Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Must-See Chicago

A heads-up for Chicago-area readers: screening for only five more days at the Art Institute, which is free all month, is Chicago-Scope, a collection of incredible films by Chicago filmmaker Tom Palazzolo that I can't possibly recommend highly enough. My friend Chip and I had the pleasure of a long chat with Tom Palazzolo on Vocalo in 2008, when we were organizing our '68 Democratic National Convention re-enactment. We knew that Palazzolo had been on the streets in '68, shooting the carnage, but I hadn't the faintest idea that he was such a legendary experimental filmmaker.

Palazzolo's footage from '68 is prominent in Love It/Leave It, the most haunting and effective of the four films shown here. It's a gaudy and disorienting collage of late-60s foment and excess, psychedelic cinema-verite that takes in the whole universe of weird vibrations going around that hot Chicago summer of '68--interweaving hippie marches and riot-squad training exercises with vaudevillian footage of suburban nudist contests and clown conventions, Independence Day parades and skid-row winos, all set to a whirling musique-concrete score featuring both Richard J. Daley and Merle Haggard.

Less political but equally mind-melting is O, made in 1967 and one of Palazzolo's earliest films--a dizzying paean to high-wire acrobats and Dada filmmaking. The other two films, while more stylistically conventional, are highly entertaining slices-of-life from a long-lost Chicago. Jerry's profiles a alarmingly manic south loop deli-owner whose epic berating of customers makes the Wiener's Circle look like a game of patty-cake, while Ricky and Rocky takes in a suburban, Polish-Italian wedding shower. The garish, early 70s fashions on display here--rayon floral-prints, severe eyewear and terrifying bouffants--are alone worth the price of admission. Which, as previously mentioned, is free.

Seriously--these films are absolutely brilliant and extremely difficult to find. Do yourself an enormous favor! Chicago-Scope runs through 1/9 in the Art Institute's modern wing.

1 comment :

  1. Dan Zukovic's "DARK ARC", a bizarre modern noir dark comedy called "Absolutely brilliant...truly and completely different..." in Film Threat, was recently released on DVD and Netflix through Vanguard Cinema (, and is currently
    debuting on Cable Video On Demand. The film had it's World Premiere at the Montreal Festival, and it's US Premiere at the Cinequest Film Festival. Featuring Sarah Strange ("White Noise"), Kurt Max Runte ("X-Men", "Battlestar Gallactica",) and Dan Zukovic (director and star of the cult comedy "The Last Big Thing"). Featuring the glam/punk tunes "Dark Fruition", "Ire and Angst" and "F.ByronFitzBaudelaire", and a dark orchestral score by Neil Burnett.


    ***** (Five stars) "Absolutely brilliant...truly and completely different...something you've never tasted
    before..." Film Threat
    "A black comedy about a very strange love triangle" Seattle Times
    "Consistently stunning images...a bizarre blend of art, sex, and opium, "Dark Arc" plays like a candy-coloured
    version of David Lynch. " IFC News
    "Sarah Strange is as decadent as Angelina Jolie thinks she is...Don't see this movie sober!" Metroactive Movies
    "Equal parts film noir intrigue, pop culture send-up, brain teaser and visual feast. " American Cinematheque