Saturday, June 29, 2013
Friday, June 28, 2013
Thursday, June 27, 2013
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Monday, June 24, 2013
Friday, June 21, 2013
Thursday, June 20, 2013
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Monday, June 17, 2013
Friday, June 14, 2013
Thursday, June 13, 2013
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
Monday, June 10, 2013
Friday, June 7, 2013
Thursday, June 6, 2013
I was running late. Terribly, dreadfully late. But it wasn't my fault. Not this time, anyway.
Up to that point, the plan had been running smoothly. I left work early (and by "early, I mean "on time"), beelined for La Casa del Terror to feed/medicate Olivia and heat up a couple of Hot Pockets for myself, and sped right back out the door so I could make it to the Patio well before showtime.
But now I found myself standing at a bus stop on Irving Park Road, staring east in search of a bus that was not coming. I'd seen a couple of buses headed east, but none in the opposite direction. And so I waited. And waited. And. Waited.
25 minutes, I waited. No bus. And now, even if a bus did show up, there was no way I could make it there on time.
I started waving my considerable right arm at anything resembling a cab--not an unreasonable thing to do on Irving Park Road, a main artery to and from O'Hare Airport.
Perhaps it was unreasonable to expect a cab to actually stop for me, though, since two with their lights on (usually indicating that they're available to pick up fares) zipped past me, even though both saw me trying to flag them down. The third cab, though, swung out of traffic and to the curb.
It's not like I'm rolling in dough--I'm over here, but payday is waaaaaay over there--and usually, I'd just say, "Well, maybe next time" and head back home.
Problem is, I can't be completely sure there will be a "next time."
You see, the Patio is closing--presumably for the summer, but possibly longer. The issue: the massive, ancient air conditioning system, which has broken down and will be hugely expensive to fix. Also? It's June. It's Chicago. It's (usually) hot by now.And the patio is an enormous single-screen theater--1,500 seats--so a properly functioning AC system is vital.
That AC system is the same one that broke down in 2001, causing the Patio to close "for renovations." It stayed closed for 10 years.
It was open last night, though--a relatively cool evening with off-and-on showers. And with temperatures predicted to stay at or below seasonal averages for the next 10 days, the owners took the chance of scheduling a few more nights of movies--not just to give regular patrons like me a last chance to stop before the unwanted hiatus, but to help out a local film society in need.
The Northwest Chicago Film Society has for years maintained an eclectic programming mix of film classics, hard-edged noir and oddball obscurities. They used to work out of an auditorium at the LaSalle Bank branch on Irving Park Road, but when that closed they moved to one of my favorite places in this world, the legendary Portage Theatre and continued their programming there. Until last month, that is, when the Portage's new owner opted to padlock the venerable movie house rather than operate it without a liquor license. (Said license is being blocked by the local alderman, who has reasonable concerns about the new owner, given that individual's many code violations and legal issues with his other venue, the Congress Theatre.)
The Society has been scrambling to find venues ever since. The Music Box stepped up and hosted one of their showings that week, but they have their own programming planned out months in advance, so another theater had to be found--hence, the showings at the Patio. Once the Patio closes for the summer, though, who knows where they'll wind up.
Last night, however, the Patio was open, and a reasonably large crowd (myself included, once the cab arrived with about 10 minutes to spare) turned out for a showing of High Treason, an incredibly rare film that was the second talkie released in Great Britain (Alfred Hitchcock's Blackmail was the first) and was lovingly restored by the Library of Congress a few years ago. It was preceded by an installment of Commando Cody, Sky Marshal of the Universe, a decidedly goofy 1953 serial (simultaneously shown on the then-relatively new medium of television) featuring a guy in a Lone Ranger-style mask fighting saboteurs on the moon.
As for High Treason it's a vastly silly anti-war melodrama made in 1929, but set in the far-flung future of, um, 1940. While it must be given slight credit for prescience--the world was indeed at war again a decade after this film's release--its awkward mix of stiff acting, bad dubbing (of scenes that had obviously shot silent) and Metropolis-influenced visuals (soaring art deco skyscraper models and futuristic fashions) elicited more laughs from the crowd than gasps of awe.
Still, am I glad I saw it? Sure am--especially because I got to see it in one of my favorite movie houses before it goes away for a (hopefully short) while.