The Great Dictator

A note from the Siskel Center said:

After a remarkable twenty-year tenure, Gene Siskel Film Center Executive Director Jean de St. Aubin will resign in February. Join us in celebrating Jean’s impact and leadership, as we toast to her next chapter and celebrate her love of the movies with one of her favorite films, THE GREAT DICTATOR (this title, by the way, is in no way a reflection on Jean’s own leadership style!). Film followed by a post-screening reception with champagne, pretzels (her fave), and more. All ticket proceeds benefit the Film Center.

To be completely honest, I was more interested in the movie than in the reception :). I never saw the whole movie, not to mention on a big screen! Amazing! I knew about this movie, the plot, and when it was filmed, but even the excerpts I saw do not give enough impression of how awesome it is! It is hard to believe that it was filmed in 1940 when the US was’t even at was with Germany.

A Movie Night

The longest continually operating movie theater in Chicago is within walking distance from my house, but for some reason, I never when to see movies there. This finally changed last night when Igor, mom, and I went to see Babylon.

The movie is very long, and it’s great that the theater is so close to us, especially mom’s house. For the movie itself, I am glad I went, although Igor and I agreed that so it is not clear what’s all the drama about. I am sure it was done on purpose because the producers know very well what it should have looked like, but the purpose remains unclear to me :).

Again, the most important is that now I know the way to 400 Theater, and I will see more movies there. And another good thing is that with all of my mom’s “I don’t understand American English,” she understands good acting, so she actually liked it, even though it was three hours long!

Three Thousand Years Of Longing

OMG, what an awesome movie! Igor and I went to Siskel Center yesterday to see it, and it totally exceeded expectations! Yes, the director is awesome, and reviews where good, but recently, we had so many situations when reviews were great, but the movie would turn up being mediocre. that I couldn’t count on good reviews.

But this movie is just brilliant! With each next twist of a plot it becomes better and better. Usually, this is not my favorite genre. I saw comments on YouTube that this trailer represents the movie correctly. I disagree: there are less special effects per minute than in that trailer 🙂

The Judgement at Nuremberg Movie

This summer, the Siskel Center is running the Judy Garland centennial retrospective, and this week, they ran The Judgement at Nuremberg. I know that “everybody saw it,” but it was not screened in the Soviet Union and somehow never ended up on my “must-see” list. I knew this movie existed, but the list of the movies I never saw is too long:).

So yesterday, I spent three hours in the middle of the warm and sunny July Saturday in the dark theater and was so impressed by the movie that it took me some time to start putting my impressions in words.

The movie appears to be highly timely these days, and the parallels with the Russian invasion of Ukraine are more than apparent.

Continue reading “The Judgement at Nuremberg Movie”

Cultural Events

I was waiting for this culturally rich March with such an anticipation – and now she war overshadowed everything. But ones again, I decided it to be my form of resistance. What I did for the past two days – I lived a normal life as much as possible because that’s my protest against fears. Two personal things made me worry and upset more than in the previous days. I know that all my worries are nothing compared to people whose lives are in danger, but I have to admit that I gave in at some point. I still went to the event in the Field Museum and took mom and Igor. 

We always try to attend the Field Museum event because this museum does not have after-hours, and it is located further from the Loop than the Art Institute, so there are fewer chances to visit it otherwise. 

 The event was related to the new exhibit called Jurassic Ocean: The Monsters of The Deep, and it shows what was happening in the ocean when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. 

Some dinosaurs also lived in the water, but mostly the ocean was inhabited by giant fish and reptiles, and this exhibition presents these creatures and their differences and similarities with the modern ones.

And Friday was the day of the opening of the European Union Film Festival. It was cut in the middle in 2020 and didn’t happen last year. Same as I wanted to be in a part of the live event in the Field Museum to support its efforts to get back to life and education, I wanted to support CEUFF. 

The hosting country is France this year, but unfortunately, there was no reception :). Still, it was great to be in the theater packed with movie lovers and the representatives of the EU in Chicago and to listen to the opening remarks of the French General Consular in Chicago. 

The opening movie was a new screen adaptation of Balzak’s “Lost Illusions” – possibly too grim in the present political situation, but most definitely an outstanding cinema production! 

Cultural Activities

The Illinois indoor mask mandate will expire on February 28, and it looks like the city of Chicago will follow suit. Masks will still be required in the hospitals and such, in schools (if the legal battles will get to some resolution), and on public transport (thank goodness!!!)

I will monitor the situation, and I guess I will act as I feel comfortable. What makes me really happy is that pretty much all festivals and celebrations are returning. I still need to copy the schedule to my calendar, but I already know that summer will be busy in a good way!

That being said, there were a lot of cultural activities in the past two weeks, as much as I could fit with the amount of work I had!

I finally went to see a movie in the Siskel center with Igor (they are running so many interesting programs, and I can’t find time for any!) We went to see a 1971 movie from the “Bad Romance” series “The new leaf.’ Nothing special, but it was very entertaining. 

Then, there was a Hairspray production in the CIBC Theater. I tried to do a Broadway in Chicago subscription this year, and I am still unsure whether I like it and will do it in the future, but I am attending several performances this season. 

Official photo
Continue reading “Cultural Activities”

A Lost Silent Movie Rediscovered

The Siskel Film Center had a special event today, and Igor and I thought it would be a great way to celebrate Igor’s birthday. 

This special event was a screening of the lost and recently rediscovered silent film “The First Degree.” It turned out that today was National Silent Movie Day, so it all came together perfectly.

Here is a story of how this film was rediscovered. Please take time to read the whole blog of the Chicago Film Archives – it’s totally worth reading!

I didn’t know that the majority of the silent movies are lost forever and that often, the studios themselves would destroy the negatives. And it’s very interesting what they say about “rural melodrama” and the fact that this film is geared towards the male audience. 

Unseen for 97 years, it’s a real gem. And the live score!!! How can you beat that?!

It was the only screening of this movie, but I hope the Siskel Center will add more later!

“Contagion” With Dr. Allison Arwady

Since the Siskel Center reopening in August, they screen so many interesting films that I want to be there every other day! One of the series is called Chicago Favorites, and last Saturday, they screened “Contagion” with special guest Dr. Allison Arwady. It was a little bit surreal to see her live after seen her on-screen almost every day for the past 18 months :), and the conversation was exceptionally interesting. At the time when this movie was filmed, she worked as a CDC Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer, just as Kate Winslet’s character in the movie.


People asked Dr. Allison how close to reality things are presented in the movie and whether at that time she thought that such things could happen for real (her reply: absolutely, it was not the question of if, but when). She mentioned that quarantining Chicago in the situation described in the movie wouldn’t make sense and that as for the movie’s food shortage, she said: we grow our own food! So although the supply chain disruption is real as we see it, it won’t end up in the food shortage and people breaking into the stores (that happened for different reasons!)
You know what I like about Dr. Arwady? She is in front of people almost every day. She is never falsely optimistic, but she also never panic, and her explanations of the Chicago Health Department policies are clear and making sense. That e-being said, she is very optimistic about our future, and she says vaccines work exactly like expected, and we couldn’t even hope for such an outcome, And we will get through it.

And I trust her!

The Siskel Center Reopening

The Siskel Center is opening tomorrow, but they had a sneak preview of one of the movies yesterday – free for the members.

Both Igor and I signed up, not for this particular movie but for the sake of being a part of reopening. 

Yesterday morning, the Siskel Center sent out an email saying that they need to limit the occupancy of the theaters to 50% of capacity and that some people who already signed might not be able to attend. 

They didn’t tell us when the doors will be opened, so when Igor and I stopped to check out the situation at 5-50, there was already a small line:). 

Long story short: we believe that everybody who came was seated after all, and we didn’t have to come over an hour in advance. 

As for the movie itself – I am not sure what to make out of it. We both agreed that we would rather have some other movie for the opening night. For me, it felt like a waste of time to spend two and a half hours stating that one shall not kill, that jealousy is bad and that the child’s talents should not be exploited. And all of that with some creepy elements. 

But I will let more cinematography-wise people decide.

The movie: Annette