In a delightful bit of programming happenstance, you’ll find two rather unusual contemporary French films screening in Chicago this week. After premiering at the Chicago International Film Festival last year, Alain Guiraudie’s Staying Vertical screens at the Gene Siskel Film Center. I covered the film then and maintain my shaky appreciation for Guiraudie’s craft even if I still can’t fully commit to the picture’s surreal shapelessness. However, I found more to admire in Christophe Honoré’s similar-minded Metamorphoses (Noteworthy), which screens exclusively at Facets Cinematheque.Read More
Kartemquin Films in association with the Indo-American Heritage Museum, Apna Ghar, the National Alliance of Mental Health, the Independent Filmmaker Project Chicago, and the Eyes on India Festival present a week of screenings for Dinesh Sabu’s Unbroken Glass at the Gene Siskel Film Center. Beginning Friday the 17th through Thursday the 23rd, Sabu will be in attendance for post-screening Q&As in what’s certain to be a lively discussion, particularly in the wake of a Trump administration that more or less displays a disinterest in the continued benefits, (particularly in regards to the mental health) offered by the Affordable Care Act.Read More
We’re amid a phase in Ramin Bahrani’s filmmaking career and it’s a subtle but nevertheless exciting shift from where he was ten years ago. With Man Push Cart, Chop Shop, and Goodbye Solo, the primary characters range from a Pakistani pushcart driver, a Latino orphan, and a Senegalese cab driver. They were films about the immigrant experience, about the transition in operating in a society that deemed them as outsiders. His next film, 2012’s critically misunderstood and exceptional At Any Price did not involve this sort of outsider experience. Set on Iowa farmland, the film was a vivid study of American decay whereby the hegemonic elite sought to maintain sovereignty through the marginalization of characters like those found in his earlier triptych of films.
Bahrani’s new film, 99 Homes, carries on with this study of the social elite by investigating the housing market. It’s a case study that illustrates the predatory capitalist’s perspective, whereby a real-estate shark repossesses foreclosed homes with startling efficiency. If Bahrani’s initial triad of films was a trilogy of the 99%, then 99 Homes is the second film in a trilogy of the 1%.Read More
This morning the Chicago International Film Festival announces its slate of films and with it a (hopeful) deluge of highly acclaimed foreign and American films. Amid the hysteria of the fall festival season, where critics and audiences alike make quick and often exaggerated declarations on films, it’s easy to forget some of the year’s earlier offerings that don’t usually generate the same degree of communal fervor. The outlined films are available on most VOD and streaming services or could very well be playing in a local arthouse theater. They are all, to varying degrees, worth your time.Read More
Don’t let my limited output over the course of the first half of the year fool you: it’s been a great year at the cinema. It’s been one of those years where Hollywood blockbusters, festival darlings, and foreign holdovers have (for the most part) held true to their promise and delivered something unique. Look no further than the four selected “essential” films on this list; the quartet represents dynamic revisions on form and technique that has made 2015 an incredibly progressive year. A similar dynamic of massive and micro budget films coming down the pike look to follow suit, with films like Todd Haynes’ Carol, Hou Hsiao-hsien’s The Assassin, Terrence Malick’s Knight of Cups, and Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight demonstrating the density of this years offerings – we’re half-way through the year but there’s ample more to look forward to.Read More
Mia Hansen-Løve's Eden opens at the Music Box Theatre this Friday. For additional ticketing and screening information, check out their website here.
Most writer/directors do not have the luxury that was afforded to Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, where a decade-long production provided a subtle movement of age captured on celluloid. With Eden, Mia Hansen-Løve makes the most of her limited economy, submitting a film of potent immediacy. Whereas a director like Linklater would be quick to conceal direct passages of time, with no particular interest vested in confining narrative arcs within specific years, it’s Hansen-Løve who utilizes yearly benchmarks in direct and often times startling ways.Read More
Animals opens at the Gene Siskel Film Center on Friday, May 22. Their Friday screening features actor David Dastmalchian and director Collin Schiffli in attendance for an audience discussion. For additional ticketing information, click here.
The camera looms on a couple as the Chicago sunrise fills their bedroom. The view of Lake Michigan seems to be coming from one of the complexes that populate a half-mile stretch of Sheridan Road, a stream of studio apartments that have the benefit of overseeing the lake. Undergrads from Loyola University often find themselves spending their four years overlooking the galvanizing view. And then they go. The community is temporary, awaiting a new set of students to muse over the sight. Colin Schiffli’s Animals sees its central couple – Jude (David Dastmalchian, who also wrote the film) and Bobbie (Kim Shaw) – wake to this panorama. Yet as Bobbie pushes the curtain to the side, the swell of light consumes them both.Read More
The Chicago Latino Cultural Center presents its annual Latino Film Festival at Chicago’s AMC River East 21 beginning April 9 through April 23. The festival, which opened to an initial 14 films screened to 500 attendees in 1985, has now ballooned to one of the most successful film festivals celebrating Latino filmmaking in the country. For additional venue and ticket information, click here. The following films screen during the festival’s opening week.Read More
We have films that we admire. Upon returning to them, we lose sight of that admiration. Did the film betray us? Of course not, despite what we may tell ourselves. It’s us who have changed. I know that I certainly don’t hold films of my youth in the same high regard that I once did, at least not since entering adulthood. Our collective experiences and non-experiences shape the way we interpret any given text. So fundamentally, age plays an integral part in that. Time goes by and we (hopefully) process a series of new experiences that (again, hopefully) broaden our worldview and make us just a little more enlightened. Because if not, what’s the point?Read More
Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter opens at the Music Box Theatre on March 27 for a weeklong run. Click here for showtimes and additional information.
Kumiko (Rinko Kikuchi) is 29 years old. She works a mundane day job where she services the needs of a wealthy boss. Her official job title is “Office Lady”. She is among the many women stuck in this revolving door position but unlike the women who escape – of which the only means of escaping is by having a family – she’s dependent on the position’s meager salary for her livelihood. She receives regular calls from her mother, most of which involve her berating Kumiko for not finding a boyfriend, not having children, and not living with her. Kumiko lives in a small flat where the structure’s tight quarters only echo the sentiment that this young woman is trapped. Among the sea of black suits and white shirts that compose images of Tokyo’s commuters, it’s Kumiko’s red hoodie that sticks out. And Kumiko has a bunny. An adorable bunny that eats ramen named Bunzo. Yet it’s not hard to see why Kumiko seems to be clinging to what little sanity she has left – like her bunny, she’s trapped in a cage. So is it any surprise that when this young women discovers a VHS copy of Joel and Ethan Coen’s Fargo, with its “this is based on a true story” opening and the promise of a snow-buried suitcase waiting to be uncovered, that she embraces the notion of becoming a Spanish Conquistador and sets forth on a journey to her El Dorado, by way of Fargo?Read More