By Brian Belak
See docfilms.uchicago.edu for times and location
Stroszek (May 8)
Called “one of the oddest films ever made” by the late Roger Ebert, who included it in his “Great Movies” list, Stroszek follows deranged street musician Bruno Stroszek as he and his prostitute girlfriend, Eva, move from Berlin to rural Wisconsin to escape harassment from Eva’s ex-pimps. Director Werner Herzog shot the film in the hometown of Ed Gein, the murderer who inspired Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho and even made plans with fellow filmmaker Errol Morris to exhume Gein’s mother’s grave as part of the research process for the production. Featuring conspiracy theories, a barbershop robbery and dancing chickens in the closing scene, the film is a strange take on the American Dream from a twisted German mind. Showing as part of Doc Films’ Werner Herzog series every Wednesday.
Double Indemnity (May 13)
One of the most influential films from the “film noir” genre in its time, Double Indemnity, directed by Billy Wilder (Some Like It Hot, Sunset Boulevard) and co-written with Raymond Chandler, tells the story of a woman who seduces an insurance salesman into killing her husband and helping her make out with the life insurance money. Despite its seven Academy Award nominations, the film went home empty-handed, prompting a frustrated Wilder to trip rival director Leo McCarey when McCarey went up to receive Best Picture. The incident proved that the intense emotions of film noir don’t always stay within the films themselves. Showing as part of Doc Films’ Film Noir Femme Fatales series every Monday.
Charade (May 16)
In 2013, a CGI Audrey Hepburn returned to life to star in a highly controversial ad campaign for Galaxy Chocolate. In 1963, however, the real Hepburn made a different kind of history starring alongside Cary Grant in the triple-threat romantic comedy/mystery/thriller, Charade. Referred to by one publication as “the best Hitchcock movie Hitchcock never made,” the film pits a young American woman in Paris (Hepburn) against three men who wish to reclaim golden treasure from her recently murdered husband, with Grant playing a mysterious stranger who comes to her aid. Showing as part of Doc Films’ Hepburn/Monroe series every Thursday.
Taxi Driver (May 24, May 26 matinee)
The source of one of the most famous lines in cinema – “You talkin’ to me?” – Taxi Driver stars Robert De Niro as a Vietnam vet who, as an insomniac, turns to driving a taxi to occupy his addled mind. He soon becomes fed up with the filth that inhabits the slums of New York and decides to fight back. De Niro actually ad-libbed the famous mirror scene on the spot, a strong testament to his ability to truly become his character, but that shouldn’t belittle the brilliance of Paul Schrader’s scriptwriting, which draws from sources as diverse as the assassination attempt of George Wallace and Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Notes From Underground, and Martin Scorsese’s undeniably legendary directorial work. Showing as part of Doc Films’ New Hollywood series every Friday.
The Misfits (May 30)
The last film for both Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable, The Misfits stars Monroe as new divorcee Roslyn Tabor, a role written specifically for her by playwright Arthur Miller, her husband at the time. Tabor falls in love with a Nevada cowboy (Gable) who tests the limits of her love when he begins capturing wild mustangs to sell as dog food. The film is famous for the tumultuous atmosphere on set, which led to Monroe and Miller’s divorce and speculatively to the heart attack that killed Gable soon after filming was completed. Despite this trouble behind the scenes, Monroe and Gable both give powerful performances; many critics claiming it was Gable’s finest work. Showing as part of Doc Films’ Hepburn/Monroe series every Thursday.
Good Burger (May 31, June 2 matinee)
Although Kenan Thompson has moved from the children’s sketch comedy show All That to the far more adult and longlasting Saturday Night Live and Kel Mitchell has disappeared into relative obscurity, it’s impossible to forget the power that was Kenan & Kel in the late ‘90s. Good Burger, based on an All That sketch of the same name, stars the pair as fry cooks in the ailing Good Burger chain, forced to compete with the far more successful Mondo Burger across the street. The movie probably isn’t that “good” in retrospect, but it remains true that everything looks amazing through nostalgia-tinted glasses. Showing as Doc Films’ annual Megascreening event.