The Deadman | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Peggy Ahwesh and Keith Sanborn's free and liberating (as well as liberated) 37-minute adaptation of Georges Bataille's untranslated story "Le morte"--made in 1989 and now receiving its belated Chicago premiere--is the most exciting and accomplished experimental film I've seen in ages. It charts the adventures of a nearly naked heroine who leaves the corpse of her lover in a country house, goes to a bar, and sets in motion a scabrous free-form orgy before returning to the house to die. The film manages to approximate the transgressive poetic prose of Bataille (a mixture of elegance, raunchy defilement, and barbaric splendor) while celebrating female sexual desire without the usual patriarchal-porn trimmings. Equally remarkable for its endlessly inventive sound track and its beautiful black-and-white photography, it already bears the earmarks of an authentic avant-garde classic. The relationship between the visual story telling, the ornate printed titles, and the occasional voice-over is both subtle and complex, mixing tenses and cross weaving modes of narration with a unique fusing of abandon and rigor. On the same program, writers Carl Watson and Sheryl St. Germain will read from their works. (Chicago Filmmakers, 1229 W. Belmont, Friday, April 19, 8:00, 281-8788)

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