Archive | chicago international film festival RSS feed for this section

Chicago International Film Festival 2016: Abacus: Small Enough to Jail, by Aaron Pinkston

18 Oct

abacus-2-620x349

Steve James has made a career out of documenting the lives of the unfortunate and underserved, from those fighting gang activity on the most violent neighborhoods of Chicago to the young people in these same neighborhoods with little opportunity to escape. His new film, Abacus: Small Enough to Jail, turns focus on a new protagonist, an unlikely one: a bank. With the public perception of corruption and gross misconduct on unimaginable scales, Abacus focuses on the only federal bank indicted in connection to the 2008 mortgage crisis. What seems like an impossible task, James puts the viewer firmly on their side in this complicated story of family and community.

(more…)

Chicago International Film Festival 2016: Things to Come, by Aaron Pinkston

18 Oct

things-to-come-2016-still3

Things to Come is a pretty simple character study following a woman (Isabelle Huppert) whose life is on the verge of disarray. However, it doesn’t have the same kind of structural or formal dynamism as director Mia Hansen-Løve’s sprawling EDM epic Eden. Instead, Hansen-Løve makes a more moderate and thus more polished film—this next step doesn’t exactly raise her profile in my mind but (to use a baseball metaphor) she has fully graduated from prospect status as a “filmmaker to watch.”

(more…)

Chicago International Film Festival 2016: A Quiet Passion, by Aaron Pinkston

17 Oct

a-quiet-passion-3

A Quiet Passion could be the title of most Terence Davies films, so it is particularly fun that the film called A Quiet Passion is, at least at times, an outlier for the filmmaker. Chronicling the adult life of poet Emily Dickinson (from what I can tell, the first film to take on her life), A Quiet Passion is a surprising blend of subject and filmmaker. Primarily known for deep and silently emotional dramas that tell the stories of simple people and British communities, Davies has been on a recent role with The Deep Blue Sea and Sunset Song (released earlier this year). Emily Dickinson is a fantastic subject for Davies as a strong, independent and opinionated woman. A Quiet Passion’s comedic sensibility, however, seems like new territory.

(more…)

Chicago International Film Festival 2016: Christine, by Aaron Pinkston

16 Oct

christine-2016-fragman_9490985-26150_640x360

When one first hears about Christine Chubbuck, it is impossible not to wonder how it all ended up like this. We have become inundated with tragic stories of mass shooters and bombings, but a news reporter committing suicide live on air is especially provocative. When watching Christine, you’re primed to look for the clues, the psychological breaks, that lead to the inevitable end. That isn’t exactly fair for the film, but it is an unavoidable contract—the film wouldn’t exist without the tragedy the audience is waiting to see. For Christine, director Antonio Campos (Afterschool, Simon Killer) doesn’t make the story the tense psychological thriller you might expect, but a solid character study led by Rebecca Hall’s outstanding performance.

(more…)

Chicago International Film Festival 2016: The Autopsy of Jane Doe, by Aaron Pinkston

16 Oct

the_autopsy_of_jane_doe_still_2_h_2016

Back in 2010, Norwegian filmmaker André Øvredal hit the indie scene with the fantastic horror mockumentary Trollhunter. His follow-up, The Autopsy of Jane Doe, is a radically different film—instead of the massive special effects driven epic, it takes place in primarily one location with two characters and a stripped down plot. It also leaves Trollhunter’s comic tinge behind for an intriguing mix of realistic science, gross-out tactics and survival horror. It has its flaws, especially in the third act, but The Autopsy of Jane Doe is fun ride.

(more…)

Chicago International Film Festival 2016: The Confessions, by Aaron Pinkston

14 Oct

confessions

A group of characters from different backgrounds and parts of the world are brought together to a secluded location at the request of a troubled figurehead—with no other details, this may sound like a more diverse version of The House on Haunted Hill. Roberto Andò’s The Confessions uses this narrative set-up in the world of high stakes economic policy making (seriously, could you bring together things further apart on the excitement scale?).On its face, The Confessions is a well-made, beautifully shot and adequately structured pseudo thriller that ultimately has no interest in the details.

(more…)