A strange phenomena occurs while watching three to four films a day; similarities, idiosyncrasies, poetic ploys, resonate as they would not under normal viewing circumstances: smoking informs approximately 80% of the films, regardless of the country they represent; cell phones, despite the direness of living conditions, are a major tool of contemporary filmmakers (“Timbuktu”); child stars are a prime, compelling component in the Festival film feats (“Force Majeure”, “The Kindergarten Teacher”, “Everything We Loved”, and the most magnificent of all, “The President’”); the “male gaze” has been displaced by today’s filmmakers; unmasked, masculine frontal nudity (“The Kindergarten Teacher” , “Beloved Sisters”) lays bare man’s vulnerabilities/attributes; regurgitation is a sickeningly overused tactic in concurrent filmmaking, with no exception in this year’s lineup (“The Word”, “Winter Sleep”, “Next to Her”, “Titli”, “Human Capital”); tooth-brushing (“Force Majeure”, “Titli”) innovatively substitutes the banality of the act with creative license, interpretation.
This, the 50th year of The Chicago International Film Festival, has been profoundly satisfying, infused with films touching all aspects of the human condition, from every corner of the globe; my favorites at this juncture are:
“The Word” (Poland, Denmark); dire consequences of the “age of communication”; children emotionally incapable of calculating the consequences of their decisions. ****
“Winter Sleep” (Turkey, Germany, France); brilliant, titillating dialogue/debates between a brother/sister, husband/wife, sears to the core, revealing the inner mechanisms of complex, intelligent individuals. ****
“The Fool” (Russia); one man’s struggle against an obscenely corrupt bureaucracy; a triumph,tribute, testimony to one simple soul’s righteousness. ****
“Timbuktu” (France, Mauritania); painful, realistic, provocative effects of radical Islam, and those who despite the inhumane restrictions, still “sing” in defiance. ****
“Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem” (Israel, France, Germany); powerful, poignant tale of one woman’s quest to attain a “Gett”, an Israeli divorce, that has to be granted by her husband and legitimatized by a rabbinic court; a twenty- first century denial of a woman’s autonomy. *****
To be continued…………..