Last week, the Digital Media Seminar and Digital Video II classes had the opportunity to attend the Chicago Film Festival and we saw some amazing movies. It was an honor to be able to view such thought provoking films and get to talk to the people who made them. I wish I could have seen every movie that was shown, but since scientists haven’t figured out how to let us be in two places at once, I couldn’t, so I’ll just talk about the ones that I saw.
Starring Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel
This was my first experience seeing a Paulo Sorrentino film and I was not disappointed in the least. Not only was the screenplay extremely engaging, the cinematography was so well done. Sorrentino portrayed some pretty hard subjects like suicide and adultery in beautiful ways through the movement of the camera. The movie left out just enough details to keep you engaged and guessing. Even with missing the first 10 minutes of the film because of a late train and then having to sprint two miles across Chicago, this was by far my favorite of the festival.
2. Under Electric Clouds
Starring Louis Franck, Merab Ninidze, and Viktoriya Korotkova
Maybe I don’t know enough about the Russian Revolution or current events in Russia, but this film confused me more than anything. Set in 2017, one hundred years after the Revolution, it seems as if another world war is right around the corner. The movie was broken up into seven chapters, each with their own storyline. For me, it was difficult to keep each storyline separate. At first I thought that the characters from each chapter would somehow eventually interact with one another, but that wasn’t entirely the case. Some did show up in other chapters, but there was no wrap up to the story. The characters all seemed to speak in metaphors that I didn’t understand, either because of cultural differences or mistranslated subtitles, I couldn’t say. Even though it was beautifully filmed, I couldn’t appreciate it because I was frustrated throughout the whole film because I had no idea what was going on.
3. Feel the Illinoise! – Short Films
The shorts, for the most part were great. Each one had a different style or interpretation that I enjoyed and something that I didn’t. Some had creepy animation but great artistic vision, others had a fantastic storyline but were entirely too short. The best one was definitely Unknown Unknown by Ed Flynn.
4. The Surprise
Starring Jeroen van Koningsbrugge and Georgina Verbaan
If you had told me that a movie about assisted suicide could also be a romantic comedy before I watched this film, I would have scoffed at you. But somehow, Mike van Diem made it work. Cleverly written, I felt almost as if I was watching a Wes Anderson movie sometimes because of the main characters formal approach to emotions combined with a distinct Wes Anderson-ish quirky world view, setting and storyline. I’ll definitely be looking to get this film on dvd as soon as possible.
5. Road to La Paz
Starring Rodrigo de la Serna and Ernesto Suarez
A heart-warming story of two men, young and old, growing and learning from each other on an unwanted roadtrip fulling of bumps in the road may sound a bit cheesy, but this film was definitely not. Selling exoticism as redemption, director Francisco Varone chose juxtapose an elderly muslim looking to make his final passage with a young dreamer unsure of what he wants. The relationship that grows between the two men is beautifully captured in a humorous way.