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Go see 'The Bounty Hunter' or 'Repo Men'? Hmmm ...
By Dann Gire | Daily Herald Film Critic

Zac Efron and Christian McKay star as, respectively, "Me and Orson Welles" at the After Hours Film Society's program.


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Published: 3/19/2010 12:00 AM

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No 'Bounty Hunter'?

I did not review Columbia Pictures' new rom-com "The Bounty Hunter" today, because Columbia scheduled its press screening at the same time that Universal Pictures had scheduled its press screening for "Repo Men" Tuesday night.

That meant that I, along with the rest of Chicago's film critics, had to choose between the two movies. Except for the Tribune and Sun-Times critics, who were given their own separate screening of "Bounty Hunter" on March 9. They are, to my knowledge, the only local critics allowed to preview both movies.

Why did Columbia do this? The short, snippy answer is "Because it can." The longer answer, according to a studio rep, involves Columbia's strategy to market "Bounty Hunter" to its maximum ability.

I don't understand how Columbia's attempt to drain press away from Universal's time slot, then alienate Chicago's entertainment media, fits in to a marketing strategy for a movie. But then, I'm not as market-savvy as the execs at Columbia are.

'Coasting' in Palatine

CNGM, the Palatine-based indie-filmmaking group, takes a creative leap with its latest feature offering, "Coasting," about the comic complications of a romantic encounter between a man and woman (St. Charles native John C. Legat and Chicago resident Stephanie Wyatt) at the wedding of a mutual friend. Up to now, CNGM's productions have mostly been filmed stage plays all about twentysomething relationships from a twentysomething's perspective. "Coasting" offers a much more mature and sophisticated story, directed by Fremd High School graduate Michael P. Noens.

Catch it at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Cutting Hall Performing Arts Center, 150 E. Wood St., Palatine. Admission costs $12 at the door; $10 at Members of the cast and crew will be on hand to answer questions. Not rated, but for mature audiences. 90 minutes. Go to for details.

Reel Life review: 'The Killing Jar'

Mark Young's violent suspense thriller "The Killing Jar" comes off as a sadist's version of "A Chorus Line." Instead of a director forcing dancers to reveal their personal lives by promising jobs, a sociopath forces diner patrons to reveal their secrets by promising not to kill them. At least not right away.

The moment that a black leather-jacketed stranger name Doe (Chicago's Michael Madsen) enters a rural diner, the locals think he might be responsible for the massacre of a family earlier that night. When a cop (Lew Temple) presses him too hard, Doe blows his cork, as well as a few shotgun holes through the bodies of some diners.

Doe spares waitress Noreen (Amber Benson), a traveling salesman named John (Harold Perrineau), a disposable young couple and a war vet (Kevin Gage), and interrogates them relentlessly about their lives.

"So, you're not afraid to die?" Doe asks an unflappable John.

"No," John replies as he voices the audience's thoughts, "but I am afraid you'll keep talking!"

Executed in real-time on a single set, "Killing Jar" contains a lethal twist, introduced by Jake Busey as Mr. Greene, who shows up at the diner with a case full of money. But this intriguing detour becomes undermined by draggy editing, stilted acting and a script riddled with clichés such as "It's crazy!" "I can't do this!" and "Let me get this straight!" (The screenplay missed this one: "You don't have to do this!")

"The Killing Jar" opens today at the Cantera Theaters in Warrenville. Not rated, but for mature viewers (language, violence). 90 minutes. . .

Let the 'Clutch' out

A new 12-minute 4-D film short called "Clutch Powers" starts Saturday at Legoland Discovery Center at the Streets of Woodfield in Schaumburg. In the short, Legoland character Clutch Powers and his friends use teamwork to defeat a dreaded rock monster while audiences are immersed in a sensory experience. (During a windy scene, viewers will feel the wind. You get the 4-D picture?) Admission is included in the Legoland ticket price of $19 for adults, $15 for kids. Go to for discounted tickets. (847) 592-9700.

'Me and Orson Welles'

Christian McKay's portrayal of Orson Welles is so spot-on solid in Richard Linklater's coming-of-age lark that he should have been nominated for a supporting actor Oscar. In 1937, a high school student (Zac Efron) learns some harsh life lessons by joining Welles' Mercury Theater and falling for his lovely office clerk (Claire Danes). The Afterhours Film Society presents "Me and Orson Welles" at 7:30 p.m. Monday at the Tivoli Theatre, 5021 Highland Ave., Downers Grove. General admission costs $9. Call (630) 534-4528. Rated PG-13 (sexual situations and smoking). 114 minutes.