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Starring Chicago!

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The Gene Siskel Film Center inaugurates its new location at 164 N. State with a three-week retrospective of films shot or set in Chicago, continuing Friday, June 15, through Saturday, June 23. Tickets are $7, $3 for Film Center members. For more information call 312-846-2800.

FRIDAY, JUNE 15

Risky Business

Paul Brickman's 1983 film approaches Jerzy Skolimowski's Deep End as one of the finest film explorations of the end of innocence. Taking off from the format of a typical teenage sex comedy, Brickman deepens the characters and tightens the situations, filming them in a dark, dreamlike style full of sinuous camera movements and surrealistic insinuations. Brickman found a tone I hadn't encountered previously--one of haunting, lyrical satire. Tom Cruise, in what may be the genre's only convincing portrayal of an 18-year-old, is a Highland Park boy driven by parental, sexual, and societal pressures into a romantic/economic relationship with a Chicago prostitute; the film ends by suggesting his complete corruption, in one of the most bitter and plangent sequences allowed to pass in an American movie. With Rebecca De Mornay and Joe Pantoliano. 96 min. (DK) (6:00)

The Fury

Brian De Palma's ostentatious misdirection completely destroys a promising script by John Farris. Still reeling from the success of Carrie, De Palma turns this 1978 film into an endless series of shock effects, some of which work but most of which don't. Meanwhile, the plot languishes and dies. One long shriek from De Palma's directorial fingernails traveling across the blackboard of your mind. With Kirk Douglas, Carrie Snodgress, Amy Irving, Charles Durning, and a dynamite performance by John Cassavetes. 118 min. (DK) (8:00)

SATURDAY, JUNE 16

Roxie Hart

William Wellman's direction leaves no gag unpummeled, but this cynical 1942 comedy about a showgirl (Ginger Rogers) who confesses to a murder as a publicity stunt still has some dirty class. Nunnally Johnson wrote it, under the spell of The Front Page, and the plotline surfaced again as the musical Chicago. With George Montgomery, Lynn Overman, and Adolphe Menjou hiding his scales under a double-breasted suit. 75 min. (DK) (2:00)

Chicago

Maureen Watkins's 1926 play about a flamboyant vamp trying to beat a murder rap has enjoyed a long shelf life: it was filmed as Roxie Hart in 1942 and adapted into a musical by Bob Fosse in 1975. This 1927 version makes a good argument for the virtues of visual storytelling; director Frank Urson favors rhythm over dialogue and pantomime over intertitles to tell his story of a married woman who kills her paramour after he refuses to pay her astronomical clothing bills and, aided by a famous defense attorney, turns her trial into high theater. Phyllis Haver is appropriately fetching as Roxie, and her leggy fight in a women's jail prefigures countless exploitation films to come. 100 min. (FC) (3:30)

The Fugitive

Though it's a good half hour too long, this belated, overblown spin-off of the 60s TV show otherwise adds up to a pretty good suspense thriller. In flight from the law after being wrongly convicted of murdering his wife, Dr. Richard Kimble (Harrison Ford) is pursued over a good many Chicago and rural locations by U.S. marshal Sam Gerard (Tommy Lee Jones) while trying to clear up the mystery of who actually did the killing. The mystery itself is fairly routine, but Jones's offbeat and streamlined performance as a proudly diffident investigator helps one overlook the mechanical crosscutting and various implausibilities, and director Andrew Davis does a better-than-average job with the action sequences. Written by Jeb Stuart and David Twohy; with Sela Ward, Joe Pantoliano, Andreas Katsulas, and Jeroen Krabbe (1993, 127 min.). (JR) (5:30)

Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Chicago has rarely looked more radiant than it does in Tak Fujimoto's cinematography, but the 1986 film that surrounds the travelogue imagery is the standard John Hughes stuff, filled out with a few plot elements on loan from The Blues Brothers and Risky Business. Matthew Broderick, toothy and smug, stars as the champion hustler of his North Shore high school (sort of an adenoidal variation on the characters Tony Curtis used to play); he concocts an elaborate scheme to ditch classes for the day in favor of a joyride to the Loop in the company of his best girl (Mia Sara), his best friend (Alan Ruck), and a borrowed Ferrari. Their adventures aren't particularly imaginative (they have lunch, see a Cubs game, and go to the Art Institute), and Hughes shifts into his Breakfast Club moralizing mode for the last two reels, in which the characters are exhorted to "believe in themselves." Yet the overriding impression is one of utter nihilism, as reflected in a world divided into bored, crassly materialistic teenagers on one side and doltish, unfeeling adults on the other. With Jeffrey Jones, who displays some sharp comic timing as the vengeful principal on Bueller's trail. 103 min. (DK) Sun-Times columnist Richard Roeper will introduce the film and lead a discussion after the screening. (8:00)

SUNDAY, JUNE 17

Arnie Bernstein on Chicago Film History

Arnie Bernstein, author of Hollywood on Lake Michigan: 100 Years of Chicago and the Movies, will discuss the city's cinematic heritage and present numerous clips from films made in Chicago. 80 min. (2:00)

King of the Rodeo

Veteran movie cowboy Hoot Gibson plays a Montanan who enters the Chicago Rodeo (an event then held annually at Soldier Field) in this hour-long 1929 silent directed by Henry MacRae. The plot is slight, but Gibson gets ample opportunity to display his rodeo skills, and a subplot involving a robbery culminates in a car-and-motorcycle chase into the Loop that offers some fine views of late-1920s Chicago. This is being shown in a rare print whose sepia red tint adds a dusty, gritty feel to the action. (FC) On the same program: His New Job (1915, 30 min.), the only short Charles Chaplin shot at Chicago's Essanay studios. (3:45)

High Fidelity

If you can put up with all the archness and self-consciousness--there's quite a bit of both--this is an enjoyable 2000 romantic comedy about a pop music junkie (John Cusack) in Wicker Park who runs an old-fashioned record store and can't seem to sustain a long-term relationship. Cusack joined forces with fellow producers D.V. DeVincentis and Steve Pink as well as Scott Rosenberg on the script, an adaptation of Nick Hornby's English novel that transposes settings with ease, and director Stephen Frears keeps things simmering. Two pluses: the humor about male neurosis doesn't try to remind you of Woody Allen at every turn, and the Chicago settings and atmosphere are made to seem relatively cutting edge for a change, rather than appropriate only for car chases. With Jack Black, Lisa Bonet, Joelle Carter, Joan Cusack, Sara Gilbert, Iben Hjejle, Todd Louiso, Tim Robbins, Lili Taylor, and Natasha Gregson Wagner. 113 min. (JR) (5:30)

TUESDAY, JUNE 19

Ferris Bueller's Day Off

See listing for Saturday, June 16. (6:00)

Return to Me

Minnie Driver is reluctant to date a year after major surgery, but there's something compelling about David Duchovny, who's only just getting over the death of his wife. Director Bonnie Hunt devoutly evokes early romantic comedies, enhancing a rather literal answer to the question of what two lovers see in each other with stylish elements that make many moments enjoyable. But there's little rapport between Duchovny and Driver after their initial meeting. More exciting and suspenseful is the relationship between Driver's confidant (Hunt) and her husband (James Belushi), who can't seem to get all their kids to go to sleep at the same time. Hunt wrote the screenplay with Don Lake; with David Alan Grier, Joely Richardson, Carroll O'Connor, Robert Loggia, Eddie Jones, Marianne Muellerleile, and William Bronder. 113 min. (LA) Hunt will lead a discussion after the screening. (8:00)

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