This week kicks off the first of many challenges that the mentors will be holding throughout the year. The challenges aim to be fun but low stakes: The Wicker Park Coffee Shop Challenge, The Downtown Art and Architecture Challenge, The Dive Bar Challenge. The Non-indigenous Fauna Challenge? Yes! Mostly, the challenges are routine reminders to do something outside of Hyde Park, or to get together with your classmates for an event that doesn’t involve self-consciously analyzing your professor’s latest grimace, or marveling at U of C’s smugly masochistic tee-shirt line.
For that reason, we encourage you to complete challenges in teams! Challenges are ongoing, without a time limit, so you can take anywhere from a week or a month or two to complete one, although only the first ones to complete a challenge will receive a prize. Yes: there will be PRIZES.
Because you will all be attending a screening of The Interrupters on November 11, the first challenge of the year encourages you to take some nights off from your fancy book learning to see some movies….
Chicago is well-equipped with a number of unique theaters, some of which boast student discounts and occasional guest speakers:
1. Music Box: in addition to independent and foreign films, the Music Box has loads of campy marathons and events. There’s probably a Kurt Russel marathon going on as we speak, with fans comparing the mighty mullets from Big Trouble Little China and Escape from New York. A fitting accompaniment to their midnight movies, apparently the place is haunted.
2. Gene Siskel Film Center: “The Gene” is operated by the School of the Art Institute. Keep a close eye on their calendar. Just a 6 bus away, there’s always a great selection of foreign, independent, and classic movies. They frequently have speakers, too–100 guests a year, according to their website. If you get their early, they have a cafe and gallery space in their lobby.
3. Facets: This hotbed of cinephilia is a film school (by night), equipped with a cinémathèque and a comprehensive movie rental library filled with all the foreign and independent films Netflix just can’t afford to stream all at once. I saw Peter Greenaway’s bawdy and baffling The Draughtsman’s Contract here.
4. Logan Theatre: cheap second-run movies! This is your chance to have Harry Potter and Transformers duke it out for your hard-earned 5 dollars.
5. Doc Films: U of C’s film center, located in Ida Noyes. Once Robert Pippin told me it was one of the best parts about living in Hyde Park, but that was the only time I’ve ever talked to him, so maybe he just says that about everything. Either way, like Facets and The Gene, perennially awesome selection, so pay attention to their calendar.
6. Portgage Theater: Rumor has it there used to be a series of underground film screenings where, for a few fragile hours, geriatric and college/graduate-age devotees used to pretend they didn’t think the other group was mindless and dressed like an idiot long enough to enjoy classic cinema together, as it was screened in a Irving Park Bank of America. Though this series is defunct, it’s been resurrected as The Northwest Chicago Film Society, and has its home at the Portgage, alongside (judging by their website) lots of horror movies and Indiana Jones.
7. Delilah’s in Lincoln Park has a Sunday afternoon free movie, giving their TV’s a break from their typical night of retro pornography and violent movies. I once went there to see “To Have and Have Not”, starring Bogie and Lauren “gargle-voice” Bacall. Beware: because it is a bar people may be louder than the movie and you may have to drink enough to unhear the unthinkable voices talking over Howard Hawks’ impeccably timed dialogue.
For this challenge, we want proof that you have gone to these places. Photographic evidence, a ticket stub, a recite. Anything but a half-eaten tub of popcorn. Prize: the first team to see films at four of the aforementioned locations will win a MAPH-purchased return trip to the theater they enjoyed the most. Although we dually notified you about this first challenge, remember to check the Maph Facebook page and our Mentor Twitter page for clues to future challenges.