Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Chicago Film Festival 2010

The full lineup for the 46th Chicago Film Festival, the longest-running competitive film festival in North America, went live on the web last night at midnight. Members of the non-profit umbrella organization Cinema/Chicago get to buy tickets today and tomorrow before the full onslaught begins on Friday. I might be officially the biggest CIFF nerd in the city, having bought all my tickets in person at the office from the minute the second hand hit 10:00:00 this morning. They all have a little "#1" on them, referring to the fact that I was first in line, so my film-festival OCD can be preserved for future generations.

Not much Venice carry-over but quite a bit from Berlin, which pleases, since that festival's entrants tend to have a harder time reaching the U.S. Plus, a full half of the official Cannes competition slate. I told you this festival works hard to be au courant. As per usual, though, it's just as thrilling to see how loaded the large World Cinema program is with titles and directors I've never heard of, and with appearances by personal favorites like Since Otar Left's Julie Bertuccelli whose recent works have been flying slightly under the radar, and with festival phenoms I haven't yet encountered, like Aaron Katz and Xavier Dolan. Dolan's second film, Heartbeats will play along with Bertuccelli's The Tree in the New Directors competition, reserved for filmmakers' first and second features, and also in the "Outrageous" LGBT program, burgeoning from six entries last year to nine in 2010. (I have it on good authority that Dolan's even better-received debut I Killed My Mother, which apparently got a nominal NYC/LA release this summer, will appear as part of the queer Reeling Film Festival in Chicago in November, so put $10 aside now!)

Official press screenings aren't tremendously numerous, leading nicely to the media mostly seeing the films alongside "real" audiences. Between those that have been formally scheduled and the tickets I scooped up out of my own pocket this morning, based on the color-coded Excel sheet I rocked so hard into the wee hours of night, here are the films I'm currently slated to see, in addition to the four I've already screened:

Amphetamine (Hong Kong, dir. Scud; Outrageous)

Black Field (Greece, dir. Vardis Marinakis; New Directors)

Black Swan (USA, dir. Darren Aronofsky; Special Presentation)

Caterpillar (Japan, dir. Kôji Wakamatsu; World Cinema)

Certified Copy (France/Italy/Iran, dir. Abbas Kiarostami; Main Competition)

Cold Weather (USA, dir. Aaron Katz; World Cinema)

Heartbeats (Canada, dir. Xavier Dolan; New Directors)

The Housemaid (South Korea, dir. Im Sang-soo; World Cinema)

How I Ended the Summer (Russia, dir. Aleksei Popgrebsky; Main Competition)

If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle (Romania, dir. Florin Serban; World Cinema)

Loose Cannons (Italy, dir. Ferzan Ozpetek; Outrageous)

Love Like Poison (France, dir. Katell Quillévéré; New Directors)

Love Translated (Canada/Ukraine, dir. Julia Ivanova; DocuFest)

Of Love and Other Demons (Costa Rica/Colombia, dir. Hilda Hidalgo; World Cinema)

On Tour (Tournée) (France, dir. Mathieu Amalric; World Cinema)

Revolución (Mexico, dir. Misc.; Special Presentation)

The Robber (Austria/Germany, dir. Benjamin Heisenberg; Main Competition)

A Screaming Man (Chad, dir. Mahamat-Saleh Haroun; Main Competition)

The Sentiment of the Flesh (France, dir. Roberto Garzelli; New Directors)

The Tree (Australia, dir. Julie Bertuccelli; New Directors)

Tuesday, After Christmas (Romania, dir. Radu Muntean; Main Competition)

Waste Land (UK/Brazil, dir. Lucy Walker; DocuFest)

We Are What We Are (Mexico, dir. Jorge Michel Grau; Main Competition)

I also bought tickets to two groups of collected shorts, the scary Midnight Mayhem program and the Tales of the Unexpected collection, which I'm guessing means the "weird" ones, and includes the James Franco-directed Feast of Stephen.

But you know I love to give you all homework, and since I will have possibilities to add here and there to this itinerary, have a look at my CIFF 2010 page and let me know if you recognize anything in the Main or New Directors Competitions or the Outrageous lineup that you think I'm short-changing. Or, obviously, if there's anything else in the full schedule that you can vouch for. I am aware of skimping on the documentary offerings at present, but I cannot say a lot of them sound like they're up my particular alley. Happy to be instructed otherwise, though. Whereas I'm unlikely to take any hints to check out Special Presentations of 127 Hours, Fair Game, Made in Dagenham, The Tempest, and other Oscar hopefuls that will be easy enough to track down later. I did make one exception to that rule for Black Swan, following the same "But I'm Gonna Explode If I Don't!" principle that I followed last year into Precious. But that's it.

I'll add in closing that Sex Magic: Manifesting Maya, the documentary I screened this morning, was funny, unpredictable, and frank, not just in its advertised sexual explicitness but in the extensive, casual access that its key figures enable into a subject that can be very hard to make a documentary about that isn't stuck operating from a considerable distance. I'll be seeing as much as possible of the sex-focused material in the lineup, because that's how I suffer for my job. That is, not only have I published on films in that vein, so one must keep up, but the Festival office has asked me to speak on an October 9 panel about Sex and Cinema, alongside the makers of some of this year's movies. I have been asked to track down those directors' work and to follow all the envelopes they have pushed therein. I was even encouraged to wear to the panel what I was wearing last night to the pre-festival press kickoff, where the invitation was very kindly and unexpectedly extended.

It's one of those life lessons people can be slow to divulge, even though it's been known since the time of Confucius: if you're hoping opportunity will find you, give it a little nudge by wearing hot pink.

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Anonymous Guy Lodge said...

I'd never tell you not to see anything -- partly because it's productive when we disagree on things, and partly because even if you do agree, your reviews will invariably spell out a loath'ed film's problems so handily I can pretend I said the same thing myself.

That said, if you find yourself overwhelmed by your schedule (I know I always plan too ambitiously at festivals) and find you have to drop something, can I gently nudge the mangy-looking, parodically solemn and hacksaw-edited Caterpillar to the front of the rejects queue? Of course, if you do watch -- and finish -- it, you're totally a better man than I. And Tim, who I suspect might try similarly to warn you off Amphetamine.

5:04 PM, September 22, 2010  
Blogger Colin Low said...

I was just checking out the full schedule on the CIFF site earlier today! My lesson registration appointment's on Friday morning, so I'll be just in time after I get my quarter schedule to join the rest of the public in buying tickets. In order of current interest: Black Swan, Postcard to Daddy, My Joy, Uncle Boonmee, Tony and Janina's American Wedding and Sandcastle (this last of which is a hometown film, so represent!). I'm sure I'll discover more interesting stuff on the slate once I find more time to peruse the catalog, but at least I can be sure that your Oct 9 panel isn't one to miss. (And as a random aside, downtown Chicago is gorgeous, and I can see better now what you meant about The Dark Knight ripping it apart. I'm going to dread leaving!)

5:06 PM, September 22, 2010  
Blogger Lev Lewis said...

So lucky: Certified Copy, The Tree, If I Want To Whistle, I Whistle, Tuesday, After Christmas, On Tour, Cold Weather, Caterpillar. Why did none of these come to Toronto? Your list looks like a pretty delectable lineup of foreign fillings. I really am envious.

Of your list I've only seen Black Swan and A Screaming Man, both of which I'd steer you towards. Although the former doesn't really need a recommendation, does it?

5:08 PM, September 22, 2010  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

@Guy: I knew you guys were not in the Caterpillar fan club, and remembered reading someone say something about Amphetamine but couldn't remember what. The Best Actress win for the former is hard to ignore, and Amphetamine looks like one of the more visually ambitious selections in the LGBT program, so I'm probably doomed to my own heedlessness in both cases... though based on your IC post just now, I realize I may need to reconsider Red Hill, which I was worried would be Coffin Rock all over again.

@Colin: Welcome to the city, and I'm so glad you're enjoying what you're taking in so far! We'll make sure to catch at least one of these together. A perfect way to finally make your in-person acquaintance. Maybe Black Swan?

@Lev: It means a lot to hear a Toronto vet praising the Chicago fest. I do, indeed, feel lucky to be able to see all of this, even if Guy is right and I'll probably have to forfeit at least some of it to the pressures of working life. Won't apply to any of the titles you just named, though.

5:53 PM, September 22, 2010  
Anonymous Ivan said...

Haven't researched the unknown titles yet, but I am definitely seeing Come Undone, having been very impressed by Days and Clouds. Soldini understands that a story of unemployment needs no embellishment, just impeccable performances. It's absolutely unassuming and matter-of-fact but totally refreshing, especially coming from a country not known for restraint.

D'Angelo 70'd The Myth of the American Sleepover, and it doesn't sound like something he'd be predisposed to liking.

11:08 PM, September 22, 2010  
Blogger Glenn Dunks said...

Oh, I can't wait to hear what you think of The Tree. I know you're a fan of Otar like I am and I adored The Tree. Found it absolutely beautiful in its delicate nature with a pair of rivetting performances.

Certified Copy was great, too.

11:33 PM, September 22, 2010  
Blogger tim r said...

How Guy managed to anticipate every word I was about to write is almost eerie, but yes. Caterpillar: blecch, and good luck. Amphetamine: jeepers. (I similarly liked the look of it from Berlin stills/posters, and you get some purty nude swimming, but you won't believe the gay-rock-video incompetence of the thing — guessing a walkout may be on the cards there.)

I'll back up Red Hill as about 37 times better than Coffin Rock, and one not to miss, actually: I know you're a fan of a stonking sound mix, even if you find it overblown. Reckon you'll like. May of course be wrong.

Meanwhile, thrilled to have the My Joy tip for London purposes. (With Police, Adjective out in the UK next week, and Principles of Life doing the festival rounds, it's officially Vlad Ivanov Year — I even sat at an adjacent table to him yesterday for coffee.)

Happy viewing! Any choice press screenings the week before kick-off...?

12:04 AM, September 23, 2010  
Blogger NicksFlickPicks said...

@Ivan: Solid tip, but I still might have to wait for on-sight approval of this one. Will be eager for your report. I know we can always count on running into each other at these showings, but I'm hoping we can go out of our way to make it happen this year!

@Glenn: How great to hear, especially from an Otar fan? No chance I'd have passed this up, but I'm very encouraged. Speaking of Australia...

@Tim: One step forward (all this love for Red Hill!), one step back (the trailer sure looks like I can count on seeing it later). Getting very nervous, now about Amphetamine, but I only saw a dismal 2/6 of last year's Outrageous selections, and I have to give it up for some of them. Scheduling probably knocks out Man at Bath, though Basque lesbian drama For 80 Days is currently pulling down an 8.9/10 on IMDb. Maybe that's my winning solution? (There is one press screening, for The Princess of Montpensier, during The Time To Which You Allude. Wish it were something else, but we will play the angles.)

12:36 AM, September 23, 2010  
Anonymous Guy Lodge said...

The Princess of Montpensier? Hahahahaha. Good luck.

Some butt-naked Gregoire Leprince-Ringuet in it, though, if you like that sort of thing. (And why would you not?)

11:57 AM, September 23, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Amphetamine" is also slated to play at The Reeling Film Festival this year...November 6th.

12:24 PM, September 23, 2010  
Blogger MD said...

I'm really interested in seeing what you have to say about Certified Copy. It's in that awkward position for me where I liked it well enough, but I don't think it's great. It's doubly annoying because it'll turn up a lot if I do year-end things, because I've hardly seen anything. Juliette Binoche is fantastic, of course.

I actually haven't heard of a lot of these, other than The Tree. I was intending to catch that, but I missed the screening.

Hope you enjoy all the films, though.

1:14 PM, September 23, 2010  
Anonymous goatdog said...

I did some writing for CIFF this year, and I was pretty disappointed by most of what I saw. The highlight was a Jackie Chan film! But I'm still excited, especially because I'll actually have time this year to see some films. Hopefully I'll see you at some of them.

5:42 PM, September 23, 2010  
Blogger NATHANIEL R said...

i loved CERTIFIED COPY even though it wore me out a little by the end. Binoche is wondrously watchable as usual.

in other news: I just don't see what you saw in MY JOY. I tried. I really did. I was with it for about an hour and then I was just like ARGH. END. but it never did.

6:26 PM, September 23, 2010  
Blogger Glenn Dunks said...

If Certified Copy had cut even 5 minutes from the end - where the two characters are just sorta standing around not talking - then it could have crept up into A- territory for me. As it is, I agree with Nathaniel, but a solid B+ is a wonderful grade to give.

8:45 AM, September 27, 2010  
Anonymous tylermikk said...

Hey movie lovers! Be sure to check out another blog discussing this historic Chicago event!

11:44 AM, September 28, 2010  

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