Films by Tom Palazzolo, Adele Freidman, Gregg Biermann, Kristie Reinders, and Scott Stark | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Films by Tom Palazzolo, Adele Freidman, Gregg Biermann, Kristie Reinders, and Scott Stark 

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Four of the films on the seventh program in X-Film Chicago's current series succeed by restricting themselves to single subjects, focusing the viewer's attention on the act of seeing by repeating similar images with small variations. The 1967 Pigeon Lady, one of Tom Palazzolo's earliest films, follows a lonely woman as she wanders about Chicago feeding pigeons. Monumental music by Wagner and others seems part of an attempt to ennoble her, but only underlines the distance between her plight and traditional ideas of heroism. Repeated shots of a nude woman in slightly different positions in Adele Friedman's black-and-white Tattooed Venus are separated by fades to black, suggesting that it's a kind of meditation on looking. The small tattoo on the woman's hourglass figure stands out against her white skin; the contrast between her skin and the black couch she lies on gives the film a near-abstract austerity that contrasts with its eroticism. Scott Stark's Satrapy intercuts fragments of nude women from a deck of playing cards with frames filled with bands of black and white, creating a rhythmic pattern of brief glimpses of these figures who seem to be struggling to free themselves from the bands. Gradually shifting abstract sounds combine with the repeated imagery to suggest that the film is like a machine spinning out of control. Window of Appearances by Gregg Biermann recalls abstract filmmaking of the 1920s, with geometrical patterns created on a computer producing shifting depth effects. There seems to be a system organizing the shapes, but you can't quite tell what it is; one of Biermann's friends calls it "a video game for martians." Also showing is Kristie Reinders's Six Weeks in Africa. Lunar Cabaret and Full Moon Cafe, 2827 N. Lincoln, Sunday, November 3, 8:00, 773-327-6666.

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