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Monthly Archives: September 2016

WCCRH Episode 14: PAUSE OF THE CLOCK

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Episode 14 of the White City Cinema Radio Hour sees me interviewing Chicago-based filmmaker (and Cine-File critic, and my pal!) Rob Christopher about his debut feature film, PAUSE OF THE CLOCK, ahead of its local premiere at the Gene Siskel Film Center on October 3. Christopher describes in detail how his intentions and methods evolved over the course of making this unique production, which was shot in 1995/1996 but not edited until 2015. The episode concludes with the two of us discussing our recent experience co-authoring questions for David Lynch for a Time Out article, as well as having a short rap about Christopher’s next film, a documentary about writer Barry Gifford. Listen here: http://www.transistorchicago.com/wccrh

Related: Pause of the Clock‘s website and Facebook page.

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E.A. Dupont’s VARIETE at the University of Chicago’s Film Studies Center

My latest blog post for Time Out Chicago concerns the University of Chicago Film Studies Center’s October 2 screening of Variete featuring a live score by the esteemed Alloy Orchestra. You can read the article in its entirety below.

Variete

University of Chicago will screen 1925 German film Variete with a live score

One of the supreme masterpieces of Weimar-era German cinema is set to make its Chicago re-premiere at the University of Chicago’s Film Studies Center on Sunday, October 2. Director E.A. Dupont’s Variete will screen in a new restoration with live accompaniment by the percussion-heavy three-man ensemble known as the Alloy Orchestra. Although I haven’t yet heard this new score, theHollywood Reporter called it “indispensable,” and said the film is “the vintage restoration sensation of the year.” Considering that Alloy’s score for Dziga Vertov’s Man with a Movie Camera is the greatest I’ve heard for any silent film, this upcoming screening should be considered essential viewing for local cinephiles.

Variete was Germany’s biggest box office hit of 1925. It came out during the height of the movement known as Expressionism but, in spite of the extraordinarily fluid camerawork of Karl Freund (Metropolis) and a clever plot about the sinister goings-on within a circus, Dupont’s movie actually feels closer to the social realism with which directors like G.W. Pabst (Pandora’s Box) and Josef Von Sternberg (The Blue Angel) would soon make their mark. The film begins with a prisoner, “Boss” Huller (Emil Jannings in an uncharacteristically restrained performance), breaking a 10-year vow of silence and telling a warden the tragic story, seen in flashback, of how he came to murder his unfaithful trapeze-artist wife (Lya de Putti). The whole movie is great but the highlights are the exhilarating trapeze sequences, the deft camerawork of which puts viewers in the middle of the action, creating a thrilling “you are there” effect.

Variete screens at the Logan Center for the Arts on Sunday, October 2 at 7pm. For more info visit filmstudiescenter.uchicago.edu.


The Last Ten Movies I Saw

1. Harmonium (Fukada)
2. The Immortal Story (Welles)
3. Chimes at Midnight (Welles)
4. In Bed with Victoria (Triet)
5. Sweet Dreams (Bellocchio)
6. Dirty Gertie from Harlem U.S.A. (Williams)
7. Office Space (Judge)
8. The Blood of Jesus (Williams)
9. Crosscurrent (Yang)
10. Mickey One (Penn)


Filmmaker Interview: David Lynch

I was thrilled to be able to interview David Lynch for Time Out recently. Here’s the interview in its entirety.

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At 70-years-old, iconoclastic filmmaker David Lynch is more popular than ever. A much-publicized BBC poll of film critics around the world recently named his 2001 masterpiece Mulholland Drive the best film of the 21st century and anticipation for the much-hyped third season of Twin Peaks, which is scheduled to premiere on Showtime next year, has reached a fever pitch.

On September 25, Yoga Gives Back, a non-profit organization dedicated to alleviating poverty in India, will present Lynch with the “Namaste Award” at its fifth annual “Thank You Mother India” gala fundraiser. Yoga Gives Back is honoring Lynch for his humanitarian efforts through the David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace, which helps children and adults in various areas of the world through the teaching and practice of Transcendental Meditation.

Lynch has said that he is honored to receive the award “on behalf of the thousands of teachers of Transcendental Meditation in India, the United States and all over the world who are working with great energy, wisdom and devotion in order create a more peaceful, progressive, and healthier world.” I recently had the chance to interview Lynch about his relationship to both meditation and creativity.

MGS: When you feel creatively blocked, how do you work through the problem?

DL: I desire an idea and after two-and-a-half minutes the idea comes.

MGS: Gun violence has reached epidemic proportions in my hometown of Chicago. How might Transcendental Meditation be used to combat this epidemic and increase peace at the local level?

DL: Sometimes violence can be done with fists. Sometimes with rocks. Sometimes with knives. Sometimes with baseball bats. Sometimes with hand grenades. Sometime with bombs. The whole idea is to get rid of the desire to create violence, or the need to make violence. If people are happy and blissful within, if they’re filled with universal love within, they don’t have any desire to hurt anyone or make violence. They just enjoy life and enjoy all the diversity in life. Every human being has a treasury of love and bliss within, and to access that treasure and infuse it we need a technique. Transcendental Meditation as taught by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi allows any human being to access that treasury within each of us, and utilize that treasury to enjoy a peaceful and blissful life. There are Vedic techniques that Maharishi brought out that eliminate the enmity in any enemy, these techniques raise collective consciousness and can be powerful enough to raise collective consciousness in whole nations and even in the whole world. These techniques bring real peace. Not just the absence of war, or the desire for violence, but the absence of all negativity. We could all very easily enjoy peace on earth, heaven on earth, if these technologies are utilized everyday on a permanent basis. Mankind was not made to suffer. Bliss is our nature. The individual is cosmic.

MGS: How do Transcendental Meditation and coffee relate to each other?

DL: Both are very enjoyable.

MGS: What’s something new you want to try that you’ve never done before?

DL: Making gold from lead.

MGS: The current cultural climate doesn’t seem conducive to filmmakers with personal visions. Do you feel optimistic about the future of the feature film?

DL: The feature film and the form of the feature film is not so pleasing to people these days. A continuing story seems to be what is interesting for people nowadays. Cable television is the new art-house.

MGS: “Binge watching” has become fashionable. Why is it important to you that Twin Peaks airs in weekly installments, rather than being released all at once?

DL: I’m not allowed to talk about Twin Peaks.

MGS: If the 70-year-old David Lynch could impart a word of advice to the 35-year-old David Lynch, what would it be?

DL: Don’t throw out your B negative!


The Last Ten Movies I Saw

1. Nosferatu (Murnau)
2. Moonlight (Jenkins)
3. La Perla (Fernandez)
4. The Bronze Buckaroo (Kahn)
5. Veiled Aristocrats (Micheaux)
6. The Ladies Man (Lewis)
7. Ten Minutes to Live (Micheaux)
8. The Girl from Chicago (Micheaux)
9. The Exile (Micheaux)
10. Audrey the Trainwreck (Ross)


The Third Annual Oakton Pop-Up Film Festival

I am excited to announce that, after the success of the last two Oakton Pop-Up Film Festivals in 2014 and 2015, I have programmed and will be hosting P.U.F.F. again. The screenings of this year’s four acclaimed independent American films, spanning various genres and styles, will all take place at Oakton Community College’s Footlik Theater (room 1344) in Des Plaines, Illinois, from Tuesday, November 1 through Friday, November 4. The first three screenings will be followed by Q&A sessions with the filmmakers, moderated by various Oakton Humanities professors, including yours truly. The screenings are all FREE and open to the public. Any of my students who attend a screening will receive extra credit points towards his or her final grade (see the extra credit page of your course website for more information). Don’t you dare miss it!

The full schedule:

Thao’s Library (Elizabeth Van Meter, 2015, 88 minutes)
Tuesday, November 1 at 2:00pm

thao

Winner of the Audience hoice Award at Geena Davis’ inaugural Bentonville Film Festival, this extraordinary movie depicts the unlikely friendship between two women: NYC-based actress Elizabeth Van Meter, grieving in the wake of the suicide of her younger sister (famed child aviator Vicki Van Meter), and Thanh Thao Huynh, a Vietnamese woman whose body has been ravaged by exposure to Agent Orange. One day, Van Meter saw a photograph of Thao by chance and learned that this young woman had created a makeshift library for the children in her small village. Van Meter reached out to Thao, and the two set out to build a permanent library, the journey of which is documented in this poignant, poetic and ultimately cathartic debut feature. Co-sponsored by the Women’s and Gender Studies program.
Followed by a live Q&A with director Elizabeth Van Meter conducted by Kathleen Carot.

Bloomin Mud Shuffle (Frank V. Ross, 2015, 75 minutes)
Wednesday, November 2 at 12:30pm

James Ransone (The Wire) and Natasha Lyonne (Orange is the New Black) star in this bittersweet “anti-romantic comedy” about aimless 30-somethings living in the suburbs of Chicago. Lonnie’s life hasn’t changed much in the 16 years since he graduated high school. Still painting houses, still drinking too much, still hanging out with the same old friends. As far as he can see, his only hope for the future lies in taking his physical relationship with coworker Monica to the next level. Written and directed by “mumblecore” veteran Ross (Audrey the Trainwreck). “Ross is so in tune with his characters that they never seem written or contrived… Ross’ directorial adroitness suggests a mature auteurism that is extremely rare in American lo-fi, micro-budget cinema.” – Don Simpson, Smells Like Screen Spirit
Followed by a live Q&A with director Frank V. Ross conducted by Michael Smith.

A F**kload of Scotch Tape (Julian Grant, 2012, 94 minutes)
Thursday, November 3 at 2:00pm

A musical neo-noir drama where a patsy is set up to take the fall for a kidnapping that leads to murder. When the money he is paid is stolen, he embarks on a rampage of revenge. Things go from bad to perverse as Benji (Graham Jenkins) must fight his way through father figures, hookers with no hearts, marauding men and the hopelessly lost. All singing, all-fighting – FLOST is a throwback to the crime films of yesteryear mixed with the music of Kevin Quain. Based on the writings of pulp-fiction writer Jed Ayres, FLOST mashes up film noir, musical drama and hard-hitting social injustice. Not for the faint of heart or humor. “Truly one-of-a-kind, a film that is destined to generate a substantial amount of buzz with indie film fanatics looking for something original, something outside of the proverbial box.” – Todd Rigney, Beyond Hollywood
Followed by a live Q&A with director Julian Grant conducted by Therese Grisham.

Buzzard (Joel Potrykus, 2014, 97 minutes)
Friday, November 4 at 12:30pm

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This pitch-black comedy from regional Michigan filmmaker Joel Potrykus (The Alchemist Cookbook) has been accurately described as “Office Space on Crack” (Indiewire). Paranoia forces small-time scam artist Marty Jackitansky (Joshua Burge) to flee his hometown and hide out in a dangerous Detroit. With nothing but a pocket full of bogus checks, his Power Glove, and a bad temper, the horror metal slacker lashes out. “Potrykus has fashioned a vigorous and strangely compelling character study, a sustained burst of punk-rock ferocity, and one of the most original American films to emerge in some time.”- Calum Marsh, Village Voice

This film festival is sponsored by the Oakton Community College Educational Foundation and its generous donors.


The Last Ten Movies I Saw

1. The Gold Rush (Chaplin)
2. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Wiene)
3. Casablanca (Curtiz)
4. Eleven P.M. (Maurice)
5. Everybody Wants Some!! (Linklater)
6. Bringing Up Baby (Hawks)
7. Sully (Eastwood)
8. Pause of the Clock (Christopher)
9. The Scar of Shame (Perugini)
10. City That Never Sleeps (Auer)


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