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Fall Arts Guide 2009: Movie Listings

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SEPTEMBER

friday 9/4

All About Steve A crossword puzzle designer (Sandra Bullock) falls for a CNN cameraman (Bradley Cooper). Ken Jeong (The Hangover) and Thomas Hayden Church (Sideways) costar in this romantic comedy.

The Art of the Remake Sara Hall, associate professor of Germanic Studies at the University of Illinois-Chicago, presents a weekly lecture and screening series on cinematic remakes. Among the films to be screened are Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (9/4 & 9/8) and the shot-by-shot remake by Gus Van Sant (9/12 & 9/15), the 1946 version of The Postman Always Rings Twice (9/18 & 9/22) and Christian Petzold's Jerichow (9/25 & 9/29), Ernst Lubitsch's Ninotchka (10/3 & 10/6) and Rouben Mamoulian's Silk Stockings (10/9 & 10/13), F.W. Murnau's Nosferatu (10/16 & 10/20) and Werner Herzog's Nosferatu the Vampyr (10/23 & 10/27), Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory with Gene Wilder (10/30 & 11/3) and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with Johnny Depp (11/6 & 11/10), and Douglas Sirk's All That Heaven Allows (11/13 & 11/17), followed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder's Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (11/20 & 11/24).  Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State, 312-846-2800.

Confessionsofa Ex-Doofus ItchyFooted Mutha Veteran filmmaker Melvin Van Peebles (Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song) directed and stars in this semi-autobiographical story about a hoary ex-adventurer whose travels have taken him from Harlem to the high seas and back.  Facets Cinematheque, 1517 W. Fullerton, 773-281-9095.

Extract Mike Judge returns to the workplace ennui of Office Space with this comedy about an unhappy factory owner (Jason Bateman) who has a thing for his sexy new hire (Mila Kunis). With Ben Affleck, Kirsten Wiig, and J.K. Simmons.

Gamer Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor (Crank) directed this dystopian sci-fi feature in which death row inmates are remotely controlled as part of a computer role-playing game.

Still Walking Japanese filmmaker Hirozaku Kore-eda (After Life, Nobody Knows) directed this drama about a family reuniting 15 years after the eldest son died rescuing a drowning child.  Music Box, 3733 N. Southport, 773-871-6604.

Tony Manero A serial killer who's obsessed with Saturday Night Fever is the central character in this 2008 Chilean drama by Pablo Larrain.  Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State, 312-846-2800.

UCLA Film & Television Archive's 14th Festival of Preservation The giant UCLA archive presents a month-long program of newly preserved films in pristine 35-millimeter prints. Among the titles screening are John Sayles's The Brother From Another Planet (9/4-9/5) and Return of the Secaucus 7 (9/5-9/6), Joseph Losey's The Prowler (9/20 & 9/23), Edgar G. Ulmer's Ruthless (9/26 & 9/30), Josef von Sternberg's The Salvation Hunters (9/7), Fritz Lang's Secret Beyond the Door (9/23 & 9/26), John Cassavetes's A Woman Under the Influence (9/16 & 9/19), and Frank Borzage's Song o' My Heart (9/14 & 9/17) and Young America (9/14 & 9/16).  Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State, 312-846-2800.

World's Greatest Dad Bobcat Goldthwaite's previous black comedy—Stay, about a woman who blunders into a sexual encounter with her pet dog—was so far over the line it never opened in Chicago. This follow-up stars Robin Williams as a hapless high school English teacher trying to manage his monstrously nasty adolescent son.

friday 9/11

Alien: The Director's Cut Ridley Scott's 1979 space shocker returns in a new print.  Music Box, 3733 N. Southport, 773-871-6604.

Animal Crackers The Marx Brothers' 1930 comedy, adapted from their Broadway hit, will be followed by a panel discussion with members of the cast and creative team from the Goodman Theatre's current revival. The program is part of a month-long Marx Brothers retrospective that also includes screenings of A Day at the Races (9/12-9/13), A Night at the Opera (9/26-9/27), and Duck Soup (10/3-10/4).  Music Box, 3733 N. Southport, 773-871-6604.

The Baader Meinhof Complex See Best Bet. Land­mark's Century Centre, 2828 N. Clark, 773-509-4949

Chicago Underground Film Festival The festival finds a new home at the Gene Siskel Film Center, with 17 programs screening over one week. Among this year's offerings are It Came From Kuchar!, a documentary profile of experimental filmmaker George Kuchar; American Radical: The Trials of Norman Finkelstein, about the controversial academic and author (The Holocaust Industry) who was recently denied tenure by DePaul University; a 40th-anniversary screening of Gold, which stars Del Close and features music by the MC5; and works by Todd Verow, Stephanie Barber, and Bill Brown and Sabine Gruffat.  Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State, 312-846-2800.

Five Minutes of Heaven This British feature begins with a factual incident in which a 16-year-old Protestant boy in Northern Ireland killed a 19-year-old Catholic boy in front of the victim's 11-year-old brother. From there, screenwriter Guy Hibbert imagines a meeting between the two survivors 30 years later, on the set of a TV talk show. Liam Neeson stars as the grown killer; the director is Oliver Hirschbiegel (Downfall, Das Experiment).

I Can Do Bad All By Myself Tyler Perry adapts his 1999 play of the same name, the first to center on his archetypal black grandmother, Madea.

Import/Export Directed by Ulrich Seidl (Dog Days), this Austrian drama alternates between two characters sinking into poverty: a tenderhearted Ukrainian who arrives in Austria looking for work, and a Viennese youth who helps his uncle tend to his vending-machine business in Ukraine.  Facets Cinematheque, 1517 W. Fullerton, 773-281-4114.

9 Shane Acker makes his feature directing debut with this adaptation of his Oscar-nominated short about nine rag dolls adrift in a post-apocalyptic landscape. The voice talent includes Elijah Wood, Christopher Plummer, Martin Landau, John C. Reilly, Crispin Glover, and Jennifer Connelly.

The September Issue This documentary by R.J. Cutler traces the five-month genesis of Vogue's 2007 fall fashion issue, focusing on the friction between editor-in-chief Anna Wintour and creative director Grace Coddington.

Sorority Row After a practical joke turns fatal, the sorority sisters responsible for it are serially stalked and killed in this remake of the 1983 slasher The House on Sorority Row.

Whiteout Kate Beckinsale stars as a U.S. marshal racing to apprehend a serial killer before the continent is plunged into darkness for the winter.

friday 9/18

Armored Matt Dillon, Jean Reno, and Laurence Fishburn star as disgruntled armored-transport guards who conspire to steal $42 million in cargo from their employers. Nimrod Antal (Kontroll and Vacancy) directed.

The Burning Plain Guillermo Arriaga makes his directing debut with this drama that—like his screenplays for Babel and 21 Grams—connects stories in disparate locales. Charlize Theron is a promiscuous restaurant manager in the U.S., and Kim Basinger is an adulterous wife and mother in Mexico.

Chicago United Film Festival A week-long touring festival of narrative and documentary features.  Music Box, 3733 N. Southport, 773-871-6604.

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs The 1978 children's book by Judi and Ron Barrett becomes a 3-D animation that spoofs such megabudget disaster movies as Armageddon and The Day After Tomorrow.

The Informant! Matt Damon stars as Mark Whitacre, the Archer Daniels Midland executive who turned FBI informant in the early 90s, accusing his firm of a global price-fixing scheme but failing to mention his own history of embezzlement. Steven Soderbergh directed.

Jennifer's Body A demonically possessed cheerleader (Megan Fox) preys on unsuspecting boys in this horror comedy scripted by Diablo Cody (Juno) and directed by Karyn Kusama (Girlfight).

Lake Tahoe Mexican filmmaker Fernando Eimbcke follows his well-received Duck Season with this 2008 tale of a teenager who crashes his car in a seaside town on the Yucatan peninsula and begins to mingle with the eccentric townspeople.  Facets Cinematheque, 1517 W. Fullerton, 773-281-4114.

Love Happens A self-help guru (Aaron Eckhart) confronts his painful past after meeting a charming florist (Jennifer Aniston). Judy Greer and Martin Sheen costar in this romantic comedy.

No Impact Man Colin Beavan will appear in person for the opening night of this documentary, which chronicles his one-year project to minimize his negative impact on the environment. Laura Gabbert and Justin Schein directed.  Music Box 3733 N. Southport, 773-871-6604.

What's the Matter With Kansas? Chicago filmmaker Joe Winston (The Burning Man Festival) directed this documentary adapton of the best-selling political book by Thomas Frank. For more, see Andrea Gronvall's profile of Winston and producer Laura Cohen.  Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State, 312-846-2800.

saturday 9/19

New Documentary Showcase A program of short documentaries, including Long for the City, Jem Cohen's nine-minute profile of rocker Patti Smith, and Conviction: The True Story of Clarence Elkins, Mike West's story of a man falsely convicted of having murdered his mother-in-law.  Chicago Filmmakers, 5243 N. Clark, 773-293-1447.

sunday 9/20

We Believe John Scheinfeld (The U.S. vs. John Lennon) directed this documentary about the Chicago Cubs.  Music Box, 3733 N. Southport, 773-871-6604.

friday 9/25

Blast! In this documentary by Paul Devlin, globe-trotting scientists struggle to launch an innovative telescope, tied to a high-altitude balloon, that could answer important questions about the origin of the cosmos.  Facets Cinematheque, 1517 W. Fullerton, 773-281-4114.

The Boys Are Back Clive Owen stars as a widower raising two young boys with the mantra "just say yes." Scott Hicks (Shine) directed this adaptation of a 2001 memoir by British columnist Simon Carr.

Bright Star Jane Campion (The Piano) returns after a long hiatus with this drama about the romance between poet John Keats (Ben Whishaw) and his young next-door neighbor, Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish).

I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell A bachelor party at a strip club goes awry in this comedy, adapted from the book by confessional blogger Tucker Max.

The Invention of Lying See Best Bet.

Hannah Free Directed by Wendy Jo Carlton and shot in the Chicago area, this drama stars Sharon Gless (Cagney & Lacey) as an old woman who's barred from visiting her lesbian lover, now comatose in a nursing home.  Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State, 312-846-2800.

Pandorum In this sci-fi thriller, two astronauts (Dennis Quaid and Ben Foster of Six Feet Under) awaken in their spacecraft with no memory of liftoff or knowledge of their mission.

Surrogates Michael Ferris and John D. Brancato, who scripted the last two Terminator sequels, wrote this sci-fi thriller set in a world where people live in isolation and interact only through robotic surrogates. Bruce Willis is the protagonist, an FBI agent trying to solve the first murder case in years.

A Woman in Berlin Nina Hoss (Yella, Jerichow) stars as a German woman trying to escape the depredations of the invading Soviet army by attaching herself to a Russian officer. Max Farberbock (Aimee & Jaguar) directed this German drama.  Music Box, 3733 N. Southport, 773-871-6604.

monday 9/28

Know Your Mushrooms Ron Mann (Grass, Tales of the Rat Fink, Comic Book Confidential) looks at the psilocybin cult in this Canadian documentary.  Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State, 312-846-2800.

tuesday 9/29

Died Young, Stayed Pretty Eileen Yaghoobian will introduce this screening of her documentary about underground rock posters.  Music Box, 3733 N. Southport, 773-871-6604.

Where the Wild Things Are Director Spike Jonze and screenwriter Dave Eggers will appear for a Q-and-A at the Chicago premiere of their big-budget fantasy, adapted from the classic children's book by Maurice Sendak. Tickets are $30; to order see 826chi.org. The movie opens for a commercial run 10/16.  Music Box, 3733 N. Southport, 773-871-6604.

OCTOBER

friday 10/2

Big Fan Patton Oswalt stars as a New York Giants fanatic who loses it after getting beaten up by a team member. Robert Siegel, screenwriter of The Wrestler, directed his own script.  Music Box, 3733 N. Southport, 773-871-6604.

Capitalism: A Love Story Michael Moore investigates the global financial crisis and subsequent bailouts.

The Damned United Peter Morgan (The Queen, Frost/Nixon) scripted this fact-based drama about Brian Clough (Michael Sheen), who succeeded Don Revie (Colm Meaney) as manager of Leeds United, the UK's top football club, in 1974 and tried to steer the team away from Revie's quick-and-dirty tactics. With Timothy Spall and Jim Broadbent.

More Than a Game Kristopher Belman, a native of Akron, Ohio, began this documentary as a short film about basketball players at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron and found it turning into a much bigger story when one of the players, LeBron James, emerged as an NBA superstar.

A Serious Man Joel and Ethan Coen wrote and directed this black comedy about a beleaguered physics professor (Michael Stuhlbarg) who solicits the advice of three different rabbis after his wife leaves him.

Toy Story 3-D and Toy Story 2 3-D Disney releases the two Pixar hits in 3-D; a third installment is scheduled for release next summer.

Whip It Drew Barrymore makes her directing debut with this story of a Texas misfit (Ellen Page) who joins an Austin roller-derby league. The cast includes Barrymore, Kristen Wiig, Juliette Lewis, Zoe Bell, and Marcia Gay Harden.

Zombieland Horror comedy with Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin, and Bill Murray.

saturday 10/3

Dialogues Fred Camper calls experimental artist Owen Land "a startlingly original filmmaker" whose work is "at once hilarious and hermetic, playing complex word and image games that can't be fully unraveled." This 133-minute feature, Land's first work in a decade, is set in 1985 and composed of short vignettes in which actors play him and other people from his life.  Chicago Filmmakers, 5243 N. Clark, 773-293-1447.

Festival of Films From Iran Gene Siskel Film Center presents its annual showcase of contemporary Iranian features; this year's edition includes Abbas Kiarostami's Shirin and Tahmineh Milani's Superstar. The festival continues through 11/1.

monday 10/5

No Crossover Commissioned by ESPN, this documentary by Steve James (Hoop Dreams, At the Death House Door) profiles NBA star Allen Iverson, focusing on the 1993 incident in which the black athlete was convicted under an anti-lynching statute following a racially charged altercation at a Virginia bowling alley.  Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State, 312-846-2800.

thursday 10/8

Chicago International Film Festival The 45th annual festival opens for a two-week run, through 10/21, with Chicago premieres of more than 150 films. The festival has announced its first batch of titles, which includes features by Marco Bellochio (director of Good Morning, Night), Claude Chabrol (A Girl Cut in Two, The Flower of Evil), Hirozaku Kore-eda (After Life, Nobody Knows), Corneliu Poromboiu (12:08 East of Bucharest), and John Woo (Hard Boiled, Bullet in the Head). Also making their first Chicago appearances, and opening for commercial runs later this year, are Katherine Dieckmann's Motherhood (see listing for 10/16), Lars von Trier's Antichrist (10/23), Ti West's The House of the Devil (10/30), Lee Daniels's Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire (11/6), and John Woo's Red Cliff (11/13). For more information see chicagofilmfestival.org.

friday 10/9

Bronson Danish filmmaker Nicholas Winding Refn, who created the Pusher trilogy of crime dramas, wrote and directed this feature based on the true story of Michael Peterson—aka "Charles Bronson"—who was arrested at age 19 after a bungled post office robbery, spent 34 years in prison, and while there staged a series of violent attacks and hostage incidents.

Coco Before Chanel Audrey Tautou stars in this biopic about the early years of French fashion designer Coco Chanel; the director is Anne Fontaine (The Girl From Monaco, Entre Ses Mains, How I Killed My Father).

Couples Retreat Four couples retreat to a tropical resort to work on their marriage problems in this comedy coscripted by Vince Vaughn, Jon Favreau, and Dana Fox (who wrote The Wedding Date and What Happens in Vegas). With Vaughn, Favreau, Jason Bateman, Kristen Davis, Kristen Bell, and Faizon Love.

Everything Is Terrible: The Movie A compilation of found footage, presented by the creators of the Web site EverythingIsTerrible.com.  Music Box, 3733 N. Southport, 773-871-6604.

Free Style A young hotshot (Corbin Bleu of High School Musical) aspires to win the Motocross World Championship. William Dear (Angels in the Outfield) directed this kids' sports drama; with Penelope Ann Miller.

Good Hair Comedian Chris Rock—prompted by his daughter's question, "How come I don't have good hair?"—sets out to learn how hairstyles impact the self-esteem and social dynamics of the black community. Jeff Stilton directed this comic documentary, which also features Maya Angelou, Meagan Good, Ice-T, KRS-One, Nia Long, Al Sharpton, and Kerry Washington.

In a Lonely Place Humphrey Bogart is a screenwriter accused of murder, and Gloria Grahame is the woman who tries to help him. Director Nicholas Ray was married to Grahame in real life, and they separated during the film's production; Dave Kehr calls this 1950 noir "a breathtaking work, and a key citation in the case for confession as suitable material for art." It kicks off a monthlong Ray retrospective that continues with Bigger Than Life (10/17 & 10/18), Rebel Without a Cause (10/24 & 10/25), and Johnny Guitar (11/7 & 11/8).  Music Box, 3733 N. Southport, 773-871-6604.

Suspiria Dario Argento's 1976 horror film, about bloody mayhem at a girls' school, screens in a 35-millimeter archival print.  Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State, 312-846-2800.

saturday 10/10

Citywide Film Showcase Chicago Filmmakers and Amir George of Film Culture curated this second annual program of short works by film students from around Chicago.  Chicago Filmmakers, 5243 N. Clark, 773-293-1447.

Music Box Massacre Movieside and the Music Box present their annual 24-hour horror marathon, with guests, prizes, and a memorabilia market.  Music Box, 3733 N. Southport, 773-871-6604.

friday 10/16

In Search of Memory Directed by Petra Seeger, this German documentary looks at the work of neuroscientist Eric Kandel, examining his theories about human memory and exploring his own painful memories of the Holocaust.  Facets Cinematheque, 1517 W. Fullerton, 773-281-4114.

Law Abiding Citizen A legal thriller with Jamie Foxx and Gerard Butler. F. Gary Gray (Be Cool) directed a script by Kurt Wimmer (Equilibrium).

Motherhood Uma Thurman stars as a mother jumping through hoops to organize her daughter's sixth birthday party in this comedy by writer-director Katherine Dieckmann (Diggers). Anthony Edwards, Minnie Driver, and Samantha Bee costar.

New York, I Love You French producer Emmanel Benbihy, having lauched his "cities of love" series with the anthology film Paris, Je T'Aime, turns to New York City with this second installment. Among the contributors are Fatih Akin (The Edge of Heaven), Allen Hughes (Menace II Society) Shekhar Kapur (Elizabeth), Joshua Marston (Maria Full of Grace), Mira Nair (The Namesake), Brett Ratner (Rush Hour), and Natalie Portman.

Rashomon Akira Kurosawa's 1951 classic, in which four people present radically different narratives about the same event, screens in a restored 35-millimeter print. Jonathan Rosenbaum calls it "an impressive piece of work, visually and rhythmically masterful."  Music Box, 3733 N. Southport, 773-871-6604.

The Road Cormac McCarthy's novel, about a man shepherding his young son across a post-apocalyptic landscape fraught with cannibalistic tribes, has been adapted to the screen by John Hillcoat, who directed the Aussie western The Proposition. Viggo Mortensen stars.

The Stepfather A remake of the 1987 thriller about a young woman who suspects her stepfather of a heinous crime. This time around, the young woman is a young man—Penn Badgley of Gossip Girl. With Dylan Walsh and Sela Ward.

We Live in Public Ondi Timoner, whose documentary DiG! looked at the long-running feud between the Dandy Warhols and the Brian Jonestown Massacre, directed this feature about conceptual artist Josh Harris and his quest to stream online the lives of a hundred people spending a month in an underground bunker.  Music Box. 3733 N. Southport, 773-871-6604.

saturday 10/17

Do No Harm Originally scheduled for July but postponed due to legal issues, this documentary by Rebecca Schanberg profiles a surgeon and an accountant in Albany, Georgia, who accused the nonprofit Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital of abusive billing and collection practices.  Chicago Filmmakers, 5243 N. Clark, 773-293-1447.

sunday 10/18

Quearborn & Perversion Ron Pajak will appear at this screening of his documentary about LGBT life in Chicago, from the Jazz Age to the present.  Music Box, 3733 N. Southport, 773-871-6604.

thursday 10/22

Chicago International Children's Film Festival The 26th annual festival runs through 11/1. Weekday screenings are generally filled by school classes, but the Saturday and Sunday screenings are open for parents and kids. There are also children's classes on acting, animation, and other elements of filmmaking. Screenings will take place at Facets Cinematheque and other locations around the city and suburbs. For more information call 773-281-9075 or see cicff.org.

The Wizard of Oz Evan I. Schwartz, author of Finding Oz: How L. Frank Baum Discovered the Great American Story, will introduce this 70th-anniversary screening of the classic 1939 fantasy.  Music Box, 3733 N. Southport, 773-871-6604.

friday 10/23

Amelia Hilary Swank stars as aviator Amelia Earhart in this biopic by Mira Nair (The Namesake). With Richard Gere, Ewan McGregor, and Virginia Madsen.

Antichrist Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg (whose performance won her the best actress award at Cannes) star as a couple who retreat to a remote cabin after the death of their child. Danish provocateur Lars von Trier (Dogville) directed.  Music Box, 3733 N. Southport, 773-871-6604.

Astro Boy Adapted from the Japanese manga and TV show created by Osamu Tezuka, this 3-D computer animation features the voices of Freddie Highmore, Kristen Bell, Nathan Lane, Eugene Levy, Bill Nighy, Donald Sutherland, and Nicolas Cage.

Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant Adapted from Darren Shan's Vampire Trilogy, this horror adventure is about a teenager who unwittingly reignites a war between rival vampire clans. Paul Weitz (American Pie, About a Boy) directed; with John C. Reilly, Josh Hutcherson, Patrick Fugit, and Ken Watanabe.

An Education Set in suburban London in the 60s, this drama about a teenager (Carey Mulligan) who falls for an older man (Peter Sarsgaard) was adapted by Nick Hornby (High Fidelity) from a memoir by Lynn Barber. The director is Lone Scherfig (Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself).

Ong Bak 2 Tony Jaa directed and stars in this prequel to his 2003 martial arts hit, set almost 600 years before the original, in medieval Thailand.

Saw VI Another installment in the torture-porn franchise; the director is Kevin Gruetert, who edited the first five movies.

saturday 10/24

45365 Winner of a Grand Jury Prize at the South by Southwest film festival, this documentary by brothers Bill and Turner Ross looks at life in Sidney, Ohio, surveying a variety of townspeople in fall 2007.  Chicago Filmmakers. 5243 N. Clark, 773-293-1447.

wednesday 10/28

This Is It Michael Jackson rehearses for his ill-fated comeback tour in this behind-the-scenes documentary, culled from more than a hundred hours of footage shot between April and June of this year.

thursday 10/29

Chicago Festival of Israeli Cinema This showcase of new Israeli theatrical features and TV movies screens through 11/8 at 600 N. Michigan and Wilmette. For more information call 847-675-3378 or see chicagofestivalofisraelicinema.org.

friday 10/30

Gentlemen Broncos From the husband-and-wife team of Jared and Jerusha Hess (Napoleon Dynamite, Nacho Libre) comes this tale of a teenager (Michael Angarano of Snow Angels) who attends a fantasy convention and learns that his story idea has been swiped by a popular author.

The House of the Devil Strapped for cash, a chipper co-ed (Jocelin Donahue) responds to an ad seeking a babysitter and arrives at a dark Victorian house deep in the woods to discover there's no baby. Ti West directed a cast that includes Tom Noonan, Mary Woronov, and Greta Gerwig.

Yes Men Fix the World Left-wing pranksters the Yes Men (Mike Bonanno and Andy Bichlbaum) return with another assortment of anticorporate stunts. Dan Ohlman, Sarah Price, and Chris Smith directed this documentary.  Music Box, 3733 N. Southport, 771-871-6604.

Youth in Revolt Michael Cera (Superbad) stars as a trailer-park romeo trying to lose his virginity. Miguel Arteta directed this comedy; with Zach Galifianakis, Justin Long, Steve Buscemi, and Ray Liotta.

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For the Love of Movies Roger Ebert, Jonathan Rosenbaum, and Michael Wilmington are among those featured in Gerald Peary's history of American film criticism.  Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State, 312-846-2800.

NOVEMBER

thursday 11/5

Reeling: The Chicago Lesbian & Gay International Film Festival This year's festival runs through 11/14. For more information call 773-293-1447 or see reelingfilmfestival.org.

friday 11/6

Afghan Star A return engagement of Havana Marking's documentary about the social tensions that surrounded Afghanistan's version of American Idol.  Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State, 312-846-2800.

Bliss Abdullah Oguz directed this 2007 Turkish drama about a soldier who agrees to carry out the honor killing of his cousin after she's raped.  Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State, 312-846-2800.

The Box A married couple (Cameron Diaz and James Marsden) receive a mysterious box with a push button that supposedly delivers the pusher a million dollars but also kills someone he doesn't know. Richard Kelly (Donnie Darko, Southland Tales) directed his own screenplay, adapted from a Richard Matheson story.

A Christmas Carol Robert Zemeckis brings the performance-capture technology of his animations Beowulf and The Polar Express to this umpteenth sceeen adaptation of the Dickens story. Jim Carrey plays Ebenezer Scrooge and the three Christmas ghosts; Gary Oldman is Bob Cratchit, Marley, and Tiny Tim. A Disney production.

Fantastic Mr. Fox Wes Anderson (Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, The Darjeeling Limited) ventures into stop-motion animation with this adaptation of the children's book by Roald Dahl. Providing voices are George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Jarvis Cocker, Owen Wilson, and Willem Dafoe.

The Fourth Kind Milla Jovovich stars as a shrink in Nome, Alaska, whose interviews with people claiming to be victims of alien abduction lead her to suspect a government cover-up.

The Horse Boy A Texas couple travel across Outer Mongolia on horseback with their autistic son, hoping that traditional shamans can alleviate his condition. Michael Orion Scott and Rupert Isaacson directed this documentary, winner of the Audience Award at this year's South by Southwest Film Festival.  Music Box, 3733 N. Southport, 773-871-6604.

Polish Film Festival in America This year's festival runs through 11/22. For more information call 773-486-9612 or see pffamerica.com.

Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire The title character of this drama (Gabourey Sidibe) is an obese, illiterate teenager in Harlem—verbally abused by her mother, sexually abused by her father—who begins to turn her life around after entering a GED program and transferring to a new school. With Mo'Nique, Paula Patton, Mariah Carey, and Lenny Kravitz.

friday 11/13

Pirate Radio Released in the UK as The Boat That Rocked, this comedy by writer-director Richard Curtis (Love Actually) takes place in the late 60s and concerns a crew of disk jockeys who operate a pirate station from a boat on the North Sea. With Bill Nighy, Kenneth Branagh, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Nick Frost.

Planet 51 In this computer animation, a human astronaut (given voice by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) is stranded on the title planet among an alien race comically similar to our own.

Red Cliff John Woo's sprawling epic, about the final days of the Han Dynasty in the third century, was released in two parts and ran nearly five hours in its native China. This U.S. release combines them in a single feature running about two and a half hours.

2012 Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow) destroys the world again. With John Cusack, Woody Harrelson, Thandie Newton, Amanda Peet, Danny Glover, Chiwetel Ejiofor, George Segal, and Oliver Platt.

The Young Victoria Emily Blunt stars as Queen Victoria in this historical drama about her first year on the British throne. The cast includes Miranda Richardson, Jim Broadbent, and Paul Bettany.

friday 11/20

The Blind Side Adapted from a nonfiction book by Michael Lewis, this drama tells the story of Michael Oher, a homeless African-American youth who was taken in by a well-to-do white family and went on to play football for Ole Miss and the Baltimore Ravens. With Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw.

Twilight Saga: New Moon A sequel to the 2008 vampire romance. This time around the heroine (Kristen Stewart) finds herself enmeshed in the ancient conflict between werewolves and vampires; her ethereal vampire lover (Robert Pattinson) is largely absent.

saturday 11/21

Hearts on Fire Presented by Chicago Filmmakers, this program collects award-winning narrative shorts from various festivals in 2009, including Aspen, Sundance, Tribeca, and South by Southwest.  Chicago Filmmakers, 5243 N. Clark, 773-293-1447.

friday 11/27

Old Dogs John Travolta and Robin Williams are family-phobic corporate titans who are forced to care for seven-year-old twins. Walt Becker (Wild Hogs) directed.

Nine Director Rob Marshall (Chicago) adapts a recent musical inspired by Fellini's 8-1/2. The cast includes six Oscar winners: Daniel Day-Lewis, Nicole Kidman, Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz, Judi Dench, and Sophia Loren.

Ninja Assassin Korean pop star Rain plays the world's deadliest assassin in this actioner directed by James McTeigue (V for Vendetta).

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Films by Alain Resnais A month-long retrospective of films by the director of Night and Fog (1955), Hiroshima, Mon Amour (1959), and Last Year at Marienbad (1961).  Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State, 312-846-2800.

Severed Ways: The Norse Discovery of America Tony Stone wrote and directed this costume drama about Vikings, Native Americans, and Irish monks clashing on the North American continent in the 11th century.  Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State, 312-846-2800.

Until the Light Takes Us Aaron Aites and Audrey Ewell's documentary about the Swedish black-metal subculture returns to Film Center for a week-long engagement.  Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State, 312-846-2800.

Listings compiled by Patrick Dahl, Keith Griffith, and J.R. Jones

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