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Joseph Cornell’s famous boxes create flights of fancy out of the most ordinary materials–marbles in drinking glasses might suggest the solar system–and like some of those works, his films can be deceptively simple. For instance, in Midnight Party (codirected by Larry Jordan) Cornell makes a poetic leap between a freeze-frame of sleeping children and the image of a comet. Several Cornell films were shot outdoors in New York City and make their everyday locales seem extraordinary: despite the badly faded colors of the Nymphlight print, Bryant Park becomes a magical arbor as Cornell focuses on women and girls, birds, and a fountain, and the office buildings towering over the park become a sheltering grove. My favorite, A Legend for Fountains, follows a young woman on her walk, the black-and-white cinematography recalling the photographs of Helen Levitt (kids playing on streets or fire escapes, close-ups of graffiti). It’s a quiet drama of interpenetrating consciousnesses, in which the woman looks at the children, they look at her, and birds are an almost human presence. Also showing: Rose Hobart, The Children’s Party, Cotillion, Aviary, Centuries of June, and A Fable for Fountains (an earlier version of the footage used in Legend). Some of these films were codirected by Rudolph Burkhardt, Stan Brakhage, or Jordan; they’re all notoriously difficult to date but were crafted between 1939 and 1970. 84 min. Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State, Friday, May 24, 6:15, and Sunday, May 26, 4:30, 312-846-2800.