In the movies section of this week’s Reader, we spotlight Docs at the Box, the Music Box Theatre’s weeklong festival of recent nonfiction films, recommending the literary profiles Shepard & Dark (about playwright Sam Shepard’s relationship with his ex-father-in-law) and Plimpton! Starring George Plimpton as Himself. Though they weren’t available for preview, I’m intrigued by Our Nixon, an experimental documentary about the Nixon White Houses, and The Trials of Muhammad Ali, a Kartemquin Films documentary about the boxer’s life as a political figure. The latter screens Saturday at 7 PM with the filmmakers in attendance; if you miss it, the film will receive a proper theatrical run in the coming months.
We also have new reviews of: A Fierce Green Fire: The Battle for a Living Planet and Symphony of the Soil, two environmentalist documentaries that aren’t part of Docs at the Box; Gravity, Alfonso Cuaron’s genuinely spectacular sci-fi spectacle (try to see it on the biggest screen you can); Hannah Arendt, Margarethe von Trotta’s biopic about the famous essayist (played here by Barbara Sukowa); Our Children, a creepy Belgian docudrama that reunites Tahar Rahim and Niels Arestrup, who acted together in Jacques Audiard’s A Prophet; Parkland, a studious re-creation of the events that followed the JFK assassination; and A Pig Across Paris, a 1956 satirical comedy playing in the Siskel Center’s monthlong French Classics Conserved series.
Best bets for repertory screenings: the new 35-millimeter print of Jean-Pierre Melville’s Un Flic (aka Dirty Money), playing in “French Classics Conserved” tonight at 6 PM and Sunday at 5 PM; Jim Jarmusch’s Dead Man, which Nick Offerman will present tonight at the Music Box after signing copies of his new book; and Doc Films has Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s A Time to Live and a Time to Die on Monday, Josef von Sternberg’s Thunderbolt on Tuesday, John Cassavetes’s Faces on Wednesday, and Olivier Assayas’s Cold Water on Thursday, all screenings starting at 7 PM. Lastly, tonight at the Patio at 7:30 PM, the Northwest Chicago Film Society will screen a new film print of the locally shot comedy Goldstein (1963) as part of Chicago Artists Month; at their regular time of Wednesday at 7:30 PM, they’ll screen Mr. Bug Goes to Town, a 1941 animated feature by the Fleischer brothers that sounds like a forerunner to Pixar’s A Bug’s Life.