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posted: 4/25/2013 6:00 AM

Should factual errors detract from a movie's enjoyability?

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  • Halle Berry stars in "The Call," which one reader accuses of falsely suggesting that pre-paid cell phones don't have GPS tracking systems.

    Halle Berry stars in "The Call," which one reader accuses of falsely suggesting that pre-paid cell phones don't have GPS tracking systems.

  • Video: "The Usual Suspects" trailer


A phony 'Call'
Hi, Dann: I am a media rep for TracFone Wireless and recently read your review of "The Call" (released March 15). I'm writing because I have an important correction to make in regards to your discussion of prepaid phones. In your review, you noted that "A panicked Casey calls 911 on a friend's prepaid cellphone, the kind that doesn't pack a convenient GPS homing device."

I'm writing to correct this point. In reality, all prepaid phones -- including the one shown in "The Call" -- are E-911 compliant, as required by the FCC, which means they can be located by police and other emergency responders in the same manner as comparable contract phones.

We hope that you will correct this point in your review as soon as possible. -- Will Harwood

Mr. Harwood: Thank you for your explanation of how pre-paid phones actually work. My comment in the review you cite is an accurate statement, because the particular phone Casey uses in the story doesn't pack a convenient GPS device. We are told this as a matter of plot.

Correcting factual errors in made-up stories would be a full-time job for any critic. Take the assassins in "The Killers" shooting revolvers equipped with silencers. (Silencers don't work with revolvers.) Or in the "Star Trek" movie "Generations" when Data the android receives an emotion chip and develops a sense of humor. (Humor is not an emotion, but the product of logical, left-side brain activity.)

Your complaint of factual misrepresentation of cell phones should be directed to the screenwriters of "The Call." -- Dann

PS: Vampires also can't go out in the sunlight, a fact totally mispresented in the "Twilight Saga" films.

Student Screen Test
The seventh annual Screen Test Student Fest invades the Schaumburg Prairie Center for the Arts (201 Schaumburg Court, Schaumburg) Friday and Saturday, April 26 and 27. Teen filmmakers, grades 5-12, will introduce their movies and participate in post-show Q&A's.

Tickets for both nights cost $10 for adults and $5 for students and seniors. Call (847) 895-3600 or go to

The fest includes "Break Free" from Naperville North High School's Christy Spielman, "Can't Stay in One Place" from Conant High School's Kristin Dawiduik, "Cardboard Noir" from Conant High School's Nicholas Wenzel and "Desillusion" from Conant High School's Julia Gralczy.

Plus "How to Fix a McLaren" from Lake Forest High School's Strawn Dixon, "Misused Magic" from Conant High School's Eddy Burback and Zach Dale, "Not Forgotten" from Palatine High School's Eu Macadamian Kees, "Potions O'Malley" from Schaumburg High School's Greg Sobie, "Stress: The Elephant in the Room" from Lake Forest High School's Strawn Dixon, plus others.

Awards include Best in Show ($500 cash prize), Second Place ($150), Third Place ($100), Achievement in Writing ($100), Highest Production Values ($100), Mayor's Award ($100) and Audience Award ($100).

Jay Flynn was an eighth grader in 2006 when he proposed the film festival in an email to village officials. Flynn now coordinates the festival with Prairie Center Production Supervisor Rob Pileckis.

The best chase is...?
What's the single greatest chase sequence in the history of motion pictures? To find out, join me and film historian Raymond Benson as Dann & Raymond's Movie Club presents the best chase sequences ever put on celluloid. Free admission! Clips from movies such as ... wait! I can't ruin the surprises. You'll have to come to the Schaumburg Township District Library, 130 S. Roselle Road, at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 2, for the countdown. (847) 985-4000.

'Usual Suspects' back!
The Chicago Film Critics Association, in partnership with the Studio Movie Grill's "Film View" program, presents Bryan Singer's excellent thriller "The Usual Suspects," one of the top 10 movies of 1995. You can see it for $1 on the big screen at 7 p.m . Wednesday, May 1, at the Studio Movie Grill Wheaton, 1301 Rice Lake Square, Wheaton. CFCA members Adam Fendelman and Matt Fagerholm -- both of -- will introduce the film and conduct a post-screening Q&A. Go to or

Call for witnesses!
Chicago's indie filmmaking company Kartemquin Films, the outfit that gave us "Hoop Dreams" and "The Interrupters," needs help in locating witnesses and participants in the 1963 boycott against the segregationist policies of CPS Superintendent Benjamin Willis.

On Oct. 22, 1963, more than 200,000 Chicagoans marched downtown to protest Willis' segregationist policies. Kartemquin thought there might be a few of those people out here in the Northwest suburbs. If you're one of them, contact Kartemquin directly at, or send me an e-mail at I'll ship it forward.

• Daily Herald Film Critic Dann Gire's column runs Fridays in Time out!

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