Archive: Session 10
February 25 to April 21, 2012
An off-shoot of Facets' long-running, popular film school program, Facets Night School
digs into cinema's wild side with special Saturday night midnight lectures
on cult favorites led by Facets' expert staff, followed by screenings of the films and post-screening discussions
. It's a schooling in Midnight Movies
that you won't find anywhere else!
Horror greats, sci-fi wonders, action and kung-fu whirlwinds, exploitation favorites, classic and contemporary oddities, black comedies, rock 'n' roll docs, crazy animation and much more all go under the microscope at the hands of Facets' movie obsessives!
Saturday, February 25
Lew Ojeda presents:
Idi's Eye Scream:
The 42nd Street Viewing Experience
of Amin: The Rise and Fall
"And now I present to you, the Life President of the Republic of Uganda, His Excellency, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Al Hajji, Field Marshal, Doctor Idi Amin Dada, VC, DSO, MC, CBE."
-A general introducing Amin in Amin: The Rise and Fall
General Idi Amin Dada, president of Uganda from 1971-1979, seemed tailor-made for the media. Lampooned in newspapers and on Saturday Night Live
, Amin's image as a clown with an edge was reinforced through the 1970s, even within serious TV and film productions like Raid on Entebbe
, Victory at Entebbe
, and Operation Thunderbolt
. Rushed into production six months after Amin's fall from power in 1979, director Sharad Patel's Amin: The Rise and Fall
lays bare the unbelievable atrocities, but leaves intact the buffoonery of the crazed leader (portrayed stupendously by Joseph Olita). Join trash movie historian Lew Ojeda as he dissects the grindhouse popularity of one of the most insane biopics ever filmed--chocked full of more murders, stabbings, decapitations, torture, cannibalism, and insane rantings than most horror films you'll ever see.
cofounded the Underground Multiplex
, a Chicago-based arts collective producing live theatrical events, internet films, and audio and video podcasts, including "Cinematrocities," a look at unusual unknown cinema. Previously, he served as actor, producer, and director of the ground-breaking Rochester, NY TV series The Word Is Out
. Lew currently works as a personal video consultant at Facets. Past Night School lectures include: Eat the Rich, Lady Terminator
, and the debut of Sisters of No Mercy 3D
Saturday, March 3
Michael Smith presents:
Like Dylan in the Movies:
I'm Not There as Anti-Biopic
"People are always talking about freedom. Freedom to live a certain way, without being kicked around. Course the more you live a certain way, the less it feel like freedom. Me, um, I can change during the course of a day. I wake and I'm one person, when I go to sleep I know for certain I'm somebody else. I don't know who I am most of the time."
-Billy the Kid in I'm Not There
2007 saw the release of I'm Not There
, Todd Haynes' ambitious "anti-biopic" of Bob Dylan and one of the most formally audacious films to ever receive distribution in commercial American movie theaters. Not a straightforward retelling of the musician's career in the generic mold of other recent biopics like Ray
and Walk the Line
, Haynes instead concocts a fantasia where six different actors of various ages, races and genders (including, memorably, Cate Blanchett) portray different aspects of the life or music of the ever-mercurial Dylan. The end result is a truly kaleidoscopic film in which each narrative segment has a distinct visual style, and the experimental aesthetics are perfectly suited to chronicling an artist whose work has been as revolutionary as Dylan's has been. The outstanding soundtrack mixes original Dylan songs with an impressively eclectic list of covers by everyone from Richie Havens to Sonic Youth.
received an MA in Film Production from Humboldt State University. His first short film, At Last, Okemah!
, played the festival circuit, winning several awards, and he has just completed his second, The Catastrophe
. He teaches film studies at Triton College, Oakton Community College, Harold Washington College, and the College of Lake County and maintains the Chicago-centric film blog White City Cinema
Saturday, March 10
Chris Damen presents:
Will the Reel Charles Bukowski Please Stand Up:
Playing the Cinematic Version of Henry Chinaski in Barfly
"Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead."
-Henry Chinaski in Barfly
Charles Bukowski was not only considered an American literary legend, but his actual character was quite legendary. Known for his hard drinking, betting on the ponies, and a gritty lifestyle, Bukowski has had his work adapted for the screen in at least three different films. All three actors who've played Bukowski's fictional character based off his life, Henry Chinaski, have brought their own interpretations to how Bukowski was. Chris Damen will talk about all three roles (Ben Gazzara in Tales of Ordinary Madness, Matt Dillon in Factotum, and Mickey Rourke in Barfly) and how they get somethings correct, but no one really nails it. A screening of Barfly, which Bukowski was hired to write, will follow.
This is Chris Damen's fifth Night School presentation and Barfly fits right in with the other films he's presented. Damen has been a fan of Bukowski ever since he first read Women in college (typical). One of his dreams is to write a screenplay adapted from said book, with Nick Nolte as the lead. A boy can dream.
Saturday, March 17
Stephen Reginald presents:
Looking at the Hollywood Biopic
with Three Came Home
"I wrote Three Came Home for three reasons: For horror of war. I want others to shudder with me at it. For affection of my husband. When war nearly killed me, knowledge of our love kept me alive. And for a reminder to my son... He survives because of me... The Japanese in Three Came Home are as war made them, not as God did, and the same is true of the rest of us."
-Agnes Newton Keith
Oak Park native Agnes Newton Keith, who was imprisoned on the island of Borneo by the Japanese during WWII, is the subject of this classic biopic starring Claudette Colbert and directed by Jean Negulesco. Agnes suffered many indignities under the Japanese, and she had a unique relationship with the camp's commander, Colonel Suga, portrayed by Sessue Hayakawa. He was both her tormenter and confidant. Hollywood has always taken their important biopics seriously, attempting to render them with realism and authenticity. In this film, Colbert is de-glamorized, wearing off-the-rack clothes and appearing sweaty and dirty--unusual for a star turn in 1950.
Stephen Reginald is a freelance writer, editor, blogger, and social media guru. A long-time amateur student of film, Reginald has taught several classes on classic film at Facets Film School and has previously presented Cat People, Theodora Goes Wild, and Johnny Belinda at Night School.
Saturday, March 24
Cary Elza presents:
The Unchained Vampire:
Malkovich and Dafoe's Shadow of the Vampire
"If it's not in frame, it doesn't exist!"
-F.W. Murnau in Shadow of the Vampire
E. Elias Merhige's Shadow of the Vampire, a fictionalized Hearts of Darkness-style look at the filming of F. W. Murnau's Expressionist masterpiece from 1922, Nosferatu, offers scenery-chewing portrayals of not one, but two actual figures: Murnau himself, played by a megalomaniacal John Malkovich, and Max Schreck, played by an exceedingly creepy, yet somehow comic, Willem Dafoe. The film capitalizes on the mystery surrounding Schreck and his very, very convincing "method-acting," as well as Murnau's characteristic obsession with psychological realism, mise-en-scène, and the expressive use of the moving camera. Let's face it, if anyone could find a real vampire to play the copyright-infringing figure of Count Orlok, it would probably be Murnau, and while this film doesn't delve too deeply into the director's titillating personal life, it nonetheless paints a picture of a brilliant artist whose commitment to art outweighs his commitment to people.
Cary Elza is a Ph.D. candidate at Northwestern University, and is currently writing her dissertation on female figures and boundary crossing between real and imagined worlds, from Alice in Wonderland to Coraline. She has published articles on Pokemon, Smallville, and The X-Files. Previous Facets Night School classes taught include those on Fright Night and The Quick and the Dead.
Saturday, March 31
Neil Calderone presents:
A Light in the Darkness of Calcutta:
The Bengali Detective
We do the work the authorities won't do...we clean up society...we've seized 700 bottles of fake hair oil..."
-Rajesh Ji in The Bengali Detective
This original Sundance and Berlin film festival hit documentary follows an intrepid Kolkata detective, Rajesh Ji, and his motley band of misfits, all across India as they investigate crimes ranging from counterfeiting to adultery to triple homicide. In his down time, Rajesh dreams of winning a national TV talent show. The detectives' weekly dance routines are their escape from the harsh realities of their work. Will their dreams come true with a call to perform on their favorite TV talent show? Can Rajesh prepare his detectives for stardom? Through the lens of his investigative work and personal life, Rajesh the detective reveals the realities of modern India. Neil Calderone elaborates on the socio-economic conditions of densely populated Calcutta and its entertainment industry as seen in The Bengali Detective
. This is the Chicago Premiere of The Bengali Detective
, which has just been picked up by Fox Searchlight for a fictional remake.
is the Director and film programmer of The Chicago Cinema Society
. Their goal is to provide a spotlight for relatively unknown, eccentric, and underrepresented cinema. He received a BS from The University of Illinois at Chicago in Biology with minors in Ancient Greek, Chemistry, Latin and Music. Neil is a high school science teacher who spends summers travelling to domestic and international film festivals.
Saturday, April 7
Joseph Lewis presents:
The Beaver Trilogy:
or My Olivia Newton-John Is Better than Yours
"Olivia Newton John. I sing like her... Barry Manilow...I can sing like him... I like hammin' it up...."
-Groovin' Gary in The Beaver Trilogy
What motivates the desire to impersonate? Trent Harris's The Beaver Trilogy
began as a chance meeting between a fledgling filmmaker and a fledgling celebrity impersonator who is especially proud of his version of Olivia Newton-John. But a horrifyingly sincere talent show appearance inspires a deeper examination of what it means to pay tribute to those that touch our lives...and how not to do that. Starring Sean Penn, Crispin Glover, and the Orkly Kid...all as Olivia Newton-John. Joseph Lewis asks the question: "Is impersonation a form of flattery or tragedy?" Featuring a video re-mix performance by Dead Celebz as Olivia Newton-John before the film.
Joseph R. Lewis
is the co-founder of The Underground Multiplex
, a Chicago-based arts collective producing live theatrical events, Internet films and upcoming podcasts. Lewis has completed several features, including the award-winning Scumbabies
, Tyler B Nice
, and the upcoming Sci-Fi SOL
. Previous Facets Night School presentations include Killer Klowns from Outer Space
and the debut of Sisters of No Mercy 3D
Saturday, April 14
Dominick Mayer presents:
Kings of Classic Gaming and the Race to
Conquer Kong: The King of Kong
"Work is for people who can't play video games."
-Jillian Wiebe in The King of Kong
When Steve Wiebe lost his job at Boeing, he decided to spend his fun-employment mastering the original Donkey Kong. This drew the attention of Billy Mitchell, the world record holder on Donkey Kong, the face of classic arcade gaming, and a world-class jerk who sets out to usurp Wiebe's dreams of a Guinness World Record at all costs. Filmmaker Seth Gordon followed their story for over a full year, chronicling an entire subculture unknown to many but a matter of life and death for its inhabitants. Dominick Mayer looks at this surreal, hilarious, and touching documentary to consider why this story matters more than ever at this moment in time and exactly how a documentary this strange could possibly happen.
is a graduate student in cinema studies at DePaul University and the features editor/film critic for Heave Media
, a Chicago-based music and culture site. He has previously lectured on Black Dynamite
, Beyond The Valley of the Dolls
and The Frighteners
for Night School. One day, he'd really like to set a world record for Tron
, if only he could find a way to be good at it in any way, shape or form.
Saturday, April 21
Joel Wicklund presents:
The High and Low Art of
Cinematic Self-Destruction in Head
Closing Night Party
starts at 11pm!
"Hey hey we are the Monkees, you know we aim to please. A manufactured image with no philosophies."
-The Monkees in Head
The Monkees were an act full of contradictions: a fake band that became a real one, a made-for-TV Beatles knockoff whose members were befriended and respected by The Beatles themselves, and an enterprise devoted to churning out bubble gum teen music that ended up producing pop music of sometimes surprising sophistication. It's fitting that their lone feature film is a movie equally contradictory: hopelessly dated, yet in some ways ahead of its time; overtly experimental but peppered with sketch comedy conventions; and willfully silly in moments and trenchantly sociopolitical in others. This first film directed by Bob Rafelson (Five Easy Pieces, The King of Marvin Gardens) was co-written by Jack Nicholson and set out to destroy The Monkees' image…if not the band itself. We'll discuss this oddball bit of pop psychedelia as a reflection on The Monkees as a cultural phenomenon and the real artists beneath the marketing hype.
Attendees can also compete in a Monkees trivia contest with cool prizes related to the band.
Joel Wicklund helps keeps the wheels of capitalism turning by writing descriptions of solar garden stakes and other bargain basement merchandise. His movie-centric past has included stints as a staff writer for Facets, a film critic for The Daily Southtown (now The Southtown Star) and The Racine Journal Times, and a brief run as webmaster of the late horror cinema website, Shadows & Screams. He has also been published in The Onion A.V. Club, Twitch, Cinescene and other websites and publications.
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