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In this week's issue I review Paul Greengrass's Iraq war thriller Green Zone, which opened last week but wasn't screened for the Reader until three days before the release date. In case you haven't read me kvetching about it already, this is standard operating procedure for Universal Pictures.
You can also get the lowdown on week three of the European Union Film Festival; our sidebar includes new reviews of Dogtooth, Just Anybody, Lourdes, Rembrandt's J'Accuse, A Year Ago in Winter, and Helsinki, Forever, the last to be introduced by Jonathan Rosenbaum, who numbered it among the ten best films of the aughts (or whatever we're calling them).
Also reviewed this week: the Jennifer Aniston vehicle The Bounty Hunter, the solid preteen comedy Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Jonathan Demme's concert movie Neil Young Trunk Show, the auto-interrogatory doc Nick Nolte: No Exit, the satirical sci-fi flick Repo Men, the hard-rocking biopic The Runaways, and the nerd rom-com She's Out of My League.
Notable oldies screening this week include Joseph H. Lewis's cockeyed lovers-on-the-run noir Gun Crazy (1949), showing Tuesday night at Gene Siskel Film Center; Paul Brickman's inimitable 80s comedy Risky Business (1983), with midnight shows Friday and Saturday at Music Box; Fritz Lang's low-budget noir Secret Beyond the Door (1948), screening as a Saturday/Sunday matinee at Music Box; and—not so old, but not to be missed either—Nina Paley's kaleidoscopic animation Sita Sings the Blues (2008), showing Wednesday at Bezazian Branch Library in Andersonville.
Last but far from least, this Saturday at 8 PM the Bank of America Cinema will be screening God's Little Acre (1958), an adaptation of the Erskine Caldwell novel by director Anthony Mann. Critics hail Mann for his intense and offbeat psychological westerns (Winchester '73, Bend of the River, The Naked Spur, The Man From Laramie, Man of the West), but he cited this layered piece of Americana as one of his personal favorites. The cast includes such future TV stars as Jack Lord (Hawaii Five-O), Tina Louise (Gilligan's Island), Vic Morrow (Combat!), and a nearly unrecognizable Michael Landon (Little House on the Prairie). But the real center of the film is Robert Ryan in one of his most atypical roles, as a demented old farmer convinced that his grandfather buried gold somewhere on the grounds of the family farm. Last year I wrote a Reader cover story about Ryan that included a sidebar listing his "essential" films; at the time I hadn't seen God's Little Acre, and boy did I feel like a dope when I did, because it belongs on any list of his best work. The movie fell into the public domain some time ago, after its distributor, United Artists, went out of business, but this is the first Chicago screening in at least a quarter century.