This past week I was in Chicago for the 51st International Film Festival. This was my second time attending the festival, and I must say that it was even better the second time (which is saying a lot considering how much I enjoyed last year’s International Film Festival). Considering the number of wonderful films I saw, I’d say it’s not fair to talk about one, so I’ll talk briefly about each of them.
Feel The Illinoise: City And State – 1 out of 5
Starting with the weakest moment of the film festival, for me anyway, which was Feel The Illinoise: City And State. A collection of short films by Illinois film makers. I don’t mean to bash on them, because the majority weren’t bad, however in comparison to the other films I had seen beforehand, the short films just couldn’t compete. The true problem with the short films was in the balance. A few of them, that I didn’t enjoy, lingered on and on souring the event for me as a whole. They wore down my attention to the point I was just waiting for the event to end so I could leave. While my opinion of the whole isn’t great, my opinion of the short films individually varied greatly.
Valley Of Love – 3.5 out of 5
Valley Of Love is a hard film for me to rate, and I struggle not to give it a 4 out of 5. The films was rather enjoyable and ended on a high but ambiguous note (which is usually a plus to me). I think the only problem with the film was that the ending seemed a little too abrupt. When the credits started to roll, the general consensus among the people I was with was “Wait… It’s over?” Normally that wouldn’t be a bad thing, but I think the story left off before a significant chunk of character development was to take place. Overall it left a little something to be desired.
All About Them – 4 out of 5
All About Them was an incredible movie! While the subject matter is a little heavy, and for most people would probably boarder into uncomfortable territory, I think that’s what makes it a perfect drama. The film offers plenty of comic relief, needed to ease the immense tension in one of the most complicated love triangles I think I’ve come across. I wasn’t sure how to feel about the situation towards the middle, but I couldn’t have thought of a better conclusion to such a wonderful story. It’s not a film for everyone, so be sure to read into it more before deciding whether or not to watch it.
Youth – 4 out of 5
Youth was another incredible film. Starring Michael Caine as an aging composer, the film was an emotional journey of retrospection towards the end of a man’s life. The films provides an interesting perspective of youth from the other end of the spectrum. I found the story very enjoyable and relatable, but more than that I thought the film was gorgeous. Definitely worth hunting down for a view.
The Surprise – 5 out of 5
The Surprise completely caught me by surprise (pun intended). The film combined two of my favorite genres of film, the black comedy and the rom-com, for an unexpectedly delightful product. While the film had a heavy subject matter centered on euthanasia, it managed to produce a very moving heartwarming story. One of the things that made the film so successful was its casting, assembling an on screen couple that was absolutely delightful to watch. This film is easily my favorite film from the film festival, and I couldn’t recommend it highly enough.