The Chicago International Film Festival opens tonight with a gala screening of Stand Up Guys, a crime comedy starring Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, and Alan Arkin, all of whom will reportedly attend. (The properly punctuated title, of course, would be "Stand-Up Guys"—or, given the stars' ages, "Stand Up, Guys.") The movie wasn't previewed for the press, but plenty of the other features screening through Thursday, October 25, were. Our week one coverage includes 25 new reviews of films making their Chicago premieres, including new work by Olivier Assayas, director of Summer Hours; Cristian Mungiu, director of 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days; and Ken Burns, director of The Civil War (the PBS documentary, not the actual war).
The House I Live In
Also this week, we recommend two fine documentaries: The House I Live In, an exploration of the drug war by Eugene Jarecki (Why We Fight), and Photographic Memory, a first-person reminiscence by Ross McElwee (Sherman's March, Bright Leaves). We even managed to drag our asses off the canvas after covering CIFF and review another half dozen movies: Argo, the endlessly hyped Ben Affleck movie about the 1980 rescue of American diplomats trapped in Tehran; Now, Forager, a romance that plugs into the "slow food" trend; The One-Armed Swordsman, a 1967 martial-arts classic from the Shaw Brothers studio in Hong Kong; The Other Dream Team, a documentary on the Lithuanian national basketball team of the 80s and early 90s; Seven Psychopaths, a bloody comedy from playwright-turned-filmmaker Martin McDonagh (In Bruges); and Waiting for a Miracle, an Iranian drama about a married couple making a pilgrimage to the holy city of Mashad with their sick daughter.
The weekend also brings two special programs: at Cinema Borealis, Northwest Chicago Film Society and Chicago Film Archives present a second installment of Home Movies and the Avant Garde, and beginning Saturday at noon, Music Box screens a 24-hour marathon of horror flicks, Music Box of Horrors.