As we go to press, I’ve seen about a third of the 30-odd programs being shown by the Chicago International Film Festival over its final weekend (not counting Hugo winners and audience choices), only three of which I’d place in the category of must-see: Mike Leigh’s Secrets and Lies, showing Sunday at Pipers Alley; Alex van Warmerdam’s The Dress, Saturday at the Three Penny and Hou Hsiao-hsien’s Goodbye South, Goodbye, Saturday at the Music Box. The latter two movies haven’t been picked up, and even if they get distributors chances are they won’t reappear for another year.
I can add a few less urgent recommendations. William Wyler’s Roman Holiday (1953) was, oddly enough, a favorite film of Carl Dreyer; when the Danish government paid tribute to its greatest filmmaker by inviting him to program an art cinema in Copenhagen, he gave this black and white comedy, which won Audrey Hepburn an Oscar, the longest run. Keith Gordon’s Mother Night (also scheduled to open soon) is a flawed rendering of one of Kurt Vonnegut’s better early novels, but for my money better than most Merchant-Ivory adaptations, especially during its first half.
Thief and Heat (1995) are both effective Michael Mann thrillers–especially Thief, which is said to be showing in a newly restored “director’s cut”–and Wyler’s Funny Girl (1968), for all its schmaltz, has the undeniable benefit of Barbra Streisand in her early prime.… Read more »