The Western: How It Was Never One
August 31 - December 11
Lecturer: Jon Cates
Jon Cates is an Associate Professor of Film, Video, New Media and Animation at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
While the Western genre is quintessentially American, filmmakers across the world inspire, interpret and respond to this form of storytelling. Set in symbolic landscapes with iconic characters drawn from both imagined pasts and lived histories, this series focuses on how the Western cinematic genre explicitly expresses politics and ideologies. From First Nations perspectives to African diasporic feminist narrative, these films present critical readings of an ever-elusive frontier which has and continues to define national identities. Many different Westerns co-exist, and, taken together, these films question the borders and boundaries of mythic American experiences.
— Jon Cates
For nearly forty years, the Gene Siskel Film Center has collaborated with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago's Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism to provide a unique experience for Chicago filmgoers. Each fall and spring, we present a themed Screening/Lecture series that is both a course taken for credit by enrolled SAIC students, and a weekly series of public screenings open to all ticket-buyers without need of enrollment or registration. A lecturer is chosen for each series from among the leading film scholars and critics in our region.
On each Tuesday during the series, that week's film is briefly introduced by the lecturer and then screened in its entirety. Following the screening, members of the public are welcome to stay for the lecture and participate in the discussion. The films usually have an additional screening, without the lecture and discussion, on Friday or Saturday. Click here to learn more about this program.
Admission to all Lecture/Screening programs is $5 for Film Center members; usual admission prices apply for non-members.
The Man With The Iron Fists
2012, RZA, USA/Hong Kong, 95 min. With RZA, Russell Crowe, Lucy Liu.
"A wildly whirling martial arts spectacle." - Betsey Sharkey, Los Angeles Times
Hip hop meets wuxia meets Western in this exuberant genre mash-up that marked the directorial debut of the multitalented RZA (aka Robert Diggs), onetime leader of the seminal group Wu Tang Clan and longtime fan of the Asian martial arts movies he pays homage to here. The action is set in 19th-century China, where the imminent arrival of a gold shipment draws an assortment of colorful opportunists to the wide-open town of Jungle Village. Caught in the middle is the ex-slave known as Blacksmith (RZA), whose specialty is creating elaborate weapons for the various combatants and whose neutrality is compromised by a debt of honor. The film is marked by vigorous editing, baroque violence, and sumptuous sets, most of which are smashed to bits by Corey Yuen's rambunctious fight choreography. The cast includes Russell Crowe as a Falstaffian British mystery man, Lucy Liu as a crafty bordello operator, and, nearly stealing the show, Dave Bautista (GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY) as a seemingly invincible killer named Brass Body. In English and Mandarin with English subtitles. 35mm widescreen. (MR)
3:10 To Yuma
1957, Delmer Daves, USA, 92 min. With Van Heflin, Glenn Ford
"One of the most beautiful and human of all American westerns. The haunting low-key performances, the rich, deep shadows, and the ghostly use of the locomotive's steam quietly undermine the macho posturing of many genre films." - Chuck Bowen, Slant
Reworking elements of HIGH NOON and SHANE, this taut Western classic features Heflin as a struggling family man who grasps a chance to save his drought-plagued farm by taking a risky job to transport a captured outlaw (Ford) to Contention City and guard him until the eponymous train arrives. The second half of the film, set mainly in a hotel room, becomes a battle of nerves between the wily prisoner and his jumpy guard, complicated by the evolving bromance between the two men (who are ensconced in the hotel's bridal suite). 35mm. (MR)