CHICAGO – When faced with adversity, the best way around it is to somehow break into song. That is the feeling behind the Brown Paper Box Co.’s “Positively Present: An Uplifting Cabaret,” running April 7th and 8th at Mary’s Attic in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood. The event features company member Kristi Szczepanek as host, and presents song stylings by other company members, including Anna Schutz, plus some special guests. For details and ticket information, click here.
Film Review: Rotating Perspectives Converge in ‘Train Station’
CHICAGO – Taking on the variance of choice in a very unique and compelling way, “Train Station” was interpreted through 40 filmmakers in 25 countries, following a character – The Person in Brown – in a singular story that flexes and changes as the role is exposed. Chicago was one of those filming locations, and “Train Station” will screen here at the Music Box Theatre on Wednesday, February 15, 2017.
The film begins in a train station, the scheduled stop delayed due to an unforeseen accident outside the station. So begins a jumble of different takes on the character who is waiting, and the stories that occur based on their choices. In one scenario “The Person in Brown” is a young man, another older, another a child, another a woman, with lovers, life partners, friends and total strangers interacting with the person-in-brown on the journey. The result is hypnotic, and highly philosophical – who are we but the result of the decisions we make? The film is dizzying and purposeful, and adds a dash of suspense and fantasy. It’s a great ride, and worth experiencing.
The Person in Brown (portrayed eventually by several actors of all genders and ages) is waiting at the Train Station, frustrated that the vehicle is not arriving, that will take them to the place they’ve always wanted to go to. The movement of that person from the station begins a series of events, which include a lost wallet, a chance meeting on a bus and the discovery of an indiscretion.
The Person in Brown Waits at the ‘Train Station’
Photo credit: CollabFeature
Where the story goes is based on the choices of the various characters. For example, the lost wallet could be returned to its owner or waylaid by another distraction. What is common is the person-in-brown character, affected by the choices, experience their circumstances either through another fellow traveler or their life itself. It all begins in the train station.
The zing in the film is through the editing, as the stories converge with a cut to another version of the person-in-brown and their choice adventure, or swings back to one of the interpretations experienced before, and towards the result of that situation. One of the common threads is a carnival barker character, who is trying to convince the person-in-brown to play a game of chance. The characters who take on that challenge is propelled into even more choice circumstances, but the game does have reason, and allows for some life lessons.
What is also remarkable is how the various filmmakers illuminate the material, in both narrative and philosophical forms. There are some fantasy parts that are amazingly metaphorical, as two children (one of them the person-in-brown) go on a trip based on their imaginations within a miniature trains station. The carnival barker and his game becomes different under the direction of the various artists, all bringing to light a theme with different brushes.
The Journey Goes On In the ‘Train Station’
Photo credit: CollabFeature
And if anything comes out of such a unique piece of filmmaking, it is that in pursuit of our choices, we are – within the essence of being human – the same no matter where we are on earth. The various shades, genders and ages of the person-in-brown make the look of the role different, but the choices faced by that symbolic character are decisions we all make. In the end, “Train Station” has a voice of empathy – the more we relate to people on a fundamental level, the more commonality we have. We are all instruments of peace in this existence, and the choices we make affect that peace.
The film is on a roadshow, but is also available with Video-On-Demand (see providers for availability). Of course, we are all the person-in-brown, on a journey with our fellow travelers, and making choices that affect both us and them. “Train Station” is a weigh station, what we get out of the story – like what we get out of life – is what we’re willing to understand about it.