Both the long and medium-length reviews in this week’s movies section consider crime stories with all-star casts, though the similarities probably end there. Luc Besson’s The Family, which I wrote about, is a broad comedy featuring Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Tommy Lee Jones spoofing some of their previous roles and ugly American stereotypes in general. Prisoners, which Andrea Gronvall recommends highly, is a dark, foreboding mystery that marks the Hollywood debut of French-Canadian director Denis Villeneuve; it stars Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Terrence Howard, Melissa Leo, and more. If you see them both in one day, I’d recommend seeing The Family second.
There are several festivals worth checking out this weekend. At the Gene Siskel Film Center, the UCLA Festival of Preservation continues all week with new 35-millimeter prints of International House and Supernatural, both from 1933, and a couple of rare silent films, Mantrap (1926) and Midnight Madness (1928). Over the weekend, Facets Multimedia hosts the Romanian Film Festival of Chicago, and the Chicago South Asian Film Festival screens at Columbia College’s downtown campus and at the Showplace ICON. You’re likely to find interesting surprises in all three series.
Getting back to new releases, this week’s issue features new reviews of: And While We Were Here, an independent U.S. drama shot in Italy; Cutie and the Boxer, a documentary about Japanese artist Ushio Shinohara and his wife; C.O.G., a feature-length adaptation of a David Sedaris essay; Good Ol’ Freda, a documentary about the Beatles’ secretary, Freda Kelly; Inside, a modern-day adaptation of Notes From the Underground by acclaimed Turkish filmmaker Zeki Demirkubuz; Insidious: Chapter 2, the latest horror movie from schlockmeister James Wan; Money for Nothing: Inside the Federal Reserve, which isn’t about Dire Straits performing inside the Federal Reserve; My Lucky Star, a sunny romantic comedy-cum-spy movie spoof from mainland China; Salinger, a documentary about the famous author; A Single Shot, a rural film noir starring Sam Rockwell; Sole Survivor, a documentary about survivors of commercial-airline crashes; Thanks for Sharing, a Neil Simon-esque ensemble drama about sex addicts (you know it’s really bad when a critic compares it to Neil Simon); and Wadjda, an eye-opening docudrama that marks the first Saudi Arabian film written and directed by a woman.
Best bets for repertory screenings: a new 35-millimeter print of Andrei Tarkovsky’s Nostalghia (1983) continues its two-week run at the Siskel; on Wednesday the Northwest Chicago Film Society presents Jacques Becker’s Casque d’Or (1952) at the Patio; the Music Box presents the original Pink Panther (1963) on Saturday and Sunday at 11:30 AM; and on Thursday, a new programming organization called Park Ridge Classic Film screens Richard Fleischer’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954) at the Pickwick.