Movie screenings for the week of August 23 | Movie Listings | Chicago Reader

Movie screenings for the week of August 23 

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click to enlarge American Factory

American Factory

R NAmerican Factory The first title to debut from Higher Ground Productions, Barack and Michelle Obama's partnership with Netflix, could not have been more timely. This pellucid documentary by longtime collaborators and Dayton residents Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert frames larger questions about the future of postindustrial America by focusing on one way their Ohio rust belt town is navigating the economic realities of globalization. The film opens with a clip from the directors' Oscar-nominated nonfiction short, The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant, about the final operating days in 2008 of a factory based in Moraine, Ohio, that had employed 2,400 locals. Flash forward to 2015, and Chinese billionaire Cao Dewang buys the shuttered plant for $500 million, modifying it to reopen as the American headquarters of his Fuyao Glass Industry Group, the world's largest manufacturer of automotive glass. He brings in 200 seasoned Chinese workers to share their expertise with 2,300 American hires, and although some of them become close personally, it's not long before the Ohioans, who made twice as much working for GM than they do now, begin calling for a union shop. There are no good or bad guys in this evenhanded film, only people from two vastly different cultures as they simultaneously clash, cooperate, and vie for a better life. In English and subtitled Mandarin. —Andrea Gronvall 115 min. Streaming on Netflix

click to enlarge Angel Has Fallen
  • Angel Has Fallen

 NAngel Has Fallen Armed with bombs and high-tech military devices galore, a Secret Service agent (Gerard Butler) takes viewers on a thrill ride as he fights for his reputation and his life. His old war buddy-turned-foe (Danny Huston) chooses money over friendship as he frames Butler for an attempted assassination of the U.S. president (Morgan Freeman) with the help of another unassuming politician. Unsure who else he can trust, Butler turns to his estranged father (Nick Nolte) to prove his innocence to the colleagues to whom he once pledged allegiance. At first glance, Butler's character feels one-dimensional, but as he faces opposition from an FBI agent (Jada Pinkett-Smith), bonds with his family, and reconnects with his dad, it becomes clear that his bleak facade is a cover for the pain years of service has dealt him. Ric Roman Waugh directed. —Janaya Greene 110 min. Block 37, ArcLight, Chatham 14, Cicero Showplace 14, Ford City, Lake Theatre, Showplace ICON, 600 N. Michigan, Webster Place 11

Back to the Future Part II The further adventures of Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) and "Doc" Emmett Brown (Christopher Lloyd) take them from 1985 to 2015 and back, and then back to 1955 after a mishap in the future involving the villain (Thomas F. Wilson) creates a universe parallel to the one they left. The problem with all the time-travel high jinks, involving multiple versions of the major characters (a gimmick that Robert Heinlein handled much better in stories like "By His Bootstraps" and "All You Zombies—"), is that in order to make the plot even semiintelligible, writer Bob Gale and director-cowriter Robert Zemeckis have to turn all these characters into strident geeks and make the frenetic action strictly formulaic. (Significantly, the principal "romantic" interest, Elisabeth Shue, is knocked unconscious early on so she won't interfere with the little-boy games, and Fox briefly playing his own sister in drag only adds to the rampant misogyny.) There's a bit of fun in the 2015 section (although this notion of the future is more nostalgic and Disneyfied than genuinely speculative), but the shrill simplicities that follow become increasingly mechanical. By the end, you may feel that you've just sat through a feature-length commercial for both part one (which has to be seen to make this sequel comprehensible) and part three (a trailer for it literally ends part two), along with a host of other consumables (from Pepsi to other Spielberg productions), and have been turned into a first-class geek along with the characters—an airhead consumer designed to wolf these products down. Please, Mr. Spielberg, give us all a break (1989). —Jonathan Rosenbaum 108 min. 70 mm. Thu 8/29, 7 PM. Music Box

The Beaver Trilogy Trent Harris shot the first section of this video in 1979, but the trilogy wasn't completed until 2000. A TV cameraman, Harris traveled to Beaver, Utah, to tape a local talent show in which a young drag performer appeared as "Olivia Newton-Dawn"; the audience is minuscule, and after his preshow makeover at a mortuary the singer looks more like an old man than a woman. Parts two and three are fictional remakes of the documentary, the first shot in 1981 with a lively and unknown Sean Penn as the singer, the second in 1985 and featuring Crispin Glover, whose manic energy and shifts of tone are especially effective. The remakes allow Harris to comment on aspects of the original sequence, emphasizing the small-town homophobia that a drag performer might encounter and suggesting that the TV crew wants to exploit him for laughs. The ensuing questions of truth versus fiction and copy versus original take on a special poignancy when applied to drag. —Fred Camper 83 min. Wed 8/28, 8 PM. Comfort Station F

Bessie Coleman, First Black Aviatrix Olivier Sarrazin directed this French documentary about pioneering flyer Bessie Coleman, the first Black woman to receive a pilot's license in the 1940s. In English and subtitled French. 53 min. Showing as part of the Black Harvest Film Festival. Sat 8/24, 5:15 PM, and Tue 8/27, 6 PM. Gene Siskel Film Center

The Black Woman A 1970 episode of the public television series Black Journal in which a number of guests from differing professions (including poet Nikki Giovanni, anthropologist Vertamae Smart-Grosvenor, and singer Lena Horne) discuss the challenges and realities of being Black women in America. Stan Lathan directed. 52 min. 16 mm archival print. Tue 8/27, 6:30 PM. DuSable Museum of African American History  F

Coonskin Ralph Bakshi directed this raucous 1975 part-animated, part-live action satire about an African-American rabbit from the country who takes over the organized crime syndicate in Harlem. With Philip Thomas, Charles Gordone, Barry White, and Scatman Crothers. R, 100 min. Sat 8/24, 5 PM. Stony Island Arts Bank  F

Crooklyn Spike Lee goes on automatic pilot in this 1994 drama, chewing over sweet-and-sour family memories with two of his siblings, cowriters Joie Susannah Lee and Cinque Lee, and it's difficult to tell whether the problem here is lack of artistic distance or simple exhaustion. Either way, despite very good performances from Delroy Lindo and Alfre Woodard as the parents, this is anemic and uninspired filmmaking: shapeless as narrative, awkward and drifting as drama. Much as Lee's compulsive avoidance of silence supersedes any creative decisions about his sound tracks (and for the record, Terence Blanchard's score here is virtually interchangeable with the scores for most of Lee's other pictures), his use of a distorting anamorphic lens for the daughter's trip to visit an aunt and uncle isn't so much a creative decision as a gimmick designed to free him from making real creative decisions. (Disappointingly, his role as an actor this time is kept to cameo proportions, as a neighborhood glue sniffer.) With Zelda Harris, Carlton Williams, Sharif Rashid, Chris Knowings, and David Patrick Kelly. —Jonathan Rosenbaum 132 min. 35 mm. Showing as part of the Black Harvest Film Festival. Screenwriter/actor Joie Lee and actor Zelda Harris attend the screening. Thu 8/29, 6:30 PM. Gene Siskel Film Center

RThe Deep Blue Sea Rachel Weisz delivers a wrenching performance as a young Londoner driven to suicide by her sexless marriage to an aging judge and her doomed affair with a dashing former RAF pilot. Terence Rattigan based his 1952 play on his own unhappy experience being jilted by a younger man, yet The Deep Blue Sea has become a classic drama of female desire; the heroine's passion is so great it overwhelms her spouse (played here by Simon Russell Beale), her lover (Tom Hiddleston), and, very nearly, herself. It's an excellent property for director Terence Davies, whose painterly period dramas (The House of Mirth, The Long Day Closes) often center on big-hearted dreamers cramped by their colorless surroundings (2011). —J.R. Jones R, 98 min. 35 mm. Tue 8/27, 8:45 PM. Music Box

Devil's Pie—D'Angelo A Dutch-produced documentary about neo soul singer and songwriter D'Angelo, focused on the tour for his 2014 comeback album Black Messiah. Carine Bijlsma directed. 84 min. Showing as part of the Black Harvest Film Festival. Fri 8/23, 6:30 PM, and Sat 8/24, 8:15 PM. Gene Siskel Film Center

Dolly Parton 9 to 5er An overnight marathon screening of four films starring Dolly Parton: 9 to 5, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Rhinestone, and Straight Talk, the final two on 35 mm. Sat 8/24, 9 PM-Sun 8/25, 5 AM. Music Box

click to enlarge For Sama
  • For Sama

R NFor Sama When Waad Al-Kateab left home in 2011 for university in Aleppo to study marketing, she couldn't have foreseen how dramatically events in the city would alter her life. The following year, after numerous protests against the repressive regime of President Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian dictator began the first in a long series of brutal reprisals against dissenters in the region. Al-Kateab quickly joined the rebellion, becoming a citizen journalist recording Russian aircraft bombings and their aftermath, first with her cell phone, then later a camera. Her powerful images, which were carried by the UK's Channel 4, depict not only the carnage, but also the citizens' defiance, perseverance, and generosity toward neighbors and strangers alike. Life goes on even under siege: one of her interview subjects, a genial doctor named Hamza, woos and marries her, and they have a daughter they call Sama. Al-Kateab and her fellow director Edward Watts, a veteran of Channel 4 and PBS's Frontline, reviewed the hundreds of hours of footage she shot over five years, and shaped select content into the form of a letter to Sama, a sort of video journal for the child to remember her parents by. The result, winner of the Golden Eye award at Cannes, is one of the most intimate and stirring documentaries about war in the 21st century, and a plea to the free nations of the world to act. In Arabic with subtitles. —Andrea Gronvall 95 min. Fri 8/23, 2 and 6:15 PM; Sat 8/24, 5:30 PM; Sun 8/25, 3 PM; Mon 8/26, 8:15 PM; Tue 8/27, 6 PM; Wed 8/28, 8:15 PM; and Thu 8/29, 6 PM. Gene Siskel Film Center

The Fugitive Though it's a good half hour too long, this overblown 1993 spin-off of the 60s TV show otherwise adds up to a pretty good suspense thriller. In flight from the law after being wrongly convicted of murdering his wife, Dr. Richard Kimble (Harrison Ford) is pursued over a good many Chicago and rural locations by U.S. marshal Sam Gerard (Tommy Lee Jones) while trying to clear up the mystery of who actually did the killing. The mystery itself is fairly routine, but Jones's offbeat and streamlined performance as a proudly diffident investigator helps one overlook the mechanical crosscutting and various implausibilities, and director Andrew Davis does a better-than-average job with the action sequences. Written by Jeb Stuart and David Twohy; with Sela Ward, Joe Pantoliano, Andreas Katsulas, and Jeroen Krabbe. —Jonathan Rosenbaum PG-13, 127 min. Davis attends the screening. Fri 8/23, 7 PM. Music Box

 NGhosts in the Machine Produced by and featuring footage drawn from the Chicago-based Media Burn Independent Video Archive, this omnibus work by American and Russian filmmakers Lori Felker, Mikhail Zheleznikov, Dimitri Devyatkin, and Dmitrii Kalashnikov explores the theme of media manipulation and rivalry between the two nations. 65 min. The filmmakers attend the screening. Sat 8/24, 6 PM. Columbia College Film Row Cinema  F

 NGiant Little Ones Keith Behrman directed this drama about an incident that affects the lives of two teenage best friends. R, 93 min. Tue 8/27-Thu 8/29, 10:30 PM. Logan

click to enlarge Halsted Street
  • Halsted Street

RHalsted Street This 1931 short was directed by labor organizer Conrad Friberg (aka C.O. Nelson) under the banner of the Chicago Workers' Film & Photo League. His class consciousness is manifest throughout this tour of the north-south thoroughfare from 127th Street, where Black farmers work the land with horse-drawn plows, to where Halsted turns into Clarendon Avenue in Lakeview and carefree white equestrians gambol in Lincoln Park. Between these two points one ethnically defined neighborhood after another flies by, with pauses for pointed social commentary, such as the shot of a destitute old woman in an alley, followed by a cut to a movie marquee advertising A Lost Lady. —Andrea Gronvall 12 min. 16 mm. Dennis Scott provides live accompaniment. Showing with World City in Its Teens: A Report on Chicago (see separate listing). Sat 8/24, 2:30 PM. Music Box

RIda Innocent young Ida (Agata Trzebuchowska), raised in a Polish convent and preparing to take her vows, is persuaded by the mother superior to make contact with her only known relative, an aunt (Agata Kulesza) who reveals to the young novitiate that her father was Jewish and her parents both died in the Nazi occupation (2014). In Polish with subtitles. —J.R. Jones PG-13, 80 min. 35 mm. Tue 8/27, 7 PM. Music Box

Last Night a DJ Saved My Life Damon Jamal directed this 2017 romantic comedy-drama about a late night radio DJ whose life is altered by two back-to-back call ins. 71 min. Jamal and producer/actor Tangi Miller attend the screenings. Showing as part of the Black Harvest Film Festival. Tue 8/27, 8:15 PM, and Wed 8/28, 6 PM. Gene Siskel Film Center

A League of Their Own It's sentimental and overlong, the period dialogue doesn't always sound authentic, and one has to put up with some strident overplaying by Tom Hanks. But most of what makes this 1992 movie about the wartime All American Girls Professional Baseball League score in spite of such drawbacks is the way it's been deftly structured by director Penny Marshall (Big) and writers Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel to resemble a 40s musical (albeit, somewhat anachronistically, one in 'Scope); the rest is mainly streamlined and spirited teamwork. The more prominent ballplayers include Geena Davis, Madonna, Lori Petty, Rosie O'Donnell, Megan Cavanagh, Tracy Reiner, Bitty Schram, and Ann Cusack, and other significant cast members include Garry Marshall, Jon Lovitz, and Bill Pullman. —Jonathan Rosenbaum PG, 128 min. Fri 8/23-Mon 8/26, 11 PM. Logan

No More White Presidents Trans musician Gavin Rayna Russom (LCD Soundsystem) directed and scored this 2017 experimental political film that is an impressionistic exploration of contemporary issues as well as the artist's emerging Trans-Feminine identity. 60 min. Russom attends the screening. Followed by a panel discussion. Fri 8/23, 6 PM. Chicago Filmmakers

Otario Diego Arsuaga directed this 1997 Uruguayan thriller about a wealthy Spanish woman who hires a private detective to find her missing husband. In Spanish with subtitles. 106 min. 35 mm. Thu 8/29, 7 PM. Univ. of Chicago Doc Films

click to enlarge The Peanut Butter Falcon
  • The Peanut Butter Falcon

R NThe Peanut Butter Falcon A teenage boy with Down syndrome (newcomer Zack Gottsagen) escapes from the Virginia assisted living facility where he's lived since losing his family; hitting the road, he heads toward North Carolina with the dream of tracking down his hero, a washed-up semi-pro wrestler called the Saltwater Redneck. This amiable road movie takes off when the hero picks up with a temperamental fisherman (Shia LaBeouf) on the lam; the two leads develop a charming rapport that gives the lightweight story an undeniable emotional heft. Writer-directors Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz walk a fine line throughout—the film, which trades frequently in low-key wish-fulfillment fantasies, feels like it could turn sappy at any moment, but somehow it never does. This may have as much to do with the colorful eastern seaboard settings as it does the filmmakers' sensitive handling of the main character's developmental disability; the film feels authentic as well as sincere. With Dakota Johnson, Bruce Dern, and Thomas Haden Church. —Ben Sachs PG-13, 93 min. Fri 8/23-Sun 8/25, 12:05, 1:30, 2:45, 4:15, 5:30, 7, 8, and 9:45 PM; Mon 8/26-Thu 8/29, 1:30, 2:45, 4:15, 5:30, 7, 8, and 9:45 PM. Century Centre Cinema

Phenomena Bloody horror (1985) from Italian gore specialist Dario Argento (Opera, Suspiria), about a boarding school lass (Jennifer Connolly, almost newly hatched) who "has a direct ESP link to insects." With Donald Pleasence, apparently on the trail of yet another Halloween-inspired maniac. Also known as Creepers. 116 min. 35 mm. Showing in the 82-minute U.S. cut. Sat 8/24, 7 and 9:30 PM. Univ. of Chicago Doc Films

click to enlarge Ready or Not
  • Ready or Not

 NReady or Not It is a truth universally acknowledged that in-laws are the worst. This sentiment is the foundation for Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett's audacious horror-comedy. After marrying a sweet man, Grace (Samara Weaving) learns that in order to be indoctrinated into his wealthy family, she must play a game: not a traditional game like Chess or Old Maid but rather a game of hide and seek that turns deadly when she becomes the target of a long-awaited familial sacrifice. At times, you may have to suspend your disbelief, but the joy of Ready or Not is its willingness to be outlandish without compromise. Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett create a harmonious blend of genres that can too often feel at odds with one another: the elements of horror become the catalyst for comedic relief and vice versa. Weaving comes alive as a hilarious and deeply macabre play on the "final girl" archetype, and it's nothing short of cathartic to cheer her on and echo the rage that quickly consumes and empowers her. —Cody Corrall R, 95 min. ArcLight, Century 12 and CineArts 6, Chatham 14, Cicero Showplace 14, City North 14, Ford City, Lake Theatre

RoboCop Android policeman roots out criminals in futuristic Detroit at the behest of greedy corporate controllers. Gentrification, criminality, what's the difference? Not much, according to Paul Verhoeven's creepily stylish SF thriller (1987), though Verhoeven, with his taste for subterranean kinks and slick continental veneer, is careful not to let his satirical assaults intrude on the more numbingly physical kind. Still, there's a brooding, agonized quality to the violence that almost seems subversive, as if Verhoeven were both appalled and fascinated by his complicity in the toxic action rot (the entropic mise-en-scene is more than a designer's coup: Verhoeven can't get out of the sludge, so he cynically slides right in). As the human cop turned android, Peter Weller hardly registers behind his fiberglass visor, though Verhoeven, usually a master at suggesting the sleazily psychological through the physical, might have made something more of his eerie Aryan blandness. With Nancy Allen, Dan O'Herlihy, and Ronny Cox. —Pat Graham R, 102 min. 35 mm. Wed 8/28, 9:15 PM. Music Box

The Rocky Horror Picture Show This 1975 film version of the bisexual-chic rock musical tries its damnedest to be outrageous, but finally has a hard time justifying its R rating. The picture might have made a pretty good college show—with Dr. Frank N. Furter (Tim Curry) sewing up a homemade stud to the accompaniment of a sexually ambiguous kick line (the chorines all look strangely like Lina Wertmuller). But the wit is too weak to sustain a film, and the songs all sound the same. Directed by Jim Sharman. —Dave Kehr R, 100 min. 35 mm. Fri 8/23, midnight. Music Box

RSing-A-Long Mary Poppins Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke star in this live-action feature from 1964, reissued with song captions for audience participation. "While it doesn't have the soft-edged sense of wonder that the Travers books have," wrote Dave Kehr, "Walt Disney's version of the Mary Poppins story does manage to avoid the usual saccharine excesses of his live-action work. It goes without saying that the semianimated sequences work best—the chimney-sweeps number may be bastard Broadway (with the aimless athleticism rented from Michael Kidd), but the grace of the effects makes it some kind of classic." Robert Stevenson directed. G, 140 min. Sun 8/25, noon. Music Box

Society Brian Yuzna directed this 1989 horror film about a teen who discovers that his wealthy family are part of murderous group of social elites who all share an even greater secret. R, 99 min. 35 mm. Yuzna attends the screening. Sun 8/25, 7 PM. Music Box

Sprinter This vibrant Jamaican sports drama is a crowd-pleaser devoid of false sentimentality, thanks to its disarming young lead, Dale Elliott, and a sturdy supporting cast that includes Lorraine Toussaint and Dennis Titus as his separated parents, Kadeem Wilson as his criminal older brother, and David Alan Grier as his strict coach. Elliott plays Akeem, a Rastafarian high school track and field star whose chaotic home life threatens to derail his athletic goals and his chances at college in America, where he could reunite with his mother, who had left him ten years ago to support her family by working without a permit in California. Director and cowriter (with Robert A. Maylor) Storm Saulter does not sugarcoat the dangers facing vulnerable young men in Jamaica, nor their own behaviors that lead them into trouble. Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith are the movie's executive producers. —Andrea Gronvall 114 min. Showing as part of the Black Harvest Film Festival. Fri 8/23, 4:15 PM, and Sun 8/25, 3 PM. Gene Siskel Film Center

Squadron 303 Denis Delić directed this Polish-UK film about a squadron of Polish pilots who fought in the Battle of Britain during World War II. In English and subtitled Polish. 104 min. Fri 8/23, 7 PM; Sat 8/24, 5 and 7:30 PM; Sun 8/25, 2:30 and 5 PM; Mon 8/26-8/29, 7 PM. Facets Cinematheque

RThe Terminator James Cameron's resourceful low-budget thriller (1984) recalls the canny exploitation work of the old New World Pictures. Arnold Schwarzenegger is an automated hit man of the future sent back to present-day Los Angeles to eliminate the future mother (Linda Hamilton) of a rebel leader; her only hope is a bashful guerrilla fighter (Michael Biehn) who has followed Schwarzenegger back through time. Cameron's direction of the ensuing chase owes a lot to George Miller and John Carpenter (not to mention Chuck Jones), yet the characterization of the violence has something agonizingly original about it: Schwarzenegger is presented as a lumbering slab of dumb, destructive strength-the image is more geological than human-and Cameron plays his crushing weightiness against the strangely light, almost graceful violence of the gunplay directed against him. The results have the air of a demented ballet. —Dave Kehr R, 107 min. 35 mm. Wed 8/28, 7 PM. Music Box

 NThee Debauchery Ball Local filmmaker David Weathersby directed this documentary about house music and the Debauchery Ball, filming the event and its preparations over the course of a year. 71 min. Weathersby attends the screenings. Showing as part of the Black Harvest Film Festival. Fri 8/23 and Wed 8/28, 8:30 PM. Gene Siskel Film Center

click to enlarge Threads
  • Threads

RThreads Originally aired on British television in 1984, this harrowing drama imagines what would happen to England during and after a nuclear war. The first half, set against an intensifying standoff between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, is understated but tense. Barry Hines's script focuses on a young, working-class married couple in Sheffield as they poignantly try to carry on with life despite the ominous reports. The filmmaking here is functional and earnest after the fashion of an educational short—the central couple is clearly meant to stand for every average man and woman, and the modest performances (which director Mick Jackson often presents in close-up) have an anonymous quality that helps inspire cold, clinical reflection. The film's second half proceeds through short, illustrative scenes depicting how speedily civilization would collapse in nuclear winter, with Hines and Jackson often abandoning the main characters to consider life on a societal level. The film dares us to think about the unthinkable—just how humanity might revert to barbarism—yet it does so soberly and responsibly. —Ben Sachs 114 min. Fri 8/23, 4 PM; Sat 8/24, 3 PM; and Mon 8/26, 6 PM. Gene Siskel Film Center

Three Summers Ben Elton directed this 2017 Australian romantic comedy set at a folk music festival. 95 min. Wed 8/28, 6:30 PM. Chicago Cultural Center  F

RToni Morrison: The Pieces I Am This American Masters documentary about one of our country's greatest novelists is rich with insights about Blackness in general and the experience of working Black women in particular. The film is most compelling when it addresses Morrison's life in the 1970s, when she juggled writing, teaching, an editing career (in which she worked with, among others, Angela Davis and Muhammad Ali), and parenthood. Yet there are numerous lessons to be gained from the sections on Morrison's childhood in working-class Ohio (which inspired much of her fiction) and the popular reception of her books (which speaks to how Black women are regarded in the American public sphere). The interviewees—including Morrison, Davis, Oprah Winfrey, Walter Mosley, and New Yorker critic Hilton Als—are consistently thoughtful and eloquent; at times they convey the musicality and intellectual density of Morrison's prose. The tone is generally celebratory and, given Morrison's extraordinary impact on American letters, deservedly so. Timothy Greenfield-Sanders directed. —Ben Sachs PG-13, 120 min. Fri 8/23, 2 and 8:15 PM; Sat 8/24, 3 and 7:45 PM; Sun 8/25, 5 PM; Mon 8/26, 6 PM; Tue 8/27, 8 PM; Wed 8/28, 6 PM; and Thu 8/29, 8 PM. Gene Siskel Film Center

RToo Late to Die Young Set shortly after the fall of Chile's dictatorship, this tantalizing art film centers on a 16-year-old girl living on a rural commune with her single father and several other families. Writer-director Dominga Sotomayor moves fluidly between the characters, advancing a ghostly, disembodied perspective that somehow manages to generate a subtly erotic sense of fascination. (Lucrecia Martel's La Ciénaga is a likely point of reference.) The girl's discovery of liberty—in smoking cigarettes, kissing boys, and talking back to her father—suggests an intimate version of what the nation is experiencing as a whole, though Sotomayor's storytelling is too nuanced and oblique to make the connection seem obvious. In fact the film is so commanding in its presentation of social rituals and the natural world that it takes a while for the story to come into focus, yet for all the loping camera movements and narrative digressions, this never feels meandering. In Spanish with subtitles. —Ben Sachs 110 min. Fri 8/23, 7 PM; Sat 8/24, 2, 4:30, and 7 PM; Sun 8/25, 1, 3:30, and 6 PM, Mon 8/26-Thu 8/29, 7 PM. Facets Cinematheque

The Velvet Underground and Nico A 1966 film by Andy Warhol documenting a jam session at his Factory and his own responses; it's ultimately interrupted by members of the New York police department. With Lou Reed, John Cale, Sterling Morrison, Maureen Tucker, Nico, and Gerard Malanga, among others. 65 min. 16 mm. Fri 8/23, 7 and 9:30 PM. Univ. of Chicago Doc Films

 NWomen of Color A program of seven short films by by Emilie Mannering and Carmine Pierre-Dufour, Aissa Gueye, Brianna Clearly, Jazmin Bryant, Brandon Reese, Ellie Wen, and Eleva Singleton. 74 min. Showing as part of the Black Harvest Film Festival. Sun 8/25, 5:15 PM, and Mon 8/26, 8:15 PM. Gene Siskel Film Center

click to enlarge World City in Its Teens: A Report on Chicago
  • World City in Its Teens: A Report on Chicago

RWorld City in Its Teens: A Report on Chicago A rarely screened gem of the silent cinema, this fascinating 1931 documentary resulted from a road trip the German photographer and writer Heinrich Hauser made through the American midwest when Chicago's booming population, fed by the Great Migration of Blacks from the south and waves of immigrants from Europe and elsewhere, had reached nearly 3.4 million. In his concentration on architecture and machinery, the director may owe something to Walter Ruttmann's Berlin: Symphony of a Great City (1927), but Hauser's style is more forthright: an intertitle in a scene of automation reads, "But where are the people?" His shots of bumper-to-bumper traffic along Lake Shore Drive add to the sense of technology winning out over humanity, as do the sequences featuring unemployable, forgotten old men barely getting by during the Depression. But the energy is palpable, from a speedboat on the Chicago River to street life in the Loop and citizen philosophers in Bughouse Square debating the hot topic of Soviet Russia. What appears old somehow feels timeless. —Andrea Gronvall 74 min. 35 mm restored print. Dennis Scott provides live accompaniment. Showing with the 1931 short Halsted Street (see separate listing). Sat 8/24, 2:30 PM. Music Box   v

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