In this week’s long review I look at two fine political dramas: Steve McQueen’s debut film, Hunger, about the 1981 prison hunger strike of IRA member Bobby Sands, and Tim Disney’s American Violet, about a poor single mother in Texas who’s wrongly charged in a drug sweep and sues the powerful DA for civil rights violations. And you can’t go wrong with Sugar, the new baseball drama by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (Half Nelson), also opening today.
Our sidebar for the Chicago Latino Film Festival includes recommended reviews for The Ballroom, which takes place over a single night in a rundown Brazilian dance hall; The Watercolorist, in which a Peruvian artist is driven to distraction by neighbors as he tries to paint his masterpiece; and A Forgotten Injustice, Vicente Serrano’s documentary about the Hoover administration’s mass deportations of Mexican-American citizens during the Depression. (Ed Koziarski profiles Serrano this week in “Our Town.”)
Cliff Doerksen recommends 33 Days and Live From Bethlehem at the Chicago Palestine Film Festival, which opens today at the Gene Siskel Film Center. Also in this week’s issue: Andrea Gronvall recommends 17 Again, I pan State of Play, and Fred Camper gives us the lowdown on Boston filmmaker Robert Todd, whose shorts screen tonight at Chicago Filmmakers (the start time has been moved back to 8:30 PM).
This week brings some choice repertory picks: Jean-Luc Godard’s Contempt at Block Cinema, Chantal Akerman’s Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles and Charlie Chaplin’s Monsieur Verdoux at Film Center, Howard Hawks’s Only Angels Have Wings at Doc Films, and Otto Preminger’s Where the Sidewalk Ends at Northbrook Public Library.
And for you early birds, the firm of Schopf & Weiss LLP, which specializes in business litigation, will host a 9 AM screening of Sidney Lumet’s 12 Angry Men at the Music Box on Saturday, with a panel discussion to follow.