Talking Screens, A Week In Chicago Film, October 21-27, 2022
The built-world adaptation of William Gibson’s 2014 near- and post-apocalypse novel, “The Peripheral” starts on Prime Video. I’ve seen six of the eight episodes, but almost all are under embargo. Suffice it to say for now that it’s a marvelous job of translating the cultural and time-flux fun of Gibson’s writing from directors including Vincenzo Natali and shepherded by executive producers Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy (“Westworld”). (And the profanity is on a genially Canadian level, suiting both Gibson’s dialogue and the Vancouver environs where he works.)
All-local psychedelic horror gross-out “All Jacked Up And Full Of Worms” plays at the Music Box, Friday, October 21. I worked briefly on it, so won’t review but simply say it lives up to that darn title and more. Tweets Robert Cargill, writer of “Sinister” and “The Black Phone,” “‘All Jacked Up And Full Of Worms’ is supremely fucked up, gross out, midnight movie nonsense of the highest degree. Feels like it was written on coke and edited on mushrooms. Incomprehensible madness for all the cult loving mutants out there. As Fantastic Fest a film as it gets.”
Sneaking into view like a throwback from a lost century is the George Clooney-Julia Roberts romanic comedy, “Ticket to Paradise.” Advance clips lean on dad-dancing by Clooney, soooo… The DC Comics Universe expands its messy footprint with the Dwayne Johnson-starring origin-story-cum-action-movie “Black Adam.”
Doc Films is noting its ninetieth anniversary with a roll call of classic canonical cinema. DOC90 this week features what would be David Lynch’s most malefic confection, “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me” and Hitchcock’s mad madness marvel “Marnie” on Saturday (think of the color red); and on Sunday, Charles Burnett’s masterpiece “To Sleep With Anger” and Robert Bresson’s “Au Hasard Balthazar” (or as Walter Hill answered to a wisenheimer query, “You mean the one with the donkey?”) Listings here.
Doc Films presents the Taviani brothers’ “Caesar Must Die” on Thursday, October 27 as part of their “Shakespeare Remixed” series, and Facets continues its “A Symphony of Horrors” programming on Sunday, October 23 with Takashi Miike’s unshakable 1999 “Audition” and Lodge Kerrigan’s once-lost “Keane,” in a 4K restoration in its first Chicago showing. “Keane” is one of the most disturbing of American movies about someone losing their mind; the mood is hypnotic, dreamy and brutal. Facets’ listings here.
Pawel Pawlikowski’s “Ida” shows at Siskel on Monday as this week’s “50/50” attraction. Plus, Ruben Östlund’s critique-cum-fetish object of the worldly trappings of the super-rich in “Triangle of Sadness.” In press, Östlund, perhaps joking, says his next movie takes place entirely on an atomizing long-haul flight where all devices fail. (AKA “Delta Of Sadness”?)
A personal appearance by Udo Kier is another fantastic lowlight-highlight at the Music Box of Horrors, as the never less than fantastically fabulous, the beautiful and bouncily, bountifully talented Udo Kier will be in attendance on Saturday, October 22 at the Music Box of Horrors with Paul Morrissey’s “Blood For Dracula” (a 4K restoration from the uncut original negative), which also stars Joe Dallesandro and Stefania Casini.
“Night of the Hunter” is a singular oddity, and certainly a masterpiece. Actor Charles Laughton’s only work as a director is filled with myth and mayhem, a lyrical visualization of fairytale imagery, dark, twisted, impassioned, filled with memories, ghosts and—to the children terrorized by them—incomprehensible forces. (It’s pretty earthy for 1955 as well.) Robert Mitchum is a psychotic “preacher” who spends much of the movie pursuing a trio of orphans. Mitchum is at his best, alluring and lurid at once; Lillian Gish is a protective farm woman who takes the children under her wing and stands up to evil. And as the mother of the brood, Shelley Winters, who takes to water in the most frightening way. James Agee adapted the novel by Davis Grubb; Stanley Cortez composed the magisterial black-and-white images. Go: be stunned. 35mm. Music Box, Saturday, October 22.
“Ida,” Pawel Pawlikowski’s hushed, elemental story of a young Polish woman’s discovery of her history and herself in the early 1960s as she’s about to take vows as a nun shimmers with beauty and detail: it’s breathtakingly great. “Ida” is the name of the protagonist, but as the film opens, she doesn’t know that: she’s Anna. Her Mother Superior insists that she (Agata Trzebuchowska) has to make one visit before taking her vows, to an aunt in the city. Wanda (Agata Kulesza) is a chain-smoking, hard-living Communist Party insider, who tells her the family secret. They’re Jewish, and the family was massacred during the Nazi occupation. Myriad legacies swirl, for Ida, for Wanda, and for the legacy of Polish filmmaking itself. Pawlikowski, known for movies like “My Summer of Love,” makes a film as concrete and as mysterious as any he has made, and part of it is the form, a rich black-and-white image, shot in the nearly square 4×3 “Academy” format of movies from Poland’s great cinematic heritage. There are surely ample footnotes to be made about photographic influence, but what matters is what has been made from influence: a movie that feels like it is a window looking into the distant past, in a format and fashion akin to its era, but which also feels contemporary, timeless and never anachronistic. Shot to shot, each and every element thrills. (The insurgent emotions in the scenes I haven’t described further illustrate the world past and the worlds ahead that Ida may embrace or reject.) While the non-actor Trzebuchowska is superb in indicating near-silent acknowledgment of all that swirls around her, Kulesza, with superlative presence, is the star of the show in every frame she enters or exits, electric with boundless passion, heedless fury, thwarted hope, vital cynicism passed from cigarette end to cigarette end. Siskel, Monday, October 24.
“Think of the world.” The Taviani brothers, Paolo (ninety-one) and Vittorio (1929-2018), hadn’t released a feature since 2007, but their earlier masterpieces include “Padre Padrone” (1977) and “Night of the Shooting Stars” (1982), both stories about storytelling and life in Italian villages (as seen by children). Their 2012 “Caesar Must Die,” trumps the ranks of documentaries about performances by prisoners behind the walls of Rebibbia prison, but this not-a-doc has a rough-hewn black-and-white look to its rehearsal passages that matches the intense distillation the brothers have made of Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” (as well as the fact much of their cast are convicted Mafiosi). The levels of “real” and play with authenticity enrich each pungent moment: it’s a Taviani picture through-and-through. Doc Films, Thursday, October 27.