyon Cinema

————

But that’s not all!

Music Box Theatre – 3733 N. Southport Ave.
General Admission: $11 •  Advance Tickets Here

Saturday, August 11 @ 11:30 AM / Live Organ Accompaniment by Dennis Scott
THE BLUE BIRD
Directed by Maurice Tourneur • 1918
Nobel laureate Maurice Maeterlinck’s 1908 play The Blue Bird had already charmed audiences in Moscow, London, and New York by the time this magical adaptation reached the screen. The simple fairy tale of Mytyl and Tytyl, children who journey through enchanted lands in search of the Bluebird of Happiness, provided the ideal material for Maurice Tourneur, the French émigré who brought a wispy Pictorialist sensibility to the wilds of New Jersey. Aided immensely by the craftwork of Tourneur’s regular collaborators — the elaborate set design of Ben Carré, the expert trick photography of John van den Broek and Charles Van Enger — this delicate dream of a film excels in realizing the stranger aspects of Maeterlinck’s play with wide-eyed, guileless gusto: the spirits and fairies, the living souls of everyday objects like bread and milk, the Cathedral of Happiness, and more. The reviews were sensational, but The Blue Bird was roundly rejected by exhibitors as too arty for its own good. Seen now in a tinted preservation print, The Blue Bird fully earns the hyperbole of Photoplay a century ago: “It is so beautiful from beginning to end that it fairly stings the senses, awakening in the spectator esthetic emotions so long dormant, so seldom exercised, that the flashing light of the awakening is almost a surfeit of joy.” (KW)
80 min • Artcraft Pictures Corporation • 35mm from George Eastman Museum
Short: “Voice of the Nightingale” (Wladyslaw Starewicz, 1925) – 13 min – 16mm

 Check out the rest of the season here!

Posted in News | Comments Off on UFOria – A Down Home Comedy That Out of This World! Rare 35mm Screening on Tuesday, August 7 at NEIU

Parental Discretion Strongly Irrelevant: Curt McDowell’s Peed Into the Wind & Shorts in Restored 16mm – Aug 4

Chicago Filmmakers – 5720 N Ridge Ave., Chicago, IL 60660
Tickets: $8

Saturday, August 4 @ 8 PM / Chicago Filmmakers
PEED INTO THE WIND
Directed by Curt McDowell • 1972
Unafraid to broach any taboo or flaunt any personal sexual proclivity, Curt McDowell’s cinema was dedicated to freeing the minds and bodies of the underground through stupid jokes and frank depictions of people fucking. Beginning his filmmaking career at the San Francisco Art Institute as a student (with benefits) of avant-garde legend George Kuchar, McDowell imported a great deal of his mentor’s camp sensibility into his own work but grounded the bad puns and flagrant melodramatics with a grungy sexual honesty that found liberation in exhibition. The first film of his to resemble something of a traditional narrative feature (he made the droning, abrasive Lunch for the hardcore market the same year), Peed Into the Wind stars McDowell himself as rock ’n’ roll hero Mick Terrific, an openly gay singer who nurses a shameful secret attraction to women. Absurdity abounds as McDowell proves there is no depth he won’t sink to for a laugh in his quest to put Mick through the sexual wringer. We’re proud to present the film George Kuchar likened to a “clogged toilet” and declared to have “the releasing power of an enema” in a beautiful new 16mm print, lovingly restored by the Academy Film Archive. (CW)
60 min. • 16mm from Canyon Cinema
Plus short films by Curt McDowell: “Kathleen Trailer (for Underground Cinema 12)” (1972, 1.5 min), “A Visit To Indiana” (1970, 10 min), “Truth For Ruth” (1972, 4 min), “Ronnie” (1972, 7 min) – 16mm

————

And coming next week:

The Auditorium at Northeastern Illinois University – Building E, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave
General Admission: $7 • NEIU Students: $3

Tuesday, August 7 @ 7:30 PM / NEIU
UFORIA
Directed by John Binder • 1985
What to do with an imminently sweet, critic-pleasing romantic comedy about the love between a supermarket checkout lady and a Waylon Jennings lookalike that tackles belief in God and flying saucers with great care and sensitivity? Bury it, apparently. Despite strong notices from pretty much every critic who saw it in 1985 (including a four star rave from Roger Ebert), UFOria failed to make any waves upon release and its subsequent scarcity on home video has kept the film from the adoring public it so clearly deserves. A never-sexier Fred Ward stars as layabout small-time crook Sheldon, who falls head over heels for the deeply religious and UFObsessed Arlene (Cindy Williams) after she catches him shoplifting beer. The two end up in bed together pretty quickly and soon enough they’re playing house. When Arlene begins developing premonitions of a coming extraterrestrial visit, Sheldon is forced to contend with his own skepticism and the craven advances of a revival tent preacher (Harry Dean Stanton, well within his comfort zone) looking to exploit his paramour. Reminiscent of no less than Dreyer’s Ordet (or would that be UFOrdet?) in its unadorned view of the miracle of love, UFOria may not have set the world on fire upon initial release, but that won’t stop it from finding apostles one repertory screening at a time. (CW)
93 min. • Melvin Simons Productions • 35mm from Universal
Short: “The Divine Miracle” (Daina Krumins, 1973) – 6 min – 16mm from Canyon Cinema

 Check out the rest of the season here!

Posted in News | Comments Off on Parental Discretion Strongly Irrelevant: Curt McDowell’s Peed Into the Wind & Shorts in Restored 16mm – Aug 4

Calling All Hard-Boiled Maidens: Clara Bow in Dorothy Arzner’s The Wild Party Screens on August 1 in 35mm

The Auditorium at Northeastern Illinois University – Building E, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave
General Admission: $7 • NEIU Students: $3

Wednesday, August 1 @ 7:30 PM
THE WILD PARTY
Directed by Dorothy Arzner • 1929
Clara Bow’s first talkie The Wild Party is best remembered as the film that brought Hollywood the boom mic: director Dorothy Arzner tied a microphone to a fishing pole to give Bow greater ease of movement on set. But this piece of technical innovation is far from the only reason The Wild Party is a remarkable film. As in Arzner’s other work (including Working Girls, which CFS screened last summer), it takes a standard flapper premise and turns it into something singular. Stella (Bow) is not only a party girl at Winston College for Women, she’s also an HBM (“hard-boiled maiden,” according to a sign Stella hangs in her room) that could give any modern HBIC a run for her money. That groups of men from the roadhouse to the frat house try to aggressively coerce Stella and her friends into sex feels unnervingly appropriate for 2018, just as Stella’s gutsy resistance to it feels like a refreshing cause for optimism. Meanwhile, though the plot is ostensibly about Stella’s budding romance with Professor Gil (Frederic March), the intimate body language and expressions of emotional commitment between Stella and her best friend Helen suggest which relationship is really most important. (JR)
77 min • Paramount Pictures • 35mm from Universal
Short: “Boys Will Be Boys” (George Stevens, 1932) – 20 min – 35mm

View the rest of the current season here!

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Flashbacks Within Flashbacks Within Flashbacks Within John Brahm’s The Locket on 35mm Within NEIU on July 25

The Auditorium at Northeastern Illinois University – Building E, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave
General Admission: $7 • NEIU Students: $3

Wednesday, July 25 @ 7:30 PM
THE LOCKET
Directed by John Brahm • 1946
John Brahm’s neglected follow-up to his Gothic sensations The Lodger and Hangover Square is 200-proof film noir, choked to the brim with baroque deception, a torrent of psychological torment, and a flashback structure that makes Citizen Kane look like a piker. The Locket begins on the wedding day of Nancy Patton (Laraine Day) and John Willis (Gene Raymond), an occasion interrupted by the appearance of Nancy’s ex-husband, Dr. Blair (Brian Aherne), who warns of his former wife’s unstable past. Yet Dr. Blair’s story isn’t even primarily about their own failed marriage, but Nancy’s other previous relationship with bohemian painter Norman Clyde (Robert Mitchum), who noticed a streak of kleptomania that Nancy justifies on the basis of a primal childhood trauma. As the documentarian Errol Morris observes, “Temporal disorder triumphs. Flashbacks within flashbacks within flashbacks. Does the flashback provide an explanation for action or does it avoid an explanation of action? Here each revelation of the past renders the present more opaque.” Luckily, even as the story grows more obscure, the sense of craft is ever present and tightly controlled, with lovely cinematography from Nicholas Musuraca and a surprising turn from Mitchum, rising through the ranks of the studio and still molding his laconic persona in the wake of his first and only Oscar nomination for The Story of G.I. Joe. (KW)
85 min • RKO Radio Pictures • 35mm from Warner Bros., permission Swank
Film Stock: AGFA
Short: The Twilight Zone: “A Nice Place to Visit” (John Brahm, 1960) – 25 min – 16mm

 

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Jean Grémillon’s Silent Masterwork The Lighthouse Keepers – 35mm Print Imported from Japan! Live Organ Accompaniment by Dennis Scott, July 21

Music Box Theatre – 3733 N. Southport Ave.
General Admission: $11 •  Advance Tickets Here

Saturday, July 21 @ 11:30 AM 
Live Organ Accompaniment by Dennis Scott
THE LIGHTHOUSE KEEPERS (Gardiens de phare)
Directed by Jean Grémillon • 1929
French intertitles with English subtitles
The director Jean Grémillon came to cinema through music; he became intoxicated with the form while accompanying silent films and his sense of rhythm remained intact when he put down the violin and took up the camera. Initially training as a documentary filmmaker and later dabbling in the avant-garde, Gremillon transitioned to narrative features at the very end of the silent era. His second, The Lighthouse Keepers, was shot in a studio, but retains the flavor of Grémillon’s native Brittany, where the story is set. A father (Paul Fromet) tends a remote lighthouse with his son (Geymond Vital), who longs to be reunited with his fiancée (Genica Athanasiou). Unbeknownst to the father, the son was recently bitten by a rabid dog and finds himself slowly going insane and turning violent. Adapted by Jacques Feyder from a one-act play from the infamous Théâtre du Grand-Guignol, The Lighthouse Keepers is notable for its expressionistic distortions and masterful editing, continually finding new ways to represent abnormal psychological realms. The French answer to The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, The Lighthouse Keepers provides an unforgettable climax to the visual invention of the silent era. (KW)
73 min • Société des Films du Grand Guignol • 35mm from National Film Archive of Japan, courtesy of National Film Center, Tokyo
Short: Billie Bletcher in “The Fresh Lobster” (c. 1920s) – 7 min – 16mm

——-

And coming next week …

The Auditorium at Northeastern Illinois University – Building E, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave
General Admission: $7 • NEIU Students: $3

Wednesday, July 25 @ 7:30 PM
THE LOCKET
Directed by John Brahm • 1946
John Brahm’s neglected follow-up to his Gothic sensations The Lodger and Hangover Square is 200-proof film noir, choked to the brim with baroque deception, a torrent of psychological torment, and a flashback structure that makes Citizen Kane look like a piker. The Locket begins on the wedding day of Nancy Patton (Laraine Day) and John Willis (Gene Raymond), an occasion interrupted by the appearance of Nancy’s ex-husband, Dr. Blair (Brian Aherne), who warns of his former wife’s unstable past. Yet Dr. Blair’s story isn’t even primarily about their own failed marriage, but Nancy’s other previous relationship with bohemian painter Norman Clyde (Robert Mitchum), who noticed a streak of kleptomania that Nancy justifies on the basis of a primal childhood trauma. As the documentarian Errol Morris observes, “Temporal disorder triumphs. Flashbacks within flashbacks within flashbacks. Does the flashback provide an explanation for action or does it avoid an explanation of action? Here each revelation of the past renders the present more opaque.” Luckily, even as the story grows more obscure, the sense of craft is ever present and tightly controlled, with lovely cinematography from Nicholas Musuraca and a surprising turn from Mitchum, rising through the ranks of the studio and still molding his laconic persona in the wake of his first and only Oscar nomination for The Story of G.I. Joe. (KW)
85 min • RKO Radio Pictures • 35mm from Warner Bros., permission Swank
Short: The Twilight Zone: “A Nice Place to Visit” (John Brahm, 1960) – 25 min – 16mm

 

Posted in News | Comments Off on Jean Grémillon’s Silent Masterwork The Lighthouse Keepers – 35mm Print Imported from Japan! Live Organ Accompaniment by Dennis Scott, July 21

Journey with Michael Powell to Ultima Thule — The Edge of the World — 35mm Screening on July 18 at NEIU

The Auditorium at Northeastern Illinois University – Building E, 3701 W. Bryn Mawr Ave
General Admission: $7 • NEIU Students: $3

Wednesday, July 18 @ 7:30 PM
THE EDGE OF THE WORLD
Directed by Michael Powell • 1937
“When the Roman fleet first sailed round Britain they saw from the Orkneys a distant island, like a blue haze across a hundred miles of sea. They called it —ULTIMA THULE, The Edge of the World.” After apprenticing for Rex Ingram in the silent era, Michael Powell graduated to directing in the 1930s, turning out disposable “quota quickies,” so named because English law demanded a minimum annual number of domestic productions that were effectively audience-proof. The Edge of the World was Powell’s first opportunity to make a film of his choosing, a lovely and mystical film that fuses Scottish folklore, sternly tactile landscapes, and a low-key romance between Belle Chrystall and Niall MacGinnis. Set and shot on the isle of Foula, an isolated land grown barren, The Edge of the World is the kind of film where political disputes about evacuating to the mainland are settled by a race up the cliffside — a touch that would play like extravagant whimsy if not for the life-or-death stakes. As Roger Ebert observed, “The cliff-climbing scenes are especially dramatic, and, watching them, I realized that in most climbing scenes the climbers seem heroic. Here they seem tiny and endangered. It is the cliff that seems heroic, and that is probably the right way around.” (KW)
74 min • Rock Productions • 35mm from Milestone Films
Short: “An Airman’s Letter to His Mother” (Michael Powell, 1941) – 5 min – 35mm

——-

And coming later this week …

Music Box Theatre – 3733 N. Southport Ave.
General Admission: $11 •  Advance Tickets Here

Saturday, July 21 @ 11:30 AM 
Live Organ Accompaniment by Dennis Scott
THE LIGHTHOUSE KEEPERS (Gardiens de phare)
Directed by Jean Grémillon • 1929
French intertitles with English subtitles
The director Jean Grémillon came to cinema through music; he became intoxicated with the form while accompanying silent films and his sense of rhythm remained intact when he put down the violin and took up the camera. Initially training as a documentary filmmaker and later dabbling in the avant-garde, Gremillon transitioned to narrative features at the very end of the silent era. His second, The Lighthouse Keepers, was shot in a studio, but retains the flavor of Grémillon’s native Brittany, where the story is set. A father (Paul Fromet) tends a remote lighthouse with his son (Geymond Vital), who longs to be reunited with his fiancée (Genica Athanasiou). Unbeknownst to the father, the son was recently bitten by a rabid dog and finds himself slowly going insane and turning violent. Adapted by Jacques Feyder from a one-act play from the infamous Théâtre du Grand-Guignol, The Lighthouse Keepers is notable for its expressionistic distortions and masterful editing, continually finding new ways to represent abnormal psychological realms. The French answer to The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, The Lighthouse Keepers provides an unforgettable climax to the visual invention of the silent era. (KW)
73 min • Société des Films du Grand Guignol • 35mm from National Film Archive of Japan, courtesy of National Film Center, Tokyo
Short: Billie Bletcher in “The Fresh Lobster” (c. 1920s) – 7 min – 16mm

Posted in News | Comments Off on Journey with Michael Powell to Ultima Thule — The Edge of the World — 35mm Screening on July 18 at NEIU