Tag Archives: Chicago Cinema Society

Fright School Spooks Chicago Beginning October 4th

Once again, the award-winning Night School makes its way to the screen here in Chicago starting October 4 at Facets Multimedia. There’s a great variety of spine-tingling goodness with films from around the world ready to scare the hell out of you. Each film will be presented with a lecture prior to screening and a Q&A after most of the presentations.

This will be our final gig at Facets Multimedia so come on down for some spooky thrills! Night School will be traveling on to new venues TBD.

You Are Who You Eat!: Fruit Chan’s Delicious, Disturbing Dumplings
October 4, 2013
Presented by Michael Smith

Fruit Chan (MADE IN HONG KONG, DURIAN DURIAN) became internationally famous for a series of gritty, naturalistic dramas tackling important social issues in the turbulent Hong Kong of the 1990s. With 2004′s DUMPLINGS he drastically shifted registers, crafting an elegant and beautifully photographed horror film (the exquisite color cinematography is courtesy of the great Christopher Doyle) that successfully translates his trademark social criticism to the confines of the more genre-oriented filmmaking for which Hong Kong is best known. The result expertly balances visceral shocks with intellectual provocation, and deservedly became one of the most acclaimed Hong Kong films of the post-”handover” era, winning numerous accolades along the way (including a Film of Merit Award from the Hong Kong Film Critics Society and many Best Supporting Actress trophies for Bai Ling). Come on out to see this director-preferred expanded version of DUMPLINGS and find out what all the fuss is about — though you may want to hold off on eating before you come!

Michael Smith is an independent filmmaker whose most recent short films, At Last, Okemah!! (2009) and The Catastrophe (2011), have won multiple awards at film festivals across the United States. Since 2009, he has taught film history and aesthetics at Chicago-area colleges including Oakton Community College, the College of Lake County, and Harold Washington College. His first book, Flickering Empire: How Chicago Invented the U.S. Film Industry, a non-fiction account of early film production in Chicago, will be released by KWS Publishers, Inc. in late 2013. He is also the creator and sole author of the film studies blog WhiteCityCinema.com. He has previously taught many Facets Night School sessions including “Drilling Into The Slumber Party Massacre”  and “Eat the Rich: Manoel de Oliveira’s Unlikely Cannibals Musical.”

One Roll of Flesh, No More No Less: The Mad World of Suicide Club
October 5, 2013
Presented by Dominick Suzanne-Mayer

Lecture description: Writer-director Shion Sono’s 2002 film Suicide Club came out during a time when worldwide interest in J-horror was at an all-time high, and stands as both one of that subgenre’s crowning achievements and one of its strangest films. Suicide Club begins with an unforgettable mass suicide committed by teenagers in a Tokyo subway tunnel, and descends into a complex web of madness involving butterfly tattoos, a roll of human skin, a teen-friendly pop group and a man named Genesis who does atrocious things to animals in empty bowling alleys. Night School lecturer Dominick Suzanne-Mayer will attempt to unravel the mysteries of Sono’s film, and further discuss its connections to one of latter-day Japanese cinema’s most prevalent questions: what to do with all the youth?
Dominick Suzanne-Mayer is a regular at Facets Night School, having presented on The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), The Frighteners, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls and many more. He recently received his graduate degree in Media & Cinema Studies from DePaul University, and is the features editor at HEAVEmedia, a Chicago-based pop culture website. You can regularly find him in various drinking establishments that show professional wrestling for free.

Guru, The Mad Monk in 35MM!
October 11, 2013
Presented by Jason Coffman and The Chicago Cinema Society

Andy Milligan was the quintessential grindhouse filmmaker, shooting movies for next to nothing and, legend has it, occasionally editing with his teeth and some scotch tape! Milligan was a control freak on a level that made Stanley Kubrick look positively relaxed: he built sets, sewed costumes, wrote, directed, edited, and basically did everything a person can do on a film set. There’s no mistaking an Andy Milligan film for the work of any other director. His period pieces are particularly interesting, one of the best being “Guru, the Mad Monk,” in which Milligan regular Neil Flanagan plays the titular insane “holy man” who uses his position to cover up his evil deeds.
The Chicago Cinema Society and Facets Night School present a rare 35mm screening of Andy Milligan’s “Guru, The Mad Monk” as part of this year’s Fright School!This screening takes place Friday night, October 11th at Midnight at Facets Multi-Media! Presented by CCS programmer Jason Coffman with a brief talk about Andy Milligan before the show and Q&A after.

F for Femdetta! Midnight Movie Birthday Screening of 36 Pasos
U.S. Premiere!
October 12, 2013
Presented by Demetra Materis
Six women, three rules, one reason to watch 36 Pasos- pure originality. It’s just so hard to be pretty and popular these days. It’s so hard, you’ll have to fight to survive! The fourth feature from indie director Adrian Garcia Bogliano of Argentina, this energetic, sexy and sadistic movie will stick with you forever. This presentation will include a pre-recorded Q&A from presenter Demetra Materis and director Adrian Garcia Bogliano.Best part is… it’s Demetra’s birthday! You are all invited to celebrate and watch a kick ass movie with her.
Demetra Materis is a huge horror movie fan. When she’s not behind the counter at Facets Videotheque, she’s on set working with veteran horror film director Ricardo Islas on projects- currently Bachelor’s Grove: The Movie and previously Frankenstein: Day of the Beast. She’s also currently the unit production manager for a documentary series about a legendary Chicago marionette puppeteer. This is her first Night School session and it coincides with her birthday so make sure you leave room for cake! (Gifts accepted.)

Curse of the Demon
October 18, 2013
Presented by Phil Morehart
Jacques Tourneur directs a spooky supernatural thriller based on the M. R. James story “Casting the Runes.” Dana Andrews plays an American skeptic with a lot of blah, blah, blah about occultist nonsense in English until a sorcerer whips up some first-rate evil. After shitting his pants, the skeptic then must find a way to counter that goofy bastard.
Phil Morehart was a programmer for the Cincinnati Film Society. He also wrote on film, theater, music and visual arts for Chicago Journal Newspaper and Cincinnati CityBeat Newspaper, and is a contributor to the book, The Armchair Reader Guide Goes Hollywood.  He’s currently an editor at ALA and a marathon runner. Previous Night School classes taught include There’s No More Room in Hell, So Let’s Go Shopping: A Look at George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead.

I’ve Been a Bad, Bad Girl: Sleepaway Camp and the Punishing Nature of Horror
Saturday October 19, 2013
Presented by Lauren Whalen
“She’s a real carpenter’s dream – flat as a board and needs a screw!” – Judy (Karen Fields), Sleepaway Camp

In the summer of 1975, Camp Arawak is a great place for summer vacation – unless you aren’t nice. Shy Angela is sent to Arawak with her cousin after her immediate family’s demise in a boating accident. Before long, campers and staff with less than pure motives start turning up dead, in increasingly bizarre and violent ways. What twisted individual is behind the body count? What exactly is Angela hiding? And really, is it that big a deal to lose such terrible people?

Weird, offensive and brilliant, Sleepaway Camp has attracted a cult following since its 1985 release. But why are so many horror movies intent on punishment – other than the utter coolness of fake blood? Dig up your awesome short shorts and join Lauren Whalen as she explores why in the horror genre, cruel intentions can get you the boot (or knife).

Lauren Whalen is a freelance writer for Chicago Theater Beat and The Film Yap. Previous Night School presentations include Brick, Mulholland Dr., Donnie Darko and Drop Dead Gorgeous. Lauren’s had an 11-year relationship with Facets as an intern, subtitle reader, full-time employee and volunteer. There are many who would call her a bad, bad girl.

Full Metal Frankenstein!
October 25, 2013
Presented by Bruce Neal

The 1931 James Whale/ Boris Karloff/ Dwight Frye classic, Frankenstein, presented with a live score by Dysfunctio Cerebri, a new ensemble featuring members of On You, Czar, Get Up with the Get Downs and The Crippled Masters. Guitars will crack like plasma filaments emanating from a Tesla coil! The villagers will march! Bring your lighters! With secret surprise second short feature! It’s Alive!!

Bruce Neal is a projectionist at Facets and has worked in film, music, underground theater, performance art and stand-up comedy. He was creative and story consultant on Dream Havana, which won Best Documentary at the Chicago, Orlando and Lyon Latino Film Festivals. His previous Night School classes covered such films as Street Trash and God Told Me To. Bruce also co-created original soundtracks to A Page of Madness, Haxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages, The Fall of the House of Usher, Alucarda and the shorts of Bettie Page as a member of The Cursed Bird Ensemble (among many other aliases). Currently, he’s performing in the Death-Folk band  The Crippled Masters with fellow soundtrack alum Matt Silcock.

We are the Strange: Video Games vs. Movies
October 26, 2013
Presented by Joseph R. Lewis
No film better illustrates the maniacal effects that video games have had on the psyche of American moviemaking than this one. An animated film like no other, We Are the Strange incorporates stop-motion, CG, and video game board layout designs to create a dark fantasy world unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Joseph R. Lewis, co-founder of The Underground Multiplex, presents this Chicago premiere.
Joseph R. Lewis is the co-founder of The Underground Multiplex, a Chicago-based arts collective producing live theatrical events, Internet films and podcasts. Lewis has completed several features, including the award-winning ScumbabiesTyler B Nice, and Sci-Fi SOL. He’s also the creator of the Emmy-nominated TV show Elephant and Worm TV. Previous Facets Night School presentations include Killer Klowns from Outer Space and the debut of Sisters of No Mercy 3D.
All shows begin at Midnight Friday or Saturday nights as listed.
1517 W Fullerton Ave.
Chicago, IL 60614
Admission: $5. FREE for Facets members. Find out how to be a member here.

Jason Coffman Discusses “Carnival Magic,” the Opener for Facets Night School’s Master Edition

Carnival Magic will be presented on 35MM(!), the way God intended, as the opener for Facets Night School Masters Edition. It’s one of the last films by Al Adamson, sleaze film extraordinaire, who is probably more famous over how he died than for his films.

Legendary Lew recently caught up with Jason Coffman, Co-Director & Programmer at Chicago Cinema Society, to ask about this unusual must-see film.

LL: You’ll be presenting the 35MM print of the film Carnival Magic by Al Adamson. Tell us a little about that film.

JC: For whatever reason, Al Adamson decided to make a couple of “children’s movies” in the early 1980s. He made Carnival Magic in 1981 and a film called Lost, and after Lost he retired from the film business. AdamsonIf you’ve ever wondered what a “children’s movie” made by someone with no idea what that means, Carnival Magic is a perfect example. There’s magic and a talking monkey, and beyond that there’s a lot of really inappropriate stuff.

LL: Adamson was known for exploitation movies. Since this is a G-rated family film, what can you tell us about any similarities, if any, to his “sleazier” fare?

JC: Adamson often cast his wife Regina Carrol in his films, and she’s in Carnival Magic, too. She’s the lady wearing the extremely tight shirtsreginacarrol whenever she appears on screen. The villainous lion tamer in the movie is genuinely nasty, he’s an abusive drunk. Not really the kind of character you usually see in a kids’ film.

LL: What would you consider the best parts of Carnival Magic?

JC: It’s hard to decide where to even begin, it’s such a strange film. The voice of Alex the talking monkey is pretty amazing, in that it’s actually sort of believable that a monkey would talk in this way. A creepy, guttural voice. More likely to scare the hell out of kids than endear the monkey to them. The part where Alex kidnaps a woman is pretty fantastic– he steals a car and there’s an inept police chase and everything. So that’s a lot of fun.

LL: What do you hope audiences will take with them after watching this film?

JC: I hope people have a new appreciation for Al Adamson and that they’ll be willing to explore cheap exploitation movies more. A lot of people might see one Adamson film and just write him off, but if you dig in to his filmography you’ll find he made crazy stuff like Carnival Magic. It’s really weird, really entertaining, and unless you’re willing to give this kind of thing a chance, you’ll never find stuff like this.

Thanks, Jason, for giving a little more insight to Carnival Magic.
Be sure to catch this jaw-dropping, weird film (thoroughly recommended by yours truly) as it kicks off Facets Night School’s Masters Edition.

Check out Jason’s work with Film Monthly and Fine Print.

Carnival Magic in 35MM (from The Chicago Cinema Society Archive)
Saturday night, March 30th, 2013 at Midnight
Facets Multimedia
Admission: $5 or FREE for Facets Members
Students: Get one FREE small popcorn with valid student ID.

One final note: The producer of Carnival Magic, Elvin Feltner, I’m told is currently in ill health. We’ll be providing a get well card to sign for him and also have a donation jar available.  Thanks!

The Portage Theater Attains Landmark Status!

Just call me Landmark, baby.

From Alderman John Arena via the Facebook page “Save the Portage Theater”:

I’m happy to share a great victory with you today: The Landmark Commission just voted unanimously to bestow preliminary landmark status on The Portage Theater. This change will protect the building’s facade, lobby areas and theater space from alterations until the city completes a longer and more extensive study.

There’s more. Go read it. Excellent news!

As the Alderman states, however, The Chicago Tabernacle could still technically acquire the purchase via the Zoning Board of Appeals approval. The landmark status would just forbid them from making the changes that would keep it from looking like anything other than the original theater. Thus, the purchase would be less desirable.

The Zoning Board of Appeals hearing is April 20th. If you are headed there to support, please be there by 9am and expect to be there all day. Keep the pressure on by writing the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Lastly, go to the movies! The Portage is hosting film events by the Northwest Chicago Film Society, The Silent Film Society of Chicago, The Chicago Cinema Society, Spook Show Entertainment and others. Patronize the surrounding businesses and let them know you love The Portage Theater as it is.

Chicago Cinema Society Presents “The Bengali Detective” Saturday Night at Facets

TUGM pal Neil Calderone from The Chicago Cinema Society presents the Chicago premiere of the documentary The Bengali Detective. The film follows the true adventures of a gun-for-hire who takes on criminal cases ditched or ignored by police in Kolkata, one of the most densely populated cities in the world.

Oh, and he’s a Bollywood dancer, too!

Playing Saturday night, 3/31/2012  at midnight
Facets Multimedia
1517 W Fullerton
Chicago, IL
Admission: $5,  FREE for Facets Members. (Learn how you can become one here). Lecture before and discussion after the screening.

BTW, this movie is not to be confused with a fictional film by the same title that you can download easily on YouTube.

Support your local indie theaters!

 

Save The Portage Theater!

UPDATE:  Please join the Facebook group Save the Portage Theater and help spread the word! Thanks!

UPDATE 2:  Thanks for stopping by our year-old website of Chicago-made entertainment by director Joseph R. Lewis and producer Lew Ojeda. Please check out the rest of the site and subscribe. Support local indie entertainment!

One of Chicago’s last remaining independent theaters, The Portage, is being threatened with closure.  Ward 45’s Alderman John Arena sent out the warning to his neighbors, but all of Chicago should take notice of this:

In September 2011, I was approached by the leadership of the Chicago Tabernacle seeking my support for the conversion of the Portage Theater to a church. I offered to have them present their plan to my office and follow the established zoning review process. Declining, they asked that I weigh in before they invested time and money in pursuing a building use that I might oppose. After consulting the Six Corners Association and local community groups, I issued a letter opposing the requested use but made it clear that we would welcome the congregation to our community. I directed them to alternate locations that might suit their needs.

Despite my letter, Chicago Tabernacle continued to pursue the purchase of the building. To date, we have not received the documents needed to begin our full zoning review process. We learned last week that they intended to file with the Department of Zoning for a special use permit allowing them to operate the historic Portage Theater as a church. Yesterday, the permit notification was posted per city code.

This is an historic theater that provides music, dance and film entertainment for an entire community of arts lovers. It’s the main independent venue for non-profit organizations and events such as The Northwest Chicago Film Society, The Silent Film Society of Chicago, The Chicago Cinema Society, The Chicago Horror Film Festival and others. Many neighbors and nearby businesses have expressed concern that the church’s takeover would disrupt development plans for Portage Park.

If you are wondering about the potential buyer, The Chicago Tabernacle, it’s a church that teaches, among other things, about the “End Times.”

From the church’s website:

We believe sin has separated each of us from God and His purpose for our lives. In order to receive forgiveness, we must repent of our sins, believe in Jesus Christ and submit to His will for our lives. …

We believe the Lord Jesus Christ is coming back again as He promised and will rule and reign on this earth. History will conclude as the wicked are judged and the righteous enter a new heaven and a new earth.

Losing The Portage Theater would be a major blow to those who produce and market independent Chicago-based entertainment. Shutting down this wonderful place makes it that much harder for those who truly love films to find an alternative to Jack and Jill and other Hollywood mush.

Email your thoughts to Alderman John Arena (who’s fighting hard against the theater closure):  ward45@cityofchicago.org

I would also send a message to The Chicago Tabernacle, but PLEASE BE CIVIL.  The conflict is not about who they are, it’s about what’s going to be lost to Portage Park and all of Chicago. Thanks and spread the word!