The Man Who Envied Women | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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The Man Who Envied Women

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It's strange to recall that as a modern dancer and choreographer, Yvonne Rainer was known throughout the 60s and early 70s as a minimalist. For the past 15 years, she has been making experimental quasi-narrative films of an increasing multitextual density, culminating in this angry, vibrant film of 1985, which, in her own words, takes on "the housing shortage, changing family patterns, the poor pitted against the middle class, Hispanics against Jews, artists and politics, female menopause, abortion rights. There's even a dream sequence." Working with the speech and writing of over a dozen figures, ranging from Raymond Chandler to Julia Kristeva, Rainer also confronts and parodies male theoretical discourse (Michel Foucault in particular, sampled and discussed in extended chunks) as a mode of sexual seduction. Politics have been present in all her features, but usually folded into so many distancing devices that they mainly come out dressed in quotes. Here she allows the politics to speak more directly and eloquently, and it charges the rest of the film like a live wire--rightly assuming that we could all use a few jolts. (Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson, Thursday, September 10, 6:00, 443-3737)

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