What's screening this weekend

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John Cusack, once upon a midnight dreary, in The Raven
  • John Cusack, once upon a midnight dreary, in The Raven
We don't often have more than one or two releases jockeying for those primo "Reader Recommends" slots. But this week there were four solid candidates: Taika Waititi's New Zealand comedy Boy, about a Maori kid whose deadbeat dad suddenly materializes; Philippe Falardeau's Canadian drama Monsieur Lazhar, about an Algerian refugee in Canada trying to take over a traumatized grade school class; James McTeigue's The Raven, a period mystery with John Cusack as a sleuthing Edgar Allan Poe; and Nanni Moretti's Italian comedy We Have a Pope, about a newly elected pontiff who's not sure he wants the job. (Click on the links if you want to see which one got elbowed out.)

We also have new reviews of Lawrence Kasdan's Darling Companion, starring Kevin Kline and Diane Keaton as a rich married couple who lose their dog (yeah, that's the whole movie); Nicholas Stoller's The Five-Year Engagement, a rom-com with Jason Segel and Emily Blunt; Daniel Nettheim's The Hunter, with Willem Dafoe as a mercenary who agrees to stalk an endangered species in Australia; Josef Astor's Lost Bohemia, a documentary about the fabled artist studios above Carnegie Hall; Percy and Felix Adlon's Mahler on the Couch, about the romantic travails of the great composer; Think Like a Man, a rom-com based on the Steve Harvey self-help book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man; and Dan Tanz's Triumph67, screening as the closing-night program of the Chicago Palestine Film Festival.

Best bets for repertory: Terrence Malick's Badlands (1973), Tuesday at Doc Films; Joel and Ethan Coen's The Big Lebowski (1998), kicking off a new midnight-movie series Friday at Landmark's Century Centre; Johnnie To's Election (2005), next Thursday at Doc; Charles Crichton's A Fish Called Wanda (1988), Wednesday at Doc; Vincente Minnelli's Meet Me in St. Louis (1944), Sunday at Doc; Hong Sang-soo's Night and Day (2008), Thursday at Doc; John Boorman's Point Blank (1967), Saturday and Sunday morning at Music Box; Joss Whedon's Serenity (2005), midnight Friday and Saturday at Music Box; F.W. Murnau's Sunrise (1927), Friday at Block Museum of Art, with live organ accompaniment; and William Wellman's Wild Boys of the Road (1933), Wednesday night at the Portage, presented by Northwest Chicago Film Society.

Some special events you should know about: Melbourne film critic Adrian Martin presents Cinema Invents Ways of Dancing, a lecture on how dance has been presented in movies, and cartoonist Heather McAdams presents her new documentary My Dad along with a collection of her trailers and Scopitones. And don't forget the Sci-Fi Spectacular at Portage, a 14-hour marathon of sci-fi and fantasy films, screening in 35-millimeter, with vintage trailers and other treats.

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