The Chicago Rep-port: 7/21 to 7/27, 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
Journeys Through French Cinema, a special slate of films showing in conjunction with the new Bertrand Tavernier documentary My Journey Through French Cinema, continues with three more pivotal films of French cinema.
If you missed it during the Siskel’s recent fun of Jean-Pierre Melville crime films, you have another opportunity to see Léon Morin, Priest (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1961, DCP). The film stars Belmondo as a young priest who encounters a faithless young widow, played by Emmanuelle Riva. Their relationship wonderfully develops over the course of the film through their arguments on life and religion. And the two stars were both at the top of their game, with Belmondo a year after Breathless and Riva just two years after Hiroshima, Mon Amour. Léon Morin, Priest is showing on Saturday, July 22 and Thursday, July 27.
For a slightly more traditional romance, Casque d’Or (Jacques Becker, 1952, 35mm) screens on Saturday, July 22 and Tuesday, July 25. The film centers around a phenomenal performance by Simone Signoret and her relationships with three different men. Their rivalry turns into ill-fated love and tragedy.
Finally this week is Les choses de la vie (Claude Sautet, 1970, DCP), which has less of a profile, but was a personal favorite of Tavernier. Starring great French actor Michel Piccoli, the film involves his character recalling his life after a near-fatal car accident. Sautet creates a narrative structure that mimics that sensation beautifully. Les choses de la vie screens on Sunday, July 23 and Monday, July 24.
If you want to catch both Léon Morin, Priest and Casque d’Or on Saturday (and why wouldn’t you?), you can buy a double-bill ticket at a discounted rate!
Doc Films, 1212 E 59th St # 3
This weekend at Doc Films opens with rarely screened Barbara Stanwyck musical comedy Lady of Burlesque (William A. Wellman, 1943, 35mm) on Friday, July 21. If “Barbara Stanwyck in a musical comedy” isn’t enough in itself, it is also a crime mystery centered around the murder of two New York prostitutes. And it features a song called “Take it Off the E-String and Play it on the G-String”—I’m not exactly sure what that means, but it sounds fun.
On Saturday, July 22 you can see one of the great classic melodramas Imitation of Life (Douglas Sirk, 1959, 35mm) in all of its beautiful Technicolor glory. That said, the film is one of the most devastating film dramas, a story about mothers and daughters, race, acceptance, and identity. Sirk’s films are easy to overlook or shun for their genre, but there were few filmmakers working at the time that were as inquisitive or insightful of modern society and Imitation of Life is perhaps the auteur’s most dramatically rich and culturally vital work.
The Logan Theatre, 2646 N Milwaukee Ave
The July summer mix schedule carries on with three more great rep screenings. First up is Goodfellas (Martin Scorsese, 1990, format unknown). I don’t have to say too much about this one: Goodfellas is perhaps the quintessential American gangster film. The tale of family, crime, and a whole lot of cocaine is playing on Friday, July 21 thru Monday, July 24.
Also showing on July 21-24 is Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (Jay Roach, 1997, format unknown), better-than-remembered James Bond spoof starring Mike Myers in one of his definitive roles.
If you want another comedy star playing both hero and villain, you can see The Great Dictator (Charles Chaplin, 1940, format unknown) on Tuesday, July 25 thru Thursday, July 27. It never occurred to me to pair Austin Powers and The Great Dictator together, but this is a pretty brilliant match. If you’re unaware, early comedy star Chaplin takes on Hitler before just about anyone else in film by hilariously lampooning the tyrant.
Chicago Park District Movies in the Park, various Chicago locations
And finally, here are this week’s highlights for Movies in the Park: The Sandlot (David Mickey Evans, 1993, format unknown) at Kilbourn Park (3501 N. Kilbourn Ave) on Friday, July 21; Steel Magnolias (Herbert Ross, 1989, format unknown) at Kathy Osterman Beach (5800 N. Lake Shore Drive) on Monday, July 24; Airplane! (Jim Abrahams, David Zucker & Jerry Zucker, 1980, format unknown) at Lincoln Park (500-5700 N. Lake Shore Drive) on Tuesday, July 25.