Jon Jost in Chicago | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Jon Jost in Chicago

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A major filmmaker who has lived in Europe for the past several years, Jon Jost is back in Chicago for the first time in more than a decade to present two programs on successive nights at different venues. Among the most original, resourceful, and independent of American independents, with an awesome body of work to his credit, he's recently been reinventing himself through digital video, with results that range from the soporific London Brief (1998) to the beautiful, endlessly fascinating Muri Romani. Judging from what I've been able to sample so far, the silent In the Rays of Light of Ria Formosa (1999, 112 min.), which Chicago Filmmakers and Columbia College are presenting on Wednesday, ranks much closer to the latter. Described by Jost as "a spiritual portrait of a place and time," it offers a meditative look at Cabanas, Portugal, that exploits the quirks of the discontinued Sony DX700 camera for exquisite out-of-focus impressionist effects. The following evening the Gene Siskel Film Center will present Six Easy Pieces (2001, 68 min.); shot in Portugal and Italy and employing various kinds of narration and music, it too explores video as a painter's medium, with subjects that include a museum, a car trip, cobblestones, street kids, and little girls swimming. At times the material seems either touristic or alienated to a fault, but Jost's formalist reflexes and technical mastery are always highly engaging. Jost will take part in discussions at both screenings. Columbia College Ludington Bldg., 1104 S. Wabash, room 302, Wednesday, November 13, 8:00 (In the Rays of Light of Ria Formosa), 773-293-1447; also Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State, Thursday, November 14, 8:00 (Six Easy Pieces), 312-846-2800.

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