Episode 11 of my White City Cinema Radio Hour podcast is now online and it is by far my favorite episode to date. I listened to it three times yesterday – and definitely not because of my own contributions! I am enamored of the lively and provocative banter of my guests, film critic Angelica Jade Bastien and film studies professor Nina Cartier Bradley. The three of us use the #OscarsSoWhite controversy as a jumping-off point to talk about race (and racism) in the film industry, film noir and Carl Franklin’s underrated 1995 neo-noir Devil in a Blue Dress. You can listen to the episode at the Transistor Chicago website here. Also, please check out Angelica’s blog Madwomenandmuses.com and please check out this new anthology on race, gender and identity to which Nina contributed: Future Texts: Subversive Performance and Feminist Bodies.
I also use the episode to plug a screening of Thomas Arslan’s A Fine Day, which I’ll be presenting at Transistor on Saturday, March 26. I wrote the following description about it for the Transistor website:
Saturday night film screening: Chicago independent filmmaker, author and film studies instructor Michael Glover Smith presents A Fine Day. 8:00 p.m. Free, BYOB.
“A Fine Day” is an intellectual romantic comedy about an eventful day in the life of Deniz (Serpil Turhan), a 21-year-old Turkish immigrant and aspiring actress living in Berlin. After splitting up with her boyfriend, Jan, she immediately embarks on a relationship with Diego, a stranger with whom she becomes infatuated, before engaging in an extended rap session with a philosopher in a cafe. A charming story about one young woman’s search for happiness, “A Fine Day” has never been released in the U.S. but stands as the masterpiece to date by Thomas Arslan, a key writer/director of the “Berlin School” of filmmaking that also produced Christian Petzold. (NR, 2001, 69 minutes)
Michael Smith will introduce the film and a discussion will follow the screening.
I will be offering extra credit to my students for attending the screening. Check the extra credit page of your course website for more info. Hope to see you there!
Somehow, over the course of its impressive 18-year-run, the Gene Siskel Film Center’s European Union Film Festival has become the most important film festival in Chicago. This is, quite frankly, astonishing, especially when one considers that the EUFF is only drawing on movies from a single continent and that the Siskel Center undoubtedly has a smaller budget to operate with than some of the city’s other longer-running festivals. Yet the evidence is undeniable: year in and year out, the EUFF brings in the films that local cinephiles are most excited to see, the ones that are routinely missing from the Chicago International Film Festival’s fall lineup. Movies playing this year’s EUFF that could’ve conceivably played last October’s CIFF but didn’t include Alain Resnais’s Life of Riley, Bruno Dumont’s L’il Quinquin, Pedro Costa‘s Horse Money, Roy Andersson’s A Pigeon Sat on a Park Bench Reflecting on Existence, Christian Petzold’s Phoenix, Jessica Hausner’s Amour Fou, Mia Hansen-Love’s Eden, Eugene Green’s La Sapienza, Ann Fontaine’s Gemma Bovery and Serge Bozon’s Tip Top. And those are just the films by established auteurs. The EUFF is also a great place to take a chance on movies you’ve never heard of, some of which may wind up with U.S. distribution, others of which may vanish as mysteriously as they arrived. (Two of my favorite films of this decade, the Spanish Aita and the Italian Pretty Butterflies both briefly played the EUFF but remain sadly unavailable in the States.) For the next four weeks I’ll have reviews of EUFF movies at both Time Out Chicago and Cine-File Chicago. In contrast to previous years, when I was reviewing films expressly for my site, I will only be writing up movies this year that I highly recommend. For the EUFF’s first week, I already have reviews of Li’l Quinquin and Gemma Bovery at Time Out and a review of Amour Fou at Cine-File.
In other news, Andy Miles has asked me to curate a new film series at Transister Chicago. For my inaugural screening, I’ve chosen to present Thomas Arslan’s In the Shadows, a terrific German heist picture in the vein of Jean-Pierre Melville. Originally released in 2010, In the Shadows tells the story of “Trojan” (Misel Maticevic), a career criminal who emerges from prison only to immediately embark on a new heist job. Meanwhile, both the cops and a former gangster-nemesis plot to bring about his downfall. Arslan’s mastery of the heist movie here is every bit as impressive as his mastery of the Eric Rohmer-style intellectual rom-com in his superb earlier film A Fine Day (2001). Every element of this minimalist film fits together with the precision of a Swiss watch and yet, after In the Shadows has marched inexorably to its finale, the conclusion still manages to surprise in its supremely cool irony. This FREE screening of In the Shadows, its Chicago premiere, will occur on Saturday, March 21 at 8pm. More info at the Transistor website here: http://www.transistorchicago.com/32115