There’s only one place for cinephiles to be this weekend—the Music Box of Horrors. Wait, did I say that? I meant the Chicago International Film Festival. We’ve got reviews of 20 features screening this week, and we’ll be adding some more today, so check back later as well. Ben Sachs and I review a half century of CIFF on this cool timeline, which I have been told, but refuse to accept, is spelled time line. And we’ve got a roundup of 15 repertory titles screening at the fest over the next two weeks, including director’s cuts of Alexander and Natural Born Killers with Oliver Stone in the house.
Aside from the festival, we recommend three new features this week: Art and Craft, a documentary profile of the eccentric art forger-cum-philanthropist Mark Landis; Kill the Messenger, starring Jeremy Renner as the reporter who broke the story of the CIA’s involvement with Nicaraguan drug lords, and paid the price; and No No: A Dockumentary, about Dock Ellis of the Pittsburgh Pirates, who claimed he pitched a no-hitter while tripping on LSD.
Also reviewed this week: I Am Ali, another documentary about Muhammad Ali; The Judge, about a hotshot attorney (Robert Downey Jr.) trying to defend his jurist father (Robert Duvall) in a fatal hit-and-run case; Pride, a British comedy about striking miners learning to accept the political support of gay-lesbian activists; and three programs of shorts by British experimental filmmaker John Smith.
Best bets for repertory: Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice (1988), noon Saturday and Sunday at the Logan; Nagisa Oshima’s Boy (1969), screening Saturday and Wednesday as part of an Oshima retrospective at Gene Siskel Film Center; Robert Wiene’s The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919), Friday, Wednesday, and Thursday at Music Box; Sandra Nettelbeck’s Mostly Martha (2001), Sunday and Monday at Film Center; Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon (1951), Wednesday at University of Chicago Doc Films; Victor Erice’s The Spirit of the Beehive (1973), Monday at Doc; Errol Morris’s Tabloid (2010), Thursday at Doc; and Roberto Rosselini’s Voyage to Italy (1953), tonight at Northwestern University Block Museum of Art.
But back to the Music Box of Horrors. Starting at noon tomorrow, the theater presents a 24-hour marathon of vintage shockers, with director John McNaughton (Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer) appearing in person to introduce his 1991 opus The Borrowers. And the long dormant Silent Film Society of Chicago rises from the grave with three silent chillers at the Portage, accompanied by organist Jay Warren: The Hands of Orlac, directed by Wiene of Caligari fame (Mon 10/13); Phantom of the Opera, starring Lon Chaney (Sun 10/12); and the little-seen Chaney horror comedy The Monster (Tue 10/14).