Monthly Archives: November 2012

Films Dug Out of the Ground: Animation by Wladyslaw Starewicz in Rare 16mm Prints at Cinema Borealis

Cinema Borealis • 1550 N. Milwaukee Ave, 4th Floor
Suggested Donation: $10

Sunday, December 2nd @ 7:00pm
THE ANIMATION OF WLADYSLAW STAREWICZ
Wladyslaw Starewicz • 1912-1934
The inexplicably creepy stop motion films of Russian born natural historian Wladyslaw Starewicz left a mark on animation as strong as Walt Disney or the Fleischer Brothers, influencing everyone from Jan Svankmajer to Terry Gilliam, but where other animators seemed to cull their material from the land of the living, Starewicz’s feel like they’ve been dug out of the ground (and they are, basically). The result is an extremely unsettling palette of dead bugs, taxidermied animals, skeletons, and rear projected real world backgrounds blended into something that predicts the work of Salvador Dali, George A. Romero, and Mister Ed the talking horse. Several prints in this program have been provided by animation historian and archivist Tom Stathes. Visit him at Cartoons on Film and the Bray Animation Project. (JA)

The Program
The Revenge of a Kinematograph Cameraman (1912, 12 min, 16mm)
The Frogs Who Wanted A King (1922, 9 min, 16mm)
The Voice of the Nightingale (1925, 13 min, 16mm)
The Town Rat and the Country Rat (1927, 10 min, 16mm)
The Mascot (1934, 26 min, 16mm)

NOTE CHANGE: One show only.

——–

And if you haven’t marked your calendars yet for this one, we don’t know what to do with you!

The Portage Theater – 4050 N. Milwaukee Ave – $5.00 per ticket
For the full schedule of classic film screenings at the Portage, please click here.

Wednesday, December 5th @ 7:30pm
UPSTREAM
Directed by John Ford • 1927
With live organ accompaniment from Jay Warren!
Presumed lost for over eighty years, Upstream never garnered much of a reputation. Even avowed Ford partisan Peter Bogdanovich once declared that ‘the least of [Ford’s] Harry Carey westerns would have more interest today than such higher budgeted Fox specials as. . . Upstream.’ But there’s nothing high-flown or high-budget about this lovable mutt of a picture. (Ford’s name isn’t even listed in the credits.) It sketches the daily routine of a scruffy boarding house occupied by knife-throwers, tap-dancing brothers, and aspiring actors. One in particular, Eric Brashingham (Earle Fox), has plenty to aspire to: with his family name, he should be playing Hamlet on the West End, not returning the idle flirtations of housemate Gertie Ryan (Nancy Nash). When a desperate producer gives him a chance, Brashingham drops all thespian façade and reveals his true colors. Salvaged by New Zealand projectionist and collector Jack Murtagh, Upstream has been beautifully restored through the joint efforts of the New Zealand Film Archive, the National Film Preservation Foundation, Park Road Post Production, 20th Century Fox, and the Academy Film Archive. (KW)
60 min • Fox Film Corporation • Restored, tinted 35mm print from 20th Century Fox
Short: “New Zealand Now #3: Cattle Trail” (1955) – New Zealand National Film Unit – 35mm – 18 min

Not on DVD. Not on Netflix. Only available in 35mm. First Chicago Screening Since 1927!

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His Love — or His Life! Clint Eastwood in Don Siegel’s
The Beguiled — Rare 35mm Screening at the Portage

The Portage Theater – 4050 N. Milwaukee Ave – $5.00 per ticket
For the full schedule of classic film screenings at the Portage, please click here.

Wednesday, November 28th @ 7:30pm
THE BEGUILED
Directed Don Siegel • 1971
When wounded Yankee soldier John McBurney (Clint Eastwood) wanders out of the woods and into a girl’s seminary, he expects an ample helping of Southern hospitality. (His early question—“Too young for kissing?”—is emblematic.) Literally the cock of the walk, the super-virile Eastwood inspires a plantation-wide gynecological surge, pushing even long-dormant hens to resume laying eggs. Half the plantation plots to sleep with him, including the family-friendly headmistress (Geraldine Page) and her repressed assistant (Elizabeth Hartman). But even a stud’s progress can be undone by a child’s tortoise. One of the rare films to take men seriously as sex objects, The Beguiled brilliantly straddles arthouse psychodrama and drive-in exploitation fest. (Both demographics stayed away anyway.) Master craftsman Siegel never topped the baroque intensity on display here. Programmer Peter Conheim has summed up its essential qualities as well as anyone: “Part plantation melodrama, part gothic horror and part salacious romp, The Beguiled plays like a Technicolor nocturnal emission.” (KW)
105 min • Universal Pictures • 35mm from Universal
Short: The Three Stooges in “Uncivil Warriors” (Del Lord, 1935) – 35mm – 20 min

————–

Not morbid enough for you? How about ….

Sunday, December 2nd @ 7:00pm
THE ANIMATION OF WLADYSLAW STAREWICZ
Wladyslaw Starewicz • 1912-1934
The inexplicably creepy stop motion films of Russian born natural historian Wladyslaw Starewicz left a mark on animation as strong as Walt Disney or the Fleischer Brothers, influencing everyone from Jan Svankmajer to Terry Gilliam, but where other animators seemed to cull their material from the land of the living, Starewicz’s feel like they’ve been dug out of the ground (and they are, basically). The result is an extremely unsettling palette of dead bugs, taxidermied animals, skeletons, and rear projected real world backgrounds blended into something that predicts the work of Salvador Dali, George A. Romero, and Mister Ed the talking horse. Several prints in this program have been provided by animation historian and archivist Tom Stathes. Visit him at Cartoons on Film and the Bray Animation Project. (JA)

The Program
The Revenge of a Kinematograph Cameraman (1912, 12 min, 16mm)
The Frogs Who Wanted A King (1922, 9 min, 16mm)
The Voice of the Nightingale (1925, 13 min, 16mm)
The Town Rat and the Country Rat (1927, 10 min, 16mm)
The Mascot (1934, 26 min, 16mm)

NOTE CHANGE: One show only.

Cinema Borealis • 1550 N. Milwaukee Ave, 4th Floor
Suggested Donation: $10

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Escaping the In-Laws? Double Down on Laffs
The Marx Brothers and W.C. Fields in 35mm!

Wednesday, November 21st @ 7:30pm – Portage Theater – 4050 N. Milwaukee
Comedy Double Feature! Two Films for Only $5!

MONKEY BUSINESS
Directed by Norman Z. McLeod • 1931
Groucho, Chico, Harpo, and Zeppo wreak havoc on an ocean liner crossing the Atlantic and sing “Sweet Adeline” from empty barrels of kippered herring. (Whether or not the usually-mute Harpo joins the chorus is a point of scholarly contention. . .) To save face, the Brothers split up and work for two opposing thugs, impersonate Maurice Chevalier, and find a girl in a haystack. (It doesn’t hurt that the girl is Thelma Todd, rather than Groucho’s usual squeeze, Margaret Dumont.) Featuring the most gorgeous opening credits sequence Paramount ever produced, this was also the first Marx Brothers vehicle that wasn’t an adaptation of one of their Broadway shows (this is, uh, their first Off Broadway production), and if you can’t beat it, join it. (JA)
78 min • Paramount Pictures • 35mm from Universal
PLUS: Betty Boop in “Stopping the Show” (Fleischer Studios, 1932) – 8 min – 16mm

and

THE MAN ON THE FLYING TRAPEZE
Directed by Clyde Bruckman • 1935
After lying about the death of his mother-in-law to get the afternoon off of work, Ambrose Wolfinger (W. C. Fields) is fired from his job as a memory expert (where he remembers his boss’s appointments and saves him the embarrassment of forgetting acquaintances’ names). With Fields left to return to an ungrateful wife and brat of a son, Trapeze still gives the feeling that Fields has it together and the rest of the world are the ones losing their minds. An acrobat in the 20th century workplace we’ve all come to know and regret, Fields never had it harder than in The Man on the Flying Trapeze. (For a man who reportedly went into show business to avoid getting up before noon, Fields’s portrayal of a man who hasn’t had a day off in twenty-five years
is actually terrifying). Did we mention the Portage has a liquor license? (JA)
66 min • Paramount Pictures • 35mm from Universal

 

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Hey Skate Punks! Gus van Sant’s Dreamy Paranoid Park Returns to Chicago in 35mm! Sunday @ Borealis

Cinema Borealis  • 1550 N. Milwaukee Ave, 4th Floor
Suggested Donation: $10

Sunday, November 18th @ 6:00pm & 8:00pm
PARANOID PARK

Directed by Gus van Sant • 2007
A beautifully jumbled document of adolescent anxiety, Paranoid Park is Gus van Sant’s post-punk/dream pop after-school special. High schooler Alex should be flirting with girls or holding forth on the Iraq War, but his only engagement with the world comes as a liberated skateboarder in Paranoid Park. When a disfigured corpse turns up in the rail yard next door, a local cop begins profiling local skaters and prompts a moral crisis for a kid who didn’t know he could have one. Cast almost exclusively through the Myspace profiles of Portland-area teenagers, Paranoid Park assays a wholly singular sense of otherworldly emotional realism and vulnerability. Building upon the major achievements of Elephant and Last Days, Gus van Sant confirms his reputation as America’s queerest popular filmmaker. Financed with French money and barely screened in the US, Paranoid Park is one of the essential and forward-looking films of the new century. (KW)
84 min • MK2 • 35mm from IFC

———-

And now for something completely different.

Wednesday, November 21st @ 7:30pm – Portage Theater – 4050 N. Milwaukee
Comedy Double Feature! Two Films for Only $5!

MONKEY BUSINESS
Directed by Norman Z. McLeod • 1931
Groucho, Chico, Harpo, and Zeppo wreak havoc on an ocean liner crossing the Atlantic and sing “Sweet Adeline” from empty barrels of kippered herring. (Whether or not the usually-mute Harpo joins the chorus is a point of scholarly contention. . .) To save face, the Brothers split up and work for two opposing thugs, impersonate Maurice Chevalier, and find a girl in a haystack. (It doesn’t hurt that the girl is Thelma Todd, rather than Groucho’s usual squeeze, Margaret Dumont.) Featuring the most gorgeous opening credits sequence Paramount ever produced, this was also the first Marx Brothers vehicle that wasn’t an adaptation of one of their Broadway shows (this is, uh, their first Off Broadway production), and if you can’t beat it, join it. (JA)
78 min • Paramount Pictures • 35mm from Universal
PLUS: Betty Boop in “Stopping the Show” (Fleischer Studios, 1932) – 8 min – 16mm

and

THE MAN ON THE FLYING TRAPEZE
Directed by Clyde Bruckman • 1935
After lying about the death of his mother-in-law to get the afternoon off of work, Ambrose Wolfinger (W. C. Fields) is fired from his job as a memory expert (where he remembers his boss’s appointments and saves him the embarrassment of forgetting acquaintances’ names). With Fields left to return to an ungrateful wife and brat of a son, Trapeze still gives the feeling that Fields has it together and the rest of the world are the ones losing their minds. An acrobat in the 20th century workplace we’ve all come to know and regret, Fields never had it harder than in The Man on the Flying Trapeze. (For a man who reportedly went into show business to avoid getting up before noon, Fields’s portrayal of a man who hasn’t had a day off in twenty-five years
is actually terrifying). Did we mention the Portage has a liquor license? (JA)
66 min • Paramount Pictures • 35mm from Universal

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William S. Hart, Repetition Compulsion, and Us

Every other week, we seem to get a new lament about the End of Cinema. Usually, the blame falls on modern Hollywood and its infantilizing comic book movies. Never before in the history of movies, claims David Denby in The New Republic, was so much attention and capital devoted to an endless succession of sequels aimed at ten-year-old boys. The eight-decade reign of Adult Movies is a distant memory. Continue reading

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Sand – A Rare William S. Hart Film from the Library of Congress with live accompaniment by Jay Warren

The Portage Theater – 4050 N. Milwaukee Ave – $5.00 per ticket
For the full schedule of classic film screenings at the Portage, please click here.

Wednesday, November 14th @ 7:30pm
SAND
Directed by Lambert Hillyer • 1920
With live organ accompaniment by Jay Warren!
No silent-era star proved as consistent as William S. Hart, the sober cowboy auteur whose morally delicate frontiers always allowed for the twin possibilities of human depravity and absolute redemption. In Sand Hart plays a railway station agent who must stand aside when a local grandee sets his sights on Hart’s longtime sweetheart Mary Thurman. (It doesn’t help when Thurman overhears Hart gushing about the return of his beloved pinto pony and mistakes the object of his affection for a genuine romantic rival.) The first feature to be made by Hart’s own production company, Sand opened on Broadway as Hart’s profit-recovering lawsuit against his former producer Thomas Ince went to trial. Working with his long-time collaborators—the ever-professional journeyman director Lambert Hillyer, the sensitive cinematographer Joseph August, and his pinto pony Fritz—Hart demonstrated his reliable craftsmanship anew. Among his fans: President Woodrow Wilson, who cited Sand as his favorite Hart picture. (KW)
65 min • Paramount Pictures-Artcraft • 35mm from the Library of Congress
Short: “High on the Range: The Deadly Weed” (Ben Wilson, 1924) – 35mm – 20 min

———–

And join us on Sunday, November 18 for a rare 35mm screening of Gus van Sant’s Paranoid Park–which has never been shown in Chicago in its correct 1.37:1 aspect ratio!

Cinema Borealis • 1550 N. Milwaukee Ave, 4th Floor
Suggested Donation: $10

Sunday, November 18th @ 6:00pm & 8:00pm
PARANOID PARK

Directed by Gus van Sant • 2007
A beautifully jumbled document of adolescent anxiety, Paranoid Park is Gus van Sant’s post-punk/dream pop after-school special. High schooler Alex should be flirting with girls or holding forth on the Iraq War, but his only engagement with the world comes as a liberated skateboarder in Paranoid Park. When a disfigured corpse turns up in the rail yard next door, a local cop begins profiling local skaters and prompts a moral crisis for a kid who didn’t know he could have one. Cast almost exclusively through the Myspace profiles of Portland-area teenagers, Paranoid Park assays a wholly singular sense of otherworldly emotional realism and vulnerability. Building upon the major achievements of Elephant and Last Days, Gus van Sant confirms his reputation as America’s queerest popular filmmaker. Financed with French money and barely screened in the US, Paranoid Park is one of the essential and forward-looking films of the new century. (KW)
84 min • MK2 • 35mm from IFC

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The Old Way of Getting It Out: An Interview with Lucy Massie Phenix About You Got to Move

Introduction
Everyone brings their own personal baggage to the movies, and I don’t think I’m alone in treating them too readily as literature. Much of the vocabulary we apply to film comes from long-ago high school English classes. We assume that every detail is a puzzle piece that leads inexorably to a deliberate display of thematic unity and artistic expression. Analyze this film, we’re asked, and we begin to point out a camera movement like it’s an enjambment in a poem. We’re blessed with a bag of critical tools but we apply them as if every work is a self-contained thing that we can understand without leaving the house. Continue reading

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Rare Political Doc You Got to Move – Sunday @ Borealis
Jonathan Rosenbaum in Person at 8:30pm

Cinema Borealis in Wicker Park • 1550 N. Milwaukee Ave, 4th Floor
Suggested Donation: $10

Sunday, November 11th @ 6:00pm & 8:30pm
YOU GOT TO MOVE: STORIES OF CHANGE IN THE SOUTH
Directed by Lucy Massie Phenix and Veronica Selver • 1985
“What is it that changes people from feeling powerless to making them see and feel their own power in bringing about changes that will affect their lives?” You Got to Move began with this question and found ample and inspiring answers from a half dozen Southerners allied with the Highlander Folk School in rural Tennessee. The documentary commemorates three generation of political activists whose achievements would become marginalized in the Reaganite ’80s, including Sweet Honey in the Rock frontwoman Berenice Reagon and Highlander co-founder Myles Horton. Produced by engaged documentary veterans Phenix and Selver, who also contributed to Winter Soldier, Word is Out, The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter, and Berkeley in the Sixties. (KW)
85 min • 16mm from Milliarium Zero • Co-presented with portoluz

Former Chicago Reader critic and Highlander alumnus Jonathan Rosenbaum will introduce the 8:30 show and lead a discussion afterwards.

————–

And don’t miss Sand, the first William S. Hart picture to screen in Chicago in five years. And this one has never been on video or DVD! Catch it on Wednesday at the Portage.

The Portage Theater – 4050 N. Milwaukee Ave – $5.00 per ticket
For the full schedule of classic film screenings at the Portage, please click here.

Wednesday, November 14th @ 7:30pm
SAND
Directed by Lambert Hillyer • 1920
With live organ accompaniment by Jay Warren!
No silent-era star proved as consistent as William S. Hart, the sober cowboy auteur whose morally delicate frontiers always allowed for the twin possibilities of human depravity and absolute redemption. In Sand Hart plays a railway station agent who must stand aside when a local grandee sets his sights on Hart’s longtime sweetheart Mary Thurman. (It doesn’t help when Thurman overhears Hart gushing about the return of his beloved pinto pony and mistakes the object of his affection for a genuine romantic rival.) The first feature to be made by Hart’s own production company, Sand opened on Broadway as Hart’s profit-recovering lawsuit against his former producer Thomas Ince went to trial. Working with his long-time collaborators—the ever-professional journeyman director Lambert Hillyer, the sensitive cinematographer Joseph August, and his pinto pony Fritz—Hart demonstrated his reliable craftsmanship anew. Among his fans: President Woodrow Wilson, who cited Sand as his favorite Hart picture. (KW)
65 min • Paramount Pictures-Artcraft • 35mm from the Library of Congress
Short: “High on the Range: The Deadly Weed” (Ben Wilson, 1924) – 35mm – 20 min

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Swap Meet Cinema: Sheet Music and the Movies

 Can we learn about film history through non-filmic means?

By most metrics, this week’s film, Thanks a Million, is not a very familiar title. It hasn’t screened theatrically in Chicago—or anywhere else, for that matter—in many years. I don’t know of any video release, and I can’t recall many TV airings. It doesn’t have much of a paper trail either, with minimal mention in histories of the musical or American cinema in the ’30s. It’s not discussed in relation to director Roy Del Ruth’s career either, but that’s because far too few people are thinking about that expansive and bewildering subject in the first place. (For one rare and sympathetic take on Thanks a Million, see William K. Everson’s brief Program Notes for a 1978 screening.) We managed to preview a collector’s 16mm print before booking an infrequently-circulated 35mm print from the studio vault for our calendar, but that was a stroke of luck.

We only knew to seek the film out in the first place after coming across some very attractive sheet music for it. Continue reading

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