Thirteen Films About Animals | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Thirteen Films About Animals

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Curated by Chicago filmmaker Jim Trainor (The Bats), this quirky program mixes avant-garde and instructional films to subvert Disney-style anthropomorphism and stress the otherness of animals. Jean Painleve's educational short The Vampire Bat (1934) contains so many shots of its weirdly masticating "hero" that it crosses the line into obsession. In Sirius Remembered (1959) Stan Brakhage takes an unstinting look at a family pet as it decomposes in the woods; the rapid, swooping arcs of the camera make the moments when it comes to rest on the corpse all the more horrifying. Other critiques are more explicit: in Naomi Uman's Grass (1998) a dog traversing a field is followed by a human who imitates its gait, and in S. Barber's absurd Dogs (1999) two dog puppets philosophize about art and existence, the different angles suggesting a human conversation even though the puppeteer's arms are clearly visible. On the same program: Jacob Borshard's Fossil Fuel, and films by Sid Davis, Max and Dave Fleischer, Brian Frye, Henry Hills, Franklin Miller, Julie Murray, Sara Petty, and Ladislas Starewicz. 99 min. Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State, Thursday, December 13, 6:00, 312-846-2800.

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