At the end of next week the historic Patio Theater will close for an indefinite period, as the owners claim they’re unable to afford repairs to the building’s air-conditioning. (Heather Cherone recently posted a full report on the situation at DNAinfo.) But the Portage Park venue will host two more events before then. Next Wednesday at 7:30 PM, the Northwest Chicago Film Society will present the rarely revived Michael Curtiz crime drama The Strange Love of Molly Louvain (1932). Christina Rice, biographer of the film’s star, Ann Dvorak, will introduce the screening (and she’ll be at the Pickwick Theatre the following night to introduce a revival of Howard Hawks’s Scarface, which also features Dvorak). Tonight at the Patio the Silent Film Society of Chicago will screen Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid with a full orchestra performing Chaplin’s 1971 score. J.R. Jones writes about that event in one of the medium-length reviews in this week’s issue. In the other, I dive into the subtext of the new horror film Oculus.
The current issue also features new reviews of: Big Men, Rachel Boynton’s documentary about what happened after a giant oil field was discovered off the coast of Ghana in 2007; Hateship Loveship, an adaptation of a short story by recent Nobel laureate Alice Munro; Natural Life, a documentary by Chicago-based video artist Tirtza Even about people serving life sentences for crimes they committed as juveniles; Omar, director Hany Abu-Assad’s follow-up to Paradise Now; Only Lovers Left Alive, Jim Jarmusch’s highly personal take on the vampire genre; The Railway Man, with Colin Firth as a traumatized World War II veteran; Under the Same Sun, an Israeli-Palestinian coproduction playing, like Omar, in the Siskel Center’s Chicago Palestine Film Festival; and The Unknown Known, Errol Morris’s feature-length interview with former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.
As for repertory screenings, Doc Films has a bunch of great titles this week, each one screening at 7 PM: Ernst Lubitsch’s Design for Living (1933) plays Sunday, Preston Sturges’s Sullivan’s Travels (1941) plays Monday; a program of shorts by the great Canadian experimentalist Joyce Wieland is on Tuesday; Robert Altman’s California Split (1974) is on Wednesday (with a second screening at 9:15 PM); and Love Unto Death (1984), one of Alain Resnais’s most underrated films, is on Thursday. The Music Box is reviving the cult musical drama Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains (1981) tonight and tomorrow at midnight, Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope (1948) tomorrow and Sunday at 11:30 AM, and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971) on Sunday at 2 PM. Lastly the Film Center’s Pier Paolo Pasolini retrospective continues with Medea (1970), screening tonight at 6 PM and tomorrow at 5 PM, and Oedipus Rex (1967), screening tomorrow at 3 PM.