1001 Grams Anna Kendrick

5 Films to Start Your Chicago International Film Festival

Tuesday, October 14, 2014 Cora

The 50th Chicago International Film Festival kicked off October 9th and is now in full swing. There is something for everyone at the fest, but how do you choose what to see? Here are five movies to get you started.

Force Majeure An outwardly perfect family vacations in the French Alps. When an avalanche hits the restaurant, the father (Johannes Kuhnke) runs and leaves his family behind. Now he needs to accept his actions and deal with his family’s reactions to his abandonment. Director Ruben Ostlund was interested in the fact a high number of survivors of ordeals divorce. They survived, but how are they supposed to live? He explores the question so many of us have asked, “What would you do in that situation?” The backdrop lends itself to reflection. The director, Ruben Ostlund, got his start with ski films. He captures the sense of majesty and the vacuum snow can create. We feel that eery, wet quiet snow produces as the family figures out how to go forward.
1001 Grams A weight and measures scientist lives a very stringent life. Her work is her rock. When her fellow scientist father has a heart attack, we follow her from Norway to France and back as she learns how to create a balanced life. This driest of dry comedies was Norway’s official entry to the Academy Awards. They play it so serious you almost wonder if they know it’s a comedy. She literally carries the weight of her life around as she chaperones the country’s kilo to be recalibrated. She learns some weights are greater than the ones she can measure.
Beloved Sisters When the two Lengefeld sisters fall in love with the same man, author/philosopher Friedrich Schiller, they orchestrate their lives to keep their intellectual love triangle alive. While inspired by true events, not much is known about the true nature of the relationships. Director Dominik Graf interprets it as the younger sister, Charlotte, married Friedrich (which was true) but willingly gives him to her sister, Caroline, who married “an evil elephant” to save the family. Caroline became Schiller’s biographer after his death and destroyed almost all correspondence between them. It resembles a triptych painting with each character getting an hour to explore their story.
The Last Five Years Based on the Off-Broadway play, follow the roller coaster five year relationship between a struggling actress and a novelist whose career takes off. Starring Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan, we hear both sides of the story entirely through song.
Free Fall An old woman survives falling off the top of her apartment building. As she climbs the stairs back to her apartment, we see what goes on behind the other inhabitants’ closed doors. Like the tenants of an apartment building, the vignettes range from intriguingly funny to how-am-I-supposed-to-feel shocking. It is Pythonesque in its silly randomness, but also its call for “something completely different.” Director György Pálfiwill (Taxidermia) really shows how film can be used to communicate ideas. The 50th Chicago International Film Festival runs October 9th through 23rd. Visit their website for a schedule of films and lectures.

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