Monthly Archives: April 2019

New Season Begins May 4 with “Bill Hart in Evening Clothes”: William S. Hart’s Branding Broadway in 35mm

Music Box Theatre – 3733 N Southport Ave., Chicago, IL 60613
Tickets: $11

Saturday, May 4 @ 11:30 AM
BRANDING BROADWAY
Directed by William S. Hart • 1918
Live organ accompaniment by Music Box house organist Dennis Scott
The popular Western actor-director William S. Hart was releasing films at such a gallop—1918 saw eight features and a half-reel short for the Liberty Loan Campaign in which Hart took a six-gun to the Kaiser—that studio marketers understandably emphasized novelty whenever possible. Hence Branding Broadway, the story of a Western rabble-rouser run out of Arizona on a rail and deposited in Manhattan to play bodyguard for a rich kid, was advertised as a gawky new opportunity to “See Bill Hart in Evening Clothes!” The formal get-up was surely old hat to Hart, born in Newburgh, New York, and a Broadway star long before he ever plied his trade on screen, but he understood the need to vary the product as much as any studio flack; he would also play an Aztec chieftain in The Captive God (1916) and a factory-foreman-turned-kidnapper in the labor drama The Whistle (1921). This proto-Coogan’s Bluff finds time for unlikely romance, physical comedy, and a few saloon dust-ups, and remains a Hart film through-and-through. As Hart scholar Diane Koszarski has argued, “Hart’s characteristic signature as an auteur is the glowing moral intensity of his films; it glimmers fitfully even in a light-hearted piece like Branding Broadway.” (KW)
53 min • Paramount-Artcraft • 35mm from the Museum of Modern Art
Short: “Angel of Hell’s Kitchen” (a.k.a. “Mr. ‘Silent’ Haskins”) (William S. Hart, 1915) – 10 min – 35mm from Library of Congress

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

Wednesday, May 8 @ 7:30 PM / NEIU
DRIFTING CLOUDS
Directed by Aki Kaurismäki • 1996
In Finnish with English subtitles
Each night after Ilona (Kati Outinen) finishes her shift as maître d’ at Dubrovnik, the finest Cold War-era eatery in a relentlessly neoliberal world, she waits on the sidewalk for the tram. Its driver is her husband Lauri (Kari Väänänen), and their wee-hours rendezvous is among the cinema’s humblest odes to the joys of marriage and public transportation. Alas, both Ilona and Lauri are laid off within the first reel of Drifting Clouds, and their earnest efforts to regain dignity and cash flow form the backbone of this scrappy and unassuming comedy from singular Finnish filmmaker Aki Kaurismäki. (Alas, their pooch Pietari can’t chip in, though we would hire him in a second.) A gentle critique of modern consumer society that registers equal exasperation for well-honed tropes of labor exploitation and blockbuster moviemaking, Drifting Clouds plays like a deadpan reimagining of a pre-Code unemployment romance. “It has always been my secret ambition to make films that the viewer walks out from feeling a little happier than when entering the cinema,” said Kaurismäki “With this subject it was imperative … I had to find optimism without losing grip on reality, make modern neorealism in color.” (KW)
97 min • Sputnik Oy • 35mm from Finnish Film Foundation, permission Janus Films
Short: “Rocky VI” (Aki Kaurismäki, 1986) – 9 min – 35mm from the Finnish Film Foundation

Check out the rest of the new season here!

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