The Chicago Rep-port: 7/14 to 7/20, 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
One the heels of showing the Chicago premiere of Bertrand Tavernier new documentary My Journey Through French Cinema, the Siskel has put together a screening series of films that were highlighted by the great French auteur: Journeys Through French Cinema. Running through the end of July, the series features nine of the greatest films to come out of the prominent cinema, kicking off with three undoubted masterpieces.
First is Grand Illusion (Jean Renoir, 1937, 35mm), one of the greatest WWI films ever made, capturing the experience of a group of French P.O.W.s and the relationships between soldiers and officers on both sides of the conflict. The film is both emotionally stirring and masterfully entertaining, as good as it gets for classic film of its era. You have two chances to catch Grand Illusion, on Friday, July 14 and Saturday, July 15.
Perhaps the only way to top Grand Illusion is to highlight Renoir’s next film, his masterpiece The Rules of the Game (Jean Renoir, 1939, 35mm). Often considered among the best few films ever made, it is a savagely satirical profile of the European ruling class. Both incredibly funny and a technical marvel, the film’s narrative is an absolute whirlwind of intertwining dramas and character relationships. A rare opportunity to see the film on 35mm is available on Sunday, July 16 and Wednesday, July 19.
Less known but still incredibly important in the landscape of 1930s French cinema, Le jour se lève (Marcel Carné, 1939, DCP) is a proto-noir that tells its dark story in a still innovative way. It is also a showcase of star Jean Gabin (also seen in Grand Illusion), who was one of the biggest stars in the world at the time and the most important face in French cinema before the New Wave. The film plays Saturday, July 15 and Monday, July 17.
And if you want to catch both Grand Illusion and Le jour se lève 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
While most of the Music Box’s week is dedicated to the first-run of new comedy The Little Hours, there are still a few intriguing rep screenings taking place at Chicago’s finest movie palace. Most interestingly is perhaps the midnight screenings of a Hong Kong action classic, Hard Boiled (John Woo, 1992, 35mm). By the time of Hard Boiled’s release, Woo had already established himself as an action superstar filmmaker, but this is his tour de force—a pulse-pounded, double gun wielding, blend of ultra violence and ultra art.
After the late nights on Friday and Saturday, come back for weekend matinees of a special presentation of classic Looney Tunes shorts on 35mm, screening both Saturday and Sunday at 11 am. The 3-hour long program features some of the studio’s best work, including What’s Opera, Doc? (Chuck Jones, 1957, 35mm), Duck Amuck (Chuck Jones, 1953, 35mm), Rabbit of Seville (Chuck Jones, 1950, 35mm), and more!
On Sunday, July 16, local critic Mark Caro’s Is It Still Funny? series returns with The Birdcage (Mike Nichols, 1996, 35mm). Though it is a remake of an irreverent French film from the peak of irreverent comedies, The Birdcage may have surpassed its predecessor’s cultural cache. Still, now more than 20 years since its release, this is a good time to revisit the comedy to see how its portrayal of gay characters has changed as gay representations have dramatically changed over that time.
Finally, the Music Box will be home to the Chicago wing of July 19’s nationwide celebration of Jonathan Demme with its showcase of the eclectic director’s concert masterpiece Stop Making Sense (Jonathan Demme, 1984, DCP). The Talking Heads’ landmark performance film has been fresh on the minds of music and film lovers since Demme’s passing, so this should be a raucously good time.
Doc Films, 1212 E 59th St # 3
On Friday, July 14, Doc Films will be screening classic horror mystery The Cat and the Canary (Elliot Nugent, 1939, 35mm) as part of its summer schedule. Though the story of the kooky mansion and the dead millionaire has been told many times, this is the prime version, with a cast that includes Bob Hope and Paulette Goddard. There are few things more entertaining than seeing a 30s-era horror film with a crowd on a big screen, so this is a wonderful opportunity for those who haven’t seen The Cat and the Canary.
The Logan Theatre, 2646 N Milwaukee Ave
The Logan’s summer mix in July continues with three very different but very awesome films this week. Playing July 14-17 is The Departed (Martin Scorsese, 2006, format unknown) and The Graduate (Mike Nichols, 1967, format unknown), which I don’t think have anything in common other than they are both playing this week at the Logan Theatre. Well, and they both won Best Director at their respective Oscars, though under incredibly different circumstances—The Graduate was only the second film from Nichols while Scorsese lost time after time until The Departed finally got him over.
Following up on July 18-20 is Caddyshack (Harold Ramis, 1980, format unknown), the classic weirdo comedy that launched Bill Murray into superstardom and remains one of the few things that could ever make golf interesting.
Chicago Park District Movies in the Park, various Chicago locations
And finally, here are this week’s highlights for Movies in the Park: Toy Story (John Lasseter, 1995, format unknown) at Horner Park (2741 W. Montrose Ave) on Saturday, July 15; The Princess Bride (Rob Reiner, 1987, format unknown) at Calumet Park (9801 S. Avenue G) on Monday, July 17; Raiders of the Lost Ark (Steven Spielberg, 1981, format unknown) at Daniel Webster Park (1357 S. Indiana ) on Monday, July 17; The Wicker Man (Neil LaBute, 2006, format unknown) at Wicker Park (1425 N. Damen Avenue) on Thursday, July 20.