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Northwestern Film in February

Block Cinema schedules three special programs in February

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February 3, 2012 | by Judy Moore

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Block Cinema’s screenings continue in mid-February with two winter film series and several special programs. 

The series “I’m Almost Not Crazy: Outsider Cinema by Hollywood Insiders” celebrates narrative films by Hollywood insiders that bear resemblance to “Art Brut” or the personally invented forms of untrained outsider artists.

Rare and risque films are part of the series, “Hot Saturdays: Gems from Pre-Code Hollywood.” This series features films that were made before the summer 1934 crackdown by censors on Hollywood film productions. The series continues through early March.

Block has also scheduled three Thursday evenings of free screenings, including avant-garde films, a romantic classic and a fascinating new documentary.

Films are screened in the James B. Pick and Rosalyn M. 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 otherwise noted, general admission to Block Cinema screenings is $6 for the general public or $4 for Block Museum members, Northwestern faculty, staff and students, students from other schools with valid IDs, and individuals aged 65 and older. Quarterly passes are $20. Tickets are available one hour before showtime. For more information, call the Block Cinema Hotline at (847) 491-4000 or visit the Block Cinema website at www.blockmuseum.northwestern.edu/block-cinema.

FEBRUARY 2012 FILMS

Radical Light: “Stories Untold,” 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 2, Block Cinema (Various directors, 1968 to 1999, United States, 16 mm and video, approximately 100 minutes). This program of short works is part of a touring series curated by the Pacific Film Archive to accompany the release of the book “Radical Light: Alternative Film and Video in the San Francisco Bay Area, 1945-2000.” “Stories Untold” features approaches to storytelling that cleverly integrate form and content. The program features James Broughton’s “The Bed,” a playful exploration of amorous activities on and around the titular piece of furniture; Scott Stark’s “I’ll Walk With God,” which employs images from flight safety pamphlets to illustrate a rapturous climb into the heavens; and George Kuchar’s “A Reason to Live,” an homage to melodrama and meteors. Works by Max Almy, Chip Lord, Curt McDowell, and Anne McGuire will also be screened. Admission is free.

Outsider Cinema series, “The Last Movie,” 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 3, Block Cinema (Dennis Hopper, 1971, United States, 35 mm, 108 minutes). Levels of “reality” collide in this wildly nonlinear film about a stuntman (Hopper) who stays behind in Peru when the Sam Fuller-directed Western he’s working on falls apart due to the accidental death of its star (Dean Stockwell). Loitering in the jungle, the stuntman later discovers the native Peruvians shooting their own movie on the abandoned film sets: the wicker “cameras” may be fake, but the violence they “film” is all too real. 

Pre-Code Hollywood series, “Blood Money,” 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4, Block Cinema (Rowland Brown, 1933, United States, 35 mm, 65 minutes). In this down and dirty exploration of the Los Angeles underworld, George Bancroft plays Bill Bailey, a crooked bail bondsman who can bribe his way out of any jam. Frances Dee plays against type as socialite Elaine Talbart, a masochistic kleptomaniac looking for a bad man to treat her wrong. Mayhem ensues when the duo gets mixed up with a serial bank robber. “Blood Money” is a perverse tale of double-crosses and dark desires.

A&O Films Presents, “Casablanca,” 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 9, Block Cinema (Michael Curtiz, 1942, United States, 35 mm, 102 minutes). “Casablanca” stars movie legends Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman as former lovers forced to choose between love and virtue. Set during World War II in Vichy-controlled Morocco, Rick (Bogart) is an American expatriate who runs a popular cafe. Trouble arises with the unexpected arrival of his ex-lover, Ilsa (Bergman), and her husband, a Resistance leader pursued by the Nazis. This enduring Warner Bros. classic has become one of the most quoted and admired films of all time. Admission is free.

Outsider Cinema series, “Love Streams,” 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 10, Block Cinema (John Cassavetes, 1984, United States, 35 mm, 141 minutes). Adapted from a play by Ted Allan, “Love Streams” follows a brother (Cassavetes) and his sister (Gena Rowlands) as they each navigate different means of emotional escape: he repudiates love for casual sex, while she obsessively dives into delusions of intimacy. Funniest at its most melodramatic and saddest when its characters strive for levity, “Love Streams” offers a summation of a career and detours into new aesthetic territory for a filmmaker who’d just been given (erroneously) six months to live.

Pre-Code Hollywood series, “Hot Saturday,” 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 11, Block Cinema (William A. Seiter, 1932, United States, 35 mm, 73 minutes). Nancy Carroll stars as Ruth Brock, a young bank teller who longs for adventure and an escape from small town doldrums. Excitement arrives when a wealthy playboy, Romer Sheffield (Cary Grant), comes to town and hosts a summer soiree at his deluxe woodland retreat. Soon Ruth must choose between the debonair Sheffield and her former beau, Bill (Randolph Scott), who’s still sweet on her. “Hot Saturday” will be preceded by “School for Romance” (Archie Gottler, 1934, United States, 35 mm, 20 minutes). In this hilarious short film produced by Columbia Pictures, Professor “Romansky” provides lectures on lovemaking to a group of co-eds, including a young Betty Grable.

Double feature/Outsider Cinema series, “I’m Almost Not Crazy: John Cassavetes – The Man and His Work,” 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 17, Block Cinema (Michael Ventura, 1984, United States, 16 mm, 60 minutes). When Cannon Films commissioned a “making of” documentary for “Love Streams,” Cassavetes responded by tapping journalist (Michael Ventura) with no filmmaking experience (and no preconceived ideas about the process) to make it. The result is a warm and thoughtful warts-and-all portrait that demystifies the director's celebrated, often-misunderstood methods of improvisation. It will be followed by a screening of “The American Dreamer” (L.M. Kit Carson and Lawrence Schiller, 1971, United States, 16 mm to video, 90 minutes). “The American Dreamer” documents Dennis Hopper's strange days in Taos, N.M., while editing “The Last Movie.” Under the influence of his monster success with “Easy Rider” and a counterculture he had helped shape, Hopper shoots target practice, wanders naked in the suburbs and gathers an ad-hoc harem of hippie girls, while dodging anxious producers from Universal Pictures. Note: This film includes nudity and adult content that may be inappropriate for younger audiences.

Pre-Code Hollywood Series, “A House Divided,” 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 18, Block Cinema (William Wyler, 1931, United States, 35 mm, 68 minutes). An early sound film for Universal by veteran director Wyler, this ultra-rare feature stars Walter Huston as a brutish patriarch in a small fishing village who sends for a mousey mail order bride. When a beautiful young woman (Helen Chandler) arrives instead, the man’s grown son (Kent Douglass) falls for her, creating ample tension in the already explosive household. With expressionist visuals and gothic flair, “A House Divided” features masterful direction by Wyler and a masterful performance by Huston.

New Documentaries, “Paul Goodman Changed My Life,” 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23, Block Cinema (Jonathan Lee, 2011, United States, video, 89 minutes). This eye-opening documentary focuses on Paul Goodman, who was a poet, bestselling author, out bisexual (in the 1940s), family man, pacifist, visionary, co-founder of Gestalt therapy -- and a hero for many in the burgeoning counterculture of the 1960s. Using a treasure trove of new and archival multimedia, quotes from Susan Sontag, Martin Luther King Jr. and more, the film is a rich portrait of an intellectual heavyweight whose ideas are overdue for discovery. Admission is free. This screening is sponsored by Northwestern’s department of history. Michael J. Kramer, a lecturer in history and American studies, will introduce the film. 

Outsider Cinema series, “The World’s Greatest Sinner,” 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 24 (Timothy Carey, 1962, United States, 35 mm, 82 minutes). Narrated by a boa constrictor, this crackpot tale of a would-be saint concerns a disaffected insurance executive (Carey) whose midlife crisis turns blasphemous when he quits his job, declares himself God and becomes a rock ‘n’ roll political messiah, evangelizing to the nation with an eruptive stage act that must be seen to be believed. The film also features songs and scoring by a then-unknown Frank Zappa. 

Pre-Code Hollywood Series, “The Woman I Stole,” 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25 (Irving Cummings, 1933, United States, 35 mm, 70 minutes). This rarely screened feature from Columbia Pictures concerns a love triangle between ex-pat Americans in the North African desert. Jim (Jack Holt) is on a mission to exploit the area’s oil reserves and fight off local bandits while concocting a plan to steal another man’s wife, Vida (Fay Wray). Delightfully campy and politically incorrect in every sense, the film also features an unintentionally hilarious ending you won’t soon forget.