Preview: Second-Week Films at 52nd Chicago International Film Festival

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Average: 5 (2 votes)

CHICAGO – It’s Week Two of the 52nd Chicago International Film Festival, and with Closing Night coming next Thursday, what film gems still are yet to see? The film reviewers of has been previewing several second week screenings, and offers the following capsule summaries. reviewers are Jon Espino (JE) and Patrick McDonald (PM). For a PDF connection to the complete schedule, click here.

“Kaleidoscope” (United Kingdom)

’Kaleidoscope,’ Directed by Rupert Jones
Photo credit: Chicago International Film Festival

This tense, Hitchcockian thriller would score praise from the Master of Suspense himself. Taking the mother/son relationship to a new and ever weirder level, the unwanted appearance of Carl’s (Toby Jones) mum interrupts a potential date, and throws him into a tailspin of psychological dread. The cutting and the camera work, including a sequence following a rolled up newspaper, makes this major film debut of director Rupert Jones (Toby’s brother) a stunner. (PM)

Friday, 10/21, 8:45pm
Sunday, 10/23, 1pm

“I, Daniel Blake” (United Kingdom/France)

’I, Daniel Blake,’ Directed by Anne Zohra Berrached
Photo credit: Chicago International Film Festival

Anyone who has ever had to deal with any bureaucratic system (American or English) can tell you how fundamentally flawed and counterproductive it ends up being. Daniel Blake (Dave Johns) has spent over 40 years of his life working, but when a heart attack forces him to seek financial help from the government, he is thrown into an endless loop as he tries to navigate through all the red tape. The filmmaking team of Ken Loach (director) and Paul Laverty (writer) create another film with socialist overtones about human compassion and an inherently broken government system that values pointless paperwork over the lives of the people they are there to protect. This film won the prestigious Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival for its social appeal and depth of emotion. This tragic tale will remind you that empathy is something that we should all feel for each other, including strangers. (JE)

Saturday, 10/22, 8:30pm
Tuesday, 10/25 6pm

“City and State Shorts” (United States)

’Think Locally’ City and State Short Films
Photo credit: Chicago International Film Festival

Saturday, October 22nd is Short Film Day at the Festival (click the link above for full schedule), but the next day the City and State Short Film showcase gets a repeat from its debut the week previous. Highlights include “Positioning” (director Ann Beal), a incredible piece of animation culled from 400 pages of a self portrait; “Huh” (Filip Kojic) is a visually marvelous piece using the cityscape as a surreal planet; “Le Nu” (The Nude, Brian Zahm) is a cutting piece of French New Wave satire. (PM)

Sunday, 10/23, 12:45pm
Wednesday, 10/26, 8:15pm

“Daughters of the Dust” (United States)

’Daughters of the Dust,’ Directed by Julie Dash
Photo credit: Chicago International Film Festival

This lush restoration of the first film directed by an African American woman to get major theatrical distribution (in 1991!) is also celebrating its 25th anniversary. Set on an island off the coast of South Carolina in 1902, these sons and daughters of freed slaves are deciding whether to stay in their insular – and traditionally African – society, or join the burgeoning industrial America. Visually intuitive, with bits of poetic narrative, the film is a timeless statement on inevitable change. (PM)

Sunday, 10/23, 3pm

“The Handmaiden” (South Korea)

’The Handmaiden,’ Directed by Park Chan-wook
Photo credit: Chicago International Film Festival

Hold onto your bells as the infamous director of “Oldboy” (Park Chan-wook) creates an erotic period thriller that combines the comic weirdness of Preston Sturges with the twists of Alfred Hitchcock, all done with a wry blink-or-you’ll-miss-it sensibility. A gang of Korean theives are looking for a big score from a eccentric Japanese book collector, so they send one of their own to infiltrate as a handmaiden to the estate’s mistress. What isn’t expected is that the handmaiden and the mistress may have more than just a mutual admiration. The crisp pace and the underlying fun make this a great ride. (PM)

Sunday, 10/23, 8:15pm
Tuesday, 10/25, 8:30pm

“Animation Shorts” (Various)

’Figures in a Landscape,’ Animation Shorts
Photo credit: Chicago International Film Festival

Animation has evolved a bit since the Saturday morning cartoon era, and these short films from around the world expresses that forward movement. Highlights include the a new use of clay-mation in “Moms on Fire” (Sweden), an allegory of vision in “Blind Vaysha” (Canada) and a an old folk legend come to life in “Among the Black Waves” (Russia). (PM)

Tuesday, 10/25, 6pm

“Lion” (Australia)

’Lion,’ Directed by Garth Davis
Photo credit: Chicago International Film Festival

Family is a strong relationship you have with people you care deeply for. This feeling transcends any biological boundaries. As you get older, you get to choose your family, but sometimes your family chooses you. “Lion” follows the true story of Saroo (Dev Patel) as he tries to find the family he was separated from as a child. The complex emotions in this film will take you on a roller coaster ride, making you shed tears of sorrow, but also tears of joy. Basically, be prepared to cry. The film attempts to tackle difficult questions concerning what truly makes a family, and how to reconcile the feelings for your adoptive family and the longing for the biological one you knew as a child. Powerful performances from the child actors, as well as Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman, give this film the emotional ferocity of a lion.. (JE)

Tuesday, 10/25, 7:45pm

“Moonlight” (United States)

’Moonlight,’ Directed by Barry Jenkins
Photo credit: Chicago International Film Festival

An unusual film with an unusual structure, this three chapter story exposes three periods in the life of a poor and desperate African American man, nicknamed Little, and his struggle with existence. The final chapter has the power and subtlety of a one act play, as filmmaker Barry Jenkins lets the emotions unfold slowly, within a gratitude that develops between two old friends who gave each more to each other than could ever be expected. The way Little is cared for – and not cared for – is the key to the narrative thread, essentially defining how all of our accumulated love and nurturing makes us who we are. (PM)

Wednesday, 10/26, 7:30pm

The 52nd Chicago International Film Festival will take place October 13th to October 27th, 2016. Click here for film schedules, information and to purchase tickets. senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

Editorial Coordinator, Writer

© 2016 Patrick McDonald,

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