The Chicago Rep-port: 5/19 to 5/25, 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
The Siskel’s offerings are a bit light on the rep screening front this week, save for their continued profile series on Italian director Lina Wertmüller. This week showcases two more wild dark comedies: The Seduction of Mimi (Lina Wertmüller, 1972, DCP) and Summer Night (Lina Wertmüller, 1986, DCP). Both films star Wertmüller muse Mariangela Melato amidst gloriously shot and steamy crime and violence. If you’re interested in a double bill, you can see both on Saturday, May 20 for a discounted price. Otherwise, Summer Night is also showing on Monday, May 22 while The Seduction of Mimi replays on Wednesday, May 24.
Music Box Theatre, 3733 N Southport Ave
The Music Box has a trio of very bizarre rep screenings this week, headlined by two midnight screenings (both Friday and Saturday nights) of The Boxer’s Omen (Chih-Hung Kuei, 1983, 35mm), which has been described as a mashup of a classic Shaw Brothers style martial arts flick and a Lucio Fulci-inspired gore fest. Fans of either cult genre will want to attend this rare screening.
If you’re not a night person, the current matinee series “Not Quite for Kids” (showtimes on both Saturday and Sunday) continues with the subversive animated classic Watership Down (Martin Rosen, 1978, 35mm). Based on Richard Adams’s beloved novel, the film is rather infamous for the unsuspecting rabbit kids’ film scaring the crap out of a generation of viewers for its bleak and depressing themes. Now that we’re all adults, maybe the scars have faded enough to come revisit the film this weekend.
Finally, the great Chicago Film Society is presenting a screening of the much maligned Popeye (Robert Altman, 1980, 35mm) on Monday, May 22. Starring Robin Williams and Shelley Duvall, the strange musical was long considered a dark spot on its auteur’s career, but has been getting more love after reevaluation in recent years. The film is indescribable and unthinkable in Hollywood’s current era of adaptations. It is bold, completely original, exceptionally funny, and must be a delight to see on the big screen.
Doc Films, 1212 E 59th St
As we all get ready for Showtime’s Twin Peaks revival, Doc Films is screening the original series prequel Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (David Lynch, 1992, DCP) on Friday, May 19 with a Sunday matinee follow-up. While this film doesn’t have the best reputation, especially among Lynch’s overall body of work, Laura Palmer’s saga has reached a new appreciation over the years, particularly with the peak anticipation for this Sunday’s premiere.
Sunday evening’s Women by Women: Portraits by Contemporary Directors series continues this week with Morvern Callar (Lynne Ramsay, 2002, 35mm), a beautiful and surreal film about grief and follow-up to Ramsay’s international breakthrough Ratcatcher. Though Ramsay didn’t make another film for nearly a decade following Morvern Callar, she has remained one of the most important women directors on the indie scene thanks to her difficult subjects and expressive technique—thankfully, her next film, You Were Never Really Here is premiering at this week’s Cannes Film Festival.
Due to Memorial Day coming next week, Monday marks the final entry into Heat and Sand: The Desert Film. The honor goes to Rubin and Ed (Trent Harris, 1991, 35mm), which I know nothing about but it stars Crispin Glover as a weirdo so I’m immediately interested.
Previously mentioned, the Cannes Film Festival will be in full swing as the Stories from the New Land: Chronicles of the Migrant Experience series programs a recent Palme d’or winner, Dheepan (Jacques Audiard, 2015, DCP). The film follows a family of Sri Lankan immigrants as they try to find economic stability in France while leaving behind the violent past in their homeland. Before its screening on Tuesday, May 23, you can check out my full review of the film here.
With the penultimate week of the Robert Bresson retrospective comes the auteur’s penultimate film, The Devil, Probably (Robert Bresson, 1977, 35mm). Though I haven’t heard this film mentioned among top tier Bresson, it certainly seems to carry his cinematic voice: a young man, disillusioned by modern life, philosophy and politics, decides to commit suicide. The bleak drama plays on Wednesday, May 24.
The final entry into Thursday’s Defend the Keep: Sieges, Encirclements, and Last Stands series is one of my favorite films of the decade, 13 Assassins (Takashi Miike, 2010, 35mm). The provocative filmmaker blends his crazy violent interests with the classic samurai film, spawning an incredibly complex, bloodthirsty villain and an absolutely insane final battle.
Also showing on Thursday in the Neon Noir: Fluorescent Visions of Vice and Violence series is Remember My Name (Alan Rudolph, 1978, 35mm). Starring the great Geraldine Chaplin and Anthony Perkins, the romantic thriller is an overlooked entry into the crazed female stalker subgenre of Play Misty for Me and countless 80s films.
The Logan Theatre, 2646 N Milwaukee Ave
Musical May at the Logan Theatre returns with two very different takes on the genre. First up, screening May 19-22 is punk-rock transgender tale Hedwig and the Angry Inch (John Cameron Mitchell, 2001, format unknown). Though it has become an assured cult icon, I’m not sure why Hedwig hasn’t become a midnight screening staple (at least not in Chicago) as it has all the elements: a quirky narrative, catchy songs, and unabashed joy.
Rounding out the week on May 23-25 is concert film The Last Waltz (Martin Scorsese, 1978, format unknown), capturing the final performance of rock’n’roll outfit The Band.
Cinemark Theaters, various Chicago locations
Wrapping up this week in Chicago repertory screenings, the Cinemark Classic Series is celebrating the 40th anniversary of Burt Reynolds comedy Smokey and the Bandit (Hal Needham, 1977, format unknown). The high speed pursuit in the heart of Texas defined its star as one of the most popular figures in Hollywood during comedies most irreverent era.