Eric Rohmer: where to begin? How about with an offhanded masterpiece, 1984’s “Full Moon in Paris,” the most elegant of the splendid miniatures that constitute his cycle of “Comedies and Proverbs” romantic comedies? Louise (Pascale Ogier) is the bright center of his tale, an artistic young woman working in a design firm who abandons an older lover for a sequence of flings and affairs that have consequence by virtue of their very inconsequence. The slender but electric Ogier is a natural screen presence, and she beguiles her men (and the audience) with her angular, even aquiline features, her quick smile, her 1980s hair piled high, large-lidded wide eyes taking it all in with gentle bemusement and modest befuddlement. Read the rest of this entry »
Writer-director-actor Josh Lawson’s “The Little Death” is a rude rapscallion of an Australian comedy, drawing its title from a French term for orgasm, “le petite mort.” Lawson’s script hits much more than it misses, with bracing bursts of unlikely honesty in overlapping vignettes about five couples, their sexual hopes, fetishes and downfalls, with a sequence of endings that come together in a ravishingly sustained comic climax. (Scenes include masochism, foot fetishism, watching a partner sleep, enjoying a partner crying, roleplaying, obscene phone calls, and a cheery sex offender whose gift of cookies distracts the neighbors when he comes by to notify them he lives nearby.) Read the rest of this entry »
Another major move in Chicago film programming was announced Monday, with Northwestern University’s Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art naming a replacement for longtime curator Mimi Brody. Michelle Puetz takes the title of Pick-Laudati Curator of Media Arts on July 13, moving over from the MCA, where she’s curated mixed-media exhibits working with video and other time-based media.
At the Block, Puetz will oversee programming for the Block Cinema, as well as continue to curate exhibitions involving video. She was selected by a committee of eleven Block staff, Northwestern faculty members and students through what Kathleen Bickford Berzock, committee member and Block’s associate director of curatorial affairs, described as a “very, very rigorous process.” Berzock said she felt Puetz was uniquely qualified for the position, especially in establishing a greater presence of time-based media in the Block’s galleries. “What was so remarkable about Michelle Puetz as a candidate for this position is that a media arts specialist is already a rare thing,” Berzock said. “What [she] has that’s even more unique is this crossover of experience where she is equally experienced as a programmer and historian as she is as a curator in a gallery space.” Read the rest of this entry »
With their newest project, “Neighborhood Food Drive,” 2014 Film 50 subjects Jerzy Rose and Halle Butler turn from what is often the tragedy of fundraising to what the team hope will be the bright shining success of crowdfunding. In the vein of Rose’s earlier features, the uneasy comedies “Some Girls Never Learn” and “Crimes Against Humanity,” their pitch describes the new movie as “an anxiety-ridden film about two egomaniacal restaurateurs descending into a nightmare world with their unpaid intern. People are hurt, friendships are damaged, promises are broken, and no one does anything good for anyone else.” Sounds like a Chicago story, to be sure. Rose directs; Butler wrote the script.”It’s a spiritual successor to Halle’s out-of-print comic, ‘The Restaurant Business,’ which was first performed at Lyra Hill’s paramount performative ‘comix’ series Brain Frame almost three years ago,” Rose tells me. “The new film and that comic are small-scale disaster stories about failure, anxiety and ego—pretty universal, funny stuff, right?” Read the rest of this entry »
“I’m losin’ hope in tomorrow.” Man, those words murmured by Al Pacino in what may be his finest performance in far too long, they’re bittersweet. David Gordon Green’s quiet character study of a lonely, lovelorn small-town Texas locksmith, “Manglehorn,” was written by Paul Logan, a childhood friend of Green’s, who was also a driver on Green’s “Prince Avalanche.” As written by Logan, and with letters to a lover lost decades early, heard in voice-over, partially improvised by Pacino, A. J. Manglehorn’s wistful want for love in his late years holds no less ache than that of Green’s young lovers in “All The Real Girls.” Manglehorn meets a younger woman (Holly Hunter), a teller at his local bank, and his mood lightens, if not the brood of his long-nurtured wounds. Along with his usual knack for finding privileged moments of behavior, Green also expands on his use of expected, near-surreal images to gratifying effect. (Spontaneous public singing; a strange roadside accident out of a particular Godard movie; earthquakes.) Manglehorn is surprised by nothing, no matter how odd: this becalmed man lives fully in his head and Pacino plays him quietly, a magnificent loser. Read the rest of this entry »
With her fourth feature, the dreamy, low-key “Eden,” Mia Hansen-Løve continues to work in a different style that suits the subject at hand. Based on a screenplay she wrote with her brother, Sven Hansen-Løve, who is also a deejay, her film follows two decades in an unaging young deejay’s life in the Parisian electronic dance scene of the 1990s. Based partly on Sven’s experience, as well as those of Daft Punk, “Eden,” simmers in music and mood but the floppy-haired cipher of a male lead (Felix De Givry) is her least interesting protagonist yet, especially in light of the sharply drawn, nuanced figures of the middle-aged male protagonist of “Father of My Children” (2009) and the young girl center-screen in “Goodbye First Love” (2011). Read the rest of this entry »
Coming on the heels of a recent boom in programming and space, including a lounge complete with a full bar, the Music Box Theatre named a new general manager on June 15. Ryan Oestreich arrives from Denver, where he currently serves as director of the Sie FilmCenter, home to the nonprofit Denver Film Society. Previously, Oestreich managed operations and programming for the Film Society of Minneapolis-St. Paul. “Ryan’s strong experience in the venue management space, both in for-profit and nonprofit organizations, prove he’s capable of ushering Music Box Theatre into a next phase of growth,” William Schopf, president of the Southport Music Box Corporation said in a statement. “We anticipate exciting programming and audience development progress with Ryan at the helm.”
By Ray Pride
“Heaven Knows What” is an unabating horror movie, superficially a story about heroin and homelessness, filled with wakeful terrors, but it’s about something far worse, far more toxic.
Harley is a young woman, an unfinished child, on the streets of modern-day New York City. She’s wide-eyed, more than a waif, but lost to a terrible addiction: a crude brute of a boy named Ilya (Caleb Landry Jones). Love and heroin: which is Harley’s worse addiction? The opening of Josh and Benny Safdie’s third feature finds her on the street, lost to a kiss, but soon in need of help. What could kill her? What she believes: that she has a freighted case of true and fated love, or at least a willful misapprehension that nothing matters more than him. Read the rest of this entry »
The streamlined storytelling of Pixar’s “Inside Out,” directed by Pete Docter (“Up”), startles for many reasons, but most for the ease with which it executes its improbable premise—“mind workers,” or cartoon figures inside the head of eleven-year-old Riley, and how they define her emotional state—and makes it wholly accessible and very, very funny. Reportedly informed by extensive research with scientists in multiple fields, “Inside Out” is provocative about how emotions and memories drive the other characters as well. The quick glimpses inside Riley’s mother and father’s minds are terrific, too, and the device culminates in one of the most hilarious, logical, inspired, nearly perfect final scenes ever. Read the rest of this entry »
The aging of the prankster is front and center in “The Yes Men Are Revolting,” the third feature about the half-assed but often convincing hoaxes perpetrated by shameless political activists Mike Bonanno (Jacques Servin) and Andy Bichlbaum (Igor Vamos). It’s a curious place to find two smart clowns like these now-middle-aged media savants, but its meta-meta material about communication and miscommunication between the duo speak to issues both larger and more personal than the economic and political miscreants they target. Read the rest of this entry »