Ted Kotcheff's Australian cult classic Wake in Fright (1971) opens for a weeklong run at Gene Siskel Film Center, screening in a restored print from the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia. Adapted from a novel by Kenneth Cook, it's the tale of a boozing Sydney schoolteacher who lands in an outback mining town and gets pulled into the local yahoo culture. As Drew Hunt observes in his four-star review, "This lifestyle seems to consist entirely of constant drinking, random fistfights, anarchic destruction of other people's property, and kangaroo hunting—the last of which is depicted in two graphic sequences. (To this day Kotcheff maintains that no kangaroos were killed on his set, and that the sequences are in fact documentary footage spliced together with staged scenes.)"
A Late Quartet
For my part, I'd recommend A Late Quartet, with Catherine Keener, Christopher Walken, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Mark Ivanir as players in a lionized string quartet; Jerry & Me, Merhnaz Zaeed-Vafa's documentary memoir about growing up on Jerry Lewis movies in Tehran; and the goofy Le Grand Amour (1969), which kicks off the Film Center's monthlong retrospective on French circus clown and filmmaker Pierre Etraix (a gag man on Jacques Tati's Mon Oncle). Also opening this week: Flight, with Denzel Washington as an airline pilot who pulls off an incredible rescue of a nosediving 727 and then gets caught with coke and alcohol in his blood; The Loneliest Planet, Julia Loktev's novel follow-up to her low-boiling thriller Day Night Day Night; The Other Son, a melodrama about a Jewish and a Palestinian child switched at birth; Shun Li and the Poet, the touching story of a Chinese woman living near Venice as an indentured servant; and The Zen of Bennett, a black-and-white doc about the pop singer.
Le Grand Amour
The Polish Film Festival in America opens this week with My Father's Bike, a familial drama with the acting debut of acclaimed jazz violinist Michal Urbaniak. We review eight features in our sidebar, and a full schedule is available on the festival site.
Best bets for repertory: Nicholas Ray's Bigger Than Life (1956), Friday and Tuesday at Film Center, with a lecture by Fred Camper at the second show; Jean Pierre-Melville's Bob le Flambeur (1955), Monday at University of Chicago Doc Films; The Gang's All Here (1943), in a new print to commemorate the University of Chicago Film Studies Center's 20th anniversary; Don Siegel's Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), next Thursday at Doc; Tati's Mon Oncle, screening in its English version, Sunday and Monday at Film Center; and Hitchcock's Rear Window (1954), Friday and Saturday night at the Logan.