a grainy still of five smiling women lined up
A still from Peggy Sue Got Married (1986). Courtesy IMDb

“Cinema was born with the intention to fulfill the needs of spectacle for the working classes—the mainstream.” So exclaims the thesis posted to the metaphorical door that’s the Music Box Theatre website. “Yet, as time pressed on, and the cinematic form grew, so did the separation of cinema from its origins, from the people and their governing reality.” Thus Highs & Lows—a series presented by Oscarbate podcast hosts John Dickson and Will Morris at the Music Box Theatre over several weeks in early 2022—sought to explore the dynamic between so-called “high art” and pejoratively branded mainstream cinema with double features that included one film from each category.

The films were linked by meaningful and often surprising similarities. Take the pairing of Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) and Peggy Sue Got Married (1986). What could those two, Jesus and Peggy Sue, possibly have in common? Quite a bit, it turns out, as both films evoke a strong emotional response through plots involving the reassessment and potential redoing of the past. When possible the screenings were projected on 35-millimeter, the films then connected by their physical properties as well as their thematic ones. Recent pairings in this ongoing series include Jean Luc-Godard’s Keep Your Right Up (1987) with Joe Dante’s Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003) and Andrew Fleming’s The Craft (1996) with Jacques Rivette’s Duelle (1976). The order in which they’re screened doesn’t matter, nor does any literal assessment of which film is the high and which is the low; ultimately each demands respect on its own terms.

Music Box Theatre
3733 N. Southport