In this week’s issue I have some choice words for The Peanuts Movie, the new 3-D feature starring Charles Schulz’s neurotic children and their borderline psychotic dog. Speaking of canines, Ben Sachs takes a look at Heart of a Dog, a new essay film by electronic musician Laurie Anderson. And we’ve got a review of Trumbo, with Bryan Cranston chasing an Oscar in the role of blacklisted Hollywood screenwriter Dalton Trumbo.
New capsule reviews this week for: 70 Acres in Chicago: Cabrini Green, Ronit Bezalel’s documentary about the notorious housing project and the mixed-income development that replaced it; Brooklyn, a charming British romance directed by John Crowley (Boy A) and scripted by Nick Hornby (About a Boy, High Fidelity); By the Sea, a 70s-European art movie made recently by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie; Love the Coopers, starring Diane Keaton and John Goodman as an unhappy couple gathering their relatives one last time before they separate; Madame Phung’s Last Journey, a documentary about Vietnamese LGBT people who work for a traveling carnival; My All American, a football drama starring Aaron Eckhart and written by Angelo Pizzo (Hoosiers, Rudy); The Pearl Button, a majestic essay film from Chilean documentary maker Patricio Guzman (The Battle of Chile); Spotlight, a superior newspaper drama starring Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, and Rachel McAdams; The 33, a dramatic account of the 2010 mining disaster that trapped 33 men underground in Chile; and What Our Fathers Did: A Nazi Legacy, a documentary about the grown children of Nazi Party officials.
Best bets for repertory: Jack Arnold’s Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954), Sunday at Music Box with a lecture from the folks at the Field Museum; Bob Rafelson’s Five Easy Pieces (1970), Friday and Sunday at University of Chicago Doc Films; Craig Laurence Rice’s Half Past Autumn: The Life and Works of Gordon Parks (2000), Thursday at Doc; Gus Van Sant’s My Own Private Idaho (1991), midnight Friday and Saturday at Landmark’s Century Centre; Irving Rapper’s Now, Voyager (1942), Sunday at Doc; Wim Wenders’s Paris, Texas (1984), Saturday, Monday, and Wednesday at Gene Siskel Film Center; Jacques Rivette’s Le Pont du Nord (1981), Saturday and Tuesday at Film Center; Eric Rohmer’s The Tree, the Mayor, and the Media Center (1993); and John Ford’s Upstream (1927), Saturday at Music Box with live organ accompaniment by Dennis Scott.
Don’t miss these special events: Light and Noir Film Festival opens Friday at the Wilmette, including Ernst Lubitsch’s Ninotchka (1939) and Michael Curtiz’s Mildred Pierce (1945). Mostra: Brazilian Film Series continues through Tuesday at venues around town. And the Polish Film Festival in America continues all week at Rosemont 18 and Society for Arts.