The Chicago Rep-port: 5/5 to 5/11, 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
All month long, the Siskel Film Center will be running a new series called “The Essential Lina Wertmüller,” looking at the best work from the underrated director. They are kicking off the series with her masterpiece, Seven Beauties (Lina Wertmüller, 1975, DCP). Oscar trivia buffs know that this was the film that made Wertmüller the first woman to be nominated for Best Director. Screenings for the film are being held on Friday, May 5 (with a reception sponsored by the Italian Cultural Institute) and Sunday, May 7.
Continuing the New Sensory Cinema School of the Art Institute of Chicago series is Innocence (Lucile Hadzihalilovic, 2004, 35mm). The film is a strange take on the coming-of-age story wherein a young girl awakens on the grounds of a boarding school and must adapt to their mysterious rules. Innocence screens on Sunday, May 7 and Tuesday, May 9 with a post-screening discussion led by professor Melika Bass.
Music Box Theatre, 3733 N Southport Ave
One of my favorite current rep series going on in Chicago right now is Mark Caro’s “Is It Still Funny?” and this week is quite the gem. If you followed my recent coverage of Ebertfest, you’ll remember that I was absolutely blown away by Being There (Hal Ashby, 1979, 35mm). Not only can I confirm that it is still funny (and, also, a bit terrifying in our current political climate) but I’m real tempted to see this one again. It plays on Monday, May 8.
Call me a broken record, but the midnight movie screenings this week are familiar ones: The Room (Tommy Wiseau, 2003, 35mm) is playing on Friday, May 5 and The Rocky Horror Picture Show (Jim Sharman, 1975, 35mm) is playing on Saturday, May 6. These are midnight movie classics for a reason, folks.
The Music Box’s “Not Quite for Kids” matinee series returns this week with a bizarre attraction: the rare live-action Alice in Wonderland (Norman Z. McLeod, 1933, 35mm print courtesy of Universal). I can’t believe I haven’t seen this (or, I admit, heard about it) with its crazy cast: Cary Grant, W.C. Fields, Gary Cooper, Edward Everett Horton in this very pre-code version of the classic childhood story. Take the whole family on either Saturday, May 6 or Sunday, May 7.
It isn’t exactly a rep screening but I’ll give a shout-out to The Martian (Ridley Scott, 2015, DCP) as part of the “Field Trip” of Science Cinema with the Field Museum. You’ve probably already seen The Martian, though I’m guessing you haven’t seen it with an expert on Meteoritics; now you can as the Robert A. Pritzker Associate Curator of Meteoritics and Polar Sciences Phillipp R. Heck will be leading a discussion of the film’s science on Tuesday, May 9.
Doc Films, 1212 E 59th St
Before I run down the long list of the excellent film series at Doc Films, they are having an animated Batman weekend, highlighted by what some consider the best Batman movie period Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (Bruce Timm & Eric Radomski, 1993, 35mm), based on the beloved animated television series on Friday, May 5.
Continuing the Women by Women: Portraits by Contemporary Directors on Sunday, May 7 is Fat Girl (Catherine Breillat, 2001, 35mm). One of the controversial films on the world art cinema scene this millennium, Breillat certainly isn’t afraid to push the envelope. You might love or hate the film but you’ll no doubt have a strong opinion.
Monday’s Heat and Sand: The Desert Film series highlights underseen noir The Hitch-Hiker (Ida Lupino, 1953, 35mm) this week. This is a down-and-dirty film, one of the most diabolic of the period and the filmmaking highlight of Lupino’s career. It also gets the stamp of approval from the “Czar of Noir” Eddie Muller, so that’s really all you need.
Most of the films to have screened in Tuesday’s’ Stories from the New Land: Chronicles of the Migrant Experience have been heavily dramatic downers, so this week is a nice treat. Persepolis (Marjane Satrapi & Vincent Paronnaud, 2007, 35mm) is one of the most inventive and personal animated films in the past decade.
The next Robert Bresson film for the Find Without Seeking series showing on Wednesday, May 10 is Les Anges du Péché (Robert Bresson, 1943, 35mm), which is one I’m unfamiliar with. The auteur’s feature debut, it features a young nun who dedicates her life to the redemption of a murderer.
Defend the Keep: Sieges, Encirclements, and Last Stands is showcasing perhaps the quintessential film of the genre, Assault on Precinct 13 (John Carpenter, 1976, 35mm) on Thursday, May 11. By 1976, Carpenter had already showed he was a premiere genre filmmaker but Assault put him on another level. The tense action-thriller is only improved on the big screen.
Wrapping up the week at Doc Films, also showing on Thursday, May 11 is the next of the Neon Noir: Fluorescent Visions of Vice and Violence series, The Driver (Walter Hill, 1978, Blu-ray). An interesting starring role for Ryan O’Neal, the actor plays a getaway driver in the neon glow of Los Angeles. No doubt, Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive owes a ton to Walter Hill’s auto-centric thriller.
The Logan Theatre, 2646 N Milwaukee Ave
Transitioning from their Comic Cinema series, the Logan’s newest nightly lineup will focus on the crowd pleasing musical genre. This week’s slate includes Beatles proto music video film, the great A Hard Day’s Night (Richard Lester, 1964, format unknown) showing on Friday through Monday at 11 pm and 80s cult classic Labyrinth (Jim Henson, 1986, format unknown) taking over Tuesday through Thursday at 10:30 pm.
Cinemark Theaters, various Chicago locations
This week’s Cinemark Classic is another musical of sorts, John Travolta/Bee Gees disco extravaganza Saturday Night Fever (John Badham, 1977, format unknown). The disco might date it but the film is a surprisingly gritty urban tale, taking on more of the New Hollywood 70s aesthetic than Grease. The film is screening on Sunday, May 7 and Wednesday, May 10.