The Chicago Rep-port: 6/9 to 6/15, by Aaron Pinkston
Repertory 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.
Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N State St
Jean-Pierre Melville: Criminal Codes continues on into its second week with a double feature of austere Jean-Paul Belmondo star vehicles. First up, on Saturday and Tuesday, is Le Doulos (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1962, 35mm), a hard-boiled noir with a recently released burglar Maurice (Serge Reggiani), who confides in his friend Serge (Belmondo) for help with a future crime—but can Serge, secretly a police informant, be trusted?
Set apart from his typical crime noirs, Léon Morin, Priest (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1961, DCP) still delivers on the auteur’s style. The film stars Belmondo as a young priest who encounters a faithless young widow, played by Emmanuelle Riva. Their relationship wonderfully develops over the course of the film through their arguments on life and religion. And the two stars were both at the top of their game, with Belmondo a year after Breathless and Riva just two years after Hiroshima, Mon Amour. Léon Morin, Priest is showing on Saturday afternoon and Thursday evening.
If you want to catch both films on Saturday (and why wouldn’t you?), you can buy a double-bill ticket at a discounted rate!
Music Box Theatre, 3733 N Southport Ave
The Music Box has a loaded line-up this week, highlighted by their series The Films of Edgar Wright. With Wright’s newest film Baby Driver set to hit theaters later this month, this is a great time to revisit his hilarious and kinetic genre mash-ups in a theater all on 35mm. The series includes all four of Wright’s features: Shaun of the Dead (Edgar Wright, 2004, 35mm), Hot Fuzz (Edgar Wright, 2007, 35mm), Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (Edgar Wright, 2010, 35mm), and The World’s End (Edgar Wright, 2013, 35mm). Each film has multiple screenings throughout the week, so check the link above for all the details.
This weekend’s Friday and Saturday midnight screenings offer two very strange horror experiences. First is the notorious Japanese House (Nobuhiko Ôbayashi, 1977, 35mm). One of the strangest films ever made, the haunted house horror flick has found a cult resurgence in recent years for its offbeat scares and relentless weirdness. More of an experience than a film, it is a perfect midnight film. The midnight counterprogramming is A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (Ana Lily Amirpour, 2014, format unknown), a beautiful and bizarre vampire film set in “Bad City,” an Iranian ghost town. If you missed this film a few years back, it is worth catching up before Amirpour’s follow-up The Bad Batch hits theaters in a few weeks.
Silent cinema returns to the Music Box for a Saturday matinee with a set of classic Laurel and Hardy short films. The 80 minute program, shown on 35mm, highlights the best work of the comedy duo, including Two Wars (1928), Wrong Again (1929), and Big Business (1929).
On Monday, the Chicago Film Society presents Pale Flower (Masahiro Shinoda, 1964, 35mm), a classic of Japanese yakuza film. The film is focused on Muraki, a gangster recently released from prison who has to adapt to life back in the complex crime syndicate. It is Saeko, a young woman who dives into the male dominated gambling dens, who gives the film its flavor, though—actress Mariko Kaga gives an incredibly lively performance as the mysterious femme fatale.
Finally, the penultimate screening in the “Is It Still Funny?” series is Caddyshack (Harold Ramis, 1980, 35mm), worthy of the reevaluation in my mind. The golf comedy is ambitiously silly, but its sometimes abrasive humor may not have held up over the years. But with stars Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield, and others, it has the pedigree that some consider one of the funniest films ever made. Caddyshack screens on Tuesday, June 13.
Patio Theater, 6008 W. Irving Park Rd
One of the weekend’s highlights is “Summer Scares!,” a mini-marathon presentation from local festival programming group Terror in the Aisles. The line-up kicks off with a block of horror shorts made by local filmmakers before moving into the main program of horror and camp classics Return of the Living Dead (Dan O’Bannon, 1985, format unknown), Friday the 13th (Sean S. Cunningham, 1980, format unknown), Sorority Babes at the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama (David DeCoteau, 1988, format unknown), and a midnight screening of Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers (Fred Olen Ray, 1988, format unknown). Special guests include scream queen Linnea Quigley (who appears in three of the four scheduled films) and Ari Lehman, the original Jason! Tickets are on presale for only $13, if you wait to buy at the door, it’ll cost you two dollars more.
The Logan Theatre, 2646 N Milwaukee Ave
This week in the June “Summer Mix” series are two very different films with cult reputations. On June 9-12 is Spaceballs (Mel Brooks, 1987, format unknown), the Star Wars spoof from the spoof master. While Spaceballs doesn’t have the critical reputation of Young Frankenstein or Blazing Saddles, its broad and endlessly silly humor wonderfully punches up at the most revered fantasy franchise.
Following up on June 13-15 is Tank Girl (Rachel Talalay, 1995, format unknown) starring Lori Petty as the title character, a punk rock patroller of the dystopian wasteland. Misunderstood upon its release, Tank Girl has slowly found a cult audience but is ripe for a full reevaluation. Colorful, snarky and so very strange, it is a sadly forgotten female superhero story in a film landscape of too few.
Classic Series at Cinemark, various Chicago locations
The Classic Series turns to a tried-and-true comedy masterpiece Some Like It Hot (Billy Wilder, 1959, format unknown), presented by TCM on Sunday and Wednesday. Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon star as two witnesses on the run from the mob who hide as part of an all-girl travelling band. Problem is, it is difficult to ignore the charms of beautiful Sugar Kane Kowalczyk (Marilyn Monroe, in one of her last and best starring roles).
Chicago Park District Movies in the Park, various Chicago locations
While you can find a full list of the movies in the park this week here, there are a few particular films worthy of a highlight:
On Monday, June 12 at Lincoln Park (south of Belmont Harbor, east of Lake Shore Drive) is North by Northwest (Alfred Hitchcock, 1959, format unknown). The chase across America is one of the Master of Suspense’s best films and a great summer kick-off.
On Tuesday, June 13 at Grant Park (337 E. Randolph St.) is the family friendly action-fantasy Jumanji (Joe Johnston, 1995, format unknown).