Great popular art, past and present, and the rest of this week's movies

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Drug War
  • Drug War
I know it's just a coincidence, but it feels appropriate that Johnnie To's Drug War is opening in Chicago on the same weekend that a series of newly restored Alfred Hitchcock films comes through town. To is one of the only contemporary filmmakers in a position similar to the one Hitchcock enjoyed in his prime—that is, he's simultaneously one of his country's most commercially successful directors and one of its most important living artists. Through the mastery of a popular genre, To has developed a unique and intricate cinematic language. His filmmaking, like Hitchcock's, is immediately accessible and profound in its implications, suggesting a fluid interconnectivity between all his subjects. Drug War, which plays this week at the Siskel Center, is the subject of this week's featured review; the "Hitchcock 9," which runs at the Music Box from Friday to Tuesday, gets special mention as well. We also have a sidebar devoted to the 19th annual Black Harvest Film Festival, which is now in its second week.

This week's movie section features new short reviews of: 2 Guns, the Mark Wahlberg-Denzel Washington action-comedy that opened last week; Elysium, a big-budget sci-fi movie that marks the U.S. debut of South African director Neill Blomkamp (District 9); Europa Report, a low-budget sci-fi movie that marks the U.S. debut of Ecuadoran director Sebastian Cordero (Cronicas); Kid-Thing, an oddball look at childhood set in the outskirts of Austin, Texas; Lovelace, a biography of adult film star Linda Lovelace by Howl directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman; The Spectacular Now, a buzzed-about teen picture that's opening at the Landmark Century; We're the Millers, a generally shitty lowbrow comedy that's probably more enjoyable if you're drunk; and The Year I Broke My Voice, a locally produced experimental feature about delinquent youths screening at Chicago Filmmakers.

Best bets for revivals: Doc Films will screen King Vidor's Our Daily Bread tonight at 10 PM and Babe tomorrow night at 7 and 9 PM; the Siskel Center continues its David Fincher retrospective tomorrow afternoon with Fight Club (which screens again Thursday) and The Game (which screens again Tuesday); the Music Box will show Sergio Leone's The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly on their big screen (as they should) tomorrow and Sunday morning at 11:30 AM; on Wednesday at 7:30 PM, the Northwest Chicago Film Society will screen The Intruder, a rare social-issue drama directed by Roger Corman, at the Patio Theater; and also on Wednesday, the Northbrook Public Library screens the W.C. Fields classic It's a Gift.

Last but not least, tonight at 7 PM at the Logan Center for the Arts, South Side Projections will screen two documentaries about black Vietnam War veterans as part of their "Revolution on Film" series: No Vietnamese Ever Called Me Nigger and an early Kartemquin Films production called Trick Bag. Taking part in a postfilm discussion are filmmaker Peter Kuttner and Travis, frontman for the long-running Chicago band ONO and a Vietnam veteran himself.

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