The Chicago Rep-port: 3/14 to 3/20, by Aaron Pinkston
Repertoire screenings may not be as abundant in Chicago as they are in LA/NY, but when you look around, there are many theatergoing delights. The Chicago Rep-port is a weekly(ish) series highlighting the best and most compelling repertory screenings in the Second City.
Per usual, the Music Box Theatre is a good place to kick off the Rep-port, as they have a widely diverse sampling of repertory screenings this week. Most prominent is their Easter weekend celebration of nostalgia classic Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (Mel Stuart, 1971, 35mm). One of the best things about Easter is all the chocolate, so this is a perfect pairing. You can catch in on Saturday, April 14 at 2:00 pm.
The Music Box is also kicking off a new weekend matinee series: Not Quite for Kids, exploring children-friendly films that have a little more of an edge to them than expected—debuting the same weekend they are showing Willy Wonka makes some sense. This week, though, you can see sci-fi spectacular Forbidden Planet (Fred McLeod Wilcox, 1956, 35mm) on Saturday and Sunday at 11:30 am. Future films in the series include Watership Down and a rare screening of 1933 live-action version of Alice and Wonderland.
One of my favorite series ongoing at the Music Box is Is It Still Funny? and this week’s question focuses on one of my favorite comedies, Sleeper (Woody Allen, 1973, 35mm). To me, the answer is a quick “yes” but host Mark Caro wonders if the bizarre and incredibly silly look at the future still holds up. If you haven’t seen Sleeper, you should clear your schedule on Wednesday, April 19 at 7:30 pm.
Rounding out the Music Box this week is Pola Negri silent rarity Barbed Wire (Rowland V. Lee, 1927, 16mm) on Tuesday, April 18 at 7:30 pm. The anti-war film is known as a spiritual predecessor to All Quiet on the Western Front [Editor’s note: it’s fantastic]. Finally, this week’s midnight movie is crazy wuxia Five Element Ninjas (Cheh Chang, 1982, 35mm) on both Friday and Saturday nights.
Continuing their partnering series with the School of the Art Institute, New Sensory Cinema, the Gene Siskel Film Center is screening Choose Me (Alan Rudolph, 1984, 35mm) on Friday, April 14 and Tuesday, April, 15 (Tuesday screening includes a post-film discussion led by film professor and artist Melika Bass). Of the films in the series, Choose Me is probably the most underseen, so this is a great chance to discover it. Set in Los Angeles, Choose Me is a Robert Altman-esque wind through the romantic entanglements of night club Eve’s Lounge.
Also showing at the Siskel this week is a Saturday early afternoon matinee spotlighting the work of film pioneer Lois Weber, Where Are My Children? (Lois Weber, 1916, DCP courtesy of Flicker Alley). This is part of a larger series on the filmmaker, which I’ve somehow missed until now. To appeal to the most hardcore silent film fans, the screening of Where Are My Children? will be accompanied by live piano and preceded by Weber’s most famous short film Suspense.
To break down all the goings on at Doc Films, I’ll use bullet form:
- Monday, Heat and Sand: The Desert Film: Wake in Fright (Ted Kotcheff, 1971, 35mm), a small town Outback thriller with a nightmarish edge
- Tuesday, Stories from the New Land: Chronicles of the Migrant Experience: Black Girl (Ousmane Sembène, 1966, DCP), one of the landmark films from Africa from one of the continent’s best filmmakers. The film will be preceded by Sembene short film Borom Sarret.
- Wednesday, Robert Bresson: “Find Without Seeking”: Pickpocket (Robert Bresson, 1959, 35mm), perhaps my favorite of Bresson’s films, a neorealist style existential morality tale.
- Thursday, Defend the Keep: Sieges, Encirclements, and Last Stands: Mad Max: Fury Road—Black & Chrome Edition (George Miller, 2015, DCP), for which you don’t need convincing.
- Thursday, Neon Noir: Fluorescent Visions of Vice and Violence: Repo Man (Alex Cox, 1984, 35mm), punk rock splashed science fiction with one of the most insane narratives and featuring a landmark performance from Harry Dean Stanton.
If you’re looking for more, Blade Runner: The Final Cut (Ridley Scott, 1982, format unknown) is making its way to the Logan Theatre in case you missed it at the Music Box a few weeks back. They are also continuing their comic book series with Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Pt. 2 (David Yates, 2011, format unknown), which isn’t based on a comic book but I’ll overlook it.
Last but certainly not least, on Thursday, April 20, Northwestern’s Block Museum is screening D’Est (Chantal Akerman, 1993, 16mm) as part of their look at the French auteur. The film is a personal look at Eastern Europe after the fall of the Soviet Union, a thematically rich and cinematically under-explored historical time and place.