Movie screenings for the week of August 9 | Movie Listings | Chicago Reader

Movie screenings for the week of August 9 

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click to enlarge Brian Banks

Brian Banks

RAlways for Pleasure The folk traditions of black New Orleans—with a special emphasis on music and food—are examined in this 1978 documentary by Les Blank. 1985 58 min. 16mm. Showing with Blank's 1964 film Dizzy Gillespie (20 min., 16 mm). Sat 8/10, 7 PM. Chicago Filmmakers

RN Always in Season Director Jacqueline Olive takes the 2014 hanging of a black teen and his mother's quest for justice, insisting that her son was lynched and not a suicide, as a starting point for a larger exploration of lynching in America. 89 min. Showing as part of the Black Harvest Film Festival. Fri 8/9, 4:15 PM, and Tue 8/13, 6 PM. Gene Siskel Film Center

N American as Bean Pie Chicagoan Liz Toussaint directed this autobiographical documentary about her life as a Muslim and a country music performer. 62 min. Toussaint attends the screenings. Showing as part of the Black Harvest Film Festival. Fri 8/9, 6:15 PM, and Sat 8/10, 8:15 PM. Gene Siskel Film Center

click to enlarge Angels Are Made of Light
  • Angels Are Made of Light

N Angels Are Made of Light Afghanistan is not a place most Westerners have visited or know well, if at all, outside the context of war. As the setting for this documentary, filmed from 2011 to 2014 at a school in the capital, Kabul, it is beautiful despite its ravages, somehow still glimmering with hope. American filmmaker James Longley (Iraq in Fragments) again turns his camera on ordinary people who are just trying to get by—and on top of that, building a better future for their children. The film centers on a trio of brothers who attend the school and expands outward to include their fellow students, parents, teachers, and other adults in their orbit. The older interviewees recall the country's recent past, illustrated through 35-millimeter archival footage, and share their fears that leak into the present. These sequences are more evocative than informative, and the lack of focus on the city's schoolgirls is sorely felt. At the same time, Longley's commitment to the light that shines through the rubble and to the many individuals who are lifting the rocks is more than admirable. It is necessary work that reaffirms the intrinsic value of every human life, no matter how distant. In Dari, Pashto, and Arabic with subtitles. —Leah Pickett 117 min. Fri 8/9, 7 PM; Sat 8/10, 7:30 PM; Sun 8/11, 6 PM; Mon 8/12-Thu 8/15, 7 PM. Facets Cinematheque

N The Art of Racing in the Rain Kevin Costner is the voice of a golden retriever, which learns life lessons with his owners, a Formula One driver (Milo Ventimiglia) and his wife (Amanda Seyfried). PG, 109 min. AMC CLASSIC Hobart 12, AMC Dine-in Northbrook Court 14, AMC Dine-in Yorktown 18, AMC Hawthorn 12, AMC Loews Crestwood 18, AMC Loews Quarry Cinemas 14, AMC Loews Streets Of Woodfield 20, AMC Loews Woodridge 18, AMC Oakbrook Center 12, AMC Randhurst 12, AMC Showplace Naperville 16, AMC Showplace New Lenox 14, AMC Showplace Schererville 16, AMC Showplace Village Crossing 18, AMC South Barrington 24, ArcLight, ArcLight Glenview, Century 12 and CineArts 6, Century 16 Deer Park, Century Stratford Square, Cicero Showplace 14, Cinemark @ Seven Bridges and IMAX, Cinemark Louis Joliet Mall, Cinemark Tinseltown USA, Classic Cinemas Charlestowne 18, Classic Cinemas Cinema 12, Classic Cinemas Elk Grove, Classic Cinemas Ogden 6, Classic Cinemas York, CMX Arlington Heights, Emagine Frankfort, Lake Theatre, Lansing Cinema 8, Marcus Addison Cinema, Marcus Chicago Heights Cinema, Marcus Country Club Hills Cinema, Marcus Elgin Cinema, Marcus Gurnee Mills Cinema, Marcus Orland Park Cinemas, Niles ShowPlace 12, Regal Cantera Stadium 17 & RPX, Showplace 14 Galewood Crossings, Studio Movie Grill Wheaton

R The Blood Is at the Doorstep This 2017 documentary follows the repercussions of the 2014 murder of an unarmed Black man named Dontre Hamilton by a Milwaukee police officer. Director Erik Ljung profiles the victim's relatives as they get involved with activist groups committed to ending unnecessary police violence; he also speaks to members of Milwaukee's police force as the organization attempts to improve from within. (The latter interviewees don't come off especially well, but Ljung is careful not to paint them as one-dimensional villains.) The movie confronts a number of pertinent issues, not just police violence, but also racism, inner-city poverty, and American society's treatment of the mentally ill. (Hamilton was schizophrenic, and Ljung explores his case history in moving detail.) In the end all these problems come to seem like facets of the same crisis, which might be summarized as a lack of empathy in the United States for our most vulnerable citizens. —Ben Sachs 90 min. Ljung and Hamilton's mother Maria attend the screenings. Showing as part of the Black Harvest Film Festival. Sat 8/10, 5:15 PM, and Sun 8/11, 3 PM. Gene Siskel Film Center

N Brian Banks In the early 2000s, a high school football star from Long Beach, California, was falsely accused and convicted of raping a classmate. Brian Banks spent nearly six years behind bars and five years on parole as a registered sex offender before his conviction was overturned in 2012 with the help of the California Innocence Project. Any film detailing this incredible true story must also tread through a thicket of interlocking issues, and this biopic from unlikely director Tom Shadyac (Ace Ventura: Pet Detective) cuts a clear if thorny path. It sidesteps two easy routes—a white savior narrative with Brian's lawyer from the CIP (Greg Kinnear) and a condemnation of lying Jezebels—to follow Brian (Aldis Hodge) through his daily life in the shadow of a flawed and racially biased criminal justice system. The drama explores a range of conundrums, from why innocent people accept plea deals—in Brian's case, he accepted five years in prison over the possibility of 41 years to life—to how difficult it is for ex-cons to contribute to society when their access to jobs, housing, and a swath of other opportunities is severely restricted. Hodge's resolute performance anchors the film, while the nuanced screenplay from Doug Atchison (Akeelah and the Bee) and lush visual language from cinematographer Ricardo Diaz push it several rungs above prosaic TV-movie-style fare. —Leah Pickett PG-13, 99 min. AMC CLASSIC Hobart 12, AMC Dine-in Northbrook Court 14, AMC Loews Crestwood 18, AMC Loews Quarry Cinemas 14, AMC Loews Woodridge 18, AMC Showplace Naperville 16, AMC Showplace Schererville 16, AMC Showplace Village Crossing 18, AMC South Barrington 24, Century 16 Deer Park, Century Stratford Square, Chatham 14, Cicero Showplace 14, Cinemark @ Seven Bridges and IMAX, Cinemark Tinseltown USA, Classic Cinemas Cinema 12, Ford City, Marcus Addison Cinema, Marcus Country Club Hills Cinema, Marcus Elgin Cinema, Marcus Orland Park Cinemas, Regal Bolingbrook Stadium 12, Regal Cantera Stadium 17 & RPX, Regal Lincolnshire Stadium 15 & IMAX, River East 21, Showplace 14 Galewood Crossings

click to enlarge The Chambermaid
  • The Chambermaid

RN The Chambermaid Since its first showings during the autumn 2018 festival circuit, this engrossing narrative feature debut by actor-turned-director Lila Avilés has drawn multiple comparisons to Alfonso Cuarón's Roma, but the only similarity is that they're both about industrious maids in Mexico City. Whereas Cuarón's luminous movie followed a live-in domestic's daily routines and complex, supportive relationships with her employers, Avilés's much grittier work leans more toward the interiority of the lonely, guarded title character. Single mother Eve (Gabriela Cartol) labors unstintingly in a five-star hotel to support her young son, hoping that her meticulous attention to detail and willingness to do any task will get her promoted to the 42nd-floor luxury suites. A nascent friendship with a garrulous, playful coworker harboring a hidden agenda (Teresa Sánchez) and a night class to pursue a GED help pull Eve out of her shell, but the accumulation of myriad indignities, broken promises, poverty, and exhaustion sends Eve into a spiral of discontent and simmering anger. Cinematographer Carlos Rossini, a veteran of nonfiction films, brings a verite, off-the-cuff feel to his images of hotel bustle while also exploiting the possibilities of the stationary camera, as in one intricate geometric composition where the heroine flirts with an ogling window-washer suspended dozens of stories in the air. In Spanish with subtitles. —Andrea Gronvall 102 min. Fri 8/9, 2 and 8:15 PM; Sat 8/10, 5 PM; Sun 8/11, 3 PM; Mon 8/12, 6 PM; Tue 8/13, 8:15 PM; Wed 8/14, 8:15 PM; and Thu 8/15, 6 PM. Gene Siskel Film Center

R Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon The first Ang Lee film I've liked without much qualification (2000). It's also the most exuberant action movie in ages, thanks to the choreography of Yuen Wo-ping and the powerhouse cast of Chow Yun-fat, Michelle Yeoh, Zhang Ziyi, and Chang Chen. There's an undeniable lift to watching the young girl Zhang wipe out the ruffians who go after her, while the affectionate references to King Hu's The Fate of Lee Khan (among other Hong Kong action touchstones) also add something flavorsome to the brew. Adapted by James Schamus (one of the executive producers), Wang Hui Ling, and Tsai Kuo Jung from Wang Du Lu's novel of the same title, this sincere and magical fairy tale might be self-consciously celebratory at times (it's Ang Lee's homecoming movie, his first Asian film since Eat Drink Man Woman), but it still succeeds in putting the same spirited spin on martial arts that Singin' in the Rain did on early Hollywood. In Mandarin with subtitles. —Jonathan Rosenbaum PG-13, 119 min. Outdoor screening. Tue 8/13, 6:30 PM. Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park  F

N Damaged Goods A screening of six episodes of local filmmaker Vincent Martell's web series about twentysomething roommates in Humboldt Park. 63 min. Outdoor screening. Wed 8/14, 8:30 PM. Comfort Station  F

Dirty Dancing A rather novel Flashdance spin-off, this coming-of-age dancing romance (1987) is set in a Catskills resort during the summer of 1963. What sets it apart from others of its ilk is that some of the leads—notably Jennifer Grey, who achieves her apotheosis by learning the mambo, and Jerry Orbach—actually resemble real people rather than actors. The plot hinges on class differences between resort customers and staff members ("dirty dancing" is what the latter do at their own parties), and before the movie collapses into the utopian nonsense that seems obligatory to this subgenre, a surprising amount of sensitivity and satirical insight emerges from Eleanor Bergstein's script and Emile Ardolino's direction. There's also a memorable use of the resort location, and while the music on the soundtrack is predictably overloud, the period detail is refreshingly soft-pedaled. —Jonathan Rosenbaum PG-13, 100 min. Fri 8/9-Mon 8/12, 11 PM. Logan

N Dora and the Lost City of Gold James Bobin directed this live-action adventure film based on the popular Nickelodeon television series Dora the Explorer, with Dora changed from a seven year-old to an older teen (Isabela Moner). PG, AMC CLASSIC Hobart 12, AMC Dine-in Northbrook Court 14, AMC Dine-in Yorktown 18, AMC Loews Quarry Cinemas 14, AMC Loews Streets Of Woodfield 20, AMC Loews Woodridge 18, AMC Randhurst 12, AMC Showplace New Lenox 14, AMC Showplace Schererville 12, AMC Showplace Schererville 16, AMC South Barrington 24, ArcLight, Buffalo Grove Theater, Century 16 Deer Park, Century Stratford Square, Chatham 14, Cicero Showplace 14, Cinemark @ Seven Bridges and IMAX, Cinemark Louis Joliet Mall, Cinemark Spring Hill Mall and XD, Cinemark Tinseltown USA, City North 14, Classic Cinemas Charlestowne 18, Classic Cinemas Cinema 12, Classic Cinemas Elk Grove, Classic Cinemas North Riverside, Classic Cinemas Ogden 6, Classic Cinemas York, CMX Arlington Heights, Emagine Frankfort, Ford City, Glen Art Theatre, Lake Theatre, Lansing Cinema 8, Marcus Addison Cinema, Marcus Chicago Heights Cinema, Marcus Country Club Hills Cinema, Marcus Elgin Cinema, Marcus Gurnee Mills Cinema, Marcus Orland Park Cinemas, Niles ShowPlace 12, Pickwick, Regal Bolingbrook Stadium 12, Regal Cantera Stadium 17 & RPX, Regal Lake Zurich 12, Regal Lincolnshire Stadium 15 & IMAX, River East 21, Showplace 14 Galewood Crossings, 600 N. Michigan, Studio Movie Grill Wheaton, Tivoli, Westfield Old Orchard

Every Which Way but Loose Clint Eastwood plays it safe in his first full-fledged comedy (1978), swiping most of the essentials from the Burt Reynolds formula and taking fewer laugh lines than he did as Dirty Harry. Ruth Gordon and an orangutan are on hand to provide insurance when the script fails (as it frequently does). From any considered point of view, it stinks, but I still liked it: Eastwood has the best double take in the business, there are some interesting glimpses of blue-collar LA, and the downbeat ending displays a genuine moral intelligence. James Fargo, the least of Eastwood's regular collaborators, directed this one: his framing is clean and accurate, but he has no timing. —Dave Kehr PG, 114 min. 35mm. Wed 8/14, 7:30 PM. Northeastern Illinois University

N Fantastic Tales A program of African-American horror, fantasy, and science fiction short films. 85 min. Showing as part of the Black Harvest Film Festival. Wed 8/14, 8:30 PM, and Thu 8/15, 6 PM. Gene Siskel Film Center

N Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw In this explosive addition to the Fast and Furious franchise, two men (Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham) must come together to protect "the world" (their words) from a supervirus that will destroy more than half of the population. In its best moments, this film contains everything a two-hour-long action-packed adventure should: buildings are blown up, fight sequences that are elaborately choreographed, inappropriate jokes are made. But more times than not this film trips over its superhero tropes. The two heroes' love-hate relationship keeps the film moving during its dryest moments, but the fun of watching two abnormally strong men kicking butt is drained by lengthy speeches about family and love. Callbacks to previous installments in the franchise are a joy, and the exploration of Johnson's cultural roots before the biggest fight scene in the film is a different take that works. This film occasionally soars, but a few trips along the way keep it from flying. —Atavia Reed PG-13, 135 min. AMC CLASSIC Hobart 12, AMC Dine-in Block 37, AMC Dine-in Northbrook Court 14, AMC Dine-in Yorktown 18, AMC Loews Quarry Cinemas 14, AMC Loews Woodridge 18, AMC Oakbrook Center 12, AMC Randhurst 12, AMC Showplace Naperville 16, AMC Showplace Schererville 12, AMC Showplace Village Crossing 18, AMC South Barrington 24, Cicero Showplace 14, Cinemark Tinseltown USA, Classic Cinemas Charlestowne 18, Classic Cinemas Cinema 12, Classic Cinemas Elk Grove, Classic Cinemas North Riverside, Classic Cinemas Ogden 6, Classic Cinemas York, CMX Arlington Heights, Glen Art Theatre, Lake Theatre, Niles ShowPlace 12, Pickwick, Rosemont 18, Showplace 14 Galewood Crossings

The Giant Spider Invasion Bill Rebane directed this 1975 horror/sci-fi film about spiders from another dimension. PG, 84 min. A RiffTrax screening, featuring comedic commentary over the film.

Happiness I'll concede that Todd Solondz's absorbing 134-minute epic of sexual disgruntlement in the New Jersey suburbs (1998) is worth seeing, and not only for shock value. But I don't think it deserves all the high marks it's been getting for compassion and understanding, especially given its campy use of elevator music whenever the misery of its large cast of characters gets too close for comfort. Everyone who likes this movie calls it "disturbing," but what disturbs me most is the self-loathing laughter it provokes, similar to what one often hears at Woody Allen and Michael Moore comedies. So even if I'm touched by the treatment of a child molester who loves his son, I don't like that I'm also supposed to sympathize with the molester when he's working as a therapist who doesn't listen to his clients. An obsessive primitive with a clodhopper sense of excess, Solondz has already proved in Welcome to the Dollhouse (a better film overall) that he can carry dark obsessions further than most. But he still stoops to teenage gross-out antics like those of the Farrelly brothers, calling it art rather than entertainment and knowing that the media will go along. Happiness is at least as pretentious as any Robert Altman flag-waver, even as it broadens the scope of permissible film content and gives its cast plenty to chew over. With Dylan Baker, Jane Adams, Lara Flynn Boyle, Ben Gazzara, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Cynthia Stevenson, and Jared Harris. —Jonathan Rosenbaum 134 min. 35mm. Sat 8/10, 7 and 9:30 PM. Univ. of Chicago Doc Films

N Honeyland Ljubomir Stefanov and Tamara Kotevska directed this Macedonian documentary about a beekeeper whose quiet life is disrupted when a family settles nearby. In Turkish with subtitles. 85 min. Music Box

Jaws It broke box-office records in 1975, and probably posted an aesthetic landmark, too—in proving that actors and characters were completely redundant in the shopping center cinema of the 70s. Steven Spielberg's mechanical thriller is guaranteed to make you scream on schedule (John Williams's score even has the audience reactions programmed into the melodies), particularly if your tolerance for weak motivation and other minor inconsistencies is high. It spawned a number of imitations (including Grizzly, Day of the Animals, and the unforgettable Worms), most of which failed. But the formula has lived on in the Alien series and most contemporary films with aspirations toward suspense. —Dave Kehr PG, 124 min. Wed 8/14, 8 PM. Music Box

Je T'Aime Moi Non Plus Serge Gainsbourg dedicated this 1976 feature, his first as writer-director, to the surrealist author Boris Vian, though the film doesn't really bear the influence of his playful writing; rather, it's a dark, sexually charged provocation in keeping with many of Gainsbourg's recordings. Set in a small town in the middle of nowhere, it concerns the relationship between a dump-truck driver (Joe Dallesandro, from Paul Morrissey's Flesh, Trash, and Heat) and a young woman who works in the town's gas station and restaurant (Jane Birkin, Gainsbourg's partner at the time). He's into men, but she desires him sexually; eventually he agrees to let their friendship transform into a sexual affair, and she agrees to let him sodomize her because it's the only way he can get off. Gainsbourg presents the story in a matter-of-fact style that befits the stark settings and forces one to consider the sexual content head-on. This certainly isn't for everyone, but it nonetheless conveys a weird creative integrity. In French with subtitles. —Ben Sachs R, 88 min. Fri 8/9, 4 PM; Sat 8/10, 3:15 PM; Mon 8/12, 6 PM; and Thu 8/15, 8:30 PM. Gene Siskel Film Center

N Jezebel Numa Perrier directed this film about a young Las Vegas woman who begins work as a sex cam performer. 78 min. Perrier attends the screenings. Showing as part of the Black Harvest Film Festival. Tue 8/13, 8:30 PM, and Wed 8/14, 6 PM. Gene Siskel Film Center

click to enlarge The Kitchen
  • The Kitchen

N The Kitchen Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish, and Elisabeth Moss star in this graphic novel adaptation as the wives of three New York gangsters who take over their husbands' criminal syndicate after the men go to jail in the late 1970s. Writer-director Andrea Berloff frames this as a tale of female empowerment, emphasizing how the heroines gain confidence as they evolve into ruthless crime lords, but since the characters are all one-dimensional, the attempts at catharsis feel canned. Moss, clearly struggling with her underwritten part, delivers the first bad performance I've seen from her; she fails to make her character's transformation from battered wife to hardened killer seem at all plausible. The other two leads fare somewhat better, drawing on their backgrounds in comedy to give their characters a certain amount of charisma; still, I would have preferred to watch them in something less mean-spirited. —Ben Sachs R, 102 min. AMC CLASSIC Hobart 12, AMC Dine-in Northbrook Court 14, AMC Dine-in Yorktown 18, AMC Hawthorn 12, AMC Loews Crestwood 18, AMC Loews Quarry Cinemas 14, AMC Loews Streets Of Woodfield 20, AMC Loews Woodridge 18, AMC Oakbrook Center 12, AMC Randhurst 12, AMC Showplace Naperville 16, AMC Showplace New Lenox 14, AMC Showplace Schererville 12, AMC Showplace Schererville 16, AMC Showplace Village Crossing 18, AMC South Barrington 24, ArcLight, ArcLight Glenview, Buffalo Grove Theater, Century 12 and CineArts 6, Century 16 Deer Park, Century Stratford Square, Cicero Showplace 14, Cinemark @ Seven Bridges and IMAX, Cinemark Melrose Park, Cinemark Tinseltown USA, City North 14, Classic Cinemas Cinema 12, Classic Cinemas Elk Grove, Classic Cinemas York, Ford City, Lake Theatre, Marcus Addison Cinema, Marcus Chicago Heights Cinema, Marcus Elgin Cinema, Marcus Gurnee Mills Cinema, Marcus Orland Park Cinemas, Niles ShowPlace 12, Regal Bolingbrook Stadium 12, Regal Cantera Stadium 17 & RPX, Regal Lake Zurich 12, Regal Lincolnshire Stadium 15 & IMAX, Rosemont 18, Showplace 14 Galewood Crossings, Webster Place 11

Letter to Brezhnev Two Liverpool girls, fed up with the depressive male population in their depressed corner of Britain, encounter two Soviet sailors on shore leave; for Teresa (Margi Clarke), her evening with Sergei (Alfred Molina) is a happy sexual romp, but for Elaine (Alexandra Pigg), her liaison with the angelic Piotr (Peter Firth) represents a promise of romantic fulfillment and escape to a happier country. Things must have been going badly indeed in Britain for the prospect of exile in the Soviet Union to take on the allure of a flight to paradise, but Chris Bernard's film (1985) is only marginally concerned with social issues. It's a light, cultish piece that meanders pleasantly through a selection of eccentric characters and comic accents, until it falters a bit with an exhortative, go-for-it ending. Made for Britain's Channel Four, and it shows in Bernard's restricted visual vocabulary. —Dave Kehr R, 94 min. 16mm. Thu 8/15, 7 PM. Univ. of Chicago Doc Films

N Light of My Life Casey Affleck directed and stars in this dystopian drama about a father trying to protect his daughter in a world where most of the females have died from a pandemic a decade earlier. R, 119 min. Fri 8/9, 7:30 PM; Sat 8/10, 6:30 PM; Sun 8/11, 5 PM; Mon 8/12-Thu 8/15, 7:30 PM. Facets Cinematheque

N Luce Julius Onah directed this drama about an adopted high schooler living in Virginia whose past as a child soldier in Eritrea and recent incidents at odds with his status as an all-star student threaten to disrupt his and his family's lives. With Naomi Watts, Octavia Spencer, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Norbert Leo Butz, and Tim Roth. R, 109 min. Fri 8/9-Sun 8/11, 11:50 AM, 1:45, 2:45, 4:30, 5:30, 7:15, 8:15, and 9:50 PM; Mon 8/12-Thu 8/15, 1:45, 2:45, 4:30, 5:30, 7:15, 8:15, and 9:50 PM. Century Centre

N Made in Chicago A program of six short films by local filmmakers Tristian Montgomery, Ira Childs, Tommy Sigmon, Latoya Hunter, Jan Johnson Goldberger, and Okema "Seven" Gunn. 84 min. Showing as part of the Black Harvest Film Festival. Sun 8/11, 5:30 PM, and Mon 8/12, 7:45 PM. Gene Siskel Film Center

R Nothing but a Man A sincere, intelligent, and effectively acted independent feature from 1964, about a Black worker (Ivan Dixon) and his wife (Abbey Lincoln) struggling against prejudice and trying to make a life for themselves in Alabama. Directed by the able and neglected Michael Roemer (who made The Plot Against Harry five years later) from a script written in collaboration with Robert Young, who served as cinematographer; with Gloria Foster, Julius Harris, Martin Priest, and Yaphet Kotto. —Jonathan Rosenbaum 92 min. 16mm. Fri 8/9, 7 and 9:30 PM. Univ. of Chicago Doc Films

Old Acquaintance Bitch-goddesses Bette Davis and Miriam Hopkins square off as rival novelists. This 1943 feature could have been a classic cat fight but for the plodding direction of Vincent Sherman, one of the Warner house hacks. It's been remade twice: unofficially as The Turning Point (1977), officially as Rich and Famous (1981). With John Loder, Gig Young, Dolores Moran, and Roscoe Karns. —Dave Kehr 110 min. 35mm. Sat 8/10, 11 AM. Music Box

Pavarotti Ron Howard directed this documentary about famed opera singer Luciano Pavarotti. 114 min. Fri 8/9, 2 and 6 PM; Sat 8/10, 3 and 7:45 PM; Sun 8/11, 5 PM; Mon 8/12, 8 PM; Tue 8/13, 6 PM; Wed 8/14, 6 PM; and Thu 8/15, 8 PM. Gene Siskel Film Center

N Pomegranates: Queer Muslim Mythologies A program of short narrative films by queer Muslim filmmakers. Tickets are $25 and include an Eid dinner. Sat 8/10, 7 PM. Nightingale

click to enlarge Premature
  • Premature

R N Premature The crown jewel of this year’s Black Harvest Film Festival, directed by Rashaad Ernesto Green, who cowrote the screenplay with his star, the incandescent Zora Howard. She plays Ayanna, a talented young Harlem poet who during the summer before her freshman year of college enters a romance with a somewhat older, slightly adrift man (Joshua Boone), whom her mother (Michelle Wilson) is justifiably wary of; the jury is also out according to Ayanna’s girlfriends, who bristle at what they perceive as his sexism. The distributor, IFC Films, has requested that longer reviews of this movie be held until it opens theatrically in January, but for now just take my word for it: Premature is one of the year’s best films. —Andrea Gronvall 86 min. Showing as part of the Black Harvest Film Festival. Fri 8/9, 8:30 PM. Gene Siskel Film Center

The Scarlet Pimpernel A terrific swashbuckler, with no aesthetic considerations to recommend it. Leslie Howard is the fabled Pimpernel—a fop of the British court by day and the savior of innocent victims of the French Revolution by night—and Merle Oberon is the beauty who can't see beyond Leslie's beauty spot. Harold Young (or, as he's known in critical circles, Who?) directed (1934). —Don Druker 1985 97 min. 16mm. Wed 8/14, 7 PM. Univ. of Chicago Doc Films

N Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark André Øvredal directed this adaptation of Alvin Schwartz's children's horror story collections. PG-13, 111 min. AMC CLASSIC Hobart 12, AMC Dine-in Northbrook Court 14, AMC Dine-in Yorktown 18, AMC Hawthorn 12, AMC Loews Crestwood 18, AMC Loews Quarry Cinemas 14, AMC Loews Streets Of Woodfield 20, AMC Loews Woodridge 18, AMC Oakbrook Center 12, AMC Randhurst 12, AMC Showplace Naperville 16, AMC Showplace New Lenox 14, AMC Showplace Schererville 12, AMC Showplace Schererville 16, AMC Showplace Village Crossing 18, AMC South Barrington 24, ArcLight, Century 12 and CineArts 6, Century 16 Deer Park, Century Stratford Square, Chatham 14, Cicero Showplace 14, Cinemark @ Seven Bridges and IMAX, Cinemark Spring Hill Mall and XD, Cinemark Tinseltown USA, City North 14, Classic Cinemas Charlestowne 18, Classic Cinemas Cinema 12, Classic Cinemas Elk Grove, Classic Cinemas North Riverside, Classic Cinemas York, Ford City, Lansing Cinema 8, Marcus Addison Cinema, Marcus Chicago Heights Cinema, Marcus Country Club Hills Cinema, Marcus Elgin Cinema, Marcus Gurnee Mills Cinema, Marcus Orland Park Cinemas, Niles ShowPlace 12, Regal Bolingbrook Stadium 12, Regal Cantera Stadium 17 & RPX, Regal Lake Zurich 12, Regal Lincolnshire Stadium 15 & IMAX, Rosemont 18, Showplace 14 Galewood Crossings, Webster Place 11

click to enlarge Them That Follow
  • Them That Follow

N Them That Follow "They will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all . . . " (Mark 16:18). A forbidden relationship between Mara (Alice Englert), a pastor's daughter, and Augie (Thomas Mann), another churchgoer, sets off a chain of disastrous events in this thriller. It's a typical star-crossed love story but set in a tight-knit snake-handling congregation. In this Appalachian Mountain community, the church conducts business secretly because snake handling is illegal—you can guess why. Mara is a firm believer, but her betrothal to another local boy pits her faith against her heart. Meanwhile, Augie—the doubting Thomas—isn't convinced, despite pressure from his religious mother (played by the always dynamic Olivia Colman). The movie wins points for sheer shock: viewers might not have ever seen this religious practice up close. However, in their directorial debut, Britt Poulton and Dan Madison Savage fail to show the church in a neutral light, choosing instead to lean into a "crazy cult" caricature rather than evenly portray what is already a complex, divisive religious custom. —Noëlle D. Lilley R, 98 min. Fri 8/9-Sun 8/11, 11:35 AM, 1:50, 4:15, 7, and 10:15 PM; Mon 8/12-Thu 8/15, 1:50, 4:15, 7, and 10:15 PM. Century Centre

R To Catch a Thief Cary Grant is a retired cat burglar on the Riviera and Grace Kelly is the spoiled American rich girl who seems to have the perpetual hots for him, in Alfred Hitchcock's fluffy 1955 exercise in light comedy, minimal mystery, and good-natured eroticism (the fireworks scene is a classic). Jessie Royce Landis (North by Northwest) is delightful as Kelly's clearheaded mother (she and Grant were born the same year, by the way), and John Williams gives expert support as usual. —Don Druker 106 min. Tue 8/13-Thu 8/15, 10:30 PM. Logan

Virgins Keren Ben Rafael directed this Israeli drama about a disaffected teen girl in a small seaside town whose life changes when rumors of a mermaid surface. In Hebrew with subtitles. 91 min. Wed 8/14, 6:30 PM. Chicago Cultural Center  F

Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story Since the commercial success of Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004), producer Judd Apatow has operated on parallel tracks, alternating insightful romantic comedies (The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, both self-directed) with increasingly strained knockoffs of his initial hit (Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby and now Walk Hard). This time the bumptious icon is a 50s rocker (John C. Reilly) whose heartache and debauchery stretch over five decades; the story is closely patterned on the Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line, with young Dewey accidentally killing his brother in a machete fight ("Dewey, I'm cut in half pretty bad!"). Apatow and director Jake Kasdan deliver a fair number of laughs, though nearly every good idea is pressed into service as a running gag. The biggest disappointment is their survey of rock history, which has all the depth of a Time-Life book. 2007. —J.R. Jones R, 96 min. Fri 8/9-Sat 8/10, midnight. Music Box

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