Tuesday, October 18, 2011

My Review of the 47th Chicago International Film Festival

First off, I got to hear a French guy describe the realistic elements of his film as: "such is life."  He didn't punctuate the expression by blowing smoke with a cigarette holder in his hand, but I still felt transported into another world; an underground world where film is adventurous and daring.  It wasn't an art flick he was speaking about.  In fact, it was one of the most stylish and upbeat films I've seen this year.  Originally titled Poupoupidou in France, Gerald Hustache-Mathieu's Nobody Else But You is easily my favorite from the festival.  Cool, funny, emotional, packed with great music, etc.  This film had everything going for it.  I can't say enough good things.  Go see it if you can.  Despite jet lag, Hustache-Mathieu was animated during the post-screening discussion and humbled to be featured at the fest.  Film and director were both all style.  5 out of 5.

The Student
Soul-searching, sex, and politics collide in the fight for revolution in Argentina's The Student.  The protagonist, Roque, begins his third year of college with no direction.  He parties and picks up girls until he begins falling for a teacher rallying with an underdog political party.  He helps out by cunningly spreading the party's message around campus, using his long list of friends and acquaintances to bring attention to the cause.  As things progress, Roque becomes increasingly passionate about what he's doing.  Unfortunately he quickly gets tangled in a web of political lies.  4 out 5.  A riveting, must-see.

Here is an enjoyable road movie and relatable for anyone who loves to wander.  "Getting lost was the goal," explains Ben Foster as Will.  "As a child I'd walk for hours [exploring].  As I got older, hours turned into days... I wanted to find the edge of the world."  My favorite scene is an impromptu swim at a hidden spring bubbling with natural gas.  The swimming hole is surrounded by gorgeous cliffs.  The water is beautiful and clear.  "This reminds me of why I started doing this; finding little places like this," Will states.  At the Q&A, director Braden King went on to say, "Part of what draws me to filmmaking is the places it takes you to."  I can absolutely relate. 4 out of 5.

Nobody Else But You, The Student, and Here are my top-three from the festival.  Here's a quick look at my thoughts on the other films I saw:

On the Bridge
This is a documentary about young vets living with PTSD.  It was the only film I attended that received a standing ovation.  The vets featured in the film were in attendance and the Q&A turned into an emotional group discussion.  Great experience.

This film, by the man behind Kill Bill's O-ren Ishii sequence, is both ridiculous and entertaining.  If super slow-motion nunchuck fights sound interesting, you'll definitely enjoy! 

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia
Don't see this film.  Period.  It's a three hour crash-course lesson on why the story is the most important aspect of a film.  Despite nice cinematography and fine acting, it's hands down the worst movie I've ever seen.
For an art flick, I really enjoyed this one.  Although it was intentionally slow, it could have been paced a little quicker.  Stunning cinematography and interesting story.

Shorts 1 and 3
I decided to check out the first and third of the short film programs.  The first, City and State, mostly featured films that were shot in the Midwest.  My favorite was The Ghosts, a 50's inspired story about a rebel high school gang that turns a small town upside down and leaves one girl's life forever changed.  The third program, Midnight Mayhem, was a collection of horror stories.  Honestly I was little disappointed with this one.  The films were all fine individually, but as a group it was too much of the same thing.  My favorite of the bunch, Cropped, stood out far from the others.  Decapitation was never so funny!

This was not only my first time at the Chicago International Film Festival, but also my first experience at any film festival (outside of student competitions at least).  I had an incredible time and can't wait to attend more!


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