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
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


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
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