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Five Film Picks + Rich Moskal’s Weekend Plans

Green Lantern? Zookeeper? Seriously? Combat summer’s blockbuster stinkers with five picks for cinematic excellence—or at least weirdness. Plus, what the honcho of the Chicago Film Office is doing this weekend.

A scene from 'Grease'
WE’LL ALWAYS BE TOGETHER You and movies go together like rama lama lama
ka ding a da ding de dong. Get your flick fix with a sing-along screening of Grease at
the Music Box.

THE FIVE

Don’t-miss picks for Wed 07.27.11 through Tue 08.02.11: Green Lantern? Zookeeper? Seriously? Combat summer’s blockbuster stinkers with five picks for cinematic excellence—or at least weirdness. Plus, what the honcho of the Chicago Film Office is doing this weekend, below.

1

film Sing-along Grease
Grease is the word—or, better yet, the lyric: The Music Box screens its fourth annual sing-along version of the 1978 classic this weekend, complete with onscreen lyrics and a Rocky Horror–style goody bag of props (bubblegum cigarettes, sunglasses—and, of course, a comb).
GO: 7/29–30 at 8, 7/31 at 6. $9–$15. Music Box Theatre, 3733 N Southport. musicboxtheatre.com

2

film Summer Music Film Festival
Also this week at the Music Box: a roundup of music-themed features, shorts, and docs, including the Sound Opinions guys introducing the 1984 rockumentary Talking Heads: Stop Making Sense. Plus, for those, like us, who always wondered what the deal was between the Frames’ Glen Hansard and the Czech musician Markéta Irglová, a.k.a. the stars of the 2007 indie sleeper hit Once who fell in love somewhere along the film’s surprise route to fame, the fest screens the Chicago premiere of the documentary The Swell Season. What? At least it’s not The Bachelorette.
GO: The Swell Season: 7/27 at 7:30, 7/28 at 9:45. Stop Making Sense: 7/28 at 7:30. See website for full schedule. $10 per film; $15–$16 double feature; $40–$45 fest pass. Music Box Theatre, 3733 N Southport. musicboxtheatre.com

3

film Drive-in Mayhem Series
For those who prefer thrillers of the lurid sort to watching awkward romances go awry: Joe Rubin, of the local gem Odd Obsession, a movie-rental outlet as underground as the flicks it circulates, hosts a series of exploitation films from the 1970s not for the delicate of stomach or sensibility: Scream Bloody Murder (7/29 at 8), The Redeemer (7/30 at 8; spoiler alert: not especially redemptive), and Love, Lust & Violence (7/30 at 10).
GO: 7/29 at 8, 7/30 at 8 and 10. Suggested donation $8 per night. Chicago Filmmakers, 5243 N Clark. chicagofilmmakers.org

4

film Summersonic
What’s cooler than the coolest house party? A studio party. From Experimental Sound Studio, a one-stop recording shop and music factory for all sorts of indie-minded audio projects, comes this monthly series of happenings in ESS’s picturesque garden. On this installment’s bill: music from the amorphous local indie rockers Joan of Arc and a new video by James Fotopoulos, whose work has screened at the Sundance Film Festival and the Whitney Biennial.
GO: 7/30 at 5. $8–$10. Experimental Sound Studio, 5925 N Ravenswood. experimentalsoundstudio.org

5

film Parallax Sounds
Winner of this week’s We’re Not Sure We Understand It But We’re Curious Anyway, Especially Since There’s Cheap Beer Award: a 20-minute sneak peek of Parallax Sounds, from the way-experimental filmmaker Augusto Contento. The documentary, which promises to awaken “our understanding of Chicago’s dynamic urban landscape and how it inspired a transformational era in the music and culture of the so-called Generation-X,” is still in production but features music by and interviews with the likes of the legendary Chicago producer and Shellac guitarist, Steve Albini; the foremost jazz improviser Ken Vandermark; and the Eternals’ singer and keyboardist, Damon Locks, who also DJs this fundraising bash.
GO: 7/27 at 5:30. $20, drinks included. The Hideout, 1354 W Wabansia. hideoutchicago.com

WHAT I’M DOING THIS WEEKEND

Rich Moskal, director of the Chicago Film Office
Rich Moskal

Up next in our series of weekend plans from notable, in-the-know locals—a.k.a. people we like: Rich Moskal, a lifelong Chicagoan and the director of the Chicago Film Office.

“I’ll be going to see Parallax Sounds at the Hideout. That’s an interesting project. The producer is sort of a character, and based on the previous work the filmmakers have done, it should be very impressionistic, not a straight-up documentary. Their original concept was to have a vintage cab drive through the city to take them to various places and help move the film along, but they couldn’t find a cab they wanted to hire, so they ended up going with the El. Most filmmakers fly under the radar until they’re ready to release their film, but these guys have done a good job of drawing attention to themselves.

“Our office is a coproducer of the Chicago Comedy TV Pilot Competition, an open competition for local producers to create pilots on spec. We hold it in conjunction with the Chicago Short Comedy Video & Film Festival, which is on Thursday, and on Friday, we have the TV pilot screening and the awards at the Chicago Cultural Center. People who have participated in it have done really well by it. They’ve gotten the attention of L.A. producers, gotten agents. It’s a good thing—a foot in the door, and that’s worth a hell of a lot. And it’s fun. It’s not like you have to be a professional: Entries come out of Chicago’s storefront theatre community, the advertising community, the student community. It can be a homemade video or professional work; it just has to fit the criteria of 30 minutes or just under. An entry is judged not only on its merits as a piece but how viable it is as a series—as a national broadcast. The more people go into it with that sense, the better they do.

“And I’ll go shoe shopping. I’ve been looking for shoes for about a year and a half now, and I’ve really got to get a pair this weekend. The only thing that will prompt me to buy a new pair is when my shoes are literally falling apart. I’ve had this pair for—I want to say in the neighborhood of ten years. I really suck at choosing shoes. My wife always shakes her head and says, ‘Why did you come back with those?’ My kids have decided they’re going to help me figure out what is cool and what is not. My son tells me that Sperry Top-Siders are what all the kids are wearing, so I’ve pretty much decided on those. I just have to find a pair that don’t look like I should be working on a dock.”

FREEBIES OF THE WEEK

jazz Made in Chicago: World Class Jazz
The city’s annual summertime jazz series kicks off with a tribute to the octogenarian tenor-sax giant Von Freeman—a particularly timely fete, coming on the heels of his recent naming to the 2012, and final, class of the National Endowment for the Arts’ Jazz Masters. Freeman will be in attendance but gets the night off, with his longtime drummer, Michael Raynor, leading a group that includes the saxophonist and South Side native Steve Coleman.
GO: 7/28 at 6:30. Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park, Michigan and Washington. millenniumpark.org

ALSO THIS WEEK: The chamber-pop crossover series Dusk Variations launches its 2011 lineup with Turtle Island Quartet playing the music of, and inspired by, Jimi Hendrix, 8/1 at 6:30.

lit Printers’ Ball
Print is dead? Not according to this crowd—unless you count the spirits called up by the life-size Ouija Board, one of the night’s planned parlor games. In its seventh year, this all-out ode to ink also features letterpress demos, live music by the likes of White Mystery, and thousands of magazines, journals, zines, and broadsides for browsing.
GO: 7/29 at 6 from 6 to 11. Ludington Building, Columbia College Chicago, 1104 S Wabash. printersball.org

ALSO THIS WEEK: The Newberry Library lays out some 120,000 books, most less than $2, at its annual sale (7/28–31), while the Bughouse Square Debates carry on across the street (7/30).

film True Grit
OK, OK, this is our last film pick of the week—promise. But where better to see the Coen brothers’ instaclassic than outdoors, in the great wide open?
GO: 7/28 at dusk. Amundsen Park, 6200 W Bloomingdale. Part of Movies in the Parks; full schedule: chicagoparkdistrict.com

 

Photograph: (MOSKAL) Susanne Suffredin

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