Fall Film Preview 2012
Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos’ follow-up to “Dogtooth” is equally bizarre and unorthodox, and takes its time, almost to its final fistful of shots, to reveal its true subject.
September 7, Siskel.
Sophia Takal’s compelling study of jealousy in a small town in the rural south boasts strong performances as well as gorgeous cinematography brimming with mood. With Kate Lyn Sheil (“The Color Wheel”), Takal, Lawrence Michael Levine and Alex Ross Perry (“The Color Wheel”).
September 7, Facets
Ron Fricke, director of “Baraka,” returns with another free-associative montage from the beauty of nature and the bad, bad, bad, bad, bad things that man does to the planet. “Samsara” is also bad, bad, bad, rising only to the level of a gratuitously good-looking tract instead of a mere feat of production coordination.
September 7, Landmark Century
Writer-director Nicholas Jarecki comes from a stellar filmmaking tribe—brother Eugene is the documentarian behind “Why We Fight” and this fall’s “The House I Live In”; brother Andrew made “Capturing The Friedmans”—and Sundance reports indicate ambition and skills in a story about the world financial meltdown, anchored by a stirring Richard Gere performance and roles for Brit Marling, Tim Roth, Susan Sarandon and Laetitia Casta. Distributors Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions hope for the same box-office bonfire as “Margin Call” proved to be.
September 14, Landmark Century and Renaissance
French filmmaker with the musical bent Christophe Honore (“Love Songs,” “Dans Paris”) charts three decades of the love affairs of a mother and daughter (Catherine Deneuve, Chiara Mastroianni). With Ludivine Sagnier, Milos Forman, Louis Garrel.
September 14, Music Box
Shirley Clarke’s 1962 adaptation of Jack Gelber’s 1959 play about jazz musicians and junkies gets a fantastic 35mm black-and-white restoration from Milestone Films (“On the Bowery”).
Siskel, September 14
Finding Nemo 3D
As the studios began to turn motion pictures into digital files, some writer or other snarked that Pixar didn’t make movies, they composed digital files consisting of a single, extremely long number. Which makes it incredibly simple to repurpose its past digital numbers as 3D entries, ready for a new generation of kiddos to go cross-eyed over.
Side By Side
Keanu Reeves is the onscreen interlocutor in this clear-eyed documentary on the film industry’s all-too-rapid digital handover. Appearances include James Cameron, Martin Scorsese, David Fincher, Christopher Nolan, the Wachowski siblings and Jabba the George Lucas.
Siskel, September 15, 17, 20
We Won’t Grow Old Together
Forty years after its French debut, the American release of Maurice Pialat’s 1972 portrait of a six-year love affair in disarray, released the same year as “Last Tango in Paris.”
Siskel, September 14
Chicago South Asian Film Festival Columbia College hosts films, guests, panels and musical performances.
Lush, melancholy documentary on the end days of Detroit, and by extension, the midwestern version of the American Dream.
Siskel, September 21
End of Watch
Writer-director David Ayer (“Training Day,” “Harsh Times,”) stays on the dark side of the Los Angeleno thin blue line in cop drama starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Frank Grillo, Michael Peña, Anna Kendrick and America Ferrera.
How To Survive A Plague
Enthralling, visceral, enraging, hopeful documentary drawing on footage from the earliest days of the emergence of AIDS is a tour-de-force by filmmaker David France, drawing from work by over thirty videographers.
September 21, Music Box
“You’re the bravest boy I’ve ever known,” is one of many memorable, belittling endearments Philip Seymour Hoffman‘s “Master” issues to his singular and ultimate protégé Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix). He’s practically beaming after one of Freddie’s frenzies of violence: “Naughty boy, okay! All right?” There are memorable mouthfuls galore, but will any of them turn out to be an “I drink your milkshake?” Paul Thomas Anderson’s screenplay for “The Master” demonstrates a deep concern for its historical inspiration: readers of lore of a certain personality may be amazed by how familiar some details and notions will seem. The movie’s actually sympathetic to the wild hopes and ambitions and simple failings of its Lancaster Dodd, its L. Ron Hubbard-like character who is seldom referred to as anything but “The Master.” The acting is hefty: if anything, this is a carnival of gestural extremes.
Trouble With The Curve
Clint Eastwood yields the directorial reins to his longtime assistant director-producer, but at eighty-two, he’s still center frame as an aging baseball scout who can’t quite take his eye off the ball. With Amy Adams, Justin Timberlake, John Goodman, Matthew Lillard, Bob Gunton, Ed Lauter, Robert Patrick.
Diana Vreeland, The Eye Has to Travel
The blissful madwoman behind the classic years of Vogue magazine was a quick one with the epigram—”Pink is the navy blue of India”—and her complicated decades furnish this documentary.
September 28, Music Box
The latest film from Steve James (“Hoop Dreams,” “The Interrupters”) enters the debate on safety in amateur and professional contact sports, beginning with traumatic head injuries.
Siskel, September 28
Writer-director Rian Johnson (“Brick,” “The Brothers Bloom”) wrests time as his latest subject in a lo-fi mindbender where Bruce Willis’ character is sent from the future to be assassinated by his younger self, Joseph Gordon Levitt (in face-tangling makeup).
Greek Film Fest Chicago
A survey of what the small, mightily harassed country where Democracy began has been able to eke out of cinema in the recent past.
October 4-8, Siskel, Pickwick
Stephen Elliott, novelist and founder of the Rumpus, makes his directorial debut with a story about workers in the San Francisco sex industry, one of his stomping grounds. With Heather Graham as a female director of sex videos. With Heather Graham, Ashley Hinshaw, Dev Patel, James Franco. October 5, Music Box
Mads Brügger’s thrilling undercover chronicle of his life as a fake diplomat, buying credentials and making his way into the center of dangerous business in Africa. A mind-boggling trip, plus bonus questions about documentary authenticity and diplomatic responsibility!
October 5, Siskel
Veteran of 2011 film festival circuit “Butter” is the comedic tale of two women who compete as butter carvers at the Iowa State Fair. A political allegory? Mebbe. With Jennifer Garner, Olivia Wilde, Hugh Jackman, Alicia Silverstone, Rob Corddry, Kristen Schaal.
A new 35mm print of Vera Chytilová’s 1966 feminist-hallucinogenic Czech classic.
Festival of Films from Iran
The Film Center has specialized in movies from Iran for decades: what of character has grown under the current, repressive regime?
Big-budget stop-motion encrustation of Tim Burton’s early short that was originally suppressed by Disney for its morbid character. But then, Burton doesn’t do so badly by stop-motion… Music from Danny Elfman, The Flaming Lips, Karen O, Robert Smith and Winona Ryder. October 5
Reports from Cannes suggest Lee Daniels’ adaptation of Pete Dexter’s journalism-and-capital punishment thriller can finally be accepted for the camp-gothic African-American John Waters-style exploitation director he’s always been. May be best remembered as “the movie where Nicole Kidman squats and pisses on Zac Efron for a surprisingly long time.” With John Cusack, Macy Gray and Matthew McConaughey, still gleefully shaking off the romcom hangover.
Horror omnibus that scared up a million bucks or so at Sundance for its filmmakers, including Adam Wingard, Ti West and Chicago’s own Joe Swanberg.
The Story of Film: An Odyssey
Scots film scholar, festival-maker and kilt-wearer Mark Cousins’ 915-minute, fifteen-part singularity of a film series play in digestible chunks on weekends through November. The whole history of film, in fifteen parts… with many interviews with the world’s best-known filmmakers and most knowledgable observers.
October 6 and successive weekends, Music Box
The Chicago International Film Festival
Festival founder Michael Kutza’s annual cinema dreadnought hoves into view for its forty-eighth edition. Expect first glimpses of many of the season’s best films, including a few titles destined to be Foreign Language Academy Award contenders. Titles announced to date include new work by Abbas Kiarostami, Bille August, Cristian Mungiu, Leos Carax and Paolo and Vittorio Taviani.
October 11-25, River East
Warner Bros. is fond enough of Oscar-winning writer Ben Affleck’s skills to have reportedly offered him the reins of several huge tentpole movies; this one is a smaller action film, about an ill-fated attempt to free American hostages from Iran in 1979 under the guise of making a science-fiction movie. The trailer boasts ample period facial hair, as well as a keen joke or two. With Affleck, John Goodman, Bryan Cranston, Chris Messina, Zeljko Ivanek, Victor Garber, Clea Duvall, Bob Gunton and Alan Arkin.
The House I Live In
Eugene Jarecki’s first proposal for “The House I Live In” was one of the more captivating, effective pitches I’ve ever heard: a full-on indictment of American society for a kind of genocide via the war on drugs. When his film debuted at Sundance this year, the result was more personal, drawing as well on the history of members of families who had worked for his family, and how the damage of addiction had worked outward. Stern, valuable stuff.
October 12, Siskel
Documentarian Ross McElwee (“Sherman’s March”) returns with a personal memoir that includes the next McElwee generation.
October 12, Siskel
Martin McDonagh’s follow-up to “In Bruges” is another multi-character brute comedy, this one a possible homage to the forgotten 1990s films that followed Quentin Tarantino’s example. Previews position Christopher Walken as star distraction, among a cast that includes Colin Farrell, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, Zeljko Ivanek, Kevin Corrigan and a bunny-wielding Tom Waits.
Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan
You know how fragile film history is when only thirty years after its release, a movie as meaningful to the legacy of Paramount Pictures as “Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan” would require a digital restoration.
October 12, Music Box
Killing Them Softly
Andrew Dominik’s first feature since “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” is a thriller based on a George Higgins novel, set in 2008 around the time of the world economic collapse, and using its mob-enforcer storyline as a vehicle to condemn bankers and economic violence. From the producer of “The Master.” With Brad Pitt, Richard Jenkins, James Gandolfini, Ben Mendelsohn, Scoot McNairy, Ray Liotta and Sam Shepard.
Paranormal Activity 4
What did Jay Leno say in those Doritos commercials back when his hair was black and his resentment was usually in check? “Eat all you want, we’ll always make more”?
Sundance-honored drama of young married couple who face the dangers of their drinking, and then their sobriety. From James Ponsoldt, the director of “Off the Black.” With Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Aaron Paul, Mary Kay Place and Megan Mullally.
From Tom Tykwer (“Run Lola Run,” “Perfume”) and Chicago’s own Wachowskis, a madly ambitious adaptation of D. Stephen Mitchell’s time-and-space-leaping novel that reads as a blissfully unadaptable work. A six-minute online preview of this German superproduction promises more than its saccharine, tagline-infected voiceover: as the story slipstreams from era to era, each actor plays more than one role, race or gender. With Jim Broadbent, Halle Berry, Tom Hanks, Hugh Grant, Hugo Weaving, Susan Sarandon, Ben Whishaw, Jim Sturgess, Keith David and Doona Bae.
Keep the Lights On
Writer-director Ira Sachs seems to have arrived finally at a personal sweet spot for the stories he needs to tell, drawn from his life but muddied a little, like “The Delta” and “Forty Shades of Blue,” with “Keep the Lights On,” a low-budget but intense, loving study of a long-term relationship that is largely built, and torn, from enabling.
October 26, Music Box
New Yorkers in Los Angeles with Italian filmmaking on the brain: that would be director Ry Russo-Young and her co-writer Lena Dunham, with “Nobody Walks,” a tactile, tensile minor-key successor to Pasolini’s “Teorema.” Martine (Olivia Thirlby) is a twenty-three-year-old New York photographer with an upcoming one-woman show and she’s come to stay with a Silver Lake family while finishing sound work on a film. Rosemarie DeWitt plays an old friend of Martine’s mother, and John Krasinski her husband. DeWitt’s character is a therapist and mom to a sixteen-year-old daughter from a first marriage and a younger son with Krasinski; he’s the sound designer who’ll help finish the film. A house, a home, perching comfortably on the side of a hill. Martine enters the movie as a passenger, hair pixie-short, looking left and right, big 1960s-style sunglasses, a movie star in the French film in her Brooklyn mind. Think Jane Birkin: Martine is. But there’s more afoot than admiring a Holga-toting dewy kewpie.
October 26, Landmark Century
Based on a real life, comedy-drama-heart-tugger “The Sessions” features John Hawkes as a Berkeley journalist-poet and “polio” in the early 1970s who relies on an iron lung and decides at the age of thirty-eight, it’s time to lose his virginity. Helen Hunt, kind, open, torn, plays the sex surrogate who changes his life. Bathos is held in check by general frankness about fucking. William H. Macy mugs genially as his priest-friend-confessor.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show
Time Warp. Done. Again.
October 27-28, 31, Music Box
The Chicago Filipino American Film Festival
The Portage Theater hosts films from the island and beyond.
November, dates TBD
Polish Film Festival in America
The twenty-fourth edition of the ambitious survey of the state of the Polish film industry will be at Facets, Beverly Arts Center, Park Ridge’s Pickwick Theatre and West Town’s Gallery Theatre. November 2-18
Robert Zemeckis returns to the world of live-action filmmaking with a drama about an airplane pilot (Denzel Washington) who saves a flight from crashing but there are repercussions back on the ground. With John Goodman, Bruce Greenwood, Don Cheadle, Melissa Leo.
The Loneliest Planet
From the director of the taut, ticking thriller “Day Night Day Night,” Julia Loktev, a twisty tale of off-road tourism that turns strange and dangerous. With Gael Garcia Bernal, Hani Furstenberg.
The Man With The Iron Fists
The Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA gets a modest hand from Quentin Tarantino in his China-set, period, meta-spaghetti, post-chop-socky directorial debut, co-written by Eli Roth and starring Russell Crowe and Lucy Liu.
Cartoon set inside the world of videogames, where classic character Wreck-It Ralph (John C. Reilly) sneaks into a latter-day first-person shooter game. Director Rich Moore’s credits include episodes of “The Simpsons,” “The Critic,” and “Futurama.”
Jerry & Me
Chicago filmmaker-scholar Mehrnaz Saeed-vafa documents her childhood in Tehran, where she was obsessed with Jerry Lewis. Shown with an archival print of Lewis’1960 classic “The Bellboy.”
November 3 & 7, Siskel
Leos Carax has made only a few grandiloquent, heart-soaring films in his lifetime—”Boy Meets Girl,” “Mauvais Sang,” “Lovers On the Bridge,” “Pola X”—but Cannes reports were over the Riviera for the mad confabulation of all of cinema history in the deadly daily actions of one protean, Carax-ian performer (again, always, Denis Lavant), criss-crossing Paris in a “Cosmopolis”-like white stretch limousine. With Eva Mendes, Kylie Minogue.
November 9, Music Box
Hong Kong Cinema
Ten or so titles in the Film Center’s annual survey celebrating the current state of the historically inventive cinema of the colony of China.
November 9 forward, Siskel.
The director of “Amistad.” The writer of “Angels in America.” The star of “There Will Be Blood.” But aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln—how was the play?
Sam Mendes and cinematographer Roger Deakins (“Kundun,” “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford,” ten films by the Coen brothers, “Sid & Nancy”) shuck on the Bond mantle: which Shakespeare plays and which Hitchcock films will they find their best moves from? Suits by Tom Ford.
Chicago Food Film Festival
Take, eat, this is my foodie porn.
This Must Be the Place
From Paolo Sorrentino, director of “Gomorra,” Sean Penn stars in what could be called “Robert Smith, Nazi Hunter,” as a rocker in his dotage, nursed by kind wife Frances McDormand, who crosses Wim Wenders’ American West in search of a Nazi war criminal who humiliated his father in Auschwitz, while he’s in the company of Bono’s daughter, Eve Hewson.
Oft-underestimated filmmaker Joe Wright (“Atonement,” “Hanna”) directs a Tom Stoppard adaptation of the Tolstoy novel that appears, from its early footage, steeped in the extravagance of some contemporary theater’s boldest, best mindbenders. With Keira Knightley, Jude Law.
Life of Pi
Ang Lee directs 3D adaptation of Yann Martel’s bestseller, with over an hour of adventure promised in a lifeboat in the middle of the sea with a boy and a tiger. Oh no! Have they packed their life lessons?
A 2010 MGM release, this remake of the 1984 Wolverines-save-America adventure sat on the shelf long enough to have its Chinese invaders digitally re-made as North Koreans, in order not to offend that country’s film industry and to make the premise even more outlandish. (Do the North Koreans invade because we have tastier clumps of dry grass to feast upon?) With younger versions of Chris Hemsworth, Josh Peck and Josh Hutcherson.
Silver Linings Playbook
David O. Russell returns from the tender, gentle stylings of “The Fighter” and the shelving of his unfinished “Nailed” with this comedy about depression and football, based on the novel of the same name. With Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and Robert De Niro.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
In your general direction: a reissue that includes twelve minutes of newly unearthed animation, narrated by Terry Gilliam.