Ben Sachs calls The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey "the weirdest-looking big-budget movie since Public Enemies," a hyperreal odyssey in which "the characters find themselves in life-threatening danger with stupefying regularity." Instead he recommends Bhopali, a documentary on the legacy of the 1984 chemical disaster in central India; it screens Friday, 8 PM, at Second Unitarian Church, 656 W. Barry. Also in this week's issue, Sachs reviews Starlet, the indie feature now in its second week at Music Box.
Andrew Ahn's Dol (see "Sundance Institute Art House Project")
Newly reviewed this week: Beauty Is Embarrassing, a documentary about multimedia artist Wayne White (Pee-wee's Playhouse); Citadel, a Scottish horror movie about an agoraphobic man trying to protect his child from demons; Hyde Park on Hudson, with Bill Murray as Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Laura Linney as his naughty sixth cousin; The Matchmaker, a 60s-set coming-of-age story about an Israeli boy becoming an assistant to a Holocaust survivor; Playing for Keeps, with Gerard Butler as a children's soccer coach being chased by horny moms Judy Greer, Uma Thurman, and Catherine Zeta-Jones; and Sundance Institute Art House Project, a shorts compilation from this year's festival that screens Monday at Music Box.
Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in Swing Time (1936)
Wednesday the 18th you'll have to choose among Christian Carion's Joyeux Noel (2005) at Beverly Arts Center; Charles Laughton's The Night of the Hunter (1955) at the Portage, presented by Northwest Chicago Film Society; and Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in Swing Time (1936), screening in 35-millimeter at Northbrook Public Library.
Two special events worth noting: On Friday, J.B. Mabe and South Side Projections present Boundary Lines, a 1945 animation funded by the Marshall Plan, along with two new films on immigration. And on Tuesday, indie stalwart Edward Burns appears at City Winery to screen clips from his films.