Talking Screens, A Week In Chicago Film, March 31-April 6, 2023
Ben Affleck directs again, with “Air,” opening Wednesday, April 5, a story of basketball, shoes and family, based on a Black List-noted screenplay. The Air Jordan story stars Affleck as Nike co-founder Phil Knight, Matt Damon as a Nike executive, Jason Bateman, Chris Messina, Matthew Maher, Marlon Wayans, Jay Mohr, Julius Tennon, Chris Tucker and Viola Davis. In wide release in theaters.
Chicago-made “The Year Between” from Full Spectrum Features and a Chicago International Film Festival audience favorite, opens Friday at Facets. The film follows a college sophomore who returns home to suburban Illinois after a mental breakdown. Writer-director Alex Heller is a lead in the film, alongside J. Smith-Cameron, Wyatt Oleff, Emily Robinson, Kyanna Simone and Steve Buscemi. Facets, March 31-April 2, April 7-9.
A. V. Rockwell’s “A Thousand And One” won the Sundance Grand Jury Prize with its story of “free-spirited” Inez (Teyana Taylor), who kidnaps her six-year-old son Terry from the foster care system in today’s turbulent New York City. Lena Waithe is among the producers. Opens Friday, March 31 at AMC River East, Newcity, Evanston and other theaters.
“Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” is an action-adventure adaptation of the twenty-sided dice board game. Directors Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley follow “a charming thief and a band of unlikely adventurers who undertake an epic heist to retrieve a lost relic, but things go dangerously awry when they run afoul of the wrong people.” With Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, Regé-Jean Page, Justice Smith, Chloe Coleman, Daisy Head and Hugh Grant. Opens Friday, March 31 in theaters.
Idiosyncratic Cornish director Mark Jenkin’s horror “Enys Men,” shot on 16mm in grainy style, finds madness on an isolated island. Jenkin cites folk-horror films from the 1970s as key influences, as well as Nicolas Roeg’s wisp-of-steel “Walkabout,” Alan Clarke’s “Penda’s Fen,” music ethnographer Alan Lomax’s 1953 “Oss Oss Wee Oss.” and “Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles.” Opens Friday, March 31 at the Music Box.
Idiosyncratic French director Quentin Dupieux’s “Smoking Causes Coughing” follows in the thread of his comedies like “Rubber,” with a superhero spoof following the Tobacco Force, five figures including Benzene (Gilles Lellouche), Nicotine (Anaïs Demoustier), Methanol (Vincent Lacoste), Mercury (Jean-Pascal Zadi), and Ammonia (Oulaya Amamra), who must regroup after losing a battle with a “diabolical” giant turtle. Opens Friday, March 31 at the Music Box.
Climate change is the subject of documentary “The Ants & The Grasshopper“: Anita Chitaya, a farmer in Malawi has made her village environmentally conscious, but irreversible damage to her land and community grows. In response, she “travels to America to meet with farmers, activists, climate skeptics, and legislators to persuade them to save her home by first saving the planet.” After the screening, there will be a Q&A with James Beard Award-winning activist co-director-producer Raj Patel and Alamo Drafthouse executive chairman-founder Tim League, as well as co-director-producer Zak Piper in Chicago, moderated by executive producer Steve James. Drafthouse, Monday, April 3, 7:30pm.
Plus, after the range of repertory and revival offerings for the week, critic Amy Taubin considers the late Michael Snow’s 1967 experimental standard “Wavelength,” including her role.
REPERTORY AND REVIVAL
“Pioneering gay filmmaker Derek Jarman once asserted that ‘colour seems to have a Queer bent,'” Block Cinema says of its double feature of Lewis Allen’s 1947 “Desert Fury” (35mm) and Kenneth Anger’s 1949 “Puce Moment” (16mm), which “employ bold color to figure themes of camp, spectacle, and queer desire.” Block Cinema, Friday, March 31, 7pm.
Siskel’s superlative smorgasbord, the “All In A Day’s Work” series, begins with a jam-packed week, featuring Jim Jarmusch’s “Night on Earth” (35mm) April 1, 5; Agnès Varda’s “Cleo from 5 to 7,” April 2, 4; Sidney Lumet’s “Dog Day Afternoon” (35mm) April 2, 6; Michelangelo Antonioni’s “La Notte” in a 4K restoration, April 3, 6; “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb” (35mm), April 3; and Spike Lee’s “25th Hour,” April 5. (Check out Art of the Title’s consideration of the bold punch of the main titles of “25th Hour” here.) Complete listings here.
F.W. Murnau’s “Sunrise: A Song Of Two Humans” (1927, 35mm), a landmark in motion pictures and emotion pictures, winner at the first Academy Awards of the only Oscar ever bestowed for “Best Unique and Artistic Picture” is essential cinema. Doc Films, Friday, March 31, 7pm.
Two more chances to see three hours of “Babylon” on the big screen: You’ll believe that an elephant can shit, and that no one can give up show business. Doc Films, Saturday, April 1, 4pm, 8pm.
Two of Stanley Kubrick’s earliest motion pictures are also up on the big screen at the Max Palevsky Cinema: “Fear and Desire” (35mm, 1951) and “Day of the Fight” (16mm, 1952). Doc Films, Sunday April 2, 8pm.
Horror corner, at Doc: David Cronenberg’s “Crimes of the Future“ Doc Films, Thursday, April 6, 9:30pm.
Industry sweetheart Guillermo del Toro’s “Pan’s Labyrinth” (2006, 35mm) is revived. Doc Films, Thursday April 6, 7pm.
And at the Music Box, John Carpenter’s “The Thing” (1982), is shown in 35mm along with Abhorrent Cinema’s horror cabaret. Music Box, Wednesday, April 5, 7pm.
Alan Moyle’s once-squirreled-away personality packet of pop and punk attitude “Times Square” is out in the world again, all phony and full of energy and promise that will disappear and 1979-shot Manhattan locations. From a screenplay by Jacob Brackman, who produced “Days of Heaven,” wrote a song for “The Karate Kid Part II,” and wrote Bob Rafelson’s “King of Marvin Gardens.” Art of the Title checks the credits here. Drafthouse, Friday, March 31, 10pm.
Amy Taubin talks about Michael Snow’s “Wavelength” (1967), with Artforum editor-in-chief David Velasco, including its making, its meanings and her own “star” role, including the story behind why “Strawberry Fields Forever” has its musical moment. A shabby VHS bootleg of the original film is here; “The soundtrack sounds like a bunch of chipmunks, I don’t know, talking to each other, the sine wave is turned to chipmunk speech and it looks like shit,” Taubin says of a film that the late director did not allow to be digitized. It’s being restored by Anthology Film Archives, “But right now, you can’t see this film [properly]. It’s this mysterious, unknown object.”
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His multimedia history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” will be published soon. Previews of the project are on Twitter and on Instagram as Ghost Signs Chicago. More photography on Instagram.