Talking Screens, A Week In Chicago Film, February 3-9, 2023
“Knock At The Cabin,” M. Night Shyamalan’s adaptation of Paul G. Tremblay’s best-selling “The Cabin at the End of the World,” is an earnest, straight-ahead, latter-day effort at Biblical-style myth-making set largely in a single location of a few hundred square feet: its sincerity and speed may be its great virtues. The biggest laugh from the preview audience came from Shyamalan’s cameo, seen selling an air fryer on a shopping channel. Even Doomsday deserves good fried chicken. (Our full review is here.) In theaters.
Mia Hansen-Løve’s tender, touching “One Fine Morning” takes place largely in a few square inches: the quicksilver facial features of Léa Seydoux, playing Sandra, a single mother with an eight-year-old daughter who’s passed on the pleasures of romance and is confronted with caring for her philosopher father (Pascal Greggory) who has been stricken with a rare neurodegenerative disease. But romance does rear its curly-locked head when she crosses paths with a friend, Clément, now married, from years before (Melvil Poupaud). Hansen-Løve relies on Seydoux to indicate all manner of moods, including momentary elation and sudden despair, as she moves through her harried days across four seasons and in a range of sweaters and blouses and a relentless succession of moods. Gestures, flickers, the choice of clothing: each can indicate the gravest of turns or the most boundless of hopes. Some of the sweaters suggest what she wants from her day as much as her fingers trickling Clément’s torso. This is intent filmmaking, galvanic in its every instant: feeling is its form. It’s the tragedy of the clock, the rhapsody of the moment, and immensely beautiful. Siskel, starts Friday, February 3.
Belgian filmmaker Lukas Dhont’s Oscar-nominated “Close” is the story of Remi and Léo, a pair of thirteen-year-old best friends who are seemingly inseparable. How fragile are humans, how fragile are boys, how fragile is friendship! Remi (Gustav De Waele) and Léo (Eden Dambrine) have yet to learn to express themselves, restrained by inexperience and by Dhont’s refrained telling of imminent tragedy. The gorgeous, refined physicality of the motions of youth are one of Dhont’s subjects, all pulse, little poise. Prehensile sexuality and its tumble of confusions compound the moments. Summertime, can it last forever? School arrives. Bullying, too. And only halfway through the picture: a life ends. Grief and a sense of guilt have only begun. “Close” is gentle, but beneath, hardly genteel. With Émilie Dequenne (“Rosetta”). Opens Friday, February 3 at the Music Box.
And heaping helpings of film history in a partial list of offerings around town: super-size “War And Peace”; super-hammy Al Pacino in “Scent Of A Woman”; Billy Wilder’s brackish, bleak, carborundum “Ace In The Hole”; a week of digital restorations of early Dario Argento; the royal melodrama of Ernst Lubitsch’s 1924 “Forbidden Paradise”; and a 35mm showing of Lars von Trier’s Bjork-torturing 2000 “Dancer In The Dark.”
REPERTORY & REVIVALS
“Ace in the Hole” (aka “The Big Carnival,” 1951) is this week’s Billy Wilder matinee, in 35mm: Crackling cynical savagery about the hungriest newspaperman of them all, exploiting a man trapped in a mine, who’ll chase a buck as fast as an audience: “I don’t go to church. Kneeling bags my nylons.” “I met a lot of hard-boiled eggs in my life, but you, you’re twenty minutes.” “I’ve done a lot of lying in my time. I’ve lied to men who wear belts. I’ve lied to men who wear suspenders. But I’d never be so stupid as to lie to a man who wears both belt and suspenders.” Music Box Theatre, Friday, February 3 and matinees February 4-5.
“Argento 1970s” surfaces brand-new 4K digital restorations supervised by the director, including his directorial debut, “The Bird With The Crystal Plumage”; “The Cat O’ Nine Tails”; “Four Flies On Grey Velvet”; “The Five Days”; “Deep Red” and “Suspiria.” Siskel, February 3-9.
The Music Box continues its John Carpenter seventy-fifth-birthday series with Snake Plissken’s aggravated cool in the pulsing thriller “Escape from New York,” midnight February 3-4.
Ernst Lubitsch’s busy royal intrigue, “Forbidden Paradise” (1924, 35mm) was one of Lubitsch’s rarest films, “long-circulated only in fragmentary, incoherent prints” has been restored by the Museum of Modern Art and the Film Foundation with funding provided by Hobson/Lucas Family Foundation. Accompaniment by David Drazin. Chicago Film Society Presents at the Music Box, Wednesday, February 8, 7pm.
Björk gives her all and nothing more in her only lead role in Lars von Trier’s Dogme 95 “Dancer in the Dark” (35mm), a musical melodrama shot on gritty video with all too many cameras by Robby Müller (“Paris, Texas”). Prepare to be stomped on and wrung out. DOC Films, Thursday, February 9, 9:30pm.
“Waiting For The Light To Change,” made on a $20,000 budget by director Linh Tran and executive producer James Choi, with a Chicago cast and crew and filmed in Michigan, won Slamdance’s Jury Prize for Best Narrative Feature. Screen caught Tran’s acceptance speech in Park City. The film, which co-stars Sam Straley (“Welcome to Flatch” on Fox), is a meditation on female friendship, with a female Asian and Asian American ensemble cast, its makers citing influence from filmmakers such as Hong Sang Soo, Jim Jarmusch and Éric Rohmer, as we reported earlier. A ten-minute video interview with Tran, Straley and executive producer Choi [Newcity Film 50] before Slamdance is here.