• Mac and Me

Remember Mac and Me, that soulless E.T. knockoff-cum-feature-length-McDonald’s-commercial from 1988? Neither did I, until I saw the new kids’ movie Earth to Echo, which may well be the Mac and Me of this generation. That’s the subject of this week’s medium-length review, but thankfully the current issue also has write-ups of movies we do recommend: Cartoons by John Hubley, a program of classic shorts by the pioneering experimental animators John and Faith Hubley; Snowpiercer, the English-language debut by South Korean director Bong Joon-Ho (The Host, Mother); Tammy, a comic star vehicle for Melissa McCarthy; and Life Itself, Steve James’s documentary portrait of Roger Ebert. I also interviewed James on his life and career for this week’s issue. John Sturdy took the picture of James hanging out with his dog.

Back to the reviews, we have capsules on six more new movies that are all probably better than Earth to Echo: Begin Again, the American debut from Irish director John Carney (Once); Deliver Us From Evil, the latest horror movie from Scott Derrickson (Sinister); the Brazilian documentary Elena, getting its first weeklong run at the Film Center after playing this year’s Chicago Latino Film Festival; Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia, a new documentary on the late writer and public intellectual; the nightmarish docudrama Nothing Bad Can Happen, the debut feature by German writer-director Katrin Gebbe; and Transformers: Age of Extinction, the latest Michael Bay-Hasbro Toys joint.

It’s a good week for repertory screenings on 35-millimeter: the Music Box has James Cameron’s Aliens (1986) on Friday and Saturday at midnight and the classic Warner Brothers musical 42nd Street (1933) on Saturday and Sunday at 11:30 AM; Doc Films has John Landis’s An American Werewolf in London (1981) on Saturday at 7 and 9:15 PM and Lewis Milestone’s 1931 version of The Front Page (remade nine years later as His Girl Friday) on Thursday at 7 PM; the Siskel Film Center is showing Frantisek Vlacil’s Marketa Lazarova (1966), one of the most celebrated Czech movies of all time, on Sunday at 2:30 PM and Wednesday at 6:30 PM, and Last Holiday (1950), part of the month-long series “The Light Side of Alec Guinness,” on Saturday at 4:45 PM and Monday at 6 PM. The Lavender Hill Mob also screens in the series, on DCP, on Saturday at 3 PM and on Thursday at 6 PM. Lastly the Music Box is showing a new digital restoration of A Hard Day’s Night all week, in celebration of the film’s 50th anniversary.