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The CHIRP Blog

Entries categorized as “Movies” 72 results

KSanders writesLast Looks: Final notes of the 58th Chicago International Film Festival (with Mentions of King of Kings, Rounding, and Runner)

written by Kyle Sanders, reporting from the 58th Chicago International Film Festival

Well folks, it's time to roll the red carpet back up and chuck it into its respective corner storage unit. The Chicago International Film Festival has said "Au revoir!" and turned off the marquee lights after two weeks of presenting us with 72 narrative films, 20 documentary features, and 56 short films from 53 countries. There was laughter, tears, and Agatha all along (thanks to a visit from Career Achievement Award winner Kathyrn Hahn)! 

Here's a wrap-up with a few more reviewed films included in the mix!:

This year CIFF kicked off its festival with a block party in front of the Music Box Theater. With the inclusion of local food vendors and a red-carpet runway, I hope they make this an annual event--I need the validation of winning their movie trivia game!


King of Kings: Chasing Edward Jones

The last documentary I had the chance to screen was King of Kings: Chasing Edward Jones. Directed by his granddaughter, Harriet Marin Jones, this doc details the life of one of the most powerful Chicagoans of the Twentieth Century: an African-American power broker who was the brawn and the brains behind Policy, an illegal racketeering syndicate that would evolve into what we now call the Lottery. This eye-opening film uncovered the remarkable life of an overlooked legend, who stood toe-to-toe with Al Capone and rubbed elbows with the likes of Josephine Baker and Duke Ellington.

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Categorized: Movies

Topics: chicago international film festival

KSanders writesFight or Flight: A Chicago International Film Festival Special Presentation of Women Talking

written by Kyle Sanders, reporting from the 58th Chicago International Film Festival

Aside from giving international filmmakers around the world a place to share their art, the Chicago International Film Festival also provides a series of "Special Presentations," or those highly anticipated films from celebrated filmmakers most likely to find their names on various short lists during Awards Season. This year, Chicagoans had the chance to catch sneak peeks of Darren Aronofsky's The Whale, Martin McDonagh's The Banshees of Inisherin, and Sam Mendes' Empire of Light. Standing toe-to-toe with those male Hollywood heavyweights, is actress/director Sarah Polley, who shared her latest work, Women Talking.

Polley and cinematographer Luc Montpellier received this year's Visionary Award from CIFF, and I got the chance to attend the event (held at the Music Box Theater) and see their latest (and third overall) collaboration. Women Talking is an engrossing drama about a group of women in an isolated Mennonite colony who gather to discuss what to do about the ongoing sexual assaults they've endured from the men of the community. It's adapted from Miriam Toews' best-selling novel, and couldn't be more prescient in a post-Roe v. Wade America.


Women Talking

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Categorized: Movies

Topics: chicago international film festival

KSanders writesChasing the White Whale: Band, The Kings of the World, and The Big Payback

written by Kyle Sanders, reporting from the 58th Chicago International Film Festival

It's good to have goals, but at what point does one's pursuit of a dream become an obsessive nightmare? The Captain Ahab's and the Willy Loman's of the world could tell you that keeping your eye on the prize can blind you from the reality of limitations, lack of resources, and just plain bad luck. Yet achievement is not always impossible--sometimes it just never arrives the way you intended it. 


Band

In the d(m)ocumentary Band (Iceland), becoming an arthouse success isn't so easy for the Post Performance Blues Band, a spandex-clad trio of women all nearing forty. Despite modest success in their Reykjavik community, they raise the stakes in their ambitions of becoming avant-garde pop stars within a year's time. If they don't achieve their dream, then they'll hang up the act for good. Do Alfrun, Hrefna, and Saga have what it takes to make their dream a reality, or is this just reckless ambition doomed to disappoint?

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Categorized: Movies

Topics: chicago international film festival

KSanders writesOut of One’s Depth: Huesera, Fairy Folk, and A Human Position

written by Kyle Sanders, reporting from the 58th Chicago International Film Festival

The cultural conversation around gender and identity may be progressively changing, but that shouldn't suggest it has become any easier to understand. I guess you could say society is in the midst of a "transition," as old philosophies regarding gender and sexual orientation have expanded and evolved into new territories that are at once refreshing and unfamiliar. In other words, reactions to such ideas have been both celebratory and violent. 

In a way, this is a dialogue that many have been anxiously wanting to have, but just never knew how to approach it. For others, the topic goes so far beyond their traditional way of thinking that it's too frightening to comprehend. It's a conversation that's been difficult to start, and its conclusion remains uncertain. Perhaps that explains why the Chicago International Film Festival features several LGBTQ+ titles from filmmakers who have taken that conversation into creative territories ranging from delightful to horrific.


Huesera

Taking the latter approach is Huesera (Mexico). Directed by Michelle Garza Cervera, this horror film involving folklore and witchcraft involves a heterosexual couple overwhelmed with joy upon learning they're going to have a baby. Mother-to-be Valeria, a former lesbian teen punk who once stood against domestication, soon begins having terrifying visions of what she believes is La Huesera, "the bone woman." While her paranoia is dismissed by her unconcerned husband and family, she desperately turns to dark magic as a means of protecting herself and the future of her growing family.

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Categorized: Movies

Topics: chicago international film festival

KSanders writesAll That You Can Leave Behind: Art and Pep, One Fine Morning, EO, and The Return of Tanya Tucker

written by Kyle Sanders, reporting from the 58th Chicago International Film Festival

Barely a week through the Chicago International Film Festival, and I feel as if I'm slacking! Then again, my goal for reviewing films this year was supposed to involve a little organization, but as any press accredited film critic would probably tell me, watching festival flicks in the order of my choosing would NOT go so smoothly. That being said, I'm four films in, and while they aren't exactly how I'd planned to watch them, these films share more similarities than I initially gave them credit for...


Art and Pep

First things first, a Chicago-oriented documentary about one of Chicago's popular gay bars owned by a pair of Chicago activists: Art and Pep (U.S.). Since opening Sidetrack in 1982, Art Johnston and Pepe Pena had the goal of creating a welcoming space for the gay community of Northalsted (formerly known as Boystown). They had no idea it would become a haven of joy and solidarity through 40 tumultuous years, with its humble beginnings during the AIDS crisis and persevere through the uncertainty of the Covid pandemic. In between that time, they found themselves becoming local civil rights leaders, co-founding Equality Illinois while expanding their meager bar into an iconic Chicago establishment.

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Categorized: Movies

Topics: chicago international film festival

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