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This month CHIRP volunteer Kyle Sanders is attending the 2018 Chicago Interntional Film Festival and reporting on what he discovers there...
Crime never pays. Oh sure, it can give you a taste of power and riches, but there is always a constant struggle to maintain such control: you're always having to watch your back or sleep with one eye open to fend off anyone trying to knock you off the throne, be it the authorities, a rival crime lord, or even your own friends or family. It seems the higher you rise up, the further you descend into a hell of your own making. Is there a way out? Is there a way to start over? It can depend on the choices you make for yourself. Two films that provide us possible options screened at this year's Chicago International Film Festival provide us two different outcomes (due to festival restrictions, the following are "capsule reviews" of said films):
Ash is the Purest White: A devoted girlfriend lands herself in prison after covering for her Jianghu crime lord boyfriend. Five years later she is released, only to find that her lover has moved on and the gang world she was comfortably living in has very much changed. Determined to survive, she will use her tenacious wit to climb back to the top. Jia Zhangke directs this gripping crime drama that has surprising moments of humor and stunning cinematography showcasing China's metropolitan and rural landscapes.
written by Kyle Sanders
Movie critic Roger Ebert put it best when he said "We are put on this planet only once, and to limit ourselves to the familiar is a crime against our minds." It's a quote I've unknowingly followed for years, specifically when it comes to movies. I love movies. And when you've seen as many films as I have, you tend to venture outside your comfort zone and search beyond the familiar to find a flick you've never seen before. Personally speaking, that which is unfamiliar to me are foreign films.
Of course, I've seen many of the classic international motion pictures that every film studies course recommends as essential viewing: The Grand Illusion, Seven Samurai, La Dolce Vita, Black Orpheus, Raise the Red Lantern and so on and so forth. But just like today's new releases of American cinema, who's to say what current foreign films will end up a classic? This is why each year during the month of October, I look forward to the Chicago International Film Festival.
by Kyle Sanders
Every year, it's a guessing game. Those eyes--those wide, darkened pupils--belong to someone but I can't figure it out who. Do they belong to Bridgette Bardot? Catherine Deneuve? Marlene Dietrich? Or how about Jeanne Moreau? Giuletta Masina? Anna Magnani? The longer I stare, the more impatient my questions become: WHO'S EYES DO YOU BELONG TO? WHAT HAVE YOU SEEN? WHAT STORIES CAN YOU TELL?!
In case I've completely lost you, I'm referring to the eyes that have become synonymous with the Chicago International Film Festival, an annual celebration of foreign film that was held at the AMC River East Theater in downtown Chicago October 17th through the 27th. The festival's alluring logo features a set of soft, mesmerizing eyes belonging to a feminine black and white shape.
This set of eyes suggests to hold plenty of life experiences, such as love, hope, and desire, much like my own eyes or even yours. It's why I come to this event every year--to see these familiar stories told from another set of eyes in a different world unlike my own.
I have seen a lot of movies, more so than the average movie enthusiast. I own a book entitled 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, and so far I've seen 700 of those titles (plus hundreds of others not included on that list), and at least half of them have been foreign films. Within the past ten years, I've become comfortably acquainted with the likes of Akira Kurosawa, Ingmar Bergman, Federico Fellini, Michael Powell, Satyajit Ray, Agnes Varda, Peter Weir, Andrei Tarkovsky, Pedro Almodovar, Michelangelo Antonioni, Yasujiro Ozu, Jean-Luc Godard, and countless others.
While I feel like I've reached the point of desensitization, I still yearn to find a film that will enthrall me, leave me motionless in my seat as the end credits roll, numb to the visceral feeling I've just experienced. The CIFF is where I come to fulfill such hopes, and more often than not, that mission is accomplished. The best part about the CIFF is the audience: film lovers young and old (mostly old) who talk about nothing other than their love of film, conversations that rattle on 450 words per minute. Yes, the extensive ramblings of the film lover can sometimes be tedious and annoying, but one thing is for certain: they know to shut the hell up once the movie starts rolling, and remain silent until the lights go up.