Chicago's Own: Films by Adele Friedman | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Chicago's Own: Films by Adele Friedman

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In the 1980s avant-garde film critic and historian P. Adams Sitney called Chicagoan Adele Friedman "a real original," and this collection of 12 films (all but one of them silent) shows the evolution of her unique vision over the last 23 years. Her portrait films of the 70s and 80s follow their subjects rather than trying to control them, but their gaze is quirky, even fetishistic. In Chantal (1983) a woman on a porch grooms a reluctant cat; the framing and small camera movements give each a powerful physical presence, magnified when the woman shows off some scratches on her arm and the camera moves in. In Untitled a woman smells a bouquet and the camera does a delicate dance between the two, giving the flowers an almost human power. Vardauwoo (1989), the earliest of several landscape films on the program, includes large, oddly shaped rocks that have an almost sexual presence, but later works seem to avoid symbolism in favor of a more meditative tone: River intercuts footage of buildings and bridges shot from the Chicago River, their differing speeds calling attention to the flow of time. And the unique Sarah and Norman (1983) observes Friedman's father and grandmother simply sitting, the father's hands shaking with early Parkinson's; the film's respect for their slowness reminded me of Leo McCarey's sublime Make Way for Tomorrow. 83 min. Friedman will attend the screening. Chicago Filmmakers, 5243 N. Clark, Saturday, December 7, 8:00, 773-293-1447.

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