Short Runs

Commentary by Ray Pride



Thu 8

*THE BLOOD OF A POET (1930, France) Directed by Jean Cocteau. Cocteau: "A film of this kind cannot be put into words... I might tell you: the poet's solitude is so great, what he creates he lives so intensely, that the mouth of one of his creations lives in his hand like a wound... I would be right to tell you all this, but I would also be wrong, for it would all be a text written after seeing the pictures." Striking images. Music by Georges Auric. 65m. Shown with an excerpt from Jean Renoir's "La Fille d l'eau." $3. DOC Films (773)702-8575, University of Chicago, 1212 E. 59th, call for time.

FAREWELLS (Pozegnania) (Poland, 1958) Directed by Wojciech Has. A "sentimental comedy" set among the Polish intelligentsia in 1939, an intimate drama of a rebellious young student of privilege and a cynical taxi-dancer. 105m. $6. Film Center (312)443-3733, Columbus Drive at Jackson, 8:00.

THE NOOSE (Petla) (1957, Poland) Directed by Wojciech Has. Writes Judy Bloch of the Pacific Film Archive, "Has' impressive debut film already had his trademark odyssey structure, although here embedded in the story of a day in the life of an alcoholic." 100m. $6. Film Center (312)443-3733, Columbus Drive at Jackson, 6:00.

ONE AND EIGHT (1984, China) Directed by Zhang Junzhuo. 90m. $3. DOC Films (773)702-8575, University of Chicago, 1212 E. 59th, Call for time.

Fri 9

*CHASING AMY (1997, USA) Directed and Written by Kevin Smith. A movie ripe with Smith's trademark verbosity, raunchy sexual discussions, intense dramatic confrontations and a storyline about Holden, a hipster-in-his-own-head, goateed young comics artist (Ben Affleck) who, against the counsel of his jealous collaborator, Banky (Jason Lee), begins to fall for Alyssa (Joey Lauren Adams), a bright, funny, sexy, gorgeous woman who also draws comics and also happens to be lesbian. Smith's dramatic turns amplify his gags with great skill, examining with the fluidity of gender boundaries in matters of the heart as capably as the farcical tragic cruelties of male jealousy. Smith's started to tap into the heart behind his glib japery. "Chasing Amy" is a major step forward for a smart young writer-director. $5. Village (312)642-2403, 1548 N. Clark, Midnight; also International House (773)753-2274, 1414 E. 59th, 8:00, 10:30.

*FAST, CHEAP AND OUT OF CONTROL (1996, USA) Directed by Errol Morris. The pleasure of knowledge for its own sake seems to be at the core of Morris' enigmatic, elegant contraption of a movie, "Fast, Cheap & Out of Control." Yet his concatenation of four subjects that seem impossibly disparate suggests a quirky universe the meanings of which can be found only in unsettling juxtapositions, such as Morris creates with these four men's work: a lion tamer; a robot designer who believes silicon-based life will succeed carbon-based; a topiary sculptor whose work will likely not outlive him and a man fixated on a strange, blind, subterranean mammal, the naked mole rat, which resembles a penis with fierce teeth. $5. Village North (773)764-9100, 6746 N. Sheridan, Midnight.

*THE FULL MONTY (1997, Scotland) Directed by Peter Cattaneo. See Main film listings. 90m. $4. DOC Films (773)702-8575, University of Chicago, 1212 E. 59th, Call for showtimes.

LATIN BOYS GO TO HELL (1997, USA) Directed by Ela Troyano. Satire and skin in Latino New York City. $7.75. Music Box (773)871-6604, 3733 N. Southport, Midnight.

MAURICE (1987, England) Directed by James Ivory. After "Room With a View," Ivory does Forster again: in 1910 England, a young man's coming of age includes a growing awareness of his homosexuality. With James Wilby, Hugh Grant, Denholm Elliot. 135m. Video. Celluloid Outings discusssion group at Gerber/Hart Library (773)883-3003, 3352 N. Paulina, 7:00.

*THE PILLOW BOOK (1996, England-France-Netherlands-Japan) Directed and Written by Peter Greenaway. "The Pillow Book" is an adaptation of the thousand-year-old "Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon," a diary of lovers' stories, of sexual manners, of longings and regret, compiled by a lady-in-waiting to the Japanese Imperial court. Greenaway fashions his most elegant and compelling film in years, following Vivian Wu as a model in contemporary Hong Kong, who dreams of embodying the erotic fantasies of Shonagon by writing stories on the bodies of her lovers in ornate calligraphy. The combination of visual styles is dazzling -- black-and-white memories in the style of Yasujiro Ozu's movies about family life; brightly colored scenes of street life and fashion shows, of lovemaking and revenge-getting, in varying screen widths and with frames superimposed within frames; and in one memorable scene, inspired by Karaoke, a French pop song accompanying a lovers' montage, subtitled in English and French with subtitles in calligraphy. Ewan McGregor is also at hand, offering a largely nude performance as Wu's ultimate blank screen, the body she has dreamed of writing her erotic fantasies upon. The lasting pleasures of Greenaway's movies are seldom simply those of narrative, but of found references, chance juxtapositions, painterly eruptions, moments that privilege the viewer in unexpected ways. Water and the shadows of reflected ripples suffuse "The Pillow Book." Hong Kong is shown as all urban delirium and dissociation, then the ripple of watery reflection plays off almost all of the miraculous, unaffordable dream decors of homes and cafs and restaurants. Even fire is photographed with the rippling caress of water. For the eyes, the ears, maybe even the mind. Panavision. $5. Village (312)642-2403, 1548 N. Clark, Midnight.

PINK FLAMINGOS (1972, USA) Directed by John Waters. There are many reasons why "Pink Flamingos" ranks among the most notorious of bad-taste movies. On its first release in 1972, in New York's Elgin Theatre (then the nation's premier head-trip midnight show venue), the good-natured but relentlessly crass film earned John Waters such titles as "Puke King" and became one of the gems in New Line Cinema's portfolio of underground movies. New Line is now part of Time-Warner and Waters is established as one of the funniest raconteurs around. But back in Baltimore twenty-five years ago, working with $10,000 borrowed from his father, Waters was still an unknown when Divine battled for the title of "The Filthiest Person Alive." There are stomach-turning shocks throughout "Pink Flamingos," but its reputation -- and Waters' -- was sealed in the final scene, when Divine's dinner is prepared intestinally by a Hungarian sheep dog. Waters' restored version of "Pink Flamingos" adds an epilogue in which he talks about the film and introduces several omitted scenes. $7.75. Music Box (773)871-6604, 3733 N. Southport, Midnight.

*PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT (1994, Australia) Directed by Stephan Elliott. The always-fascinating Terence Stamp gives a grave yet serene performance as an aging transsexual who joins up with two drag queens to perform their musical specialties in an Australian outback resort. Their road trip from Sydney to the resort is just an excuse for a bright, bouncy musical with a raunchy, unapologetically queer sense of humor. It's lightweight, but entertaining. Panavision. Brew & View at the Vic, Midnight.

*SCHIZOPOLIS (1997, USA) Directed by Steven Soderbergh. A $200,000 experimental feature, "Schizopolis" leaps happily from lucidity to literal babbling, from cool visual style to nutball gibbering. Soderbergh, less than pleased with the work he had done with "The Underneath," arranged to make a guerrilla-style production, a kind of throat-clearing exercise, with himself as director, writer, cameraman and lead actor. It seems to be a parody of a Scientology-like religion called "Eventualism," and then a quirky satire of the contemporary workplace, then quick as you make sense of that, Soderbergh lurches in another direction. Confounding at first, it becomes a playful, near-Dada experience and there are moments inspired and nonsensical throughout that seldom fail to amuse or at least happily perplex. $5. Village (312)642-2403, 1548 N. Clark, Midnight.

*SICK: THE LIFE AND DEATH OF BOB FLANAGAN, SUPERMASOCHIST (1997, USA) Directed by Kirby Dick. The phrase "pain of creation" achieves new heights of meaning after you've seen Kirby Dick's extraordinary documentary, "Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist." "Sick" is an exacting portrait of the late performance artist, poet, lifelong sufferer of cystic fibrosis and "hetero masochist, in extremis" Bob Flanagan. "I've learned to fight sickness with sickness" was Flanagan's standard, typically jokey description of how his masochism helped him endure the chronic pain of CF. In collaboration with his longtime lover and collaborator Sheree Rose, what had been private ritual became a very public art. At his death at 43, Flanagan had lived double the years anyone in his condition is expected to live, and the pain he suffered -- fundamentally a slow, breath-by-breath drowning -- led him to explore the world of pain with great wit and knowledge. Dick, a friend of Flanagan's, has made a funny, beautifully nuanced, even tender film, touching on issues of intimacy in relationships in art and life in a way that could probably not be depicted in any other genre. 85m. $5. Village (312)642-2403, 1548 N. Clark, Midnight.

TO HAVE (OR NOT) (En Avoir Ou Pas) (1995, France) Directed by Laetitia Masson. Two naive young lovers -- a fired fish-cannery worker who leaves a small French town for Lyons; a young construction worker -- enact a working-class mating dance. 90m. $6. Film Center (312)443-3733, Columbus Drive at Jackson, 6:00, 7:45.

*VERTIGO (1958, USA) Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Hitchcock's 1958 excursion into surrealism and the lure of the blonde has been restored, with a new stereo mix approximating the look of the original VistaVision release. While the palette is both bolder and creamier than the reissue last decade, the deep, piercing colors of the original IB Technicolor process are still only approximated. Bernard Hermann's score is crisply re-recorded, however, and is the film's major highlight in this edition. The story? James Stewart is a detective asked to follow an old friend's wife, Kim Novak, who may or may not be mad, and he soon falls in love with his quarry. There's an awful lot that can be written -- has been written -- about "Vertigo," but here's provocateur Jean-Luc Godard's take: "Any great modern film which is successful is so because of a misunderstanding. Audiences like 'Psycho' because they think Hitchcock is telling them a story. 'Vertigo' baffles them for the same reason." Yet the reviews of this reissue are less baffling than wistful. The ardor of the boy-men nostalgic for their youth at a fiftyish remove makes me feel like an even more antiquated Bosley Crowther philistine, a full-gallop fogey. To be honest, as you should be about your tastes, "Vertigo" leaves me cold. And it's not just Kim Novak's secondhand Grace Kelley, her plump inability to rise above featureless frowse. Read what Scorsese, Kehr, Hoberman, Wilmington, Turan, et al., have to say -- but "Vertigo" is an artifact to be seen with fresh eyes. Yes, it turns dizzyingly perverse, but it's never dazzlingly perfect. There are daring moments -- Hitchcock had a fondness for providing reams of exposition, to brain-deadening lengths, which he does in the first few scenes of "Vertigo." Then, unshackled by the need to provide information, he sends Jimmy Stewart's detective-in-search-of-a-soul on a wordless journey through 1957 San Francisco, his coral De Soto saloon puttering a few yards behind Novak's deep green Jaguar. It should hypnotize. Intellectually, I get it, and the ending has a grandeur worthy of the largest gestures of grand opera, but any deep emotional response on my part would have to be willed. "Vertigo" is certainly deeply personal, perversity manifest, but it is now an object of memory for middle-aged men looking to the auteurist vivacity of their youthful enthusiasms. 128m. $5. Village North (773)764-9100, 6746 N. Sheridan, Midnight.

*A WOMAN UNDER THE INFLUENCE (1974, USA) Directed by John Cassavetes. Gena Rowlands shines as a troubled woman at the end of her tether; is the love of husband Peter Falk all she has or another strand of enabling? 155m. $7.75. Music Box (773)871-6604, 3733 N. Southport, 6:00, 9:00.

Sat 10

*CHASING AMY See Jan 9. $5. Village (312)642-2403, 1548 N. Clark, Midnight.

*FAST, CHEAP AND OUT OF CONTROL See Jan 8. $5. Village North (773)764-9100, 6746 N. Sheridan, Midnight.

*L.A. CONFIDENTIAL (1997, USA) Directed by Curtis Hansen. See Main film listings. 136m. $4. DOC Films (773)702-8575, University of Chicago, 1212 E. 59th, Call for times.

LATIN BOYS GO TO HELL See Jan 9. $7.75. Music Box (773)871-6604, 3733 N. Southport, Midnight.

*LOVE STREAMS (1984, USA) Directed by John Cassavetes. Cassavetes' last film. Writes Time Out London's Geoff Andrew, "As so often in Cassavetes' work, there's little plot: desperate attempts at a sexual life from a boozy, middle-aged writer staving off loneliness; a divorced woman's struggles to hang on to her husband, daughter and sanity... guided firmly by the director's customary emphasis on spontaneous, naturalistic performance, search for closeness, warmth and self-definition." 141m. New 35mm print. $7.75. Music Box (773)871-6604, 3733 N. Southport, 3:00, 6:00, 9:00..

*THE PILLOW BOOK See Jan 9. $5. Village (312)642-2403, 1548 N. Clark, Midnight.

PINK FLAMINGOS See Jan 9. $7.75. Music Box (773)871-6604, 3733 N. Southport, Midnight.

*PLAYTIME (1967, France) Directed by Jacques Tati. A remarkable masterpiece. Tati's signature character, the always curious, peripatetic Monsieur Hulot, wends his way through a modern city of glass, steel and utter isolation, leaving old-fashioned chaos in its wake. Along with Buster Keaton, Tati is probably the greatest director of the frame in film comedy, always certain of where to place the camera for the ideal revelation of a gag or a skewed perspective that illuminates the lunacy of much of 20th-century urban life. Did I say it's very funny? 108m. Music Box (773)871-6604, 3733 N. Southport, 11:30am.

*PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT See Jan 9. Brew & View at the Vic, Midnight.

THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW (1975, England) Directed by Jim Sharman. You do the Time Warp again, leave me out of it. With Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon, Barry Bostwick. $5. Village North (773)764-9100, 6746 N. Sheridan, Midnight.

*ROMAN HOLIDAY (1953, USA) Directed by William Wyler. Audrey Hepburn is a bored princess in Rome and Gregory Peck an American journalist who falls in love with his story. With Eddie Albert. 118m. Music Box (773)871-6604, 3733 N. Southport, 11:30am.

*ROSITA (1923, USA) Directed by Ernst Lubitsch. Mary Pickford imported Lubitsch to America to direct her in this story of a Spanish street singer. 99m. Piano accompaniment by David Drazin. $6. Film Center (312)443-3733, Columbus Drive at Jackson, 2:00, 6:00.

*SCHIZOPOLIS See Jan 9. $5. Village (312)642-2403, 1548 N. Clark, Midnight.

*SECRETS (1933, USA) Directed by Frank Borzage. Mary Pickford's last feature, directed by the master melodramatist, opened during the Depression to little or no box office; she plays the wronged wife of a man about to run for governor of Arkansas. 85m. $6. Film Center (312)443-3733, Columbus Drive at Jackson, 4:00.

TO HAVE (OR NOT) See Jan 9. $6. Film Center (312)443-3733, Columbus Drive at Jackson, 8:00.

*VERTIGO See Jan 9. $5. Village North (773)764-9100, 6746 N. Sheridan, Midnight.

Sun 11

*CHASING AMY See Jan 9. International House (773)753-2274, 1414 E. 59th, 8:00.

*GLORIA (1980, USA) Directed by John Cassavetes. Gena Rowlands is a hard-edged gang moll who adopts an orphaned kid after seeing his parents gunned down by the mob; one of Cassavetes's only studio pics and a wild ride. The remake, with Sharon Stone, directed by Sidney Lumet, is threatened for release later this year. 121m. $7.75. Music Box (773)871-6604, 3733 N. Southport, 4:30, 9:30.

*MINNIE AND MOSKOWITZ (1971, USA) Directed by John Cassavetes. Rarely-shown romance between two unexceptional characters, played by Gena Rowlands and Seymour Cassel. 114m. $7.75. Music Box (773)871-6604, 3733 N. Southport, 2:00, 7:00.

THE MURDERERS ARE AMONG US (1946, East Germany) Directed by Wolfgang Staudte. The first post-World War II German film, set in the rubble of Berlin, about a doctor who returns home haunted by the atrocities he witnessed during the war. 91m. $3. DOC Films (773)702-8575, University of Chicago, 1212 E. 59th, Call for times.

*PLAYTIME See Jan 10. Music Box (773)871-6604, 3733 N. Southport, 11:30am.

*ROMAN HOLIDAY See Jan 10. Music Box (773)871-6604, 3733 N. Southport, 11:30am.

*SPARROWS (1926, USA) Directed by William Beaudine. The Village Voice called "Sparrows" "a beautifully atmospheric horror melodrama," and many consider it Mary Pickford's best. 81m. $6. Film Center (312)443-3733, Columbus Drive at Jackson, 4:15.

*STELLA MARIS (1918, USA) Directed by Marshall Nielan. Mary Pickford plays two parts in one of her best-regarded melodramas. 100m. Piano accompaniment by David Drazin. $6. Film Center (312)443-3733, Columbus Drive at Jackson, 6:00.

TO HAVE (OR NOT) See Jan 9. $6. Film Center (312)443-3733, Columbus Drive at Jackson, 2:30.

Mon 12

GOOD RIDDANCE (1979, Canada) Directed by Francis Mankiewicz. A rarely shown artifact from the Canadian cinema. 120m. $3. DOC Films (773)702-8575, University of Chicago, 1212 E. 59th, Call for times.

*THE KILLING OF A CHINESE BOOKIE (1976, USA) Directed by John Cassavetes. Cassavetes's second edit of a Ben Gazzara-starring drama about an LA strip-club proprietor muscled by gangsters. The combination of shaggy-dog plotting and eccentric digressions is unusually euphoric, even for Cassavetes. 109m. $7.75. Music Box (773)871-6604, 3733 N. Southport, 5:00, 7:20, 9:40.

THE REPLACEMENT KILLERS (1998, USA) Directed by Antoine Fuqua. Chow Yun-Fat's American film debut, an action drama co-starring Mira Sorvino. 90m. Yun-fat will appear. $20. World premiere. A benefit for the Film Center (312)443-3733, McClurg Court, 330 E. Ohio, 8:00.

TO HAVE (OR NOT) See Jan 9. $6. Film Center (312)443-3733, Columbus Drive at Jackson, 2:30.

Tue 13

THE BLOOD OF JESUS (1941, USA) Directed by Spencer Williams. A rarely-shown black musical, also starring Williams, who later played Andy on The "Amos 'n' Andy" television series; he's a small-town man who accidentally shoots his newly-baptized bride. Shown with Dudley Murphy's "The Saint Louis Blues." $3. DOC Films (773)702-8575, University of Chicago, 1212 E. 59th, Call for times.

*OPENING NIGHT (1977, USA) Directed by John Cassavetes. As one might expect, Gena Rowlands is incandescent as an aging actress in a long, but involving backstage drama. With Joan Blondell, Ben Gazzara. 144m. $7.75. Music Box (773)871-6604, 3733 N. Southport, 5:00, 8:00.

SECRETS See Jan 10. $6. Film Center (312)443-3733, Columbus Drive at Jackson, 6:00.

SPARROWS See Jan 10. $6. Film Center (312)443-3733, Columbus Drive at Jackson, 7:45.

Wed 14

*FACES (1968, USA) Directed by John Cassavetes. Infidelity in all its seamy details, as practiced by John Marley, Gena Rowlands, Lynn Carlin, Seymour Cassel, Fred Draper, and Val Avery. Fine stuff. 130m. $7.75. Music Box (773)871-6604, 3733 N. Southport, 7:15.

*MODERN TIMES (1936, USA) Directed by Charlie Chaplin. Chaplin takes on the industrial revolution. Funny stuff, plus Paulette Goddard at her plushest. Yow! 89m. Harold Washington Library Center (312) 747-4300, 400 S. State, 12:15.

*SHADOWS (1960, USA) Directed by John Cassavetes. Manhattan at its seediest in Cassavetes' first feature: two men and a woman go through their relationship troubles while dipping in and out of seedy dives and jazz clubs. Score by Charles Mingus. 87m. $7.75. Music Box (773)871-6604, 3733 N. Southport, 5:15, 9:50.

*SWEETIE (1989, Australia) Directed by Jane Campion. Campion's gift for edgy, eccentric images is much in display in her first feature, the story of a demanding, mentally ill woman and her relationships with her messed-up family, especially her weaker, compliant sister. Dark and sometimes funny, always unsettling. David Ansen wrote, "If Diane Arbus were alive and making movies in Australia, the result might be something like 'Sweetie.'" 100m. Shown with Campion's "After Hours." $3. DOC Films (773)702-8575, University of Chicago, 1212 E. 59th, Call for times.

TO HAVE (OR NOT) See Jan 9. $6. Film Center (312)443-3733, Columbus Drive at Jackson, 6:00.








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