"Receiver" and Other Shorts | Movie Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Film » Movie Critic's Choice

"Receiver" and Other Shorts



A prizewinner at the New York Underground Film Festival, Jon Leone's Receiver documents teenage backyard wrestling in Belvidere, Illinois: contestants smash each other with garbage cans, throw each other into beds of thumbtacks, and wrestle in a ring laced with barbed wire. Kurt "the Strangler" Jensen, a star of these painful displays, says he "always loved the blood" but complains about his fans, "bloodthirsty bastards" who demand ever-increasing mayhem. Most of these videos vibrate with the same anarchic energy: in Joe Fournier's Evil Has Landed activists deface and replace billboards on public transit (one mock ad for McDonald's celebrates "Slaughter Day"), and in Doug Lussenhop's Triple Check staccato cutting makes office and laboratory machines seem as alive as the workers. But the real gem here is D.B. Griffith's Crumple Stiltman and the Art of Weightlessness, featuring William Shannon as the title character. Originally shot on film, it pays homage to silent movie comedy, the camera following and underlining the hero's rhythms. A hip condition has forced Shannon to walk on crutches since he was 14, but his Stiltman is no shrinking violet: in the first section, after tumbling onto the street, he aggressively nuzzles a woman who tries to help him up. In the second section he leaves his disability in the dust by using his crutches in a series of balletic street performances, energizing the urban spaces as he rides a skateboard or twirls about acrobatically. Videos by Andy Guler, Jonathan Lange, and Jeanne Medina complete the program. 90 min. Heaven Gallery, 1550 N. Milwaukee, second floor, Saturday, May 26, 8:00 and 10:00, 773-342-4597.

--Fred Camper

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