Second-Chance Theater: "Helvetica" and "Bug"
By Rob Christopher in Arts & Entertainment on Sep 26, 2007 2:30PM
When Gary Huswit's documentary Helvetica screened earlier this year at the Siskel, it certainly brought all the typeheads out of the woodwork — it broke box-office records at the Siskel and is now the theater's highest-grossing film. Now you get another chance to see it if you missed it the first time around, but tonight and tomorrow is your your last chance. It's a fascinating examination of what it means to be modern (and post-modern), and it sports a fantastic soundtrack by the likes of Battles, Sam Prekop, and one of our favorites Chicago Underground Quartet.
One movie that didn't break box-office records earlier this year was Bug, which had the curse of opening at the same time as a little picture called Transformers. Now that it's on DVD we had a chance to catch up with it. Whoa. If you like your movies black as midnight on a moonless night and unsettling as all hell, queue it up.
Bug started life as a play by Tracy Letts and premiered at Chicago's own A Red Orchid Theatre in autumn of 2001. Then, director William Friedkin of The Exorcist got a hold of it. Ashley Judd plays Agnes, a burned-out waitress living in a rundown motel who has the misfortune of being married to psycho ex-con Harry Connick Jr. A sad-eyed drifter named Peter comes along and Agnes begins to feel a measure of protection ... until an infestation occurs.
Picture Roman Polanski remaking Repulsion in color after a particularly bad acid trip, and you might get a sense of what Bug is like. Michael Shannon, who originated the role of Peter on stage here in Chicago, turns in a frighteningly intense performance that will make you gasp. In an interview with The A.V. Club, Friedkin says of Shannon, "He's a guy that really doesn't give it up. He lives the role. And I think this guy's gonna have a very interesting career." It's high-octane stuff that'll peel the paint right off your walls.
Image via Fun Stuff for Dogs.