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Do This: Burke And Hare At The EU Film Festival

By Rob Christopher in Arts & Entertainment on Mar 5, 2012 4:40PM

2012_3_5burkeandhare.jpg Shame on us! The 15th Annual European Union Film Festival opened at the Siskel Film Center on Friday and we neglected to mention it. Luckily the festival runs through the 29th, so there's ample opportunity to take in its treasures. On Saturday we hustled over to catch Burke and Hare, the new John Landis movie. (It screens again tonight). Based on the real-life exploits of the title's duo, it stars Simon Pegg and Andy Serkis as a pair of schemers in 19th-Century Edinburgh who chance upon a lucrative career procuring corpses for medical experiments.

The world needs more movies by John Landis. Not just because he directed The Blues Brothers and An American Werewolf in London (the latter of which bears at least a slight resemblance to Burke and Hare). No; the real reason we need John Landis movies is because John Landis movies are actually fun. Fun in the old-fashioned sense of the word. They're not coldly plotted thrill machines, meticulously calculated to dump some new CGI/whiplash-edited novelty upon the audience at regular intervals. Rather John Landis makes movies that rely on actual onscreen chemistry between human beings. Burke and Hare has an abundance of grisly laugh-out-loud moments (the recurring sight of severed limbs and rotting corpses has rarely been this funny), but what really makes it work are Pegg, as loveable as always, and Serkis--an honest-to-God comedy team. In fact it's so great to see Serkis in the flesh, so to speak, instead of camouflaged behind a CGI creation like Gollum or Caesar that it make you wonder why he doesn't do live action more often. Tom Wilkinson and Tim Curry as rival surgeons also contribute several funny bits. All in all, Burke and Hare is the most heart-warming comedy about corpse procurement you could want.

Burke and Hare screens tonight at 6 p.m. the Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State Street