This week the Gene Siskel Film Center presents two documentaries on major American artists. Burroughs: The Movie is a digital restoration of Howard Brookner’s 1983 profile of William S. Burroughs, the iconic writer of Naked Lunch. The movie fell out of circulation after Brookner died of AIDS in 1989 and was thought to be lost until his nephew discovered a 16-millimeter print among Brookner’s effects and spearheaded a project to preserve the movie. If your exposure to Burroughs is limited to William S. Burroughs: A Man Within, Yony Leyser’s millennial take on the writer, the Brookner film should be a real eye-opener. Also screening is Altman, a profile of maverick director Robert Altman by the clever pop-culture critic Ron Mann (Grass, Twist, Tales of the Rat Fink, Comic Book Confidential).
Check out this week’s issue for our roundup of the Eyeworks Festival of Experimental Animation and new reviews of: Bad Turn Worse, a cowboy noir about three friends in Texas who get sucked into a doomed robbery scheme; Beyond the Lights, about the star-crossed romance between an LAPD cop and a hip-hop star; Diplomacy, Volker Schlondorff’s historical drama about the Nazis’ plans to destroy Paris before it can be liberated by the Allies; Dumb and Dumber To, winner of this year’s Oscar for best title, with Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels returning as idiot pals Harry and Lloyd; The Invisible Front, a documentary about the anti-Soviet resistance movement in Lithuania; Our Daily Poison, a French documentary about the ill effects of modern pesticides on farmers; The Overnighters, a gripping documentary about a North Dakota minister who alienates his small town by opening his church doors to migrant laborers; Pulp: A Film About Life, Death & Supermarkets, a documentary about the title pop band gearing up for a live comeback in their hometown of Sheffield, England; Rosewater, Jon Stewart’s drama about the imprisonment in Iran of Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari; and The Theory of Everything, about the love life of theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking.
Best bets for repertory: Joel and Ethan Coen’s The Big Lebowski (1998), midnight Friday and Saturday at Music Box; Delmer Daves’s Dark Passage (1947), Thursday at University of Chicago Logan Center for the Arts, with a lecture by Dudley Andrew; Josef von Sternberg’s Dishonored (1931), Saturday and Monday at Gene Siskel Film Center; Joe Dante’s Matinee (1993), Friday and Tuesday at Film Center with a lecture by Jonathan Rosenbaum at the second screening; von Sternberg’s The Scarlet Empress (1934), Saturday and Sunday morning at Music Box; and Victor Sjostrom’s The Wind (1928), Saturday at Northwestern University Block Museum of Art with live sound effects and musical accompaniment.
Special events this week include the Chicago Food Film Festival at Kendall College, which pairs foodie docs and gourmet eats, and Kinosonik at Black Cinema House, a film/music program concocted by Chicago Film Archives and Experimental Sound Studio.