CHICAGO FILM SOCIETY PRESENTS!
Founded in January 2011 by Becca Hall, Julian Antos, and Kyle Westphal, three Chicago based projectionists and programmers, the Chicago Film Society was created to “to promote the preservation of film in context.” The CFS’s successful regular screening series at Northeastern Illinois University, the Music Box Theatre, and other locations in Chicago, was, according to their mission statement, launched out of a conviction that “films capture the past uniquely. They hold the stories told by feature films, but also the stories of the industries that produced them, the places where they were exhibited, and the people who watched them. We believe that all of this history–not just of film, but of 20th century industry, labor, recreation, and culture–is more intelligible when it’s grounded in unsimulated experience: seeing a film in a theater, with an audience, and projected from film stock.” The CFS has also established a significant and eclectic archive of 35mm and 16mm film prints that we have drawn upon for the purposes of this series tribute to the Society’s cinephilic accomplishments. Our Sunday Cinematheque at the Chazen series from September through December will present an international selection of 15 feature films and several shorts from throughout film history, all on 35mm, from the collection of the Chicago Film Society! Additionally, Julian Antos and Becca Hall will appear in person on September 28 at our regular Vilas Hall venue to present a CFS restoration of Hal Hartley’s American indie classic Trust.
- Sun., Sep. 1 | 2:00 PMChazen
Pitt stars as Jesse James, the troubled legendary outlaw living out his final days in the American Midwest. In an Oscar-nominated performance, Affleck is Bob Ford, whose lifelong dream of riding with Jesse’s gang leads him towards an act of betrayal that will seal his own tragic destiny. Overlooked upon its original release, don’t miss your opportunity to see this grand and beautifully photographed masterwork on the big screen. The astonishing supporting cast includes Rockwell as Charlie Ford, Sam Shepard as Frank James, Jeremy Renner, Mary-Louise Parker, Michael Parks, Zooey Deschanel, and Nick Cave, who also composed the score.
- Sun., Sep. 8 | 2:00 PMChazen
Hallström’s adaptation of a semi-autobiographical novel by Reidar Jönsson tells the seriocomic adventures of 12 year-old Ingemar, sent to live with relatives in Småland, Sweden after his mother is hospitalized with a terminal illness. Warm-hearted, emotionally rich, and filled to the brim with grace notes for its many characters, My Life as a Dog is directed and performed with an abundance of sensitivity. In particular, Glanzelius, as Ingemar, delivers one of the finest, most lived-in performances by a juvenile actor in the history of cinema. Preceded by the stop-motion animated short Budulinek and the Little Foxes (1950, 10 min.). (BR)
- Sun., Sep. 15 | 2:00 PMChazen
The portrait of a young woman on a gabbeh - a type of Persian rug - springs to life to tell her story of life with a nomadic tribe and a romance with a man on horseback. Makhmalbaf’s fantasy “is a delightful treasure chest of colors, costumes, landscapes, magical-realist details, and very simple characters--all of whom tend to have the allure of trinkets and living legends” (Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader). Preceded by the animated short, Pictures at an Exhibition (1972, 10 min.).
- Sun., Sep. 22 | 2:00 PMChazen
For his second feature as director, Jerry Lewis plays the handyman and sole male resident at a boarding house for young women who is determined to resist the opposite sex at all costs. One of Lewis’ many virtuoso strokes as a filmmaker is the camerawork around a three-story cutaway set that later influenced other directors like Godard and Scorsese. Preceded by a Jerry Lewis trailer reel!
- Sat., Sep. 28 | 7:00 PM4070 Vilas Hall
Nearly 30 years after its original release, Hartley’s signature work stands as one of the essential American independent films of the pre-Tarantino era. On Long Island, a pregnant high schooler (Shelly) and an unemployed electronics whiz (Donovan, in his first of many collaborations with the director), meet after being kicked out of their respective homes. These misfits form a deadpan bond in Hartley’s inimitably exacting fashion, anchoring a sincerely cynical comedy that is at turns laugh-out-loud funny and surprisingly poignant. A newly struck 35mm print, courtesy of the Chicago Film Society, will be introduced by CFS’s co-founders Julian Antos and Becca Hall. (MK)
- Sun., Sep. 29 | 2:00 PMChazen
A NYC-based photo-journalist (Clayburgh), accompanied by her teenage daughter (Plimpton), travels to the most remote corner of the Louisiana bayous to research a magazine story about her distant relatives. Konchalovsky’s follow-up to Runaway Train for Cannon Group explores the dramatic tensions that develop between the stern Southern matriarch (Hershey, in a performance that won her the Best Actress prize at the Cannes Film Festival) and her visiting urban cousins. “One of the great visionary films of recent years, a film that shakes off the petty distractions of safe Hollywood entertainments and develops a large vision” (Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times). Preceded by a reel of 1980s Cannon Film trailers.
- Sun., Oct. 6 | 2:00 PMChazen
Writer/director Campion’s first theatrical feature was this offbeat, pitch-black comedy about two sisters in their twenties: reserved, deliberate, and gangly Kay (Colston) and the younger, uninhibited, mentally disturbed, and plump Sweetie (Lemon). Just when Kay is about to get her life in order, Sweetie reenters, throwing everything into turmoil and digging up long-repressed emotional scars. With bizarre plot twists and a strong, poetic visual style, Campion’s debut won her early acclaim. Preceded by an Australian Movie Magazine newsreel (1960, 8 min.).
- Sun., Oct. 13 | 2:00 PMChazen
Before he wowed international audiences with his audacious spoofs Shaolin Soccer and Kung Fu Hustle, writer/actor/director Chow starred in this exuberant comedy as a clumsy aspiring actor and extra who keeps getting banned from film sets. Soon he finds work and romance when a club girl (Cheung) hires him to help her feign interest in her clients. Preceded by a reel of 90s Hong Kong trailers!
- Sun., Oct. 20 | 2:00 PMChazen
Middle-aged marrieds Phyllis and Lucky (Christie and Nolte) find themselves in separate affairs with a younger couple (Boyle and Jonny Lee Miller). Romantic, mildly melancholic, and filled with numerous visual grace notes, this quirky dramedy from independent auteur Rudolph (Choose Me, Trouble in Mind) is particularly notable for Christie’s haunted performance, which earned her a Best Actress Oscar nomination. Preceded by a 35mm print of Sade’s Smooth Operator music video (1984, 4 min.)
- Sun., Oct. 27 | 2:00 PMChazen
In the troubled small town of Blithe Hollow, young Norman Babcock has developed a, shall we say, sixth sense that allows him to communicate with the dead. Norman, teamed with a small group of friends, sets out to face ghosts and zombies in order to lift a centuries-old curse on his village. Stop-motion animation studio Laika followed-up their debut feature hit Coraline with this equally spooky and funny visual feast. Preceded by Betty Boop in the Fleischer Studios classic Minnie the Moocher (1932, 8 min.).
- Sun., Nov. 3 | 2:00 PMChazen
A drifter (Cage) wanders into a small Wyoming town and immediately gets mistaken for a hitman hired by a wealthy rancher (J.T. Walsh) to kill his wife (Boyle). From there the twists pile up higher than a soft-serve cone in this razor sharp neo-noir from director/co-writer, Dahl. Originally slotted for direct-to-cable and home video release, the film attracted enough positive attention at the 1993 Toronto Film Festival to warrant a limited theatrical release. It then went on to become an art-house hit. Preceded by a Nicolas Cage trailer reel!
- Sun., Nov. 10 | 2:00 PMChazen
A young American woman in Europe (Allyson) falls for a successful symphony conductor (Brazzi). She soon discovers he has a wife, but there is a lot more to the story. A remake of John Stahl’s 1939 melodrama When Tomorrow Comes (screened at the 2019 Wisconsin Film Festival), Sirk’s Interlude was sandwiched between the release of his two other Stahl remakes, Magnificent Obsession (1954) and Imitation of Life (1959). This screening provides a rare opportunity to view an original 35mm IB Technicolor print of this hard-to-see Sirk gem.
- Sun., Nov. 17 | 2:00 PMChazen
The sassy Sheridan shines in this wartime entertainment as Lola, a juke joint B-girl in a working class Florida backwater. Reagan, in a genuinely charming performance, is an itinerant fruit picker and labor leader who falls for Lola. Together they risk their lives to defy the tyranny of big money and defend the dignity of honest work. “Sheridan’s lightning transitions from cynicism to sweetness and back again suggest the range of her personality and the agility of her performing style” (Dave Kehr, Museum of Modern Art). Preceded by Tex Avery’s Wacky Wildlife (1943, 8 min.)
- Sun., Nov. 24 | 2:00 PMChazen
At 86, French New Wave icon Resnais graced us with one of his most purely pleasurable films, an effervescent lark that kicks off with a lost wallet. It’s discovered by a married suburbanite, who in turn becomes obsessed with its owner, a dentist-cum-avaitrix played by the director’s wife and frequent collaborator Azéma. The plot soon spins gleefully past plausibility, keeping pace with the film’s candy-colored design and whimsical characters. “A funny, soulful movie about love and other agonies… among [Resnais’s] finest movies in years” (The New York Times). “The most sublime film I’ve seen in Cannes in years, a hallucinatory, entrancing work in which each scene is surprising” (Variety).
- Sun., Dec. 8 | 2:00 PMChazen
This simple, melancholy picture is about three women who get out of Holloway Prison on the same day in rainy, somber London: Monica (Mitchell) landed in jail because of her low-life thief of a boyfriend, Stella (Collins) is a prostitute hoping for a better life, and Granny (Harrison) is an elderly woman with a weakness for shoplifting. Were it made a few years later, Turn the Key Softly might have been impossibly grim. Instead it’s a film as delicate and honest as any Powell and Pressburger production, made right before England’s cycle of Angry Young Man films turned the industry into something much more dark and hopeless. The gorgeous inner city location photography—from cinematographer Geoffrey Unsworth, better known for his work on 2001: A Space Odyssey—is reason enough to come, but it also balances lives of poverty, loneliness, old age, and occasional optimism and hope in a way that feels very tangible without being excessive or clichéd. (JA)
- Sun., Dec. 15 | 2:00 PMChazen
NYPD Detective John McClane (Willis) arrives in L.A. for a rapprochement with his career-driven wife (Bedelia) at her company’s Christmas party high atop a skyscraper. Interrupted by a band of terrorists/thieves led by the diabolically suave Hans Gruber (Rickman), McClane decides to play cowboy and take on Gruber and his gang while saving his marriage. Die Hard skyrocketed Willis to movie stardom and set the standard, to-date unmatched, for cop action pictures. Preceded by Tex Avery’s The Peachy Cobbler (1950, 7 min.).