The Chicago Rep-port: 5/26 to 6/1, 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 Essential Lina Wertmüller series enters its final week with two remaining films: Love and Anarchy (Lina Wertmüller, 1973, DCP) and Ferdinando and Carolina (Lina Wertmüller, 1999, DCP). Love and Anarchy, playing on Saturday and Thursday this week, is an alluring period comedy with a plan to assassinate Mussolini plot. Ferdinando and Carolina (Saturday and Tuesday) is set in 18th Century Naples, featuring the comedic sexual lives of the upper and royal classes. As has been the case throughout the series, you can catch them both on Saturday, May 27 for a reduced cost.
Music Box Theatre, 3733 N Southport Ave
The week’s offerings at the Music Box are centered on a pair of sci-fi classics from one of Russia’s greatest auteurs in new 4k restorations. First is the enigmatic Stalker (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1979, 4k DCP) with showtimes Friday, Saturday and Monday. Stalker may not be regarded in the top tier of Tarkovsky’s films but it remains one of his most incredible productions with high philosophical and political concepts and a variety of tones. It is partnered with perhaps Tarkovsky’s most beloved and recognized film, Solaris (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1972, 4k DCP), also playing on Friday, Saturday and Monday this week. The epic space adventure is one of the most contemplative and mysterious of the more typically pulpy genre and has gone on to inspire a number of smarter depictions of the future. Both of these challenging films deserve to be seen in a dark, quiet theater on a big screen and so the Music Box’s crystal clear 4k projections are the must-see rep screenings of the week.
For a very different sci-fi vision of the future, Friday and Saturday’s midnight screening is The Running Man (Paul Michael Glaser, 1987, 35mm). The Arnold Schwarzenegger/action-filled game show is one of the icon’s most essentially 80s films with larger-than-life characters played by jacked up superhumans including Jim Brown and Jesse “The Body” Ventura.
The “Not Quite for Kids” matinee series continues with The Great Muppet Caper (Jim Henson, 1981, 35mm) with screenings on both Saturday and Sunday. As all your favorite felt friends get caught up in a London jewel heist, the film takes on the slightly irreverent and culturally conscious humor on par with the best in the series.
On Tuesday, May 30, silent cinema returns to the Music Box with the underseen Her Wild Oat (Marshall Neilan, 1927, 35mm). With a specific Chicago connection, star Colleen Moore was a co-founder of the Chicago International Film Festival. Her Wild Oat is an unusual, female-led romantic comedy in the late silent period. Most importantly, the film will feature a live organ score by the incomparable Dennis Scott.
Finally on the Music Box’s schedule this week, we return to the sci-fi genre with cult classic Idiocracy (Mike Judge, 2006, 35mm). It has only been 11 years since the film’s bleak vision of the future was released and it is only becoming more and more relevant. If re-visiting the film in a packed theater isn’t enticing enough, the screening will be followed by a Q&A with director Mike Judge.
Doc Films, 1212 E 59th St
The remaining series at Doc Films all wrap up this week with a variety of international, independent, contemporary and classic films. These have all been incredibly fantastic series and a lot of fun to track—the summer session will have a lot to live up to!
First up, on Sunday, May 28 in the Women by Women: Portraits by Contemporary Directors series is Treeless Mountain (So Yong Kim, 2008, DCP), a small but emotionally resonant drama from South Korea. A unique coming of age film, Treeless Mountain works because of Kim’s sympathetic direction of two fantastic child performances. Kim’s latest film, Lovesong, starring Riley Keough and Jena Malone, just hit Netflix streaming and offers a nice double feature.
Tuesday’s Stories from the New Land: Chronicles of the Migrant Experience gives Chicago resident a chance to see the recent, David Bax-approved Spa Night (Andrew Ahn, 2016, DCP). The micro-budget independent film beautifully captures the Korean-American community through the life of its gay main character.
Robert Bresson: “Find Without Seeking” wraps up on Wednesday with two screenings of the auteur’s final film, L’Argent (Robert Bresson, 1983, 35mm). In the film, Bresson further explores his themes of materialism through his austere worldview centered on a young man and a counterfeit note. L’Argent was a wonderful end to Bresson’s long and successful career and so it is a nice ending to his rep series.
Finally, Neon Noir: Fluorescent Visions of Vice and Violence ends in a blaze of glory from one of the subgenre’s major figures with Blow Out (Brian De Palma, 1981, DCP). A whirr of sounds and images, the John Travolta mystery-thriller is beloved director De Palma’s masterpiece with a political plot that is only growing in estimation.
The Logan Theatre, 2646 N Milwaukee Ave
Perhaps my favorite rep screening of the week is part of the Logan Theatre’s Musical May series. The Wizard of Oz (Victor Fleming, 1939, format unknown) isn’t a stranger to rep screenings around Chicago, but adding in the Pink Floyd “Dark Side of the Moon” soundtrack creates a fantastic experience. Their paired coincidences have been long known and tried out by cinema and music fans alike, but attending an official screening seems like a lot of fun (and a lot less hassle). “Dark Side of the Rainbow” is showing May 26-29 at 11 pm each night.
Also programmed for Musical May is Cabaret (Bob Fosse, 1972, format unknown), the sexy, dark winner of eight Oscars, including Best Actress for Liza Minnelli’s iconic performance. Capping off the month with one of the best musicals ever made, you can see Cabaret from May 30 through June 1.