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May 2006 Film Calendar

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May 2, 2006 | by Judy Moore

Block Cinema is a collaboration of the Northwestern University School of Communication, the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art and the student-run Film and Projection Society.

All films are screened in the Pick-Laudati Auditorium at the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, 40 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston campus. Free parking is available in the lot directly south of the museum.

Unless noted, general admission to Block Cinema screenings is $6 or $4 for Block Museum members, students with ID's and senior citizens. Films in the “Korean,” “Nature” and “Reeltime” series are free. Specials events are $10. Season passes are $20. Tickets are available 30 minutes before show time.

For more information, call the Block Cinema Hotline at (847) 491-4000 or go to the Block Cinema Web site at http://www.blockmuseum.northwestern.edu/block-cinema.

In May, Block Cinema will screen three new film series.

The “Recent Korean Film - Tales of Revenge and Horror” series will highlight some of the top films made in Korea during the past decade. Few national cinemas have been as vibrant, active and diverse as Korean cinema. South Korea has the most movie screens per capita. In fact, the original dream of the Cineplex lives intact in Korea, where one can see a Korean film, an independent American production and the latest Hong Kong action picture, all at the local complex that houses multi-movie theaters. Because of the great variety of films made in Korea, Block Cinema has focused on a category of Korean cinema: recent tales of revenge and horror -- sometimes called “shock” cinema and not for the faint of heart. This series will feature the first two movies in director Chan-wook Park's trilogy on revenge, “Oldboy” (8 p.m. May 4) and “Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance” (8 p.m. May 31).

“The Louis Family Nature” series is Block Cinema's only annual film series. Through collaboration with the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival, the cinema will screen the year's best nature documentaries. This spring's selection includes a voyage down the Mississippi River and a film about the bear's tenuous status as an endangered species.

Films in “A Cinema of Physics and Perception” series will focus on human perception which is composed of five senses -- taste, touch, smell, sight and hearing. In a darkened theatre, it is our eyes and ears that are most stimulated. These works are as much about the film medium as they are about the viewer, the human mind and its perception of the physical world. Each of the series' programs will concentrate on a different dimension of cinema as it relates to physical construction or perception.

Films that are part of “A Cinema of Physics and Perception” series do not tell stories or entertain in a traditional sense. They demand a high level of attention, one where the viewer absorbs the images and sounds and thinks about them critically. In many ways these films more closely resemble painting, sculpture and music than they do narrative films. They are works of art, audio-visual puzzles and delights for the eyes, the ears and the mind. They are testaments to the creativity afforded by the cinematic medium.

In addition, the Reeltime Independent Film and Video Forum is a presentation of award-winning independent feature, documentary and short-subject films and videos. The series is jointly sponsored by the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art and the Evanston Public Library, in partnership with project directors Kathy Berger and Ines Sommer. Each screening is followed by a discussion with the audience. All Reeltime screenings are free.

MAY 2006

Nature, “Tales of the Last River Rat” and “The Good, the Bad, and the Grizzly,” 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 3, free. “Tales of the Last River Rat” (Andrew Graham-Brown, 2004, United Kingdom, 49 minutes, video); “The Good, the Bad, and the Grizzly” (Shane Moore, 2004, United States, 57 minutes, video). “Along the Upper Mississippi every hour brings something new,” Mark Twain once wrote, a fact reiterated multiple times by Kenny Salwey, the titular “river rat” in this BBC-produced documentary. Salwey is a gifted storyteller and his narrative is full of beautiful images of the river and its inhabitants. In “The Good, the Bad, and the Grizzly,” director Shane Moore investigates the bear's tenuous status as an endangered species, focusing on their growing population in Yellowstone National Park.

Korean, “Oldboy,” 8 p.m. Thursday, May 4, free (Chan-wook Park, 2003, South Korea, 120 minutes, 35 mm). After 15 years spent as a captive inexplicably locked in a room with only a television, Dae-su is released and immediately seeks revenge on his mysterious captors through violent and gruesome methods. Park's masterful control of his film's atmosphere, as well as a keen eye for unsettling images, lifts this film past its B-movie premise into a thoughtful and visceral commentary on the effects of captivity and the doctrine of revenge.

“Crossings,” 4:30 to 7 p.m. Friday, May 5, free (Evans Chan, 1995, United States, 104 minutes, 35 mm). Cast adrift in New York after losing track of her boyfriend, Mo-yung latches on to Rubie, a sympathetic social worker. However, Joey, a delusional schoolteacher, will ultimately shatter both women's lives. The film features a production design by William Chang, Wong Kar Wai's longtime collaborator. The screening includes a personal appearance by director Evan Chan and an introduction by Patricia Erens, adjunct professor, School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Perception, “Space Flattened,” 8 p.m. Friday, May 5 (“All My Life,” Bruce Baillie, 1966, United States, 3 minutes, 16 mm); “Field” (Ernie Gehr, 1970, United States, 9.5 minutes, 16 mm, silent); “Castro Street” (Bruce Baillie, 1966, United States, 10 minutes, 16 mm); “Hackney Marshes -- November 4th 1977” (John Smith, 1977, United Kingdom, 15 minutes, 16 mm, silent); “Windmill II” (Chris Welsby, 1974, United Kingdom, 10 minutes, 16 mm, silent); “Breakfast” (Michael Snow, 1976, Canada, 15 minutes, 16 mm). The inscription of light onto celluloid optically transforms three-dimensional space into two-dimensions. While the perception of depth is still possible, these filmmakers have chosen to use lenses, superimposition and motion to emphasize flatness. Art and film critic Fred Camper will be the guest speaker.

Chicago Film Archive Event: The work of Margaret Conneely and her favorite comic Harold Lloyd, 2 p.m. Saturday, May 6. Margaret Conneely, now 91 years old, was active in amateur filmmaking, locally and internationally, for nearly half a century. As a filmmaker who reflected upon the aesthetics of amateur film, she challenged scholarship that dismisses amateur film as simply a function of domesticity. Her 1950s films won major amateur contests both nationally and abroad. Conneely knew and admired comedic actor and filmmaker Harold Lloyd (1893-1971). A similar playful tone is threaded throughout the work of these two filmmakers. The afternoon screening will feature clever and fun films by Lloyd and Conneely. The featured films have been donated by Conneely to the Chicago Film Archives. This event is sponsored by the Chicago Film Archives.

Reeltime, “Still Doing It -- The Intimate Lives of Women Over 65,” 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 10, free (Deirdre Fishel, 2004, United States, 54 minutes, video). This engaging documentary explores the lives of nine older women as they discuss their feelings about sex, love and the poignant realities of aging. Fishel's film will be preceded by the short comedy, “My Mother Dreams the Satan's Disciples in New York.” Evanston Ombudsman Nancy Flowers will moderate a discussion.

City Symphony Night, 8 p.m. Thursday, May 11. “Continuum ” (Dominic Angerame, 1987, United States, 15 minutes, 16 mm, silent); “Deconstruction” (Dominic Angerame, 1990, United States, 13 minutes, 16 mm); “Premonition” (Dominic Angerame, 1995, United States, 11 minutes, 16 mm); “New York Portrait: Chapter One” (Peter Hutton, 1978-9, United States, 16 minutes, 16 mm, silent); “Go! Go! Go!” (Marie Menken, 1962-4, United States, 12 minutes, 16 mm, silent); “Up and Down the Waterfront” (Rudy Burckhardt, 1946, United States, 8 minutes, 16 mm); “specific_LAS VEGAS 05” (Olivo Barbieri, 2005, Canada/Italy, 12 minutes, 35 mm). Part documentary, part avant-garde filmmaking, the city symphony film defines generic definition. With films such as Walter Ruttmann's “Berlin, Symphony of a Great City,” the city symphony form persists today since its maturity in Central and Eastern Europe in the 1920s. After World War II, filmmakers Peter Hutton and Dominic Angerame migrated to American metropolises, catalyzing the proliferation of American city symphonies. Block Cinema offers a night of urban splendor with a sampling of American symphonies.

Perception, “Spatial Acrobatics,” 8 p.m. Friday, May 12 (“Side/Walk/Shuttle,” Ernie Gehr, 1991, United States, 41 minutes, 16 mm; “<- -  - ->” Michael Snow, 1968-9, Canada, 52 minutes, 16 mm). Abstracted from narrative purpose or emotional intention, camera motion through space urges the viewer to meditate on the motion itself. The more extreme it is, the more apparent it becomes that an image can indeed affect our body. WARNING: Tonight's films contain extreme, constant motion. Those who become dizzy or disoriented from such effects may be at risk. Northwestern University's Chuck Kleinhans, associate professor of radio/television and film, will be the guest speaker.

Korean, “Save the Green Planet,” 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 17, free (Jun-hwan Jeong, 2003, South Korea, 118 minutes, 35 mm). In doing his part to save mankind from aliens who have infiltrated society in their efforts to take over the world, Lee Byeong-gu kidnaps his former boss -- who, to the trained eyes, is an Andromedan prince. Director Jun-hawn Jeong's madcap farce merges countless genres into a strange paranoid goulash as he designates a human face to all the madness in this film.

Perception, Signifiers/Language, 8 p.m. Thursday, May 18. “Associations” (John Smith, 1975, United Kingdom, 7 minutes, 16 mm); “Nostalgia”/“Hapax Legomena I” (Hollis Frampton, 1973, United States, 36 minutes, 16 mm); “T,O,U,C,H,I,N,G,” (Paul Sharits, 1968, United States, 12 minutes, 16 mm); “The Girl Chewing Gum” (John Smith, 1976, United Kingdom, 12 minutes, 16 mm). Sound can hold meaning that is not inherent and that must be reinterpreted by humans according to a learned system of symbols and linguistic conventions. These films explore and deconstruct how signifiers and language allow for the communication of information. WARNING: “T,O,U,C,H,I,N,G” contains flickering and strobe effects. Those who become dizzy or disoriented from such effects, as well as those suffering from photosensitive epilepsy, may be at risk. Guest speaker to be determined.

Special Event, “Sonic Celluloid,” 8 p.m. Friday, May 19. Sonic Celluloid is an annual collaboration between WNUR, Northwestern University's non-commercial radio station (89.3 FM) and Block Cinema. It features musicians performing live musical accompaniment to silent and experimental films. The combination of silent movies with newly created live music forms a potent environment, bringing new interpretations, insights and audiences to music and movies.

Nature, “Holy Cow” and “Devil's Teeth,” 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 24, free. “Holy Cow” (Harry Marshall, United States, 2004, 57 minutes, video); “Devil's Teeth,” Roger Teich, United States, 2004, 10 minutes, video). Traveling through India, Africa and Europe, “Holy Cow” reaches back 8,000 years to the beginning of man's domestication of the cow, providing an eye-opening argument for the hegemony of the heifer. “Devil's Teeth” director Roger Teich likens his film to Maurice Sendak's popular children's novel “Where the Wild Things Are” as the exploits of renegade sea urchin diver Roger Elliot include close encounters with Great White sharks in Northern California.

Northwestern University Student Film Festival, 8 p.m. Thursday, May 25, free. Northwestern has one of the top film schools in the country. The Northwestern University Student Film Festival will feature the 2005-06 competition's award winners.

Perception, Understanding Symbols and Acquiring Knowledge, 8 p.m. Friday, May 26. “Zorns Lemma” (Hollis Frampton, 1970, United States, 60 minutes, 16 mm); “The Riddle of Lumen” (Stan Brakhage, 1972, United States, 17 minutes, 16 mm, silent); “Remedial Reading Comprehension” (Owen Land, 1970, United States, 5 minutes, 16 mm). Film is a language all its own. We learn how to understand narrative conventions and the plasticity of time and space as film constructs them. Directors Frampton, Brakhage and Land challenge these conventions. These films present three different ways of reading film and obtaining knowledge through symbols, light and time than story or sentiment. The guest speaker is University of Chicago film professor Tom Gunning.

Korean, “Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance,” 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 31, free (Chan-wook Park, 2002, South Korea, 129 minutes, 35 mm). Ryu, a deaf man, attempts to acquire a kidney for his sister, who requires a transplant. After losing his own kidney in a botched deal with a black market organ dealer, Ryu, along with his girlfriend, Yeong-mi, decide to kidnap the daughter of Ryu's boss. What starts as a crime with good intentions turns into a bloodbath.