Talking Screens, A Week In Chicago Film, August 12-18, 2022
A24 goes wide with “Bodies Bodies Bodies,” its first big release since the nearly $100 million world-wide grossing “Everything Everywhere All At Once.” Halina Reijn’s black comedy places a rich bunch of twentysomethings at a hurricane party at a remote mansion somewhere near the world of “Euphoria.” The cast includes Amandla Stenberg, Maria Bakalova, Myha’la Herrold, Chase Sui Wonders, Rachel Sennott, Lee Pace and Pete Davidson. Opens Friday in theaters, including River East, Block 37, 600 North Michigan, Webster Place, Landmark Century, City North and Lake.
Anita Rocha da Silveira’s “Medusa” follows a night-running girl gang that by day are evangelical angels. “By night they form a masked, vigilante girl gang, prowling the streets in search of sinners who have deviated from the rightful path. After an attack goes wrong, leaving Mari scarred and unemployed, her view of community, religion and her peers begin to shift. Nightmares of repressed desires and haunting visions of alluring temptation become undeniable,” the distributor advises of the neon-colored vision. Opens Friday at the Music Box.
“Laal Singh Chaddha,” a decades-in-the-works official Indian remake of “Forrest Gump,” opens Thursday from Paramount in limited release. Advait Chandan directs an adaptation by Atul Kulkarni of Eric Roth’s screenplay and Winston Groom’s novel, pacing the life of a Sikh man from the 1970s until now in a mere 159 minutes. (Robert Zemeckis took 141 minutes in 1994.) In theaters, including including River East and ShowPlace ICON.
The Aubrey Plaza-starring and co-produced “Emily The Criminal” opens at the Music Box. And: xixty-five-year-old character actor Eddie Deezen has been found not competent to stand trial in a nursing home burglary case because of a mental disorder; Deezen’s work includes “1941,” “WarGames” and “Punky Brewster.” Plus: Lars Von Trier has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, but is in the midst of finishing the third series of “The Kingdom” for release this fall by Mubi.
Seethe, Aubrey, seethe! Aubrey Plaza is at her best in the sparking, sparkling “Emily The Criminal,” a crack thriller which debuted at Sundance 2022, written and directed by John Patton Ford and featuring Theo Rossi and Gina Gershon. Emily has a minor criminal record, can’t get a job and has crushing student debt, and finds herself a player in an illegal black-market operation. Can a penny-ante gig of buying stuff with hot credit cards and fencing it go even farther? The gritty look, the harsh critique of the punishing shallows of capitalism, and Plaza’s incendiary yet dry righteousness: it’s a dark parable of empowerment but it’s also a bold, dark showcase for her gifts. (Not to mention the financial perplexes thrust onto a vast majority of the current generation entering adulthood.) Opens Friday, August 12 at the Music Box.
South Korean master Hong Sang-soo’s more-0f-the-same but more “In Front Of Your Face” is one of the most affecting of his recent micro-budgeted maximal output. Beyond his usual focus on male-female relationships, “In Front Of Your Face” takes a wider view of family and community and spiritual awareness. Small conversations suggest larger lives, especially within his characters. Daily life, drinking, seduction and bumbling through torrents of language, sure, but this is one of the most enticing chapters of his recent filmography. Facets, Saturday-Sunday, August 13-14.
REPERTORY & REVIVALS
Howard Hawks’ 1930 “The Criminal Code” is a fleet vehicle for young-ish Walter Huston as a cynical district attorney. Writes the Chicago Film Society, “Adapted from a 1929 play by Martin Flavin, ‘The Criminal Code’ is a hard-edged work of pre-Code cinema, less a sociologist’s prison reform treatise than a snarling, gloves-off tribute to the fragility of law and order. Phillips Holmes and Constance Cummings co-star as tomorrow’s Americans, caught in a web of crime, but Boris Karloff easily steals the show as a convict whose parole was yanked away after a single beer.” Chicago Film Society at NEIU, Wednesday, August 17.
Doc Films presents Oscar Micheaux’s “Within Our Gates,” the oldest-known surviving film by an African American director, in 35mm. It’s Micheaux’s answer film to D. W. Griffith’s “The Birth Of A Nation” as well as the Chicago Race Riot of 1919. Doc Films, Thursday-Friday, August 11-12.
On a punchy note, Doc is showing Woo Ping Yuen’s 1978 “Drunken Master,” one of the early Hong Kong action gems that set Jackie Chan toward Asian notoriety and then international renown. Doc Films, Friday-Saturday, August 12-13.
Michael Moriarty plays the piano and sings in Larry Cohen’s bonkeroo tour of the skies, streets and minds of 1982 Manhattan in “Q: The Winged Serpent,” which also features Candy Clark, David Carradine, Richard Roundtree, and an Aztec flying serpent. Cohen shares some attributes with Sam Fuller: he punches and punches even when the movie is already dazed. It’s the kind of grubby, berserk movie that roared in the ruins of the Loop movie palaces of its time, then the fleapit neighborhood dollar houses that then dotted the city. 35mm. Music Box, 11:30am, Saturday-Sunday.
“In order to survive, after a hundred years in which it has changed very little, the cinema must rethink itself by turning into a more comfortable space with fewer screens and many services,” writes Gabriele Niola at the Italian design authority Domus. “For all films that do not boast impressive marketing and great entertainment, it is the structure that makes the difference: the welcoming atmosphere, the experience of going to the cinema that does not stop at the comfort of the seats (although crucial) but begins in the lobby and with the clear perception communicated by the architecture of the place of being in a special, beautiful, sophisticated and refined place.”