Current DJ: Sarah Spencer
Beth Orton Magpie from Sugaring Season (ANTI-) Add to Collection
by Kyle Sanders
I love that scene in A Few Good Men when Jack Nicholson's character takes Tom Cruise down a peg with his famous "YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH" speech. It's the sort of movie quote that gets overwhelmingly referenced in other matters of pop culture, but also, it ain't no lie.
Dramatic films often include characters that bend themselves over backwards to find out the truth about someone or something, going to extreme lengths even if it means alienating themselves from friends, family, their job, or their sanity.
And the truth can especially cut like a knife when it wedges itself between two lovers. Here at the Chicago International Film Festival, I found two films where the idea of truth serves as the main plot device, causing a tormented man to pointlessly chase after it and a demure woman to construct it to her own advantage.
Winner of the Best Screenplay at this year's Cannes Film Festival, Japan's Drive My Car opens on a loving married couple: stage actor/director Yusuke (Hidetoshi Nishijima) and his screenwriting wife, Oto (Reike Kirishima). The pair seem happily married, but Yusuke discovers cracks beneath their picture perfect relationship.
Drive My Car
by Kyle Sanders
The French Dispatch
Dir. Wes Anderson
It makes sense that filmmaker Wes Anderson would direct a movie about an editor of a cultural magazine that "brings the world" to its readers. Every single characteristic that makes up a single frame of his films is so periodically meticulous and exact, that the aesthetic and witty repartee always abounding within view could only be sympathized by someone who oversees the look and content of an ongoing periodical.
There's an obsessive control element, picking apart words and visuals and choosing what stays and what goes. It's a task too tedious for some, but has to be done to maintain familiarity with the audience yet keep them anticipating what comes next. The French Dispatch, Anderson's tenth film, is familiar in tone and content, but offers us something new to keep us from getting bored.
by Kyle Sanders
The "Women's Picture" is universal, yet I often question if Hollywood is really progressing in its depictions of female characters.
It's not just the lack of films featuring women over 30 or leading lady action stars (though that seems to be changing thanks to Marvel and the like), but there's often very little support behind films involving complex women in the spotlight: those "women of a certain age" who aren't just the vapid love interest or the villainous bitch, but have complicated dimensions that can inspire sympathy and disdain at the same time. That's why it's always refreshing to see several titles at the Chicago International Film Festival that center around women.
This year the festival mixes high profile titles like Spencer (an account of the tragic life of Princess Di) and Julia (a documentary about legendary cookbook author and TV personality Julia Child) with smaller fare like Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn (a social satire about a female Bucharest school teacher whose graphic sex tape goes viral) and Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy (a trio of charming vignettes from Japan focused on three very different women). There are nearly 30 films at this year's fest about women, and all are worth our undivided attention.
by Kyle Sanders
This year, I decided to switch things up a bit for my coverage of Chicago's International Film Festival. For as many times as I've attended, I've not once checked out their After Dark series, a collection of "shock-filled, spine-tingling, and wildly strange visions" made to keep you up late into the night.
Was I previously too scared to sit through any of the titles? Not at all. But this year's slate of movies had some too-good-to-miss contenders, and I couldn't pass up the opportunity to shiver on the edge of my seat!
One of opening night's presentations included the highly anticipated Halloween Kills, but I preferred fare less familiar, that also didn't come attached to a highly successful horror franchise. Mythic creatures and mysterious real life events are what I was interested in seeing, and I got my fair share!
An upcoming American release, Antlers, delivered on the mythic creature feature, providing monster thrills from the Pacific Northwest. Set in a small coastal town in Oregon, an enigmatic boy's dark secrets lead his concerned school teacher (Keri Russell) and her sheriff brother (Jesse Plemons) to encounter a terrifying ancestral creature.
Produced by monster maestro Guillermo Del Toro, Antlers is based on a short story that draws from the Wendigo myths found in Native American Folklore (look for my full review when the film is released nationwide on October 29th).
by Kyle Sanders
There I was, sitting in an AMC theater surrounded by my fellow film nerds--er, um, critics--settling down, getting comfortable, offering up some friendly chit-chat, when a moment we were all too familiar with took place: the dimming of the lights.
We were quickly advised to turn off our cell phones as the large screen lit up before us, large letters foreshadowing the table of contents of a made up magazine.
The distinctive voice of Oscar-winning actress Anjelica Huston boomed through the theater, relaying to us the history behind The French Dispatch of the Liberty, Kansas Evening Sun. It's sole mission: to "bring the world to Kansas."
The critics around me chuckled at a montage of distinctively edited clips gussied up in Wes Anderson fashion, no doubt familiar with the inner workings of a professional yet frenzied publication. It dawned on me just what a perfect start this was to the next two weeks of my life: The French Dispatch brings the world to Kansas, and the Chicago International Film Festival brings the world of cinema to me.
And so begins the 57th Annual Chicago International Film Festival! This is my eighth year attending, and it's always exciting to see what new titles from around the globe are competing for international acclaim and attention.