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The CHIRP Blog

Entries categorized as “Movies” 40 results

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

Kyle writesHighlights From the Fourth Annual Doc10 Film Festival

by Kyle Sanders

The Fourth Annual Doc10 Film Festival was held at the Davis Theater from April 11 - 14. Ten documentaries were presented throughout the festival, diverse in content and yet connected through urgent relevancy of the times we live in today. Here's a few of the docs I was able to check out:

Knock Down the House
Directed by Rachel Lears

The 2016 presidential election shook Americans to their core. Meet four women who decided to shake back: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Paula Jean Swearingen, Cori Bush, and Amy Vilela. Each of these women run a grassroots campaign in their respective districts across America, experiencing the inspirational highs and frustrating lows of running for office. Through community canvasing, public rallies and publicized debates, these women share their deeply personal reasons as to what motivates them for getting into politics. Political campaigns have never been more uplifting.

Anthropocene: The Human Epoch
Directed by Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas De Pencier

We often find ourselves affected by the environment, but have we ever considered just what sort of effect we have on the planet? Book ended by striking visuals of poached elephant tusks that have been seized and collected only to be set ablaze, this documentary chronicles humanity's devastating reengineering of the Earth, traveling the globe and visiting site after site of ecological destruction of epic proportions. Visually stunning as it is viscerally jaw-dropping. 

Hail Satan?
Directed by Penny Lane

What do you think of when you hear the word "Satanist?" Whatever it is, this documentary will shed light on this controversial religion wrapped in black cloaks and the dark arts. Taking us inside the Satanic Temple, Hail Satan? learns about the motivations of co-founder Lucien Greaves, who pulled the infamous cult out of the shadows and into the political mainstream, evoking justice and defining religion constitutionally. Learning about Satanism through archived footage and a varied amount of talking heads, this documentary will have you second-guessing initial prejudices against the misunderstood organization.

Biggest Little Farm
Directed by John Chester

Meet John and Molly, a California couple who promised their rescued pet dog that they would build a life of purpose. That purpose was to live on a self-sustaining farm, growing a variety of crops and raising diverse livestock on 200 acres of dead soil and weed-ridden foliage. With the help of their kooky farmer friend Allen, this couple learn the ups and downs of building a life in the midst of nature, where coyotes, droughts, and pesky insects can attack at any random moment. Yet they learn that living in harmony with wildlife requires balance, and solve the many issues of running a farm with the help of Mother Nature. This documentary will pull you into their lives as if you're working alongside them every step of the way.

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Categorized: Movies

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