Tag Archives: Ben Sachs

Talking CIFF on the Cine-File Podcast

On October’s Cine-Cast, the Cine-File Chicago podcast, I discuss with critics Ben Sachs and Kyle Cubr the Chicago International Film Festival titles I’m most excited to see – including Orson Welles’ THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND, Jia Zhangke’s ASH IS PUREST WHITE, Kent Jones’ DIANE, Christian Petzold’s TRANSIT and an Experimental Shorts Program featuring Melika Bass, Deborah Stratman and Apichatpong Weerasethakul. What I don’t say, because Cine-File is all about advocacy, is that I think this is the single weakest CIFF lineup in the 23 years that I’ve been attending. Among the prominent titles missing from this year’s fest are new works by Claire Denis, Jean-Luc Godard, Frederick Wiseman (especially sad given MONROVIA, INDIANA’s Midwestern connection), Lav Diaz, Jafar Panahi, Lee Chang-Dong, Jennifer Kent, Hong Sang-Soo (despite the fact that there were two films to choose from and Lee is a School of the Art Institute alum), Wang Bing, Alex Ross Perry and Bi Gan. The last of these omissions, LONG DAY’S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT, which had its World Premiere at Cannes and also screened at Toronto and New York, is particularly regrettable as it features a lengthy dream sequence shot in 3D that is supposedly comparable to the astonishing virtuosic long take in Bi Gan’s first film KAILI BLUES. The AMC River East multiplex where CIFF takes place is equipped with 3D projectors and festival director Michael Kutza, stepping down after this year, has gone on record as saying he likes to show 3D films. Because LONG DAY’S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT is a Chinese art film, however, it can now only be programmed for a local theatrical screening, if at all, at a theater without a 3D projector (e.g., the Siskel Center, the Music Box, Facets, etc.). This means that, unfortunately, Chicago cinephiles will never have the chance to see this film the way that its director intended.


White City Cinema Radio Hour – Episode 1: Agnes Varda


The premiere episode of my new film-themed podcast, which I’m simply calling White City Cinema Radio Hour, is now online. Produced by Transistor Chicago‘s Andy Miles, this first episode features an extended conversation between myself and film critics Ben Sachs (Chicago Reader) and Kat Sachs (Cine-File Chicago) about the great director Agnes Varda in advance of her upcoming residency at the University of Chicago. I do not think I could have kicked off the show with better guests than these two knowledgable and affable folks. In particular, this married couple’s back-and-forth banter about Varda’s career in relation to feminism is as entertaining as it is provocative. My only regret is that the part where Ben schooled my faulty memory about the release date of Neil Young’s Ragged Glory ended up on the proverbial cutting-room floor. (Andy, who’s recording, editing and mixing the shows, informed me there was too much “off-mic talking” during that segment, rendering it difficult to understand.) But that’s all right; we still used Neil as our “outro” music.

There will be a new episode of the White City Cinema Radio Hour every month. If you are a filmmaker, critic, programmer, distributor or exhibitor and would like to be on the show or have suggestions about the show, please do not hesitate to get in touch at mikeygsmith at gmail.com. Otherwise, enjoy the first episode and let me know what you think in the comments section below:


Special thanks to Jose Gallegos for this groovy logo:

Talking Flickering Empire on WGN / New Pieces at Cine-File and Time Out Chicago

My book Flickering Empire is in stock at amazon.com and is now shipping. On Tuesday night, January 20, I will be appearing with my co-author Adam Selzer on WGN Radio’s “Pretty Late with Patti Vasquez” to talk it up. For those of you in the greater Chicago area, you can hear it by tuning your radio dial to 720 AM between 11pm and 2am.

I will also be celebrating the book’s release by running a little contest right here at White City Cinema. Over the next four days I will be posting a list of my top 100 favorite films of the past five years. I’ll be asking readers to respond by telling me how many of those films they’ve seen. The two responders who have seen the most titles on the list will each win a copy of the book. Stay tuned for more info.


In other news, I interview Ben and Kat Sachs for Time Out Chicago. Read these erudite folks talking about the philosophy behind their programming banner, Beguiled Cinema, and about the unique filmmaking style of Dan Sallitt (whose work they are presenting at Film Row Cinema tonight):


I also have four new reviews at Cine-File: I call Jean-Luc Godard’s Goodbye to Language and the double feature of Sallitt’s Honeymoon and All the Ships at Sea “Crucial Viewing,” and I recommend Ruben Ostlund’s Force Majeure and Samantha Fuller’s A Fuller Life. You can read my capsule reviews for each (and find info pertaining to venues and showtimes) here:


My New Film Blog at Time Out Chicago and Other News


I am excited to announce that I have been asked to write a film blog for Time Out Chicago. I will typically be writing one short article per week related to Chicago’s local film scene. My first post, about the innovative “Facets Kids App” (for which you may remember I directed the official Kickstarter video last October), went up today. You can read it here:


Tomorrow morning, Time Out will also be posting an interview I conducted with local critics Ben and Kat Sachs about their Beguiled Cinema programming endeavor, which will play host to a double-feature screening of films by Dan Sallitt at Colubmia College’s Film Row Cinema tomorrow night. All of the info you need pertaining to the screening will be in Time Out tomorrow but, as this event should be considered unmissable for local cinephiles (it is a rare chance to see the work of an unheralded master of independent American cinema on the big screen), I thought I should give you a heads up today. My reviews for the Sallitt films in question (1998’s Honeymoon and 2004’s All the Ships at Sea) will also appear tomorrow at Cine-File.info.

You can buy tickets for the Dan Sallitt double feature here: http://chicagofilmmakers.tix.com/Event.aspx?EventCode=709982

Check out the awesome official event poster by PJ Macklin:


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