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posted: 7/10/2014 5:00 AM

Reel life: Fests celebrate horror, 70 mm. films

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  • Steve James discusses his new Roger Ebert documentary "Life Itself" at the Arlington Heights Memorial Library during a special Feb. 18 presentation.

    Steve James discusses his new Roger Ebert documentary "Life Itself" at the Arlington Heights Memorial Library during a special Feb. 18 presentation.

  • Video: Steve James backs Life Itself


Film critics notebook

• Even though the national AMC Theater chain is aggressively replacing its regular theater seats with wider reclining chairs, no Northwest suburban venues are scheduled for upgrades so far.

Despite that recliners take up 36 percent more width than the older chairs (decreasing the number of seats per theater), attendance has risen by 80 percent, plus income is up by more than 60 percent at 37 converted AMC theaters during 2014's first quarter, according to AMC's Gerry Lopez in The Wall Street Journal.

AMC expects to open its new Westfield Hawthorn Theaters in Vernon Hills by the summer of 2015.

• The After Hours Film Society presents one of the best photographed movies of the year, "Ida," at 7:30 p.m. Monday, July 14, at the historic Tivoli Theatre, 5012 Highland Ave., Downers Grove. Pawel Pawlikowski's drama traces the odyssey of Anna (Agata Trzebuchowska), an 18-year-old woman preparing to become a nun when she discovers her real name is Ida and that Catholicism isn't her original religion. Admission costs $9 ($5 members). Rated PG-13. 80 minutes. Go to for tickets.

• Here's a rare, rare treat for film fans. Chicago's Music Box Theatre presents two weeks of the greatest 70 mm. movies ever made starting at 7 p.m. Friday, July 11, with David Lean's classic "Lawrence of Arabia."

The "Son of 70 mm. Film Festival" also features Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey," Natalie Wood's last film "Brainstorm" (penned by Bruce Joel Rubin, who taught English classes at Northern Illinois University), "Dr. Dolittle," "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World," "The Master," "Tron," "Vertigo," "Patton" and "Spartacus."

Tickets per show cost $12, or you can buy a festival pass for $70. Go to

• At least five filmmakers from the Northwest suburbs have movies entered in this weekend's scare fest, Terror in the Aisles Presents: Short Cuts -- Short Horror Films by Chicago Filmmakers.

The festival begins at 9:30 p.m. Saturday, July 12, at the Davis Theater, 4614 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago.

Jacob Regul of Lake in the Hills made the 3-minute "Mother." Amanda Eastman made the 3-minute "Margaret." Other filmmakers include Elgin natives Kelli Tidmore and Andrew Dehart, and Zoran Gjovic of Des Plaines.

Tickets cost $10. Go to or

• Steve James' wonderful documentary on the late Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert, "Life Itself," expands from Chicago's Century Centre Cinema to the Highland Park's Renaissance Place Cinema this weekend. It's also available as an On Demand title.

• Dann Gire's Reel Life column runs Fridays in Time out! Follow Dann on Twitter at @DannGireDHFilm.

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