With the new year comes the coldest temperatures in Chicago since…well, since last winter, probably. In what’s traditionally a month for throw-away movie openings (too late to qualify for an Oscar, too cold for none but the most dedicated to venture out to the cinema), the city’s film community has a calendar jam-packed with great options on the big screen. Here’s what’s worth bundling up for and braving the elements in January.
Carrie in 35mm – Doc Films at University of Chicago regularly programs strong calendars, and January is no exception. The 1976 horror classic helmed by Brian de Palma (The Untouchables) opens a Thursday night horror series that the cinema has dubbed “Ginger Snaps Back: A Feminist Take on Horror.” Other screenings in the program that runs through early March include Raw, Suspiria and the new cult classic Death Becomes Her. Screenings at Doc Films are open to the public, though popular ones often fill up with students, so plan ahead. The full Ginger Snaps Back series list is here.
January 5 – February 1
Stranger Than Fiction at Siskel Film Center – After going dark in December to upgrade seats and improve their audio technology, the Siskel Film Center reopens on Friday, January 5 with a whole slew of great films, including their Stranger Than Fiction documentary series. Including productions from right here in Chicago, as far away as Japan and everywhere in between, the series brings together a few off-the-radar non-fiction films that you have to see to believe. Jack C. Newell’s latest, 42 Grams, explores the high-pressure restaurant industry; 2017 Sundance selection Tokyo Idols introduces the culture of minor pop star fame in Japan; and No Dress Code Required digs into the civil rights of the LGBTQ community in Mexico. See the full line-up for the month-long series here.
Phantom Thread in 70mm – There are several theaters in Chicago where you could see Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread, which is also apparently Daniel Day-Lewis’s last film. But if you don’t make the effort to see it at Music Box Theatre, where it will be presented in glorious 70mm film, you’re doing it wrong. Backed by the best projection professionals in the city, the Music Box routinely presents films in their best possible formats. And for a film that’s sure to be as lush and impressive as this one, it will make a difference. Watch the trailer for Phantom Thread below, and get your tickets early here.
Who’s That Knocking on My Door on 35mm – Today, Martin Scorsese is a titan of filmmaking. But in 1967, he was just like every other film student out there, trying to realize his vision on screen. Harvey Keitel makes his debut in Scorsese’s first feature film, and the Chicago Film Society presents this rare and not-to-be-missed screening on 35mm. The movie may not be among Scorsese’s greatest (it’s his first, after all, so he’s allowed some slack), but it’s most certainly a milestone in American cinema, marking his arrival on the scene. See the Chicago Film Society’s full line-up here.
Modern Lighting: Tech & Craft – On the city’s northwest side, 2112 Chicago is part incubator, part studio, providing professional services and production space to musicians, filmmakers and more. Their events calendar is consistently full of great networking and useful skill building. On January 18, they partner with two other leaders in film production in Chicago – AbelCine Chicago and Cinespace – to host Pat Grosswendt, gaffer and lighting designer on films like Gosford Park and The Crucible. Grosswendt will present a detailed masterclass on all things cinematic lighting, including a post-discussion whiskey tasting and networking session. For aspiring filmmakers, it’s a must; for cinephiles like you and me, it’s guaranteed to be fascinating. Learn more and get tickets here.
Jules et Jim at Alliance Française – A cultural essential for French ex-pats and Francophiles alike, Alliance Française’s Chicago outpost presents a classic of French cinema on Saturday, January 27. François Truffaut’s Jules et Jim (1962) features screen legend Jeanne Moreau as one side of a love triangle set in World War I. Moreau, who starred in over 140 productions according to IMDb, passed away in 2017. For just $7, you can see her in one of her earliest and most appreciated roles. Learn more and get tickets in advance here.