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Brian Andreotti, who manages the Music Box Theatre, once told me that music movies were a hard sell—which hasn't kept him from programming some great ones, including the periodic Sound Opinions shows. This week brings a large assortment of unusual music screenings around town, so if you can drag yourself out of bed before 7 PM, consider the following:
Packed with performance footage, the almost-never-screened Janis Joplin documentary Janis (1974) shows exactly once at the Gene Siskel Film Center, on Friday at 8 PM. It screens as the opening program of a monthlong series on filmmaker Howard Alk, who cofounded Second City and went on to collaborate with Bob Dylan on Eat the Document (1973) and Renaldo and Clara (1978).
That same night at 7 PM, as part of its annual Elvis birthday celebration, Delilah's will show the King's 1968 comeback special. On Tuesday at 7 PM, the bar will screen the Rolling Stones doc Gimme Shelter.
In addition to the Joplin doc, Film Center will also present the engrossing documentary Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison, which revisits the singer's classic 1968 concert album recorded at the maximum-security prison in California. It screens Monday at 6 PM and Thursday (1/15) at 8:15 PM.
Murray Lerner, who's directed concert docs on Miles Davis, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, and the Who, will appear at the Chicago Cultural Center on Wednesday at 7 PM, as part of the Howard Alk series, to screen and discuss his 1967 feature Festival.
On Wednesday at 8 PM, Northwestern University's Block Museum of Art screens the Talking Heads concert movie Stop Making Sense. It launches an ongoing series of rock movies that continues with Radiohead in Meeting People Is Easy (Thu 1/22), the Beatles in A Hard Day's Night (Wed 1/28), the Spice Girls in Spice World (Wed 2/4), David Bowie in Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars (Wed 2/11), Chuck Berry in Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll (Thu 2/12), the Dandy Warhols and the Brian Jonestown Massacre in Dig! (Wed 2/18), the classic 60s rock-and-soul concert film The T.A.M.I. Show (Fri 2/27), Joe Strummer in The Future Is Unwritten (Wed 3/4), Bob Dylan in Don't Look Back (Thu 3/12), and another go-round for Gimme Shelter (Fri 3/13).