Everyone likes to talk about movies, so let’s keep the conversation going! The Gene Siskel Film Center will get everyone talking with monthly film conversations. Audiences are invited to informal conversations led by—but not monopolized by—carefully selected facilitators.
Abacus: Small Enough to Jail
2016, Steve James, USA, 88 min.
“Gripping real-life legal thriller with an appealing Chinese-American twist…both an affirmation and an indictment of the American Dream.” — Stephen Dalton, Hollywood Reporter
“An exemplary piece of filmmaking…it’s the human face that tells the story.” — Tom Charity, Sight & Sound
How did Abacus, a small family-run bank, become targeted by the feds to take the fall for the 2008 financial crisis when the Wall Street giants tiptoed away so handily, asks award-winning filmmaker Steve James (HOOP DREAMS, THE INTERRUPTERS) in this affecting David vs. Goliath chronicle. Jimmy Stewart’s George Bailey, banker hero of IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, served as the role model for New York Chinatown lawyer Thomas Sung when he founded a community-friendly bank in the 1950s, serving an insular, bank-shy immigrant population. In 2010, his staff discovered and reported irregularities perpetrated by one mortgage manager, bringing down the wrath of the Justice Department, and making Abacus the sole bank to face federal charges in the wake of the financial crisis. Nineteen employees are led away in chains before TV cameras, and the resulting five-year media circus and show trial expose suspiciously glaring inequities in the government case. DCP digital. (BS)
Friday, June 16 at 8:15 PM: Director Steve James and producer Mark Mitten will be present for audience discussion. The discussion will be moderated by film critic Steve Prokopy.
Saturday, June 17 at 7:45 PM: Director Steve James and producer Mark Mitten will be present for audience discussion.
Sunday, June 18 at 5:15 PM: Director Steve James and producer Mark Mitten will be present for audience discussion.
Tuesday, June 20 at 8:00 PM: Director Steve James and producer Mark Mitten will be present for audience discussion. This screening is a Movie Club event.
Citizen Jane: Battle for the City
2016, Matt Tyrnauer, USA, 92 min.
"The movie just about pulses with contemporary resonance. It has moments of uncanny overlap with this week’s election, and it explores the scope and meaning of that overly familiar thing — the city — in ways that will box open your thinking. It’s a finely woven tapestry that feels as relevant and alive as the place you live." — Owen Gleiberman, Variety
No one revolutionized the way we think about cities more than Jane Jacobs. The self-educated author of the 1961 masterpiece "The Death and Life of Great American Cities" entered the fray at a time when urban planning was dominated by top-down utopian schemes based on "slum" clearance, high-rise projects, and neighborhood-rupturing expressways. These establishment orthodoxies were lucidly challenged by Jacobs, an outsider and a woman to boot (scorned by her opponents as a "housewife" and "crazy dame"), who discerned that cities were diverse ecosystems based on human interactions, not buildings, and that the most effective changes evolved from the bottom up. The centerpieces of this invigorating documentary are Jacobs's thrilling David-Goliath battles with almighty New York building czar Robert Moses, but director Tyrnauer (VALENTINO: THE LAST EMPEROR) skillfully gives weight to Jacobs's ideas and places them in a larger context of civic protest and grass-roots dissent. Jane Jacobs championed diversity, exposed the arrogance of power, and showed how aroused citizens could successfully stand up to big capital. We need to listen to her voice more than ever today. DCP digital. (MR)
Thursday, May 18 at 6:00 PM: This screening is a Movie Club event. Discussion will be led by Janet Smith, PhD, Co-Director of the Nathalie P. Voorhees Center for Neighborhood and Community Improvement at the UIC Chicago College of Urban Planning & Public Affairs.
Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened...
2016, Lonny Price, USA, 95 min.
"A beautiful Broadway memoir... fond, swift, bittersweet." — Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune
“Should be catnip for Sondheim aficionados, musical theater geeks, and anyone who loves a how-did-you-get-there-from-here story.” — Robert Abele, The Wrap
In this personal behind the scenes tale of one of Broadway’s legendary flops, director/actor Price chronicles the strange, exhilarating and career-changing experience of being cast as a lead in Stephen Sondheim’s short-lived "Merrily We Roll Along." In 1981, fresh from a string of hits including "Sweeney Todd," the duo of Sondheim and Hal Prince geared up to stage their next show, hiring a cast of young unknowns. Dreams of stardom are dashed when, amid scathing reviews, the show closes after only sixteen performances. Price, now a renowned Broadway director in his own right (he also played a supporting role in DIRTY DANCING), pieces together the musical’s rise, fall, and reemergence as a classic through rediscovered audition and rehearsal videos, footage of a 2002 original cast reunion concert with Sondheim and Prince in attendance, and an insightful look at how the experience impacted the careers of a clutch devastated young actors. DCP digital. (BS)
Wednesday, April 5 at 6 pm: This screening is a Movie Club event with a discussion led by original Broadway cast member Marc Moritz. The discussion will be held at Rosebud Prime, 1 S. Dearborn St.
Franca: Chaos & Creation
2016, Francesco Carrozzini, Italy/USA, 80 min.
"She's a very free woman," says photographer Peter Lindbergh of the late Franca Sozzani, the subject of this documentary portrait directed by her son, himself a noted photographer and filmmaker. As the editor of Italian Vogue from 1988 until her death last December, the legendary Sozzani redefined what a fashion magazine could be, breaking taboos and unabashedly mixing couture and controversy in fashion-photo shoots themed to such topics as war, plastic surgery, domestic violence, and oil spills. Luminaries including Bruce Weber, Baz Luhrmann, Marina Abramović, publisher Jonathan Newhouse ("She went too far!"), and philosopher Bernard Henri-Levi ("She's crazy!") weigh in, but the heart of the film is the candid, at times contentious back-and-forth between the strong-willed Sozzani and the son eager to learn more about the mother who wasn’t apologetic about putting profession ahead of parenthood. In Italian, English, and French with English subtitles. Courtesy of BOND/360. DCP digital. (MR)
MARCH 6: Following the March 6 screening, a panel chaired by Gillion Carrara, Director of the Fashion Resource Center at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and including Debra Riley Parr, Associate Professor of design history and theory at Columbia College Chicago, Geoffrey Rhodes, Associate Professor, Department of Visual Communication Design, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and fashion journalist and consultant Maria Vanessa Colapinto will discuss the issues.
2015, Colin M. Day, USA, 80 min.
"Lively, involving." — Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
"Colin Day’s fascinating documentary SAVING BANKSY rightly honors that renowned pseudonymous street artist." — Andy Webster, The New York Times
The wall mural of a rat sporting a beret by renowned street artist Banksy becomes a proverbial hot potato in the international art world in this engaging documentary that debates questions of ownership, authorship, and authenticity with regard to ostensibly anonymous street art, as collectors representing opposing motives of greed and altruism fight it out. San Francisco street-art champion Brian Greif saves the iconic rat from demolition and attempts unsuccessfully to donate the piece to a major art museum. Even as he subsequently deflects purchase offers in the six figures, enterprising gallery owners and collectors around the world are seen scoring other Banksy pieces by hook or by crook, creating a million-dollar market in the purloined work at showcases including Art Basel Miami. DCP digital. (BS)
FEBRUARY 8: The 6:15 pm screening on Wednesday, February 8, is a Movie Club event, facilitated by psychotherapist and Art Institute of Chicago adjunct lecturer Tamara Faulkner.
2015, Jayro Bustamante, Guatemala, 93 min. With María Mercedes Coroy, María Telon.
"A transporting, hypnotically beautiful debut feature." — Scott Foundas, Variety
"A vividly observed debut feature...Bustamante dramatizes his characters and their indigenous way of life with a powerful, almost feverish sense of immersion." — Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times
Guatemala's second-ever Oscar submission is a powerfully visualized narrative enriched by feminist themes and ethnographic detail. Set in an indigenous Mayan community of coffee-farmers living in the shadow of an active volcano, the story centers on María, a restless 17-year-old indigenous girl whose parents have arranged an advantageous marriage to the plantation overseer. She prefers a young worker whom she hopes will take her to the United States "on the other side of the volcano," but an unplanned pregnancy traps her between indigenous beliefs and the deceptions of the modern world. In Kaqchikel and Spanish with English subtitles. DCP digital widescreen. (MR)
JANUARY 11: This screening is a Movie Club event facilitated by Camille Roussel, Ph.D. student in Human Development at the University of Chicago, whose scholarship focuses on gender and women's health issues among the K'ekchi' Maya in Guatemala.
1985, Jûzô Itami, Japan, 114 min. With Ken Watanabe, Nobuko Miyamoto.
- Fri, Dec 2nd 6:00pm
- Fri, Dec 2nd 7:45pm
- Sat, Dec 3rd 5:15pm
- Sun, Dec 4th 3:00pm
- Mon, Dec 5th 6:00pm
- Tue, Dec 6th 8:15pm
- Wed, Dec 7th 6:00pm
- Thu, Dec 8th 8:15pm
- Fri, Dec 9th 2:00pm
- Fri, Dec 9th 6:00pm
- Sat, Dec 10th 5:30pm
- Sun, Dec 11th 3:00pm
- Mon, Dec 12th 6:00pm
- Wed, Dec 14th 8:15pm
- Thu, Dec 15th 6:00pm
"A funny story beautifully told." — Gene Siskel, Chicago Tribune
"A gleefully sensual and inventive comedy...TAMPOPO creates a culinary empire of the senses while entertaining an audience like crazy." — Michael Sragow, Film Comment
A tall, cowboy-hatted stranger named Goro (Watanabe) swaggers into the noodle shop operated by the adorable Tampopo (Miyamoto), whose name means dandelion in Japanese but whose ramen are terrible in any language. A bad ramen is serious business, so Goro takes Tampopo on a quest for The Perfect Noodle. From this offbeat premise, director Itami cooked up one of the most original and delightful comedies ever made, a zesty, simmering concoction that links together three elemental sources of pleasure: movies, sex, and food. Especially food: the film provides an epic catalogue of the myriad ways of preparing ramen and other culinary delights, served up in sensuous and mouth-watering detail. No wonder critic Ravinder Kingra in Keyframe recently named TAMPOPO as “the greatest of all food films.” New 4K DCP digital restoration. (MR)
DECEMBER 12 This screening is a Movie Club event facilitated by Chicago Reader Senior Writer / Food Critic Mike Sula.
The Fallen Idol
1948, Carol Reed, UK, 94 min. With Ralph Richardson, Bobby Henrey.
“A knockout…one of the great films about looking, about perspective, about the way we watch and interpret not just film plots but each other.” — Alan Scherstuhl, Village Voice
Author Graham Greene, who adapted the screenplay from his own short story, considered THE FALLEN IDOL the best of the films he wrote, even better than the celebrated THE THIRD MAN, and more and more critics have come to share that opinion. This gripping psychological thriller centers on the relationship between eight-year-old Philippe (Henrey, remarkable in his only film appearance), son of a European ambassador in London, and Baines (Richardson, subtle and brilliant), the suave butler whom the boy idolizes. Yoked to a shrewish wife, Baines is carrying on a furtive relationship with a younger woman (Michèle Morgan), and Philippe, witnessing but not understanding, is drawn into an adult world of secrets and lies that engulfs him when Baines’s deception has deadly consequences. Director Reed and cinematographer Georges Périnal make especially effective use of the ambassadorial mansion, turning it into a vast theater that both motivates and misleads the boy’s imagination. New 2K DCP digital restoration. (MR)
NOVEMBER 18: This screening is a Movie Club event facilitated by J. R. Jones, lead film critic for the Chicago Reader and author of The Lives of Robert Ryan.
百日紅 / Sarusuberi: Miss Hokusai
2015, Keichi Hara, Japan, 93 min.
- Fri, Oct 21st 6:00pm
- Sat, Oct 22nd 2:45pm
- Sun, Oct 23rd 5:00pm
- Mon, Oct 24th 7:45pm
- Tue, Oct 25th 6:00pm
- Wed, Oct 26th 6:00pm
- Thu, Oct 27th 8:15pm
- Fri, Oct 28th 2:00pm
- Fri, Oct 28th 6:00pm
- Sat, Oct 29th 3:00pm
- Sun, Oct 30th 2:00pm
- Mon, Oct 31st 6:00pm
- Tue, Nov 1st 8:15pm
- Wed, Nov 2nd 6:00pm
- Thu, Nov 3rd 8:15pm
“MISS HOKUSAI manages to be that rare animation whose attention to character psychology and real-world detail can actually rival that of live-action." — Peter Debruge, Variety
"Breathes real life into its characters through gentle, warm scenes of everyday life in a stunningly well realised 19th century Tokyo...Visually, this may be a contender for most beautiful animated movie of the year." — Rob Daniel, Electric Shadows
The bustling, colorful setting of 1814 Edo (later Tokyo) is seen from the perspective of a famous artist's daughter in this animated gem from the revered anime studio Production I.G (GHOST IN THE SHELL, A LETTER TO MOMO). Based on the cult manga "Sarusuberi" by Hinako Sugiura, the film follows 23-year-old O-Ei as she lives and works alongside her father — the great artist Hokusai, best known for the iconic "Great Wave Off Kanagawa." Assisting her unkempt, neglectful parent and producing accomplished, unattributed works of her own, the prickly O-Ei struggles to mature as an artist and as a woman. The film’s episodic structure leaves room to immerse us in the sights and sounds of Edo's "floating world" of prostitutes, artists, and merchants. Highlights include the experience-hungry O-Ei's visit to a brothel; a boat trip under the city's main bridge; a house call to a woman tormented by evil spirits; and a piercingly beautiful scene in a snowy park with O-Ei and her blind kid sister. In Japanese with English subtitles at indicated times. In English at indicated times. DCP digital. (MR)
JAPANESE WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES:
Fri., 10/21 at 6 pm — Sun., 10/23 at 5 pm — Mon., 10/24 at 7:45 pm — Wed., 10/26 at 6 pm — Thu., 10/27 at 8:15 pm — Fri., 10/28 at 2 pm — Sat., 10/29 at 3 pm — Tue., 11/1 at 8:15 pm — Wed., 11/2 at 6 pm — Thu., 11/3 at 8:15 pm
Sat., 10/22 at 2:45 pm — Tue., 10/25 at 6 pm — Fri., 10/28 at 6 pm — Sun., 10/30 at 2 pm — Mon., 10/31 at 6 pm
OCTOBER 26: This screening is a Movie Club event facilitated by anime & video game critic Hiroko Yamamura, former Editor in Chief of Japanator.com and writer for Otaku USA Magazine.
Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise
2016, Bob Hercules and Rita Coburn Whack, USA, 114 min.
- Fri, Sep 16th 2:00pm
- Fri, Sep 16th 6:00pm
- Fri, Sep 16th 8:15pm
- Sat, Sep 17th 1:00pm
- Sat, Sep 17th 5:15pm
- Sun, Sep 18th 3:00pm
- Sun, Sep 18th 5:15pm
- Mon, Sep 19th 6:00pm
- Mon, Sep 19th 8:15pm
- Tue, Sep 20th 7:45pm
- Wed, Sep 21st 6:00pm
- Thu, Sep 22nd 6:00pm
- Thu, Sep 22nd 8:15pm
- Fri, Sep 23rd 6:00pm
- Fri, Sep 23rd 8:15pm
- Sat, Sep 24th 5:00pm
- Sat, Sep 24th 8:00pm
- Sun, Sep 25th 3:00pm
- Sun, Sep 25th 7:30pm
- Mon, Sep 26th 8:15pm
- Tue, Sep 27th 6:00pm
- Wed, Sep 28th 6:00pm
- Wed, Sep 28th 8:15pm
- Thu, Sep 29th 8:15pm
"What Coburn Whack and Hercules do so well is capture Angelou's power and elegance...No hagiography, it paints a portrait of a life lived to the full and dedicated to being true to oneself." — Lanre Bakare, The Guardian
"The African-American icon’s richly textured and often traumatic story is unpacked in this near-definitive documentary." — Ed Gibbs, Little White Lies
This film will return November 11 - 17.
The remarkable, daring, and iconic life of poet, writer, and activist Maya Angelou unfolds in this in-depth portrait, which includes a substantial element of storytelling by the artist herself. Angelou brings the resonant cadences of poetry to narrating an entrancing chronicle of a youth shaped by family upheaval, the racism of a small Arkansas town, and early motherhood, as eventually detailed in her first book "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings." Rare footage traces her varied pre-writing career as a nightclub dancer, singer, and star known as “Miss Calypso,” her courage as a political activist, and her transformative friendships with figures including James Baldwin, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X. Interviews include Oprah Winfrey, Common, Alfre Woodard, Cicely Tyson, Quincy Jones, and Angelou’s son Guy Johnson. DCP digital. (BS)
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 16 at 8:15 PM: Co-directors Bob Hercules and Rita Coburn Whack and director of photography Keith Walker will be present for audience discussion.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 17 at 5:15 PM: Co-directors Bob Hercules and Rita Coburn Whack and director of photography Keith Walker will be present for audience discussion.
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 18 at 5:15 PM: Co-director Rita Coburn Whack will be present for audience discussion.
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 19 at 8:15 PM: Co-director Rita Coburn Whack will be present for audience discussion.
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 22 at 6:00 PM: This screening is a Movie Club event facilitated by Raymond Lambert, the documentary's executive producer.
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 27 at 6:00 PM: Director of photography Keith Walker will introduce the screening.
2016, Marc Levin, USA, 74 min.
- Tue, Aug 23rd 6:00pm
"Puts a human face on the issue of income equality … compelling viewing." — Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter
"There are no villains here, and everyone gets a say." — Daniel M. Gold, The New York Times
The high price of gentrification is examined in this gripping profile of one intersection in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood. On one side of the street, a stone’s throw from the popular High Line, lies an aging public housing project packed with black and Latino families of the working poor. On the other side stands a brand new elite pre-K-12 private school flanked by condos with “bargain” price tags circa ten million. Filmmaker Levin (HARD TIMES: LOST ON LONG ISLAND) focuses on the kids on both sides of the divide, but also listens to parents, teachers, developers, newcomers, and longtime residents of the area, for a complex portrait of classism and urban evolution. Special advance screening courtesy of HBO Documentary Films. (BS)
AUGUST 23: This screening is a Movie Club event. Producer Daphne Pinkerson and film subject Hyisheem Calier will be present for an audience discussion after the film. The discussion will be facilitated by Janet Smith, Associate Professor at UIC and Co-Director of the Nathalie P. Voorhees Center for Neighborhood and Community Improvement.