The Chicago Rep-port: 6/23 to 6/29, 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
Jean-Pierre Melville: Criminal Codes reaches its penultimate week with three more from the French auteur of cool, including some of his more enigmatic.
Le Samouraï (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1967, archival 35mm) might be the director’s masterpiece. At the very least, it has come to define his overall style with the simple look of Alain Delon at the center – the expressionless face, the trench coat and large brimmed hat, and his professional criminal code. It might not have created the lonesome hitman film genre but it has undoubtedly influenced a number of modern crime masterpieces from some of world cinema’s most prolific filmmakers. The ice-cold thriller screens on Friday and Saturday.
Melville reteams with Delon for Un Flic (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1972, DCP), another tale of cops and robbers. This particular story sets up a brilliant triangle between Delon’s cop, a suave nightclub owner (Richard Crenna), and Catherine Deneuve as femme fatale. With beautiful production design, thrilling heist setpieces, and this dynamic cast, Un Flic is among the best “second tier” Melville. Un Flic screens on Saturday and Tuesday.
Finally, the week concludes with one of the director’s least seen and most unusual films, When You Read This Letter (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1953, 35mm). The film is perhaps the only female-centric film in his filmography–though he’s had interesting female characters, they’ve always been defined by their genre tropes. Juliette Gréco stars as a young nun who must come to care for her younger sister, revisiting her hometown and traumatic past. The difficult-to-see Melville film has only one screening this coming Thursday.
If you want to catch both Le Samouraï and Un Flic 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
It is a relatively slight week for rep screenings at the Music Box this week (can you blame them for providing so many screenings of The Bad Batch?) but there are two presentations that are definitely worth highlighting.
The fantastic matinee series Not Quite for Kids comes to an end with one of the 2000s best animated films, Fantastic Mr. Fox (Wes Anderson, 2009, 35mm). Anderson perfectly brings his quirky aesthetics and sensibilities to the stop-motion tale of a fox and a rebellion. Incredibly sharp, the film deftly explores themes of oppression and marriage – definitely not kid’s stuff – while being fun for all ages. You can see the film both Saturday and Sunday at 11:30 am.
For the nighttime crowd, the midnight screenings this week belong to a film I had frankly never heard of before–which in the world of midnight films is probably a selling point. Anguish (Bigas Luna, 1987, 35mm) stars Zelda Rubinstein (most notably from Poltergeist) as a mother who telepathically influences her son (Michael Lerner) to go on a killing spree. If the Music Box’s summary is to be trusted, Anguish’s surreality is emotionally violent and deeply traumatizing. You can find out both Friday and Saturday at midnight.
Doc Films, 1212 E 59th St # 3
Doc Films returns with weekend screenings all summer! Unlike its spring offerings which I extensively covered previously, the summer slate isn’t comprised of specific series, just great films.
Screening Friday is the Battleship Pretension-approved early noir Scarlet Street (Fritz Lang, 1945, 35mm). The film stars Edward G. Robinson as the iconic Chris Cross, an unhappily married man who meets glorious femme fatale played by Joan Bennett–let’s just say things don’t go well for him. One of Lang’s best English-language films, a perfect mix of pulpy romance and crime, with just a touch of the diabolical.
Just in time for Universal’s Dark Universe (eye roll emoji), you can see campy horror classic Creature from the Black Lagoon (Jack Arnold, 1954, 35mm) in a special 3D presentation on Saturday. A fantastic creature feature, it is a studio produced film at the height of the low budget monster craze and fits in with the crowd. The announced remake may or may never see the light of day, but we’ll always have this bizarro original.
On Thursday, June 29, you can see the late-silent era film Limite (Mario Peixoto, 1931, 16mm). Though it hasn’t found the same cultural cache as films like Sunrise and Metropolis, Limite stands as one of the most experimental and stunning films of the era and one of the most important Brazilian films ever made. Unfortunately, Peixoto never made another film, but Limite speaks for his artistic legacy.
Classic Series at Cinemark, various Chicago locations
This week’s Cinemark Classic dives into cult camp with What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (Robert Aldrich, 1962, format unknown). If you’re unaware, the film stars aging screen legends Bette Davis and Joan Crawford as sisters who love to torment each other. The indescribable horror(?)-comedy(?) screens on Sunday and Wednesday.
Chicago Park District Movies in the Park, various Chicago locations
With summer officially here (at least in terms of the calendar), the CPD’s Movies in the Park is heating up. A few highlights: The Unsinkable Molly Brown (Charles Walters, 1964, format unknown) at Osterman Beach (5800 N. Lake Shore Dr.) on 6/23; nostalgia porn Space Jam (Joe Pytka, 1996, format unknown) at Rowan Park (11546 S. Avenue L) on 6/24; An American in Paris (Vincente Minnelli, 1951, format unknown) at Burnham Park (5491 S. Shore Drive) on 6/26; Big (Penny Marshall, 1988, format unknown) at Lincoln Park (500-5700 N. Lake Shore Drive) on 6/28; and Raising Arizona (Joel & Ethan Coen, 1987, format unknown) at Wicker Park (1425 N. Damen Avenue) on 6/29.