Our Critic's Choice this week is the classic Harold Lloyd comedy The Freshman, which screens Friday night at the Portage as the opening program of the Silent Summer Film Festival. Presented by the Silent Film Society of Chicago, this is always one of the highlights of the summer, and it continues every Friday through the end of August. Coming up in future weeks: Ben-Hur (1926), starring Ramon Navarro, on July 30; The Mark of Zorro (1920), starring Douglas Fairbanks, on August 6; The Penalty (1920), starring Lon Chaney, on August 13; Harold Teen (1928), a high school comedy starring Arthur Lake (who later played Dagwood Bumstead in the long-running Blondie series), on August 20; and Pollyanna (1920), starring Mary Pickford, on August 27. Check back in future weeks for reviews of some of these relics.
Opening this week: Agora, a historical drama by Alejandro Amenabar (The Sea Inside) starring Rachel Weisz as a philosopher in fourth-century Alexandria; Lovers of Hate, an indie comedy about rival siblings by Austin writer-director Bryan Poyser; Mercy, with Scott Caan (who also wrote the screenplay) as a cynical romance novelist who learns a thing or two about love; Ramona and Beezus, which is, believe it or not, the first theatrical movie ever adapted from the work of veteran children's writer Beverly Cleary; and Salt, with Angelina Jolie as a CIA agent suspected of being a mole for the Russians.
Yeah, slim pickings, but we have to keep all those multiplex screens open for Inception. Do yourself a favor and check out an oldie this week: Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis star in Frank Tashlin's Artists and Models (1955), screening Saturday night at Bank of America Cinema; Gene Siskel Film Center brings back Laurent Cantet's The Class (2008) on Sunday and Wednesday and Human Resources (1999) on Sunday and Monday, as well as Abbas Kiarostami's Close-Up (1990) on Friday, Monday, and Wednesday; Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill screens in its entirety at Film Center on Saturday and Tuesday; David Lynch's Lost Highway (1996) screens Wednesday at Music Box, introduced by the always insightful Scott Tobias of Onion A/V Club; and Alfred Hitchcock's The Wrong Man (1957) screens Friday night at Doc Films.