Every January 1st it seems I have the same set of New Year’s resolutions. Over the years I’ve added a few and a few have dropped away, but the core resolves always stay the same. One of those that has made the list every year since I was 15 is “See more movies in the theater.” While it is clearly true that the genre of film is its own legitimate form of art, what is also true, to me at least, is that film has the power to transport in a way that other art forms do not, with the possible exception of the novel. This power to transport exists outside of subject matter and artistic intent. A film with serious intentions is neither more nor less transportive than a film whose sole objective is to entertain. Why does this matter?, you may ask. It matters because real diversion, actual imersive experience, subverts the stresses of the everyday. At minimum, it takes your mind off the laundry list of shit to do. At best, a good movie gives our mind a reprieve so that we may return to our own work invigorated and refreshed.
In Andersonville, there’s a hidden cinematic gem, Chicago Filmmakers. Okay, the “theater” is not so great, but Chicago Filmmakers is undoubtedly the best purveyor of independent cinema in Chicago. They are running a couple of series concurrently. Feminism Flatlined: The New Girl Series, “explores the impact of today’s media and an increasingly sexualized culture on teenage girls and young women.” Coming up is Wonder Women: The Untold Story of American Superheroines (2012). This documentary uses the superheroine Wonder Woman as a way to discuss media representations of strong women and what these representations mean to our society as a whole. I’m looking forward to the interviews with Linda Carter (Wonder Woman) and Lindsay Wagoner (Bionic Woman). Also at Chicago Filmmakers is the decade-old series Dyke Delicious. A lesbian centric film series, Dyke Delicious brings films that most likely wouldn’t show at a mainstream movie theater. March 9th they are showing the film Pariah (2011), the story of an African-American girl coming to terms with her butch identity. Pariah won the Sundance Award for Best Cinematography. If you are so inclined, Chicago Filmmakers offers classes and independent filmmaker services. Do check them out.
The opposite of the scrappy indie Chicago Filmmakers is the international theater chain Cinemark, which has a northerly outpost at the Century 12/ Cine Arts 6 Theater in Evanston. Much to my surprise, they host a national film series called Cinemark Classic Series, which plays at theaters across the country. I finished up the winter series last Wednesday with Saturday Night Fever (1977), a surprisingly sad and serious film despite the tsunami of cultural marshmallow fluff it spawned. The next series was just announced this week. Through March and April look forward to Forrest Gump (1994), West Side Story (1961), Lawrence of Arabia (1962), American Beauty (1999), Casablanca (1943), and The Godfather (1972). The Cinemark website lists all of the theaters across the country that are hosting the series. And as an added bonus, on Valentine’s Day they’re showing all of the Die Hard films back-to-back, culminating in the release of the newest in the Die Hard saga. It’s hard to imagine anything more diverting than 12 hours of Bruce Willis.
Would that I were able to simply say, “Once a month I will go to the movies,” but I don’t have that kind of discipline. It takes a prepaid film series to get me out of the house during the week, especially at night, especially in winter. But the amazing thing about a film series is that you are there in theater with others who share your interest. Seeing a film in the theater is different than watching it at home. Somehow the big screen and the communal experience makes it easier to see these movies as works of art and not just a late night rerun.