Talking Screens, A Week In Chicago Film, March 25-31, 2022:
Whether it’s the lead-up to Oscar week, a tradition from years past when Oscar wins could keep a movie in theaters for weeks or months later, or a universal fear of matching up with Paramount’s retread of Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas starrer “Romancing the Stone” (1984), “The Lost City,” this time ’round with Channing Tatum (“Dog”), Daniel Radcliffe (“Swiss Army Man”) and Netflix drama all-star Sandra Bullock. While an Oscar-weekend reissue of Almodóvar’s “Parallel Mothers” on the big screen at Landmark Century or River East is sweet, it’s not the kind of event to end the drought of the kind of movies that could keep habitual moviegoers in the habit of haunting the multiplex.
Will “The Sing 2 Sing-Along Experience” be the thing, though? Universal advises that “The Sing 2 Sing-Along Experience” will include lyrics “to more than twenty of the biggest hits featured in the film, including ‘Girl on Fire,’ ‘There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back,’ ‘Let’s Go Crazy,’ ‘She Bangs,’ and U2’s ‘Where The Streets Have No Name’ and ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.'”
“Writing With Fire,” one of this year’s nominees for the Oscar for best documentary, opens at the Music Box for three showings only, including Saturday and Sunday matinees. Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh’s Hindi-language film follows the journalists of Khabar Lahariya (“Waves of News”), the only Indian news outlet led by women from the Dalit caste, as the newspaper makes a move to digital production. The Academy may have viewed the stirring witness to witness as an underdog story; still, Thomas and Ghosh’s filmmaking has a vital density not often recognized by that group. The rise and fall of individual women within the group is richly detailed and deftly portrayed. “Writing With Fire” serves many roles, but mostly as a taut tapestry of resistance, and even triumph, against the odds within centuries of oppression and the continued cost of rigid patriarchy exacted upon a vast nation. Music Box, March 25-27.
Naomi Watts is the lead in “Infinite Storm,” about an experienced climber who turns back from a blizzard while climbing Mt. Washington, New Hampshire, then discovers a stranded man she has to take down the mountain before nightfall. Co-directed by the eccentrically great Polish director Malgorzata Szumowska and Michal Englert. River East, Regal City North and outlying theaters. Big-budget Hindi entry “RRR: Rise, Roar, Revolt,” an action-drama from director S.S. Rajamouli (“Baahubali”) opens, following Indian soldiers rebelling against British Occupation. River East, Webster Place, Regal City North and outlying theaters.
Jim Farrell’s prize-winning “The Torch” continues at Siskel through the end of the month, a portrait of legendary Chicago bluesman Buddy Guy at the age of eighty-three.
Jane Campion’s early short work plays under the umbrella title “A Girl’s Own Story” at Chicago Filmmakers, including “An Exercise In Discipline: Peel” (1982); “Passionless Moments” (1983); “A Girl’s Own Story” (1984); “After Hours” (1984) and “The Audition” (199o). “Campion fostered themes and motifs that would punctuate her oeuvre in the short films she made during and immediately after her time at the Australian Film Television and Radio School. From the tension evoked by a fruit rind to the not-so-clear-cut dilemma of workplace harassment, these films provide the foundation for a prodigious body of work,” writes Filmmakers. Chicago Filmmakers Firehouse Cinema, Saturday, March 26 at 7pm. $10 tickets here.
Chicago filmmaker Joe Swanberg continues his side gig as film exhibitor and distributor, hosting filmmaker Gillian Horvat for a free screening with Q&A after of his Analog label’s first VHS release, of her 2021 black comedy, “I Blame Society,” about a filmmaker who turns to murder after too much rejection. “The first edition of this release is limited to fifty hand-numbered copies available for $20 cash.” Friday, March 25, 8pm. 2118 West Lawrence, VHS goes on sale at 7pm when the shop opens. He’s also hosting the first of two last “Secret Saturday” screenings the next night, March 26, at the Davis Theater, of a 2022 Sundance film that doesn’t hit theaters until July. Doors 7pm, film 8pm. Tickets, which include a draft beer or cider, are here.
Nicolas Cage is the cover boy of the April issue of GQ, in anticipation of his latest movie, “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent.” The profile by Gabriella Paiella is an endearing outing, and Cage talks productivity and passion: “What followed his father’s death and his financial ruin was a decade-long odyssey to do as many movies as possible for as much money as possible to pay his debts… Cage appeared in forty-six movies, an experience he likens to ‘a conveyor belt.’ … Cage is matter-of-fact when he speaks about how he went from headlining blockbusters to going straight to VOD. ‘The phone stopped ringing,’ he says. ‘It was like, “What do you mean we’re not doing ‘National Treasure 3‘? It’s been fourteen years. Why not?” I’ve got all these creditors and the IRS and I’m spending $20,000 a month trying to keep my mother out of a mental institution, and I can’t…’ Cage was adamant that he would never file for bankruptcy, even when people kept telling him to press that button..’When I was doing four movies a year, back to back to back, I still had to find something in them to be able to give it my all. They didn’t work, all of them. Some of them were terrific, like “Mandy,'” but some of them didn’t work. But I never phoned it in. So if there was a misconception, it was that. That I was just doing it and not caring. I was caring.’”
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His multimedia history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” will be published later this year.