Thursday, August 9, 2012

Joe Dante's fully clothed orgy, and the rest of this week's screenings

Posted By on 08.09.12 at 10:41 AM

Or is it . . . the beginning? From Joe Dantes The Movie Orgy
  • Or is it . . . the beginning? From Joe Dante's The Movie Orgy
Like John Carpenter, who's featured on the B Side of the Reader this week, Joe Dante is one of those rare Hollywood filmmakers who trade in horror and fantasy but still command the respect of auteurists. Partly this is because he knows his film lore (I once had the pleasure of hearing him introduce the W.C. Fields comedy It's a Gift), but mainly it's because his movies are so smart. Since Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983) he's operated well inside the parameters of Steven Spielberg's fun-at-all-costs ethic, yet movies like Gremlins (1984), Matinee (1993), and Small Soldiers (1998) are also witty and slyly subversive. Dante appears in Chicago at Music Box on Friday for a double feature of his latest movie, The Hole, and a midnight show of Gremlins 2: The New Batch. On Saturday at Nightingale he'll preside over a rare screening of The Movie Orgy, an epic montage of pop-culture effluvia he first presented in 1968.

This week Ben Sachs reviews Ann Hui's Hong Kong drama A Simple Life, which screened a few weeks ago at River East 21 and returns for a second run at Facets Cinematheque. We also have capsule reviews of Ballplayer: Pelotero, a documentary about young hopefuls from the Dominican Republic coming to the U.S. for baseball careers; The Bourne Legacy, with Jeremy Renner taking over for Matt Damon as the hard-charging spy; The Campaign, starring Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis as congressional rivals in North Carolina; Celeste and Jesse Forever, a rom-com with Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg; The Curators of Dixon School, which documents the art program at Arthur Dixon Elementary School in Chatham; Hope Springs, with Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones as a long-married couple trying to revive their love; Kumare, in which filmmaker Vikram Gandhi poses as a guru in Arizona; Searching for Sugar Man, documenting the story of a 70s pop musician who became a hero to antiapartheid activists in South Africa; Surviving Life (Theory and Practice), the latest freakout from Czech surrealist animator Jan Svankmajer; Unforgivable, a French mystery from Andre Techine; and Wolf, a drama about parents who discover their son has had a sexual relationship with their pastor.

Best bets for repertory: Lotte Reiniger's silhouette animation The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926), noon Saturday at Music Box with live organ accompaniment by Dennis Scott; David Lynch's Blue Velvet (1986), midnight Friday and Saturday at Landmark; William Friedkin's The French Connection (1971), Sunday morning at Music Box; Paul Wegener's The Golem (1920), Wednesday at Doc Films; Yasujiro Ozu's A Hen in the Wind (1948), Wednesday night at Portage, presented by Northwest Chicago Film Society; and Charles Chaplin's Monsieur Verdoux (1947), Saturday at Doc.

And out in the burbs, the annual horror convention Flashback Weekend presents screenings at the Rosemont 18, including The Thing (1982) introduced by Carpenter and Friedkin's The Exorcist (1973) introduced by Linda Blair.

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