• Short Term 12

In hindsight, perhaps I shouldn’t have assigned a star rating to Short Term 12, a new indie drama I reviewed for this week’s issue—my response to the film was so personal that I spend half of the review outlining my bias. Apart from the sense of vindication I get from the movie’s loving depiction of direct-care providers, I appreciate Short Term 12 for its realism (indeed, it’s one of the most accurate portraits of social work I’ve seen in a fiction film), strong performances, and unsentimental humor. It opens today at River East 21, the Landmark Century, and Evanston’s CineArts, so you have the chance to draw your own conclusions. This week’s issue also features a short review of Riddick, which Drew Hunt considers within the oeuvre of writer-director David Twohy, and a spotlight on Faces of Women, a breakthrough 1985 feature from the Ivory Coast that’s screening as part of the Return of Blacklight Cinema series. Incidentally, I profile the programmer of that series, Floyd Webb, in this week’s big Fall Arts Preview.

This week’s issue contains new reviews of: Beyond the Hill, a Turkish art movie playing at the Siskel Center this week; An Evening With Ximena Cuevas, a spotlight on the Mexican video artist playing in the Siskel’s Conversations at the Edge series; Evocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie, a documentary about the confrontational conservative broadcaster; Massacre (1934), a pre-Code melodrama that the Northwest Chicago Film Society is screening at the Patio on Wednesday night; The Muslims Are Coming!, an amiable documentary by and about Muslim standup comics; Populaire, a French romantic comedy set in the late 50s; and A Teacher, an indie drama getting a weeklong run at Facets Multimedia.

As for repertory screenings, the Music Box has some great ones this weekend. On Saturday at 11:30, they’re showing an early John Ford western called Straight Shooting (1917); and on Sunday at the same time, they’ve got the arty Burt Lancaster vehicle The Swimmer (1968). The Siskel Center has Angels With Dirty Faces (on Friday and Tuesday as part of a crime movie series), Arthur Ripley’s The Chase (1946), Joseph H. Lewis’s Gun Crazy (1949), Francois Truffaut’s The Green Room (1978), and best of all, a two-week run of Andrei Tarkovsky’s Nostalghia (1983) in a new 35-millimeter print. And the Northbrook Public Library, always a sure bet for rep screenings, is screening Josef von Sternberg’s Underworld (1927) this Wednesday as a last-minute replacement for the originally scheduled Docks of New York (1928).