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The CHIRP Blog

Entries categorized as “Movies” 41 results

KSanders writesOutside and Inside: “Paradise Hills”

writte by Kyle Sanders

"We are our best when we are ourselves."

So says The Duchess, the flamboyant headmistress (played by Milla Jovovich doing her best "June Cleaver dressed as Effie Trinket") of the mysterious Paradise Hills, a school for the "not like other girls" girls. Yet this quote contradicts her maddening methods meant to help rebellious young women become the spitting image of perfection (or at least to disapproving families or impending husbands).

It's a quote the film should have listened to a bit more closely, as Paradise Hills does not seem to know its true self and therefore, is not quite the best its concept sets out to be.

The film opens with a sweeping bird's eye view shot of new bride Uma (Emma Roberts), serenading her husband with a song at their wedding reception. The film establishes the lavish world Uma lives in with the help of some impressively elaborate costumes and props (we see a floating car driving off from the festivities straight out of Back to the Future: Part II) but it's unclear if this is some sort of dystopian future or not-of-this-planet fantasy.

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Categorized: Movies

KSanders writesFathers on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (“Extracurricular” and “Tremors”)

written by Kyle Sanders as part of his coverage of the 2019 Chicago International Film Festival

Fatherhood can be hell. While parental responsibilities continue to change in our ever progressing sense of parenthood, the role of the father still tends to be looked upon as a source of security, to provide that "everything will be alright" feeling when the going gets tough. But sometimes even a dad can't guarantee that, because they might not be alright themselves.

The movies have given us plenty of father figures, some good (Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird), and some way, WAY bad (Jack Torrance in The Shining). There are also those who are flawed yet mean well. And at the Chicago International Film Festival, we get two prime examples in Extracurricular (Croatia) and Tremors (Guatemala/France/Luxembourg).

In the opening scene of Extracurricular, we see fumbling hands wrapping up a Barbie-esque doll in wrapping paper meant for a birthday gift, spliced with scenes of children being dropped off at school. Immediately, we understand these gruff-looking hands must belong to a father hastily preparing a gift for his young daughter. Blaring over the sequence is an intense musical score, foreshadowing a situation that's about to erupt.

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Categorized: Movies

Topics: chicago international film festival

KSanders writesBattle of the Sexes: “Initials S.G.” and “Instinct”

written by Kyle Sanders as part of his coverage of the 2019 Chicago International Film Festival

A good on-screen chemistry can make a film. It can really amp up the timing of a romantic or screwball comedy (think Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn in Adam's Rib or Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday) or build the tension of a suspenseful thriller (think Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster in Silence of the Lambs or Michael Douglas and...well, any given actress in those late '80s/early '90s thrillers he used to churn out every other year).

What makes this kind of formula work? Is it simply a yin and yang balance the film requires, an easy camaraderie of the two stars, or just really really good acting? Perhaps a little of all three?

Two films that borrow from the aforementioned genres (a little bit of comedy, a little bit of suspense) are included in this year's roster of films at the Chicago International Film Festival: Initials S.G. (Argentina/Lisbon) and Instinct (The Netherlands).

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Categorized: Movies

Topics: chicago international film festival

KSanders writesKing of The(ir) World: “House of Cardin” and “Renzo Piano, Architect of Light”

written by Kyle Sanders as part of his coverage of the 2019 Chicago International Film Festival

It has been said that history is made by the individual and not the masses, and if you really break the word down, "history" is really "his story." Every story is presented from a specific point of view, including and excluding certain details that evolve the story overtime, and whatever remnants that remain is accepted as truth.

Truth can be manipulated, especially through the lens of a camera. This year, the Chicago International Film Festival featured several documentaries, including profiles of two ambitious men and how their history has shaped and influenced the world.

Fashion, believe it or not, not only shapes our world, it stylizes it. Fashion designer Pierre Cardin knows that more than most. In House of Cardin (United States/France), directed by P. David Ebersole and Todd Hughes, we learn a great deal about the enigmatic French pioneer and his epic fashion empire.

Through talking-head interviews ranging from Naomi Campbell to Alice Cooper, as well as the man himself (now nearing 100 years of age!), we learn how Cardin made a name for himself (quite literally--that iconic signature!) working for the likes of Christian Dior and Jean Cocteau, then steadily expanding into everything from eye wear and cologne, to automobiles and jet planes.

Using archived interviews and behind-the-scenes footage, we see the designer in action, selecting models for their diverse ethnic backgrounds, democratizing high fashion, and creating modernist designs that would forever be associated with his name.

In Renzo Piano, Architect of Light (Spain), director Carlos Saura presents a very different profile on a legendary architect, famous for buildings that promote art and community. While we learn a little about what inspires Piano, the doc primarily shows the architect in action, working on the Botin Center, a project he was commissioned to do for the Spanish coastal town of Santander. Beautifully rendered on film, Santander's oceanic views and coastline are soaked in sunshine, and we learn how natural light has always been a major influence in Piano's work.

We also learn there is more to architecture than an aesthetically-pleasing building. Budgets and time frames are also put into account, as well as the logistics of creating something that will last for centuries. We even hear from the concerned citizens of Santander, and just how important it is for architecture to be integrated within a community.

History does not necessarily have to involve the past. As these two documentaries suggest, history is constantly in the making, and these two innovators are still going strong, continuing to mold their narratives even at ages when most have retired (Cardin is 97 while Piano is 82). Their outlook has always been to look ahead, and perhaps that is what has led them to such prosperous and extensive careers. Their individual histories were made to appeal to the masses, and both Cardin and Piano have left an undeniably global mark on our culture.

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Categorized: Movies

KSanders writesKyle Sanders Goes to the 55th Chicago International Film Festival

Bonjour! And bienvenue to coverage of the 55th Annual Chicago International Film Festival! I always look forward to this time of the year, when "sweater weather" sees the leaves changing, and the Windy City showcases dozens of films from across the globe. As as avid cinema lover, this is my kind of Christmas!

As always, I'll be reviewing a pair of films with each post, similar in theme or content, yet produced from different walks of life. It's what I love about CIFF: you become exposed to all sorts of cultures without having to travel abroad! Here's today's review:

On the Lam with My Best Bud: Reviews of Adoration and Paradise Next

The "buddy picture" has been a common theatrical draw since Bob Hope and Bing Crosby traveled by camel to Morocco. But not all buddy pictures are comedic in nature, some involve a duo in dire straits running from the law, the mob, or (in the case of Thelma and Louise) the male patriarchy. Sometimes the paired protagonists are star-crossed lovers making a break from their feuding families, and other times they're exact opposites who find common ground on their picaresque journey. No matter what scenario though, this dynamic duo will experience moments of soul searching and camaraderie.

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Categorized: Movies

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