Friday, January 6, 2012

This week's movie action

Posted By on 01.06.12 at 09:00 AM

Original poster for Mikio Naruses Lightning (1952)
  • Original poster for Mikio Naruse's Lightning (1952)
This is an exceptional week for Japanese cinema in Chicago. Starting on Monday, the 1952 drama Lightning begins Doc Films' nine-film series devoted to the collaborations between the great director Mikio Naruse and the actress Hideko Takamine. Only one of the titles in the series is available on DVD in the United States, so this is a very special event indeed (later today, I’ll post an interview with Doc Films programmer Edo Choi about how it came together). Also this week, Doc will screen Takashi Miike’s 13 Assassins (2010) and Sergio Leone’s beloved Akira Kurosawa remake, A Fistful of Dollars (1964). And last but not least, the Music Box Theatre will run the latest from Japanese writer-director-editor-star Takeshi Kitano, Outrage (2010), which is also the subject of this week’s long review.

Two documentaries receive our designation of “Reader Recommends” this week: Battle for Brooklyn (selected by J.R. Jones) and Paul Goodman Changed My Life (selected by Andrea Gronvall). We also recommend the Sigur Ros concert film Inni and a pair of unfinished films by Soviet master Sergei Eisenstein, Time in the Sun and Bezhin Meadow. Rounding up the pack of new reviews are the documentaries Bombay Beach (playing tonight at Chicago Filmmakers), The First Rasta (playing all week at Facets Multimedia), and The Love We Make, Albert Maysles’s portrait of Paul McCartney’s 2001 Concert for New York City; the political dramas The Conquest (about Nicolas Sarkozy’s presidential campaign) and In the Land of Blood and Honey (about the Bosnian Civil War of the 1990s); and two New York-set independent productions, Dirty Old Town and Pariah.

Doc Films seems to have cornered the repertory scene this week. In addition to the aforementioned Japanese films, they’ll also screen Wes Anderson’s debut feature Bottle Rocket (1996), Lindsay Anderson’s youth rebellion classic if... (1969), Francois Truffaut’s less rebellious youth film Small Change (1976), Casablanca (1942), Jean-Luc Godard’s Band of Outsiders (1964), and Del Tenny’s The Horror of Party Beach (1964), a reputed classic of so-bad-it’s-good cinema. As for great revivals not playing at Doc Films, Sam Peckinpah’s Major Dundee (1965) plays tomorrow afternoon at the Pritzker Military Library, Cecil B. DeMille’s Union Pacific (1939) plays Wednesday at the Northbrook Public Library, Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (2004) plays all week at the Vic, The Brasher Doubloon (a 1947 Raymond Chandler adaptation by the never-boring John Braham) plays Wednesday at the Portage, and the Music Box’s Thin Man retrospective continues this Saturday and Sunday with Another Thin Man (1939). Lastly, special mention should be made for Strike (1924), screening Sunday and Wednesday as part of the Siskel Center’s Eisenstein series. This quintessential film artist has been relegated to film history textbooks for too long—these big-screen revivals are just what his talent (and towering low-angle shots) deserve.

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