Friday, January 20, 2012

This week's movie action

Posted By on 01.20.12 at 09:00 AM

Nicholas Ray checks out an issue of Zap Comix.
  • Nicholas Ray checks out an issue of Zap Comiz.
Nicholas Ray—the brilliant director of They Live by Night (1947), In a Lonely Place (1950), On Dangerous Ground (1952), Johnny Guitar (1953), Rebel Without a Cause (1955), Bigger Than Life (1956), and Bitter Victory (1957)—knew Chicago well. A native of La Crosse, Wisconsin, he spent a lively semester at the University of Chicago in the early 30s, sampling the city's night spots and becoming a protege of playwright Thornton Wilder, and nearly 40 years later he returned to the city to make a movie about the Chicago Seven conspiracy trial. That latter period is covered in my long review of Don't Expect Too Much, a new documentary about Ray's twilight years by his widow, Susan Ray, and We Can't Go Home Again, an experimental film he worked on with students at the State University of New York at Binghamton; both movies screen as part of double feature at 7 PM on Friday at Northwestern University Block Museum of Art.

Check out our new reviews of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, a 9/11 heart-tugger with Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock; The Flowers of War, a drama set during the rape of Nanking and directed by Zhang Yimou (Hero, House of Flying Daggers); Haywire, an international thriller by Steven Soderbergh; Jess + Moss, an impressive feature debut by Tennessee independent Clay Jeter; King of Devil's Island, a Norwegian period piece set in a boys' reformatory in 1915; My Reincarnation, a documentary about a Tibetan Buddhist master and his son, who works for IBM; Norwegian Wood, a screen adaptation of the novel by Haruki Murakami; Pina, a 3-D documentary about Pina Bausch's Tanztheater Wuppertal by Wim Wenders; and Red Tails, an action flick that revisits the true story of the Tuskegee Airmen.

Best bets for repertory: Howard Hawks's The Big Sleep (1946), Tuesday at Doc Films, and Scarface (1932), Saturday at Block Museum; Lizzie Borden's Born in Flames (1983), Saturday at Cinema Borealis; Sergio Leone's The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966), Wednesday at Doc; Perry Henzell's The Harder They Come (1973), Thursday at Doc; the Kartemquin Films documentary Inquiring Nuns, Friday at Madison Street Theatre in Oak Park; and Sergei Eisenstein's October (1927), Sunday (with live piano accompaniment by Dave Drazin) and Thursday at Gene Siskel Film Center.

Last but not least, I'll be taking part in a panel discussion at the Chicago Cultural Center this Wednesday, January 25, following a screening of Hiroshi Teshigahara's Pitfall (1962), written by the revered Japanese playwright Kobo Abe; it screens at 6:30 PM as part of Vitalist Theatre's production of the Abe play The Ghost Is Here, through February 19 at DCA Storefront Theater.

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