This week, the Chicago Film Society unveiled its multi-venue 2020 film schedule in a press release of superior charm, detail, and creativity.
The lineup contains enough screenings to satisfy the appetite of any cinemaficionado. Listed in the second part of the text below, it follows an introduction that is a joy to read.
So without further ado…
OK boomer. Remember that time you visited our apartment and gawked that we listened to all our music “on vinyls,” which you can’t do anymore since you donated all your old LPs to Goodwill? You may have forgotten, but we’ll never forgive that time you looked at our 35mm projector and said, “Gosh, I didn’t know you kids were still playing with film. Why bother, when I can stream Disney+ on your mother’s iPad?”
Everything that your generation threw away, our compatriots have dutifully fished out of the dumpster, polished up, and made part of the new CFS schedule.
With programs ranging from silent sex comedies to contemporary works of magical realism on Super 16, our new lineup stands as a countervailing narrative to the vapidness of the film culture (and the climate disaster) that we inherited.
We could try explaining media specificity to you, but you would rather tell us how when you were our age, you carried no student debt and already had your own timeshare in Florida. Spare us, gramps.
But if anything can bridge the generation gap, it’s great movies in great prints.
Maybe we can meet in the middle and just agree that we can admire Portrait of Jennie and My Favorite Wife for different reasons. We know you want to sit us down and tell us all about Rudy Ray Moore, but we’re already there, slinking to the grooves of Disco Godfather. We don’t laugh when you recount crusty bits from ’70s sitcoms, but our 16mm print of long-forgotten, made-for-PBS doc The Pasciaks of Chicago makes us long for the day when public television wasn’t just pledge drives and coffee mugs.
If you can remember when Shy People came out, you weren’t really there, you dig?
Photo The Trial of Vivienne Ware
Chicago Film Society
Full 2020 Schedule
Saturday, January 4 @ 11:30 AM / Music Box Theatre
THE STUDENT PRINCE IN OLD HEIDELBERG
Directed by Ernst Lubitsch • 1927 • 35mm from Warner Bros.
For those who love operettas but could do without the songs, Lubitsch has got the movie for you. Ramon Novarro and Norma Shearer star as unlikely lovers. Live musical accompaniment by Music Box house organist Dennis Scott.
Saturday Wednesday, January 8 @ 7:30 PM / NEIU
MY FAVORITE WIFE
Directed by Garson Kanin • 1940 • 35mm from Library of Congress
What if The Awful Truth was remade with Cary Grant, Irene Dunne, and Cary Grant’s roommate Randolph Scott in the Ralph Bellamy role, with kazoo cues to remind you when to laff?
Saturday Wednesday, January 15 @ 7:30 PM / NEIU
Directed by Kelly Reichardt • 2006 • 35mm from Chicago Film Society Collections
Would your lifelong friendship survive a quiet journey through the foliage of the Pacific Northwest? The vibe is so mellow that even exclaiming our love for the Super 16 cinematography feels like a bit much.
Saturday Wednesday, January 22 @ 7:30 PM / NEIU
LOVE ME TONIGHT
Directed by Rouben Mamoulian • 1932 • 35mm from Universal
In this saucy pre-Code musical scored by Rodgers and Hart, the town that sings together, swings together. Isn’t it romantic to watch Maurice Chevalier and Jeanette MacDonald together again?
Saturday Monday, January 27 @ 7:00 PM / Music Box Theatre
PORTRAIT OF JENNIE
Directed by William Dieterle • 1948 • 35mm from The Walt Disney Company
If this isn’t the strangest movie that your TCM-loving aunt once championed over a bottle of rosé, then we want to meet your aunt. With Joseph Cotten as a starving artist, Jennifer Jones as his rapidly maturing muse, Ethel Barrymore as a kindly gallerist, green lightning bolts, and a fleeting Technicolor likeness.
Saturday Wednesday, February 5 @ 7:30 PM / NEIU
Directed by John Huston • 1962 • 35mm from Universal
Did you know that Jean-Paul Sartre, avowed anti-Freudian, once wrote a biopic about the father of psychoanalysis for John Huston and Montgomery Clift? Chalk it up as a case study of sublimated sexual desire and you wouldn’t be wrong!
Saturday Monday, February 10 @ 7:00 PM / Music Box Theatre
Directed by J. Robert Wagoner • 1979 • 35mm from UNCSA
Rudy Ray Moore broke onto the big screen playing Dolemite, but his turn as an earnest anti-drug crusader in this blaxploitation time capsule is our favorite groove.Co-presented with CHIRP 107.1 FM.
Saturday Saturday, February 15 @ 11:30 AM / Music Box Theatre
Directed by Erle C. Kenton • 1928 • 35mm from Library of Congress
Finally, a movie that gives the flapper her due and then some. This independently-produced film demonstrates that Hollywood held no monopoly on wit and verve at the tail end of the silent era. Live musical accompanist by Music Box house organist Dennis Scott.
Saturday Wednesday, February 19 @ 7:30 PM / NEIU
Directed by Otto Preminger • 1953 • 35mm from Warner Brothers
We confess: we would watch anything with Robert Mitchum, but we won’t complain when the film on offer is as bleak, frenzied, and perfect as Preminger’s peak noir.
Saturday Wednesday, March 4 @ 7:30 PM / NEIU
UNCLE BOONMEE WHO CAN RECALL HIS PAST LIVES
Directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul • 2010 • 35mm from Strand Releasing
A millennia-spanning cosmic inquiry with the heart and soul of a creature feature. And like Uncle Boonmee, we can recall when all kinds of films–art films, monster movies, fish sex movies–were shot on Super 16.
Saturday Saturday, March 21 @ 11:30 AM / Music Box Theatre
TRAFFIC IN SOULS
Directed by George Loane Tucker • 1913 • 35mm from Library of Congress
If you only see one silent film about New York’s sex traffickers brought to justice through a dictaphone, it should probably be Traffic in Souls, a landmark from the dawn of the feature film era that moves as fast as any Michael Bay film. Live musical accompaniment by Music Box house organist Dennis Scott.
Saturday Monday, March 30 @ 7:00 PM / Music Box Theatre
Directed by Andrei Konchalovsky • 1987 • 35mm from Chicago Film Society Collections
What happens in the swamp, stays in the swamp–and lingers on forever as a ghost. A murderer’s row of great actresses–Jill Clayburgh, Barbara Hershey, Martha Plimpton–star in this unexpectedly moving family drama, from the dudes who brought you Delta Force.
Saturday Saturday, April 4 @ 11:30 AM / Music Box Theatre
Directed by Mikhail Kaufman • 1929 • 35mm from Yale Film Archive
After shooting The Man With the Movie Camera for his brother Dziga Vertov, cinematographer Mikhail Kaufman embarked on his own portrait of an awakening Ukraine. Live musical accompaniment by Music Box house organist Dennis Scott.
Saturday Saturday, April 11 @ 7:00 PM / Chicago Filmmakers
SIX AMERICAN FAMILIES:
THE PASCIAK FAMILY OF CHICAGO
THE BURKS OF GEORGIA
Directed by Mark Obenhaus • 1977 • 16mm from Chicago Film Society Collections
Directed by David and Al Maysles • 1978 • 16mm from Chicago Film Society Collections
Remember when PBS showed more than Downton Abbey and Sherlock? Remember when PBS showed you what happened when American families stopped being polite and started getting real?
Saturday Wednesday, April 15 @ 7:30 PM / NEIU
THE TRIAL OF VIVIENNE WARE
Directed by William K. Howard • 1932 • 35mm from the Museum of Modern Art,
Joan Bennett stars in the fastest pre-Code we know! Originally a six-chapter radio play, the addition of picture to this courtroom drama almost gives us a headache! Presented in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of WDCB’s Those Were the Days.
Saturday Monday, April 27 @ 7:00 PM / Music Box Theatre
THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH
Directed by Roger Corman • 1964 • 35mm from the Academy Film Archive.
The most macabre film in Roger Corman and Vincent Price’s cycle of loosely-faithful adaptations of Edgar Allan Poe, with cinematography by one Nicolas Roeg. Screening in a brand-new 35mm print!
ABOUT CHICAGO FILM SOCIETY
Chicago Film Society makes rare and classic films available to local audiences in their original forms–on 35mm and 16mm motion picture film. Our screenings spotlight the restoration efforts of archives, studios, and private collectors, as well as the experience of seeing films projected in a theater with an audience. Through an array of program notes, extended blog entries, and introductory remarks before each screening, the Chicago Film Society endeavors to bring new notions of the cultural and material history of cinema to the public. The Chicago Film Society is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. It was established by Julian Antos, Becca Hall, and Kyle Westphal in 2011.
ABOUT NORTHEASTERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY
Founded in 1867, Northeastern has a rich tradition of educational innovation and prides itself on preparing teachers and administrators who make a difference in Chicago. That tradition continues to this day and has expanded to include an array of academic disciplines, allowing the University to embrace fully the community in which it resides. Northeastern is regarded as the most diverse public comprehensive university in the Midwest and is designated by the U.S. Department of Education as a Hispanic-Serving Institution. Diversity is an important factor in the character of Northeastern and in the social fabric of its student body. The University has an enrollment of more than 10,000 students; African American, Hispanic, Asian and Native American students represent nearly 60 percent of the student body. Located on 67 acres in an attractive residential area on the Northwest Side of Chicago, the University offers more than 80 undergraduate and graduate programs in the arts, sciences, education, and business.
ABOUT THE MUSIC BOX THEATRE
For the last two decades, the Music Box Theatre has been the premiere venue in Chicago for independent and foreign films. It currently has the largest theater space operated full time in the city. The Music Box Theatre is independently owned and operated by the Southport Music Box Corporation. SMBC, through its Music Box Films division, also distributes foreign and independent films in the theatrical, DVD and television markets throughout the United States.
ABOUT CHICAGO FILMMAKERS
Chicago Filmmakers is a not-for-profit media arts organization that fosters the creation, appreciation, and understanding of film and video as media for artistic and personal expression, as well as media of important social and community impact. Chicago Filmmakers’ twofold mission is to serve independent film and digital video artists by supporting the creation and dissemination of new media arts works and to serve Chicago audiences by screening artistically innovative, socially relevant, and diverse films and videos.