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Go Back To School At Facets

By Rob Christopher in Arts & Entertainment on Feb 1, 2012 4:00PM

James Cagney and Mae Clark in The Public Enemy
Facets offers the best kind of film school: lots and lots of the greatest movies, presented with passionate commentary, and with room for discussion afterwards. And no quizzes or cramming for finals is necessary. The four six-week classes just announced for the forthcoming "term" are, well, plain awesome.

"CINEMA OF ABSENCE: Elusive Objects of Desire" (March 5-April 9) examines the quest from a psychological perspective: what can that desire tell us about the characters, especially when the "object" is something abstract or mysterious? The movies in the class include The Maltese Falcon, Kiss Me Deadly, Repo Man, and Broken Flowers with Bill Murray. It's taught by the poets Philip Sorenson (Loyola University) and Olivia Cronk (Northeastern Illinois University).

Master filmmaker Alain Resnais, who is still going strong at age 89, is focus of the class taught by Ben Sachs, March 6-April 10. Resnais is the rare stylist who can change techniques from film to film with stunning ease. The titles in the class include a hard-hitting political drama (La guerre est finie), a poignant examination of mortality (Love Unto Death), a zany comedy written by cartoonist and playwright Jules Feiffer (I Want to Go Home) and a romantic genre-bending whatchamacallit (Wild Grass).

Despite the somewhat puzzling omission of Prêt-à-Porter, "COUTURE CINEMA: The World of Fashion on Film" does feature plenty of movies about clothes. (Then again, the Facets description references the fact that "there have been surprisingly few good films focused on the world of couture," and we must admit that Prêt-à-Porter isn't one of them.) Among the selections are the divine Audrey Heburn/Fred Astaire movie Funny Face, the documentaries Bill Cunningham New York and The September Issue, and (inevitably) The Devil Wears Prada. It runs March 7-April 11 and is taught by Columbia College professor Jeffrey Jon Smith.

Last but certainly not least is "JAMES CAGNEY: Superhero of the Depression." What more needs to be said? Equal parts danger and dynamism, there hasn't been another movie star like him since--nor is there likely to be. Taught by Oak Park playwright and historian Doug Deuchler, the class focuses on his 30's output. Which of course includes crime classics like The Public Enemy and Angels With Dirty Faces as well as the spectacular Busby Berkeley musical Footlight Parade (oh yes, Cagney could dance!) It runs March 8-April 12.

Each class is $125, $80 for Facets Patron Circle members, and are held at Facets Multi-Media, 1517 W Fullerton.