The Chicago Rep-port: 5/12 to 5/18, 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
Leading the Siskel’s week of limited engagements is a rep showcase of a new 4k restoration of Taipei Story (Edward Yang, 1985, DCP). The leading filmmaker of the New Taiwanese Cinema, Yang’s second feature was his international breakthrough, a vibrant drama where traditional Chinese society and modernized Western cultures collide in the emerging Taiwan. The film runs on Friday, May 12 and Sunday, May 14.
This week also features two more entries in the Essential Lina Wertmüller series. First up is Swept Away (Lina Wertmüller, 1974, DCP), which is unfortunately best known for its infamously terrible Madonna-starred remake. The original sexy Italian comedy, however, is very much worth seeing. Also showing is All Screwed Up (Lina Wertmüller, 1974, DCP), a slapstick comedy on the romantic differences between the sexes. Swept Away shows on Saturday and Wednesday and All Screwed Up on Saturday and Monday. If you’re interested in both, you can enjoy a Saturday double feature for a discounted rate.
Music Box Theatre, 3733 N Southport Ave
The Music Box doesn’t have its usual jam packed schedule or rep offerings this week but for good reason. The fifth annual Chicago Critics Film Festival takes over the theatre with a selection of their latest festival favorites, including The Little Hours, Lucky, The Hero, and more. You can check out the full schedule here. Of particular interest is a special presentation of Southland Tales (Richard Kelly, 2007, 35mm). The much derided weirdo masterpiece is amidst a critical reevaluation, perhaps because its once laughable vision of the future has suddenly become much more realistic (and frightening). If you haven’t seen Southland Tales, you won’t want to miss it and the post-screening Q&A with director Richard Kelly on Saturday, May 13.
Doc Films, 1212 E 59th St
On Friday, May 12, Doc Films is featuring the lesser known Studio Ghibli film Whisper of the Heart (Yoshifumi Kondō, 1995, 35mm). While it isn’t the prolific animation studio’s best work, it showcases their lighter romantic side with just enough fantasy. Interestingly, Whisper of the Heart spawned the studio’s only sequel, The Cat Returns, centered on the whimsical top-hatted talking cat.
The penultimate film in the Monday evening series, Heat and Sand: The Desert Film, is sci-fi horror film Phase IV (Saul Bass, 1974, 35mm). If that filmmaker’s name seems familiar, Bass is best known as the landmark graphic designer famous for the opening title sequences of Psycho, Vertigo, The Anatomy of a Murder, and more—Phase IV was unfortunately the only feature film he directed. The film is a psychedelic collage of the desert sun, giant megaliths, and ants.
Stories from the New Land: Chronicles of the Migrant Experience continues on Tuesday with Amreeka (Cherien Dabis, 2009, 35mm), a post-9/11 drama about a Palestinian family who emigrate to the Chicago suburbs and find themselves not exactly welcomed.
Overshadowed by the Dreyer silent masterpiece, Robert Bresson’s The Trial of Joan of Arc (Robert Bresson, 1962, 35mm) is a worthy retelling of the iconic story and the next film in Doc Films’ Wednesday series highlighting the director’s work. Using actual transcripts from Joan of Arc’s famous trial, the film is more of a historical document than a narrative one, but it is uncompromising and full of Bresson’s cinematic style.
Thursday offers a bold double feature between their series Defend the Keep: Sieges, Encirclements, and Last Stands and Neon Noir: Fluorescent Visions of Vice and Violence with Cabin in the Woods (Drew Goddard, 2012, 35mm) and Drive (Nicolas Winding Refn, 2011, 35mm). Two of the most beloved genre films of this decade certainly make for a gloriously violent double bill, especially on 35mm.
The Logan Theatre, 2646 N Milwaukee Ave
Musical May returns to the Logan this week with The Phantom of the Paradise (Brian De Palma, 1974, format unknown) running from Friday through Monday night. The crazy rock musical must be seen with a crowd, especially if they are decked out in costume. Luckily for you, the Friday screening will be accompanied by the Phantom of Paradise Best Dressed Party—come in your best Phantom or Swan and get a chance to win a prize from Odd Obsession Movies.
Later in the week, on Tuesday through Thursday, Musical May continues the rock’n’roll vibe with Prince star vehicle Purple Rain (Albert Magnoli, 1985, format unknown).
ArcLight Cinema, 1500 N Clybourn Ave
On Tuesday, May 15, ArcLight Presents offers the 80s classic Back to the Future (Robert Zemeckis, 1985, format unknown). Sure, you’ve seen Back to the Future a dozen times, but are you really going to pass up the opportunity to see it on the big screen?
Cinemark Theaters, various Chicago locations
In honor of its 20th anniversary this month, the Cinemark Theaters Classic Series treks into future space for The Fifth Element (Luc Besson, 1997, format unknown). One of the most creative films from one of current cinema’s greatest visionaries, you might want to check this out just in case the upcoming Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is terrible. You can see it on Sunday or Wednesday.