No Mall Movies! (Chicago Cinema)
23 July 2014
Film: BRAINSTORM (d. Douglas Trumbull, 1983, USA) 
Forum: Music Box Theatre       Format: 70mm
Observations: This film features alternating 35mm and 70mm segments, and provided the small gathered crowd at the theatre (all hunched up in the front rows) laughs and thrills galore. Favorite laugh moment, in a film packed with product placements, was cross-cutting between a child traumatically exposed to the secrets of Operation Brainstorm and father (Christopher Walken) eating out of a conspicuous bag of Ruffles potato chips. Not likely to see this film again. Not a great film but a fun film-going experience.

23 July 2014

Film: BRAINSTORM (d. Douglas Trumbull, 1983, USA) 

Forum: Music Box Theatre       Format: 70mm

Observations: This film features alternating 35mm and 70mm segments, and provided the small gathered crowd at the theatre (all hunched up in the front rows) laughs and thrills galore. Favorite laugh moment, in a film packed with product placements, was cross-cutting between a child traumatically exposed to the secrets of Operation Brainstorm and father (Christopher Walken) eating out of a conspicuous bag of Ruffles potato chips. Not likely to see this film again. Not a great film but a fun film-going experience.

23 July 2014
Film: VERTIGO (d. Alfred Hitchcock, 1958, USA) 
Forum: Music Box Theatre       Format: 70mm
Observations: First time I’d seen this print, the 70mm version of the reviled Robert A. Harris-James C. Katz restoration. Boosted up with DTS digital surround sound, tricked out with a doubtful sound-effect track, still I got entirely wrapped up in it all over again. Theatre was about a third full, then pretty much emptied out for the next show, BRAINSTORM (1983).

23 July 2014

Film: VERTIGO (d. Alfred Hitchcock, 1958, USA) 

Forum: Music Box Theatre       Format: 70mm

Observations: First time I’d seen this print, the 70mm version of the reviled Robert A. Harris-James C. Katz restoration. Boosted up with DTS digital surround sound, tricked out with a doubtful sound-effect track, still I got entirely wrapped up in it all over again. Theatre was about a third full, then pretty much emptied out for the next show, BRAINSTORM (1983).

22 July 2014
Film: CRIES & WHISPERS (d. Ingmar Bergman, 1971, Sweden) 
Forum: Home           Format: DVD (Chicago Public Library)
Observations: Inspired by a recent reading of Robin Wood’s monograph on the director, I’m catching up with a number of titles I’ve not seen. Drama about sisters nursing a sibling who’s wasting away with cancer, narrated with flashbacks of the characters’ lives and their memories. Recommended as a cinematic version of Bergman’s theatre.

22 July 2014

Film: CRIES & WHISPERS (d. Ingmar Bergman, 1971, Sweden) 

Forum: Home           Format: DVD (Chicago Public Library)

Observations: Inspired by a recent reading of Robin Wood’s monograph on the director, I’m catching up with a number of titles I’ve not seen. Drama about sisters nursing a sibling who’s wasting away with cancer, narrated with flashbacks of the characters’ lives and their memories. Recommended as a cinematic version of Bergman’s theatre.

20 July 2014
Film: PATTON (d. Franklin J. Schaffner, 1970, USA) 
Forum: Music Box Theatre           Format: 70mm
Observations: Another storied classic that our Dad took us to see at the movies. The print looked pretty great, though a possible projector issue caused a cloudy spot at the top of the screen for half the running length. Not great filmmaking, maybe (though I like Schaffner a lot), compromised by its closeness to the historical events and its lionization of the military commanders. Samuel Fuller, understandably, turned down the opportunity to direct this. Still, many redeeming features: a first-rate F.F. Coppola screenplay, a memorable Jerry Goldsmith score (that could be heard clearly in this format), and of course George C. Scott and Karl Malden. Theatre about a quarter or third full for this one.

20 July 2014

Film: PATTON (d. Franklin J. Schaffner, 1970, USA) 

Forum: Music Box Theatre           Format: 70mm

ObservationsAnother storied classic that our Dad took us to see at the movies. The print looked pretty great, though a possible projector issue caused a cloudy spot at the top of the screen for half the running length. Not great filmmaking, maybe (though I like Schaffner a lot), compromised by its closeness to the historical events and its lionization of the military commanders. Samuel Fuller, understandably, turned down the opportunity to direct this. Still, many redeeming features: a first-rate F.F. Coppola screenplay, a memorable Jerry Goldsmith score (that could be heard clearly in this format), and of course George C. Scott and Karl Malden. Theatre about a quarter or third full for this one.

11 July 2014
Film: LAWRENCE OF ARABIA (d. David Lean, 1962, U.K.) 
Forum: Music Box Theatre           Format: 70mm
Observations: Third time we’ve seen this in a theatre, but the first time in the superwide 70mm format (the Music Box is hosting couple of weeks’ worth of films in this format). Half-full theatre for this screening of the nearly four-hour, justly-honored cinematic epic. In this format, the use of sound to block out space is far more evident, and Maurice Jarre’s music never sounded better.

11 July 2014

Film: LAWRENCE OF ARABIA (d. David Lean, 1962, U.K.) 

Forum: Music Box Theatre           Format: 70mm

Observations: Third time we’ve seen this in a theatre, but the first time in the superwide 70mm format (the Music Box is hosting couple of weeks’ worth of films in this format). Half-full theatre for this screening of the nearly four-hour, justly-honored cinematic epic. In this format, the use of sound to block out space is far more evident, and Maurice Jarre’s music never sounded better.

10 July 2014
Film: THE FRONT PAGE (d. Lewis Milestone, 1931, USA) 
Forum: Doc Films           Format: 35mm
Observations: This came as a surprise, despite our having already seen it once long ago via home video. The shocks, laughs and thrills from the Hecht-McArthur story (though no doubt bowdlerized for even the pre-Code screen) emerges only fully in a crisp print with an intact soundtrack. Fun, too, to see it with a smallish (30 of so) but highly-appreciative audience. 

10 July 2014

Film: THE FRONT PAGE (d. Lewis Milestone, 1931, USA) 

Forum: Doc Films           Format: 35mm

Observations: This came as a surprise, despite our having already seen it once long ago via home video. The shocks, laughs and thrills from the Hecht-McArthur story (though no doubt bowdlerized for even the pre-Code screen) emerges only fully in a crisp print with an intact soundtrack. Fun, too, to see it with a smallish (30 of so) but highly-appreciative audience. 

5 July 2014
Film: AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON (d. John Landis, 1981, USA) 
Forum: Doc Films           Format: 35mm
Observations: This came out at a time when i seldom went to movies, busy with college and extracurriculars, and I had a bias against John Landis to boot. The film was a moderate success then, and seemed to have picked up important fans along the way (like director Edgar Wright). Seen in the light of a generation of horror and comedy films since, this middle-budget actioner comes across as pretty tight and droll. And then there’s the fantastic Rick Baker make-up. Forty or so in attendance.  

5 July 2014

Film: AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON (d. John Landis, 1981, USA) 

Forum: Doc Films           Format: 35mm

Observations: This came out at a time when i seldom went to movies, busy with college and extracurriculars, and I had a bias against John Landis to boot. The film was a moderate success then, and seemed to have picked up important fans along the way (like director Edgar Wright). Seen in the light of a generation of horror and comedy films since, this middle-budget actioner comes across as pretty tight and droll. And then there’s the fantastic Rick Baker make-up. Forty or so in attendance.  

4 July 2014
Film: SNOWPIERCER (d. Bong Joon-ho, 2013, South Korea/USA) 
Forum: Music Box           Format: DCP
Observations: How best to pay tribute to our nation’s independence than watching a post-apocalypse sci-fi Korean-USA co-production. An international cast rumbling through a Ice-Age Planet Earth on a perpetual motion locomotive, the economy class in armed revolt against the rich at the head of the train. Fun like the pre-STAR WARS sci-fi features of 1970s Hollywood. 

4 July 2014

Film: SNOWPIERCER (d. Bong Joon-ho, 2013, South Korea/USA) 

Forum: Music Box           Format: DCP

Observations: How best to pay tribute to our nation’s independence than watching a post-apocalypse sci-fi Korean-USA co-production. An international cast rumbling through a Ice-Age Planet Earth on a perpetual motion locomotive, the economy class in armed revolt against the rich at the head of the train. Fun like the pre-STAR WARS sci-fi features of 1970s Hollywood. 

4 July 2014
Film: JOHN [AND FAITH] HUBLEY CARTOONS (1956-70, USA) 
Forum: Gene Siskel Film Center           Format: 35mm
Observations: Several summers ago at Doc Films, they programmed an evening of Hubley Studio films in 16mm. It was revelatory. This program, a version of the one recently screened in NYC in honor of the John Hubley centennial, only duplicated a few titles: ADVENTURES OF AN * (1956), TENDER GAME (1958), MOONBIRD (1959), THE HAT (1964), WINDY DAY (1968), URBANISSIMO (1967), OF MEN AND DEMONS (1968), and EGGS (1970). Small theatre on July 4, not quite full. Sadly, no kids.

4 July 2014

Film: JOHN [AND FAITH] HUBLEY CARTOONS (1956-70, USA) 

Forum: Gene Siskel Film Center           Format: 35mm

Observations: Several summers ago at Doc Films, they programmed an evening of Hubley Studio films in 16mm. It was revelatory. This program, a version of the one recently screened in NYC in honor of the John Hubley centennial, only duplicated a few titles: ADVENTURES OF AN * (1956), TENDER GAME (1958), MOONBIRD (1959), THE HAT (1964), WINDY DAY (1968), URBANISSIMO (1967), OF MEN AND DEMONS (1968), and EGGS (1970). Small theatre on July 4, not quite full. Sadly, no kids.

3 July 2014
Film: PENN AND TELLER GET KILLED (d. Arthur Penn, 1989, USA) 
Forum: Home                     Format: VHS (home library)
Observations: Here’s Arthur Penn pretty nearly at the end of his theatrical career, recording (in Hollywood narrative fashion) the estimable magic act of the titular duo. Absolutely one of the strangest and most compelling sketch comedy films ever, on par with Harold Ramis’s STUART SAVES HIS FAMILY.

3 July 2014

Film: PENN AND TELLER GET KILLED (d. Arthur Penn, 1989, USA) 

Forum: Home                     Format: VHS (home library)

Observations: Here’s Arthur Penn pretty nearly at the end of his theatrical career, recording (in Hollywood narrative fashion) the estimable magic act of the titular duo. Absolutely one of the strangest and most compelling sketch comedy films ever, on par with Harold Ramis’s STUART SAVES HIS FAMILY.

1 July 2014
Film: ON APPROVAL (d. Clive Brook, 1944, U.K.) 
Forum: Gene Siskel Film Center         Format: 35mm
Observations: Turner Classic Movies made a big fuss about unearthing this title from obscurity, a comic story of recoupling set in a vacation home. Quite a turnout (the theatre was about half-full), and most people seemed to enjoy it a lot. 

1 July 2014

Film: ON APPROVAL (d. Clive Brook, 1944, U.K.) 

Forum: Gene Siskel Film Center         Format: 35mm

Observations: Turner Classic Movies made a big fuss about unearthing this title from obscurity, a comic story of recoupling set in a vacation home. Quite a turnout (the theatre was about half-full), and most people seemed to enjoy it a lot. 

30 June 2014
Film: PARIS, TEXAS (d. Wim Wenders, 1984, Germany) 
Forum: Laptop         Format: DVD (Chicago Public Library)
Observations: I missed this one on its original release. Gorgeous images of the American Southwest (Robby Müller, DP). As a compendium of 1980s acting styles (Dean Stockwell, Harry Dean Stanto, Nastassja Kinski), highly enjoyable.

30 June 2014

Film: PARIS, TEXAS (d. Wim Wenders, 1984, Germany) 

Forum: Laptop         Format: DVD (Chicago Public Library)

Observations: I missed this one on its original release. Gorgeous images of the American Southwest (Robby Müller, DP). As a compendium of 1980s acting styles (Dean Stockwell, Harry Dean Stanto, Nastassja Kinski), highly enjoyable.

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