Does Alex Gibney sleep? Last year the muckraking documentary maker premiered not one but two important theatrical features—Casino Jack and the United States of Money and Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer—as well as a shorter segment for the omnibus documentary Freakonomics. Casino Jack, about the disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, was covered in my long review from the December 31 issue, while Client 9 is the subject of my long review this week.
Also in this week's issue you'll find Critic's Choice boxes for three new releases: Another Year, the latest from Britain's greatest filmmaker, Mike Leigh; The Illusionist, an animated feature by Sylvain Chomet (The Triplets of Belleville) that's based on a script by the French comic master Jacques Tati; and Marwencol, a fascinating documentary about a brain-damaged man who worked through his trauma by building a 1/6th-scale replica of a Belgian village during World War II. Trailers for all three of these follow the post.
New movies reviewed this week include Blue Valentine, with Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams as a married couple at the end of the line; Brother & Sister, an Argentinian comedy about elderly siblings who clash after the death of their mother; Country Strong, a Nashville music drama starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Tim McGraw; The Dilemma, with Vince Vaughn as a Chicago businessman unsure whether he should tell partner Kevin James about his cheating wife; The Green Hornet, with Seth Rogen as the intrepid crime fighter and Jay Chou as his ass-kicking chauffeur, Kato; Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story, which documents the contributions of Jewish players to the game; Norberto's Deadline, a Uruguayan drama about an unhappy real estate agent who decides to take up acting; Season of the Witch, with Nicolas Cage and Ron Perlman as 14th-century knights who ditch the Crusades and get involved with a young woman accused of witchcraft; and Strange Powers, a documentary profile of indie songwriter Stephin Merritt and his band the Magnetic Fields.
Two repertory screenings lead the pack this week. On Friday at 7 PM, Doc Films will present Elaine May's 1987 comedy Ishtar, introduced by Reader contributor Jonathan Rosenbaum and Onion A/V Club contributor Nathan Rabin. And on Sunday at 1 PM, Facets Cinematheque will screen Jafar Panahi's 2000 drama The Circle to protest Panahi's recent prison sentence in Iran; Kaveh Ehsani, assistant professor of international studies at DePaul University, will introduce the program. Also showing this week: Ernst Lubitsch's Cluny Brown (1946), Friday, Sunday, and Wednesday at Gene Siskel Film Center; David Lynch's Eraserhead (1977), midnight Friday and Saturday at Music Box; Grigori Kosintsev's Hamlet (1964), next Thursday at
Doc Films University of Chicago Film Studies Center; Mae West in I'm No Angel, also on Thursday at Doc Films; D.W. Griffith's Orphans of the Storm (1922), Sunday night at Doc; and Teinosuke Kinugasa's silent A Page of Madness (1926), screening next Wednesday at University of Chicago Film Studies Center, with live musical accompaniment by Tatsu Aoki.