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If you’re sick of watching Brendan Gleeson prop up movies unworthy of his time or talent, make a beeline for Calvary, a potent combination of spiritual drama and wicked black comedy by writer-director John Michael McDonagh (The Guard). Gleeson plays an Irish Catholic priest marked for death by a man who was sexually abused by another priest as a child—our four-star review is here. Also in this week’s issue, Ben Sachs breathes heavily on the new tornado thriller Into the Storm, and it collapses. And we’ve got recommended reviews of The German Doctor, an Argentine drama about a family who unknowingly welcome Josef Mengele into their home, and Venus in Fur, Roman Polanski’s adaptation of the David Ives play about a stage director casting a show about sadomasochism and the actress who walks all over him.
Screening this week, and newly reviewed: The Bicycle, a loose remake of Vittorio De Sica’s The Bicycle Thief, set in Queens and showing as part of the Black Harvest Film Festival at Gene Siskel Film Center; Coldwater, a drama about a juvenile delinquent trapped in a gung-ho military-style reformatory; Dinosaur 13, a documentary about the legal morass that followed the 1990 discovery of noted Chicagoan Sue; The Giver, a screen adaptation of the Lois Lowry children’s book, starring Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep; Little White Lie, a documentary about a nice Jewish girl who discovered her biological father was African-American; That Daughter’s Crazy, a documentary about actress Rain Pryor, whose father was Richard Pryor; and The White Shadow, a silent British melodrama scripted by a 25-year-old Alfred Hitchcock.
Best bets for repertory: Bill Condon’s Dreamgirls (2006), outdoors Wednesday at Millennium Park; Nobuhiko Obayashi’s House (1977), Saturday at University of Chicago Doc Films; Fredi M. Murer’s Vitus (2006), Wednesday by DVD projection at Chicago Cultural Center; and, as part of the Music Box’s Summer Music Film Festival, Richard Lester’s A Hard Day’s Night (1964) and Jonathan Demme’s Stop Making Sense (1984).