Music Box dispenses with a weeklong run in its main theater this week to present two series (though they're billed as festivals—everything has to be a festival now). Friday through Sunday the theater takes advantage of Music Box Films—its new distribution company for international features, which scored early with Tell No One—to present the Chicago French Film Festival, with Chicago premieres of six recent French features. Monday through Thursday, Music Box presents the Summer Music Film Festival, six music-related documentaries both old (The Last Waltz) and new (The Swell Season, with Once costars Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova); our sidebar has commentary from Ted Shen, Lisa Alspector, and Dave Kehr.
This week's long review considers Terri, an impressively serious-minded and eccentric comedy with young Jacob Wysocki giving a fine debut performance as the title character, an obese and hounded high schooler, and John C. Reilly in one of the best roles of his career as an assistant vice principal who takes the boy in hand. We also have new reviews of Barrier, another in the Gene Siskel Film Center's series on Polish director Jerzy Skolimowski; The Battle of Chile, Part Three: The Power of the People, the last installment in Patricio Guzman's landmark documentary; Madrid and Robinson Crusoe Island, a pair of short works by Guzman; Captain America: The First Avenger, with Chris Evans as the Marvel Comics superhero; Friends With Benefits, starring Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake as commitment-phobic lovers; Incredibly Small, a romantic comedy that marks the debut of Chicago filmmaker Dean Peterson; The Life of Chikusan and Tree Without Leaves, both part of Film Center's extensive series (why, it's nearly a festival) on Japanese director Kaneto Shindo; Roll Out, Cowboy, a documentary about the country-western rapper Chris "Sandman" Sand; and Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, an adaptation of the Lisa See novel by Wayne Wang. Trailers follow.