Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Chicago Cinema

Mona and I had a bite to eat at La Creperie on Clark Street last evening then afterwards, walked over to the Landmark's Century Centre Cinema for a reception and screening of Chicago Writer/Director Steve Conrad's The Promotion starring Chicago actors John C. Reilly and Fred Armisen. Sponsored by the Midwest Independent Film Festival, a Producer's Panel, headed by long time local movie mainstay Steve Jones, kicked off the non-socializing part of the night at 6:30 followed by the 85 minute semi-dark comedy. Conrad and Jones then held a brief Q&A before everyone, several hundred independent film and media types, flocked to an after party at Forno Diablo on Diversey. I had to grab my wife by the arm and head in the opposite direction; home to reality in Forest Glen and a good night's sleep after a long real estate day (a career as rewarding at times, but not nearly as glamorous, I've concluded).

The beauty of this sweet and funny film, for me, was not so much the clever dialogue and intelligent performances from a variety of local actors but the presence of the various Chicago settings in the frames; a south side grocery store at Greenwood and 55th Street, several vacant lots in gentrifying areas with new construction projects and crafty shots of the skyline in the rack-focused background (not the usual stock footage of the Sears, Hancock, Lakefront, Navy Pier, etc ...), interior settings of 1920's brick apartment dwellings and two-flats, and of course...the cadre of Chicago 'extras' on the street (and in the parking lot--rent the DVD which comes out this week and you'll see what I mean. Hilarious.).

The first Tuesday of every month a different independent film from Chicago (and the other Midwestern states) is featured. My suggestion though, is to inquire about passes in advance. At the ticket booth I was told there was only one ticket left and I reluctantly forked over $10 for it at the urging of my wife. "Don't worry. I'll get in," she promised as she wandered up to the guy standing behind the velvet VIP rope. A few minutes later she was back with a ticket of her own.

"How did you manage that?" I asked.

"I told them my husband was a writer. He asked me 'who's your husband?' I said Geno Petro. He looked down at his paperwork and said 'he's not on the list. What's his name?' I said Geno Petro...okay, maybe he's just a blogger. Anyway, he gave me a ticket for free."

Figures. Beauty works every time. But then again, she actually looks like a movie star. I only look like a blogger.

Geno Petro

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