It was an absolute pleasure to return to WGN Radio’s great No Coast Cinema show to discuss RENDEZVOUS IN CHICAGO with the great actors Clare Cooney, Nina Ganet and Rashaad Hall. I think this is a super-fun listen. We discuss the film with hosts Tom Hush and Conor Cornelius. Listen online here.
Tag Archives: Clare Cooney
I’ll be giving a talk about cinematic adaptations of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein from the early sound era through the present day at the Wilmette Public Library next Sunday, October 7. Here’s the description I wrote for their website:
Mike at the Movies Presents: Frankenstein on Film
Sunday, October 7 at 2:00
In all of literature Frankenstein is one of the novels most frequently adapted into other mediums. In this special Halloween edition of “Mike at the movies,” filmmaker and scholar Michael Glover Smith will spotlight some of the most popular and enduring cinematic interpretations of Mary Shelley’s masterpiece – from James Whale’s iconic Boris Karloff vehicle from 1931 and Hammer’s lurid color version in 1958 to classic parodies such as Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein and Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein.
The presentation will focus on how different filmmakers have managed to explore different aspects of the same well-known formula and, in the process, continually revive a story that refuses to die.
Auditorium; Free and Open to the Public – http://www.wilmettelibrary.info
My new film Rendezvous in Chicago will be screening TWICE at the Adirondack Film Festival, which is hosting our World Premiere, in Glens Falls, New York next month. Both screenings will be preceded by Clare Cooney’s great short film Runner. The first show will be Friday, October 19 at 3:15pm, the second on Saturday, October 20 at 3:30pm. I will be there to introduce the screenings along with producer Layne Marie Williams and other members of the cast and crew. For more info, including the full festival schedule, ticket info and showtimes, check out the festival’s website: http://www.adkfilmfestival.org/
With less than a month until the World Premiere of my new film RENDEZVOUS IN CHICAGO at the Adirondack Film Festival, I’ve posted our trailer to YouTube (it was previously available only as an exclusive at Daily Grindhouse). Check it out!
All of these films first screened theatrically in Chicago in the first half of 2018. I’ve linked to my original reviews and podcast appearances where applicable and offer new thoughts on a few films I haven’t written about elsewhere. Enjoy.
20. Atoms of Ashes (Scrantom, USA)/Dancer (McCormick, USA)/Runner (Cooney, USA)
Three astonishing debut shorts by young female directors, all of which received their Chicago premieres at local festivals (Women of the Now’s Anniversary Showcase, the Chicago Underground Film Festival and the Chicago Critics Film Festival, respectively). The future – of cinema, of everything – is female. I wrote capsule reviews of all three for Time Out Chicago: Atoms of Ashes here, Dancer here and Runner here.
19. The Art of Sitting Quietly and Doing Nothing (Alonzo, USA)
I enjoyed this no-budget absurdist/minimalist comedy so much that I wrote about it twice (for Time Out Chicago here and Cine-File here) then moderated a post-screening Q&A with the cast and crew following the World Premiere at the Nightingale Cinema.
18. A Fantastic Woman (Lelio, Chile)
Not as rich as Sebastian Lelio’s previous film, the sublime character study Gloria, this is nonetheless well worth seeing for Daniela Vega’s fantastic lead performance.
17. Annihilation (Garland, USA)
Oscar Isaac is miscast but thinking-person’s sci-fi done large is always welcome and, for my money, this is a clear advance on Ex Machina for director Alex Garland.
16. Satan’s Slaves (Anwar, Indonesia)
I’m grateful that Cinepocalypse brought this Indonesian horror film to the Music Box. It’s superior to Hereditary if only because the “Satanic” elements seem deeply rooted in the culture and religion of the characters and not just shoehorned in because the director is a fan of Rosemary’s Baby.
15. Future Language: The Dimensions of Von LMO (Felker, USA)
Not just a music doc but also an impressive experimental movie crossed with a highly personal essay film. My capsule review at Time Out Chicago here.
14. Have You Seen My Movie? (Smith, UK)
A clever and stimulating found-footage doc comprised of clips from other movies . . . in which people are watching movies. I discussed this on the inaugural episode of Cine-Cast, the Cine-File podcast, here.
13. Ismael’s Ghosts (Desplechin, France)
This is Arnaud Desplechin’s worst film but it features Marion Cotillard dancing to the original Another Side of Bob Dylan version of “It Ain’t Me, Babe,” which elevates it to the status of essential viewing.
12. Savage Youth (Johnson, USA)
11. The Green Fog (Maddin/Johnson/Johnson, USA)
A hilarious and ingenious “remake” of Vertigo, which consists only of scenes from other movies and T.V. shows shot in San Francisco — though this won’t make a lick of sense if you don’t know Hitchcock’s masterpiece like the back of your hand.
10. Loveless (Zvyagintsev, Russia)
Andrei Zvyagintsev’s damning indictment of Putin’s Russia disguised as a dour melodrama. Smart, exacting filmmaking.
9. Bisbee ’17 (Greene, USA)
No American film this year feels more relevant than Robert Greene’s innovative doc about the U.S. government’s shameful deportation of recently unionized workers, many of them immigrants, from the title Arizona town 100 years ago. Capsule review at Time Out Chicago here.
8. Claire’s Camera (Hong, S. Korea/France)
This was dismissed or damned with faint praise as lightweight Hong in some quarters but those critics are dead wrong. I wrote a capsule review of this great comedy for Time Out Chicago here.
7. First Reformed (Schrader, USA)
I wrote on social media that I greatly enjoyed Paul Schrader’s “Protestant version of Diary of a Country Priest.” When asked by a friend to elaborate, I expounded: “Bresson has always been Schrader’s biggest influence and that influence is more pronounced in First Reformed than ever before. Some of the elements that can be traced back to Diary of a Country Priest specifically: the clergyman coming into conflict with his superiors for leading too ascetic a lifestyle, the way he bares his soul in his diary, his stomach cancer, his alcoholism, his search for grace in a superficial, material world, the austerity of the visual style, the transcendental uplift of the final scene, etc.”
6. Jeannette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc (Dumont, France)
Bruno Dumont’s batshit-crazy electronic/metal musical about the childhood of Joan of Arc. I reviewed this for Cine-File here and discussed it on the inaugural episode of Cine-Cast, the Cine-File podcast, here.
5. The Woman Who Left (Diaz, Philippines)
A companion piece to Lav Diaz’s earlier Norte: The End of History, this nearly 4-hour epic — about a woman being released from prison after 30 years and searching for the man who framed her — has more intelligent things to say about “revenge” than all of Quentin Tarantino’s movies put together. Gorgeously shot in black-and-white and featuring a tremendous lead performance by Charo Santos-Concio (who came out of retirement to play the part).
4. Madeline’s Madeline (Decker, USA)
A theater director asks a teenage actress to mine deeply personal emotional terrain – including the tumultuous relationship she has with her own mother – in order to workshop a new play. This wild and beautiful film, a quantum leap beyond Josephine Decker’s first two movies, cuts deep into the heart of the dubious emotional exploitation inherent in all director/actor relationships. Imagine Mulholland Drive from a truly female perspective and you’ll have some idea of what Decker is up to — but this exhilarating film looks and sounds like nothing else. Helena Howard should go down as a cinematic immortal for this even if she never acts in another film.
3. Phantom Thread (Anderson, USA/UK)
PTA’s most perfect (though not greatest) film. I loved it as much as everyone and reviewed it for this very blog when it belatedly opened in Chicago in January. Capsule here.
2. 24 Frames (Kiarostami, Iran)
Abbas Kiarostami’s final film — and final masterpiece — contains the most innovative use of CGI I’ve ever seen. Capsule review at Time Out Chicago here.
1. Zama (Martel, Argentina)
Lucrecia Martel’s long-awaited return confronts colonialism and racism in 18th-century Argentina in a most daring and original way: by focusing on an entirely unexceptional man. It is also so radical and masterful in its approach to image and sound that it turns viewers into aliens (to paraphrase something Martel said to me in an interview, which you can read at Time Out Chicago here).
The following review of Clare Cooney’s Runner, which receives its Chicago Premiere at the Music Box this Sunday, was published at Time Out Chicago today.
The Chicago Critics Film Festival returns to the Music Box Theater this Friday, May 4 and runs through Thursday, May 10, bringing a typically impressive and diverse slate of acclaimed new independent and foreign films, many of which are fresh off of their World Premieres at Sundance and South By Southwest and all of which are making their local premieres. A welcome new twist to this year’s edition is the inclusion of two short film programs, which are comprised of works by universally acknowledged masters of the form like animator Don Herzfeldt (World of Tomorrow Episode 2: The Burden of Other People’s Thoughts) as well as first-time filmmakers like Chicago’s own Clare Cooney (Runner). The latter film, screening as part of the “CCFF Shorts Program #1” block, is an extremely auspicious directorial debut for Cooney, who is better known for her work as an actress. Although it clocks in at only 12 minutes, it is one of the must-see events of the festival, especially considering that the whip-smart Cooney will be present for a post-screening Q&A.
Runner tells the story of a young woman named Becca (Cooney) who witnesses a violent altercation between a couple while jogging through an alley near her Chicago apartment. Becca’s subsequent knowledge of what happened, and an unexpected re-encounter with one of the participants, causes her to face an ethical dilemma. As a director, Cooney knows how to get the most out of herself as an actress (she’s a performer of uncommon depth) but she also wisely eschews the melodramatic approach that even more seasoned filmmakers might have taken – cutting the sound entirely from the film’s most intense moment and thereby increasing its effectiveness via counterpoint. But what impresses most in this pungent drama is the way Cooney is able to seamlessly enfold her ideas into a naturalistic narrative framework. In the “Me Too” era, the powerful tracking shots of Becca literally running away from physical danger conjure the notion of a desire to transcend an entire culture of harassment and assault. It’s a haunting movie – and one that chimes with our times.
For more information about the screening of Runner, visit the Music Box’s website.
I’m excited to announce I will be directing a new feature film this summer based on a new original screenplay. Full production announcement/summary below!
RENDEZVOUS IN CHICAGO: Three Tales of Love in the Windy City
by Michael Glover Smith
Artwork by Loren Greenblatt
RENDEZVOUS IN CHICAGO is a short comedic feature film comprised of three vignettes corresponding to the beginning, middle and end stages of a relationship:
Part 1: THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV. Paul, a charming young man, attempts to pick up Delaney, a bookish grad student, in an otherwise empty wine bar. She turns the tables on him in a most unexpected manner.
Part 2: CATS AND DOGS. Rob and Andy are enjoying the bliss of newly formed couplehood. Rob has planned to propose marriage as they walk from their apartment to the lakeshore nearby, but has he made the right decision?
Part 3: THE END IS THE BEGINNING. Julie comes home from work early to find her boyfriend, Wyatt, in bed with another woman. After violently ejecting them from her apartment, Julie begins to fall in love with . . . you the viewer!
Written and directed by Michael Glover Smith
Starring: Clare Cooney, Chelsea David, Nina Ganet, Kevin Wehby, Sophie the Shih Tzu and more talented thespians to be announced soon.
Produced by: Layne Marie Williams for Women of the Now.
Filming in 2018.