One Japanese masterpiece, two local film festivals, and the rest of this week's screenings | Bleader

Friday, August 2, 2013

One Japanese masterpiece, two local film festivals, and the rest of this week's screenings

Posted By on 08.02.13 at 10:26 AM

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Sisters of Gion
  • Sisters of Gion
In the Film section of this week's Reader, we spotlight the 19th annual Black Harvest Film Festival and Bruno Dumont's Outside Satan, both of which screen at the Gene Siskel Film Center; we also have a medium-length review of Woody Allen's latest, Blue Jasmine, which opens today at River East 21 and the Landmark Century. All three are worth checking out, but if you have time for only one screening this week, make it Sisters of Gion (1936), which screens at Doc Films tomorrow at 7 and 9 PM. As Andrea Gronvall notes in her capsule review, Gion represents a watershed in the career of Kenji Mizoguchi, one of the greatest of all Japanese filmmakers. The movie is effective as both a melodrama and a social portrait, dramatizing the clash between Japanese tradition and the then-burgeoning influence of western culture—like many of Mizoguchi's subsequent films, it's also devastating in its depiction of Japanese chauvinism. Students of film history will note that Mizoguchi's experiments with tracking shots and deep focus have much in common with what Jean Renoir was doing around the same time.

Before getting into this week's new reviews, there are two other special screenings worth noting. On Monday night the Northwest Chicago Film Society will present Jim Jarmusch's Dead Man at the Patio Theater at 7:30 PM—the screening marks the first time in roughly a decade that Chicagoans will get to see this major work on 35-millimeter. On Tuesday the Better Boys Foundation and Facets Multimedia kick off the annual Sundown in K-Town Film Festival, a series of free outdoor screenings of socially relevant documentaries. You can read more about it here.

And now, the new reviews. This week's issue features write-ups of: The Hunt, a stark Danish drama that's being praised as a return to form for director Thomas Vinterberg (The Celebration); The Mercenary, a 1968 Sergio Corbucci joint playing in the Music Box Theatre's spaghetti western series; The Painting, a French animated fantasy that riffs on the work of various modern artists; Wasteland, a British heist picture from first-time writer-director Rowan Athale; and The Wolverine, last week's number-one box-office attraction.

A few other revival screenings of note: this week the Siskel Center kicks off a complete David Fincher retrospective with Seven (Saturday at 3 PM and Thursday at 6 PM) and Alien 3 (Saturday at 5:45 PM and Wednesday at 6 PM); tonight at 8 PM the Silent Film Society of Chicago screens a rare 1920 comedy called The Flapper at the Des Plaines Theater; and on Wednesday at 7:30 PM the Northwest Chicago Film Society screens Swing High, Swing Low, a 1937 comedy-drama by Mitchell Leisen, a studio-era director whose work cries out for rediscovery.

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