Preview: First Week of Films at 52nd Chicago International Film Festival

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Average: 5 (1 vote)

CHICAGO – It’s Week One of the 52nd Chicago International Film Festival, and with so many film opportunities to experience, what are some of the highlights? The intrepid film reviewers of has been sampling the cinema fare for the first week, and offers the following capsule summaries. reviewers Jon Espino (JE) and Patrick McDonald (PM) has taken in the previews, and offer these recommendations for the first week of the festival. For a PDF connection to the complete schedule, click here.

“The Confessions” (Italy/France)

’The Confessions,’ Directed by Roberto Ando
Photo credit: Chicago International Film Festival

The world is in fiscal meltdown, and a G8 summit of the world’s greatest economists is taking place in a remote coastal resort in Germany. One of economists has invited an Italian monk to the meetings, in order to make a confession. When that vital world leader turns up dead the next morning, the balance of the event is throw off the tracks – which has implications for the entire society. A virtuous balance of religion, the definition of sin and the reliance on the code of wealth collide, within the meaning of life. (PM)

Friday, 10/14, 6pm
Monday, 10/17, 6pm

“24 Weeks” (Germany)

24 W
’24 Weeks,’ Directed by Anne Zohra Berrached
Photo credit: Chicago International Film Festival

When a popular German comedian has her second pregnancy, tests reveal that the baby has Down’s Syndrome. The decision that needs to be made a result of this news is devastating, for the mother and her boyfriend partner. This is a very pro-woman film, in the realm of providing some empathy for this impossible situation – in fact, in a aside with a nurse in the film, the mother asks what that medical expert would do. The nurse honestly says we cannot know unless we go through the situation. That’s exactly what this film is about, a glimpse into that loneliness. (PM)

Friday, 10/14, 8:30pm
Saturday, 10/15, 3:45pm
Tuesday, 10/25 3:30pm

“A Man and a Woman” (France)

45 Years
’A Man and a Woman,’ Directed by Claude Lelouch
Photo credit: Chicago International Film Festival

The 50th Anniversary of this classic film gets the big screen treatment at the festival, and the scope and power of the visuals are timeless. Two people (Anouk Aimee and Jean-Louis Trintignant) meet after their spouses have died, and enter into a new relationship still haunted by their past. The use of camera movement, the haunting familiar theme music, the dynamic of relationships and the unfolding of some scenes has influenced both cinema and the art of advertising since its release. Director Claude Lelouch will be in attendance. (PM)

Saturday, 10/15, 3pm
Tuesday, 10/18, 3:15pm

“The Autopsy of Jane Doe” (United States/Britain)

45 Years
’The Autopsy of Jane Doe,’ Directed by Andre Ovredal
Photo credit: Chicago International Film Festival

A morgue is usually one of the last places we ever want to visit, but it ends up being one of the last places we all do. There is an inherent creepiness about being in a place with so much death. “The Autopsy of Jane Doe” takes full advantage of that unnerving fact to create a tense atmosphere for the enigmatic occurrences that happen when an unidentified woman shows up for an autopsy after an unexplainable slaughter. “Trollhunter” director André Ovredal creates enough mystique in the film to keep you guessing until the end. Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch play a father and son team of morticians that perform autopsies in their family business that goes back generations. As they begin to examine Jane Doe, they soon discover that there is much more to her than meets the eye. The film goes from suspenseful to a supernatural survival film as horrifying events happen that threaten the lives of living by bring back the dead. (JE)

Saturday, 10/15, 10:45pm
Saturday, 10/22, 3pm

“Christine” (United States)

’Christine,’ Directed by Antonio Campos
Photo credit: Chicago International Film Festival

Sure to be high on the list come Oscar time, this unrelenting look at a mental breakdown – based on a true incident – is saturated with meaning in every frame. Rebecca Hall (“Vicky Christina Barcelona”) breaks out as a reporter on a Sarasota TV news program in the summer of 1974. There is something amiss about her mental acuity, and this is combined with the pressure to produce increasing trivial information on the newscast. With intense supporting performances by Michael C. Hall (“Dexter”) and Chicago’s own Tracy Letts. “Christine” is part “Network,” part “A Woman Under the Influence” and all original. (PM)

Saturday, 10/15, 5:45pm
Sunday, 10/16, 8:15pm

”Neruda” (Chile/Argentina)

’Neruda,’ Directed by Pablo Larrain
Photo credit: Chicago International Film Festival

One of the hottest directors of the moment, Pablo Larrain (“The Club,” “Jackie”), creates a masterful “anti-biography” based on Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, who went into exile in the late 1940s because of his Communist Party leanings. He is pursued by an Inspector (Gael Garcia Bernal, excellent as always) who seems to be seduced by his prey rather than obsessed with the poet’s capture. Magnificently symbolic and a with a magic that only the art of cinema can produce – a fever dream wrapped in poetry and history. (PM)

Sunday, 10/16, 7:30pm
Monday, 10/17, 8:15pm

“Things to Come” (France/Germany)

’Things to Come,’ Directed by Mia Hansen-Love
Photo credit: Chicago International Film Festival

Philosophy is something that has been argued for centuries. Postulating each other’s point through arguments and hypothetical situations. What happens when you are forced to practice what you preach? Writer/Director Mia Hansen-Love and actress Isabelle Huppert team up to deliver a ponderous film about the monumental changes that you never expect to coming later in life. Through Huppert’s amazing performance we witness how a life-changing upheaval caused by divorce, death and politics can shake someone out of complacency and make them re-examine what they actually believe in. Hansen-Love turns this philosophy-filled film about about different points of view into an engaging character study that speaks to us on a level we can all painfully relate to. (JE)

Sunday, 10/16, 5pm
Wednesday, 10/19, 5:45pm

”One Day Since Yesterday” (United States)

One Day
’One Day Since Yesterday,’ Directed by Bill Teck
Photo credit: Chicago International Film Festival

Subtitled “Peter Bogdanovich & the Lost American Film,” this tear-inducing documentary tells of the fate that was director Bogdanovich’s snake bit movie, “They All Laughed” (1981). This was PB’s tenth feature film, on the heels of a string of his 1970s classics – including “The Last Picture Show,” “What’s Up, Doc?” and “Paper Moon.” Meticulous in detail, and one of the finest movie-about-the-movie ever conceived, it engenders a new appreciation for this American Dreamer, and the fact that no one gets out of here alive. A must see, and director Peter Bogdanovich will be attending the screening. (PM)

Sunday, 10/16, 5pm

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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