Tag Archives: portoluz

The Old Way of Getting It Out: An Interview with Lucy Massie Phenix About You Got to Move

Everyone brings their own personal baggage to the movies, and I don’t think I’m alone in treating them too readily as literature. Much of the vocabulary we apply to film comes from long-ago high school English classes. We assume that every detail is a puzzle piece that leads inexorably to a deliberate display of thematic unity and artistic expression. Analyze this film, we’re asked, and we begin to point out a camera movement like it’s an enjambment in a poem. We’re blessed with a bag of critical tools but we apply them as if every work is a self-contained thing that we can understand without leaving the house. Continue reading

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Radical Spinach: Wild Boys of the Road

Who was this movie made for?

Often the answer is obvious enough (housewives, teenage boys, the Friday night drive-in bumpkin, the half-conscious grindhouse denizen, etc.), but in some special cases, the interrogation itself opens up and deepens the mystery of the film in question. In those instances, the absence of a readily identifiable target audience makes the fact of a film’s production and release all the more beguiling.

Let’s talk about Wild Boys of the Road. It’s commonly reckoned an exemplar of the social problem film as developed by Warner Bros. in the 1930s. As Nick Roddick points out in his study of the studio corpus, A New Deal in Entertainment, such films were memorable and distinctive, but hardly plentiful. Warner Bros., like every other major studio, released a film a week in the 1930s, most of them bread-and-butter pictures that kidded campus life or military hijinks. The ambitious, socially-conscious pictures like Black Legion or They Won’t Forget were the exception to the surly, comfortable rule. Continue reading

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Programming: Selecting/Unselecting

The Northwest Chicago Film Society is starting its fifth season this Wednesday with a 35mm print of The Trouble with Harry, a film that has the strange distinction of usually being regarded as ‘minor Hitchcock’ despite the fact that most everyone quite likes it, especially around these parts.

After that, we’re embarking on a collaborative series with portoluz, a local and like-minded non-profit organization devoted to, in their words, “creating sanctuaries for progressive culture.” Throughout the summer, portoluz will be sponsoring and curating a variety of cultural programming that re-examines the travails of the Depression and its policy legacy—a timely focus given renewed efforts to rollback and eradicate the progressive achievements of the twentieth century.

Though we feel there’s long been a political consciousness running through our programming and this blog, we had no qualms about making this commitment explicit.

But in many ways, the whole idea of running a series as such did represent a shift in what we do, and we want to talk about it this week on the blog. Continue reading

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