Presented by the Society for Arts, the Polish Film Festival in America continues Friday, November 12, through Thursday, November 21, with screenings this week at Beverly Arts Center; Copernicus Center; Golf Glen 5, 9180 W. Golf Rd., Niles; Northeastern Illinois University, 5500 N. Saint Louis; and Society for Arts. Unless otherwise noted, tickets are $13, $10 for documentaries, and a festival pass, good for seven screenings, is $70. This year’s festival includes a special series on composer Frederic Chopin, screening by DVD projection at Society for Arts; reviews of selected films follow. Our online festival sidebar includes reviews of other films screening this week. For more information, a complete schedule, and ticket purchases, call 773-486-9612 or go to pffamerica.com.
Chopin: Desire for Love Bankrolled in part by Polish television and PKO Bank Polski, this high-toned 2002 biopic labors to present Frederic Chopin as a national hero, even though he abandoned his homeland at age 20 and never returned, except in his mazurkas and polonaises. Writer-director Jerzy Antczak dutifully begins with young Frederic (Piotr Adamczyk) fleeing Russian-occupied Warsaw for the salons of Paris, but the real story begins when he’s wooed and won by the mannish George Sand, whose many affairs have made her an object of scandal. Played with intelligence and passion by Danuta Stenka, the strong-willed novelist struggles to balance the needs of her frail and temperamental lover against those of her high-spirited daughter, who worships Chopin for his genius, and her oedipally challenged son, who hates him for it. Unfortunately the recipient of all this emotion comes off as little more than a high-strung pretty boy, a portrait that’s continually belied by the complex sonorities of the works on the soundtrack. In Polish with subtitles. 123 min. —J.R. Jones
Moonlight Sonata The famous Polish pianist Ignace Jan Paderewski made his film debut at age 75 in this 1938 British feature directed by Lothar Mendes, about a group of plane passengers who, after a forced landing, find themselves on the estate of a Swedish baroness (Dame Marie Tempest). A number of romantic intrigues ensue, and Paderewski gets a chance to perform selections by Chopin, Liszt, Beethoven, and himself. 80 min.
A Song to Remember One of those big, overproduced biographies of classical composers that Hollywood loved to cook up (1945), with Cornel Wilde seething as Frederic Chopin and Merle Oberon simpering as George Sand. Paul Muni devours most of the scenery as Chopin’s teacher, and director Charles Vidor (Gilda) juggles the cliches. Movies like this give meaning to the word camp. 113 min. —Don Druker
Check chicagoreader.com for previously published reviews of other features screening this week:
All That I Love
The Holy Business
Tony and Janina’s American Wedding
A Wonderful Summer