Lake County Film Fest back for 8th year

  • A writer (Ewan McGregor) takes over the memoirs of a politician accused of war crimes in "The Ghost Writer."

    A writer (Ewan McGregor) takes over the memoirs of a politician accused of war crimes in "The Ghost Writer."

 
 
Posted2/26/2010 12:01 AM

Eleven documentaries.

Thirty-five short films.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Ten dramatic features.

They're all part of the Lake County Film Festival as it returns for its eighth season Thursday through Monday (March 4-8) on the campus of the College of Lake County in Grayslake. (Specifically, at 19351 W. Washington St.)

Among the highlights: Lake County resident Mac Eldridge presents his zombie short "Chemical 12-D," Palatine-based CNGM Pictures offers the world premieres of "Coasting" and "Darren & Abby," the Oscar-nominated short "Miracle Fish" is scheduled, Chicago's Kartemquin Films presents the doc "Typeface," and "Trust Us This is All Made Up" showcases local improv artists TJ & Dave.

Go to lakecountyfilmfest.com, call (224) 441-1108, or e-mail at lakecountyfilmfest@gmail.com.

Don't forget to ask how you can become an extra on the set of a new local movie titled "QWERTY," produced by film festival founder Nat Dykeman. There'll be a read-through at 2:30 p.m. March 6, with actual filming at 2 p.m. March 7.

Know the (film) score

Join me and film historian Raymond Benson as Dann & Raymond's Movie Club presents "The Great Director/Composer Teams," an overview of the greatest pairings of movie directors and film score composers in Hollywood's history. Clips include "Psycho" (Bernard Herrmann/Alfred Hitchcock), "Jaws" (John Williams/Steven Spielberg), "The Good, The Bad and the Ugly" (Ennio Morricone/Sergio Leone) and many others.

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It starts at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Schaumburg Township District Library, 130 S. Roselle Road, Schaumburg. Hey, free admission! Go to www.stdl.org or call (847) 985-4000.

'Future' reunion live!

The 25th anniversary of the hit science-fiction adventure "Back to the Future" will be celebrated with a reunion of four cast members: Christopher Lloyd (Dr. Brown), Lea Thompson (Mom), Claudia Wells (Jennifer) and James Tolkan (the principal) who will be available before each showing of the movie at the Hollywood Palms in Naperville with shows at 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10 p.m. Saturday.

The movie and the cast will also be at the Hollywood Boulevard in Woodridge with shows at 7 and 9 p.m. on Friday, and at 2, 4. 6 and 8 on Sunday.

Tickets are $12. All of the proceeds will go to the Michael J. Fox Foundation. Go to atriptothemovies.com for details and to make sure the showing you're interested in hasn't already been sold out.

Chill-thrill 'North Face'

This is the most suspenseful, nerve-jangling mountain-climber survival feature I have seen to date. More gripping than Franc Roddam's "K2." More intense than Martin Campbell's "Vertical Limit."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

In Philipp Stolzl's fact-based drama "North Face," you feel the chill of the Alps. You empathize with the characters so much that when a climber's arm freezes in place, you pinch your own arm to make sure it's still functional.

From its seemingly innocuous opening scenes to its throat-grabbing finale, "North Face' is a harmonious blend of script, acting, scenery, camerawork and soundtrack recreating a dark and harrowing event from Germany's sports history.

In 1936 Germany, the Nazi Party, anxious to create some propaganda, launches a contest to see who can climb the North face of the unclimbable mountain Eiger in the Alps. Two German athletes and best buddies (Benno Furmann and Florian Lukas) answer the challenge.

While their childhood friend (Johanna Wokalek), now a photojournalist, dines in comfort at the lodge below, the two climbers, plus two competitors, set out to conquer Eiger. Then, everything - we're talking everything - goes wrong.

Pay particular attention to Christian Kolonovits' score. Although it's often inappropriately bombastic, it makes ingenious use of the sound of tapping pitons as musical instruments.

"North Face" opens today at the Music Box Theatre in Chicago and the Renaissance Place in Highland Park. Not rated; for general audiences. 121 minutes.

Fem filmmakers feted

The Midwest Independent Film Festival fetes female filmmakers at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Century Centre Cinema, 2828 N. Clark St., Chicago, with screenings of film shorts created by women. Some of the filmmakers will be around afterward to discuss their works. Receptions are scheduled before and after the event. Go to midwestfilm.org.

'Writer' on the storm

Roman Polanski's bloodless, dutifully plodding political thriller "Ghost Writer" stars an oddly inanimate Ewan McGregor as a writer who lands a plum job of rewriting the ghostwritten memoirs of a former British prime minister accused of war crimes.

The previous ghost writer wound up drowned during a ferryboat ride, a clue that this job could prove a bad career move.

Erstwhile 007 actor Pierce Brosnan plays Lang, the former PM now holed up in Martha's Vineyard while conducting a lecture tour in the U.S.

If nothing on the screen actually looks like the U.S., that's because Polanski, on the lam from rape charges, filmed the drama mostly in Germany.

"The Ghost Writer" - based on the novel by Robert Harris, who also supplies the screenplay - has a message hidden in a riddle, political corruption oozing from every corner and enough international intrigue to make a Costa-Gavras film.

Yet, Polanski's drama feels just like a movie directed by long distance, a serviceable but lagging tale propped up by excellent performances from Kim Cattrall (armed with a spot-on Brit accent), Olivia Williams as the PM's sexually aggressive wife and a balding Jim Belushi relishing his role as a pushy American publisher.

"Ghost Writer" opens today at the Century Centre and the Icon in Chicago, plus the Evanston CineArts 6. Rated PG-13 for language, sexual situations, nudity, violence and drug references. 128 minutes.