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During the early 80s at tiny Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, I headed the film board, and for Halloween we decided to program The Exorcist. A real fun Saturday midnight movie—unless you're been raised in the Catholic church, in which case its scenes of explosive evil and frail goodness can be too much. I remember projecting the midnight show in October 1983 and seeing a big bruiser hyperventilating as his sweet girlfriend led him out of the theater.
So anyway: William Friedkin.
Also this week, we have a write-ups of A Black Harvest Feast, the shorts program that opens the Gene Siskel Film Center's Black Harvest Film Festival all this August—including The Christmas Tree, a wonderful and locally shot short from the talented Angel Williams.
New reviews this week: Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, a gripping documentary about the restless and courageous Chinese dissident and artist; Girlfriend Boyfriend, a Thai rom-com that screens as part of River East's series of Asian imports; The Loves of Pharoah, a captivating 1922 silent historical epic from the plangent Ernst Lubitsch; The Queen of Versailles, a tale of large rooms and even larger ironies; Richard's Wedding, some bad movie that Ben Sachs got stuck with; and Total Recall, a remake of the Paul Verhoeven touchstone.
Best bets for repertory: Alice (1988), probably the most perverse and persuasive adaptation of Lewis Carroll, by Czech animator Jan Svankmajer, Saturday and Wednesday at Gene Siskel Film Center; Abel Ferrara's The Driller Killer (1997) Saturday at University of Chicago Doc Films; Sam Raimi's hyperkinetic horror The Evil Dead (1983), midnight Friday and Saturday at the Logan; Busby Berkeley's The Gang's All Here (1943), Saturday and Sunday morning at Music Box; Grass: A Nation's Battle for Life (1925), whose director went on to make King Kong, Thursday at Doc; Lewis Milestone's Depression-era fantasy Hallelujah, I'm a Bum (1933), Wednesday at the Portage courtesy of Northwest Chicago Film Society; and Dziga Vertoz's cinema study The Man With the Movie Camera (1929), Wednesday at Doc Films.