Fest or Famine

The 26th Chicago International Film Festival moves into its second and final week with well over 60 programs to choose among. The range of selections, as usual, runs all the way from indispensable (Secret Love, Hidden Faces) to awful (The Mad Magician), from interesting and oddball (Vincent and Theo, Archangel, Recollections of the Yellow House) to slick and conventional (Superstar and Shaking the Tree).

It’s always a risk to go hunting at random with a festival as uneven as this one. But you’re almost certainly better off taking your chances with the films shown in the festival than lining up for an overpriced commercial release that will be out on video a few months from now anyway. By contrast, most of the foreign films showing this week at the festival are now-or-never propositions; if you don’t see them now, chances are you won’t get a second opportunity. And good or bad, most of them will tell you something about another part of the world that you probably didn’t already know. It’s also worth pointing out that most of the festival films are a dollar cheaper than the bad new Hollywood efforts that are currently clogging the multiplexes.

Reviews preceded by a checkmark are highly recommended by their respective reviewers. Screenings are at the Music Box, 3733 N. Southport, and the Fine Arts, 418 S. Michigan. Tickets can be purchased at the theater box office the day of the screening starting one hour prior to the screening or at the film festival store at 444 N. LaSalle. They are also available by phone at 644-3456 or 559-1212. General admission to each program, with some exceptions, is $6, $5 for Cinema/Chicago members. The 3-D movies cost $7 each, $6 for Cinema/Chicago members, which includes a pair of polarized 3-D glasses. The TV-commercials and “Best of the Festival” programs cost $10, $9 for Cinema/Chicago members; $10 sounds to me like a lot to pay for commercials designed to take even more of your money, but they’re traditionally the most popular event at the Chicago festival, so go figure. For further information, call 644-3456 or 559-1212.

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