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Debra Granik's new drama, Winter's Bone, is part suspense movie, part ethnography, and the two are closely linked: without its persuasive landscape of an Ozarks mountain community in the 21st century, it wouldn't be nearly as tense. It's the subject of this week's long review.
Also this week, Fred Camper reviews the Onion City Experimental Film and Video Festival, which runs through next Thursday at Nightingale and Chicago Filmmakers, and I have a roundup of the African Diaspora Film Festival at Facets Cinematheque.
Critic's Choices this week include the arresting behind-the-scenes documentary Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, which opens Friday at Landmark's Century Centre, and The Enchanted Cottage, John Cromwell's rarely screened 1945 fantasy about two ugly people who become lovely to each other inside the walls of the title home, showing Saturday at Bank of America Cinema.
New reviews this week: Audrey the Trainwreck, an indie romantic comedy by local hero Frank V. Ross; 8: The Mormon Proposition, a documentary about the Mormon church's massive campaign to outlaw gay marriage in California; I Am Comic, a documentary on stand-up comedy featuring interviews with dozens of familiar comics; and Living in Emergency: Stories of Doctors Without Borders, which looks at the title humanitarian organization. All four movies screen at Gene Siskel Film Center.
Here's one program note that, being completely brain-dead, I omitted from the print listings: I'll be introducing My Year Without Sex, the latest feature by Australian filmmaker Sarah Watts (Look Both Ways), when it screens by DVD projection at the Chicago Cultural Center as part of Cinema/Chicago's summer series of international films. The program begins at 6:30 PM on Wednesday, June 23, at the Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington, and admission is free. A discussion will follow, if I can find the front of the theater.