Archive: Session 8
June 8 - August 13, 2011
Last session, Night School offered eight films related by theme, and it worked so well, we are doing it again. This time, the presenters of Night School Session VIII will wrestle with the weighty issues of genre. Call us genre-philes, but here at Facets, we love our genre movies-from the traditional to the offbeat to the way offbeat. "Genre Busting" includes movies that play with genre conventions, movies that are strange offshoots of major genres, movies that have never been categorized before, genre stars, and much more. The hell with overwrought serious dramas that are merely Oscar bait, here at Facets, our motto is: BRING US MORE GENRE.
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, June 18
Blowing Up Blaxploitation Cinema with Black Dynamite
Dominick Mayer presents:
Directed by Scott Sanders, 2009
"An enjoyable celebratory ode to a fiercely entertaining counterculture-inspired genre"
-Los Angeles Times
The brief but triumphant blaxploitation film genre of the 1970s has been lauded as a landmark moment in cinema and as the jumping point for numerous parodies in later years. The films were low-budget, dirty, sometimes sexy, and constantly verging on a level of absurdity that would tear them off the rails with wild-eyed vigor at any moment. It's appropriate, then, that Scott Sanders's Black Dynamite is the missing link between both worlds, an uproariously funny subgeneric dissection and a legitimately badass entry into the pantheon of great blaxploitation heroes all at once. Dominick Mayer will look at how Dynamite strikes this balance while recalling its legacy in a way that's at once an effective homage and something wholly original.
Los Angeles Times
Dominick Mayer is a Facets regular and soon-to-be graduate student in Cinema Studies at DePaul University. He graduated with a BA in the same in 2011, and will spend his summer after this lecture attempting to see all the movies that people keep telling him he must see to be a qualified MA candidate. He has previously lectured on Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) and Evil Ed as part of Night School.
Saturday, June 25
The Creature Feature, or Why My Monster Can Eat Your Oscar for Breakfast
Joseph R. Lewis presents:
Directed by Stephen Chiodo, 1988
KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE
"IT'S GOT CLOWNS! FROM OUTER SPACE! AND THEY'RE KILLING PEOPLE! What's not to like?"
From King Kong
to Killer Klowns
to Mrs. Doubtfire
, MONSTERS have always and will always be lurking in dark movie theatres, eager to thrill and amaze, tantalize and terrify... Where do they come from and why do we love them so? This idea and more will be explored by Joseph R. Lewis via Killer Klowns from Outer Space
Joseph R. Lewis
enjoyed a tumultuous career as a performer in a touring children's theatre company before hunkering down in Chicago in 2009 and cofounding the Elephant and Worm Educational Theatre Company, which teaches kids how to become storytellers. In addition, he has written, produced, directed, and edited more than four feature films. His truest happiness derives from involvement in either learning or teaching, which shapes his approach to movie production as well as his opinions about the fascist Hollywood studio system and the spiritually bankrupt state of our American Empire, which continues to allow for the abuse and neglect of educators, school administrators, and-worst of all-students. The portal into his brain is located at theundergroundmultiplex.com
Saturday, July 9
The Sophisticated Shudders of Roger Corman's Poe/Price Films
Joel Wicklund presents:
Directed by Roger Corman, 1964
THE MASQUE OF RED DEATH
"...successfully alternates between profundity and pulp, crudity and cleverness, humor and horror, goose bumps and gore, clichés and creativity with a balance and power that no one, not even Corman, has managed to capture again."
-Dejan Ognjanovic, 101 Horror Movies You Must See
Before You Die
Gothic horror traditions and art house aspirations converge in the pinnacle of Roger Corman's series of films inspired by the writing of Edgar Allan Poe. As he did in all but one of Corman's Poe films, Vincent Price plays the lead: the sadistically cruel, decadent, devil-worshipping Prince Prospero who gathers guests for a bacchanal as a plague ravages the land. Perhaps the most opulent production ever from low budget production company AIP, Masque of the Red Death
also may be Corman's best work as a director -- a film of visual elegance, philosophical depth and dramatic sophistication. He was aided in no small measure by the expressive color cinematography of Nicolas Roeg (future director of Don't Look Now
and The Man Who Fell to Earth
) and the commanding performance of Price, whose birthday centennial is being celebrated this year. We'll discuss how this film embraces and defies genre expectations, and Price's place in the pantheon of an almost extinct breed: the horror film star.
This screening will include a couple of cool prizes for those who can answer some Vincent Price trivia!
transient writing career has included past stops as a film critic for The Daily Southtown
(now The Southtown Star
) and The Racine Journal Times
, a staff writer for Facets Multimedia and a contributor to Centerstage Chicago
. He has also been published in The Onion A.V. Club
and other websites. When not extolling the virtues of cheap imported goods to keep the wheels of capitalism turning, he currently writes and maintains the horror cinema website Shadows & Screams
Saturday, July 16
EduPalooza: The Educational & Industrial Film Festival
and the Chicago Connection
Lew Ojeda presents:
Directed by Various
His Favorite Educational Films
"With the advent of the 16mm film format in 1923, Chicago quickly became a center for production and distribution of educational and industrial films lasting most of the 20th century."
-Chicago Film Archives
Although Hollywood films get all the attention, educational and industrial films funded by government agencies and private companies far outnumber the studios' outputs every year. Originally made with no intention whatsoever of entertaining viewers, many of these short films have become camp classics and fascinating documents of social engineering propaganda. Chicago was home for two such film companies, Coronet Films (employing a young Hugh Hefner) and Encyclopedia Britannica Films. Join Lew Ojeda as he presents a primer of these films from filmmakers such as Sid Davis and Herk Harvey and how these neglected films still resonate today in unusual ways. Among some of the films presented will be Lunchroom Manners, Grill Skill, and The Flintstones Sell Busch Beer.
Wikipedia: Coronet Films
About Encyclopedia Britannica Films
Lew Ojeda is a Facets Personal Video Consultant, Copy Writer and VP of The Underground Multiplex. He's acted in such films as Piranha Man vs. Wolf Man: Howl of the Piranha, Sisters of No Mercy and the upcoming release Nurse Jill. Lew has presented some of Night School's most memorable introductions, including Eat the Rich and Lady Terminator.
Saturday, July 23
Doris and the VIP Girl: Selling the Sizzle in Lover Come Back
Catherine Clepper presents:
Directed by Delbert Mann, 1961
LOVER COME BACK
"The second - and for most critics, the best - of the three sex comedies Doris Day and Rock Hudson made together, Lover Come Back (1961) is also a sly and pointed satire of the advertising game as it was played in mid-century America."
Often lost in the shadow of Pillow Talk (1959), Doris Day and Rock Hudson's follow-up Lover Come Back features Day and Hudson as rival advertising executives -- one is a model professional; the other, unruly and hedonistic. Throughout the film, Day's Carol Templeton and Hudson's Jerry Webster prove to be perfect rivals in business (and, eventually, the bedroom), but Catherine Clepper argues that there's a more interesting battle duked out between Carol and Rebel Davis (Edie Adams), Jerry's part-time muse and the film's full-time sexpot. Compared to Carol's pastel palette and feisty wholesomeness, Rebel's fire engine red demeanor embodies the anti-Day persona, a role perfectly suited to Adams' wacky sense of comedic timing. This doppleganger element of Lover Come Back, along with film's pitch perfect sight-gags, plot twists, and stunning visual design, takes the screwball formula of Pillow Talk and does it one better. Wanna know what VIP is? The ending of this 60s sex comedy packs a wallop!
The Films of Doris Day
New York Times
Catherine Clepper is a PhD candidate at Northwestern University. She is currently working on a dissertation entitled "The Rigged House," which focuses on American theatrical technologies and exhibition gimmicks from the 1950s onward. A Day/Hudson/Randall enthusiast, she knows all the words to "Roly Poly." This is her first Night School appearance.
Saturday, July 30
I Don't Like the Danes, but the Danes Like Me
Chris Damen presents:
Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, 1996
"Shot handheld, dramatically focused not on large narrative arcs but vile criminal minutiae, and inhabited completely by scumbags dumbly searching for redemption they can't put a name to"
Chris Damen chose the title of his presentation as an homage to Marilyn Manson's song "I Don't Like Drugs, but the Drugs Like Me." Chris will discuss Nicolas Winding Refn's Pusher as a unique contribution to the drug drama, partly because of the director and partly because of western Europe's more liberal drug laws.
Chris Damen is a struggling local stand-up comic who loves to travel. He's been to 14 countries and plans a visit to the distant land of Pittsburgh in August to do comedy. Besides stand-up, Chris is a huge film nerd, which comes in handy in Facets Rentals, where Chris is the comanager of the department. Chris has presented twice before at Night School: Nekromantik and Team America: World Police.
Saturday, August 6
Between Trashy Blockbusters and Interminable
Art-House Pictures: Hal Hartley's Amateur
Julian Antos presents:
Directed by Hal Hartley, 1994
"Amateur's strengths lie not in this improbable plot, but in Hartley's challenges to conventions."
A spiritual thriller by East Coast auteur Hal Hartley, Amateur stars Isabelle Huppert as an ex-nun who writes pornography while waiting for a mission from God, which turns out to be saving Martin Donovan, an amnesiac who doesn't remember his past life as a ruthless pornographer. Elina Löwensohn is Donovan's wife, who's convinced she's killed him. An oddity of 1990s mid-budget semi-independent filmmaking, this is about the kindest and most sympathetic thriller ever made, all but forgotten among the trashy blockbusters and interminable art-house pictures surrounding it.
Julian Antos is the program director of the Northwest Chicago Film Society at the Portage Theater, a projectionist at various venues around the city, and a film collector and archivist. Amateur screens in a 35mm print from Julian's personal collection.
Saturday, August 13
"I'm so damn fast I can wake up at the crack of dawn, rob two banks,
a train and a stagecoach, shoot the tail feathers off a duck's ass at 300
feet, and still be back in bed before you wake up next to me.":
Fun with Generic Expectations in Sam Raimi's The Quick and the Dead
Cary Jones Elza presents:
Directed by Sam Raimi, 1995
THE QUICK AND THE DEAD
"...the real star is Raimi's camera, which darts around the action as a frenzied spectator. There are a couple of truly memorable images of the effects of violence that are both nasty and gleefully grotesque. It's the zip of the direction that puts this rather basic story over the top, making it fun regardless of how many times you watch it."
Notorious for its continual renewal and reinvention, the western experienced yet another resurgence of popularity in the early to mid-1990s with films like Kevin Costner's Dances With Wolves (1990), Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven (1992), and Jim Jarmusch's Dead Man (1995). These revisionist westerns challenged the romantic myth of the western in a number of ways, especially through more realistic depictions of violence, especially against marginalized groups.
New York Times
Sam Raimi's The Quick and the Dead, though, presents a more tongue-in-cheek take on the genre, one whose deceptive simplicity and silliness mask a clever commentary on the process of myth-making, posturing, and ritualized violence, which defines the traditional Western. From Sharon Stone as the silent-but-deadly Clint Eastwood-type stranger to Leonardo DiCaprio as the cheeky kid with something to prove, the perennially underestimated The Quick and the Dead boasts a stellar cast, truly daring cinematography, and fabulously over-the-top writing. It's nothing less than Raimi's incisive love letter to the western, and it deserves a place in the sun.
Cary Jones 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 Labyrinth.
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