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by Kevin Fullam
“You invited me. It is not my custom to go where I am not wanted.” -- Mystery Man, Lost Highway
In some lore, vampires are rendered powerless in homes unless they have been formally invited inside. In the case of washed-up "adult film" star Mikey Saber (Simon Rex), he might not exactly have been invited into the dens of his potential marks... but he's also not swiftly booted out after he manages to wedge his feet in the doorways, either.
by Kevin Fullam
How much do we compartmentalize our lives? When we're small, most of us can't envision our mothers as having any roles other than that of our chief caretaker. Careers? Passions? Not on the radar of a young child. Moms might be teachers/nurses/chefs rolled into one, but they scarcely exist in our minds outside of those boundaries.
Early on in The Lost Daughter, Leda Caruso (Olivia Colman) -- a 48-year-old professor on a "working holiday" at a resort town in Greece -- strikes up a conversation with visibly-pregnant Callie (Dagmara Domińczyk), and the subject turns to that of parenting.
Callie asks Leda an innocuous question about her memories of raising her two daughters (now adults), expecting a good-natured nostalgic response. Leda's reply? "Children are a crushing responsibility." And then she walks away. Full stop. Yikes.
by Kyle Sanders
Antlers (Dir. Scott Cooper)
"Doh! A dud, a real bad dud..."
Behind every horror film there's a message, and that message is usually about something bad we humans have done.
Whether it's the human error of hubris (think Frankenstein, Godzilla, The Human Centipede), facing our violent pasts (Candyman, The Devil's Backbone, The Grudge), a rejection of American Values (The Night of the Living Dead, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) or punishment for premarital relations (pretty much any slasher flick from the '80s), horror films seem to be mankind's response to a guilty conscience: we've done something bad, and we must pay for it one way or another, preferably in the most fucked up way imaginable.
Before the dawn of horror films however, we had myths, which typically served as an explanation for the unexplainable. If there is no other reasonable resolution, then the answer must be due to some vengeful spirit from beyond the grave or a reclusive monster lurking deep in the woods, right?
by Kyle Sanders
In the turbulent times we're currently living in, sometimes it helps to travel back to the past for comparison.
Every time I read a news article these days, it's like my heart can't help but sink, letting go of any shred of hope I had left in this lifetime. But then I think back to when my parents were kids, experiencing the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
It helps me to understand that no matter how many bad things take place on this earth, it never stops the world from turning. My parents thought the world was ending after Kennedy's murder, but here we are, almost sixty years later, still spinning--yet still wondering if the end is nigh.
Apologies for such a bleak beginning to this post, but it leads me into something good: documentaries! This year, the Chicago International Film Festival has provided us with dozens of documentary features and shorts to choose from. You've got your pick of profiles ranging from Pete Buttigieg, Julia Child, and The Velvet Underground, to a four year adventure chronicling the life of a bovine named Luma (Cow).
These informative documentaries span a multitude of topics as well, anything from explorations of gay sexuality (Acts of Love), post-prison probation programs (Any Given Day), the dangers of escaping Taliban rule (Flee), and the ecological threat of disappearing indigenous tribes (The Last Forest).
Two documentaries I had the opportunity to check out were not only profiles on history makers, but were also included in this year's Black Perspectives program at CIFF.
The first one is about tennis star Arthur Ashe, aptly titled Citizen Ashe. Known for becoming the first Black man to win the U.S. Open, Wimbledon, and the Australian Open, Ashe not only broke barriers during the Civil Rights Movement, but became a symbol of hope, fighting oppression in the U.S. and South Africa.
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