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Journal Archive

54th Chicago International Film Festival

My friends and I over at Cine-File put together a grab bag of coverage of the 54th Chicago International Film Festival. Check it out at CINE-FILE. Here's a taste:

Dyana Winkler and Tina Brown's UNITED SKATES (US)
"The stakes are high in Dyana Winkler and Tina Brown's UNITED SKATES, a valuable, exuberant, and unexpectedly moving documentary, which celebrates the endangered African-American subculture of roller skate dancing, from the segregated rinks of the '50s, through the hip-hop heyday of the '80s/'90s, until today, when big-box stores push family-owned rinks out of business."

Ferzan Ozpetek's NAPLES IN VEILS (Italy)
"Dedicated to its titular city, Turkish-Italian director Ferzan Ozpetek's NAPLES IN VEILS is an explicit, enigmatic, highly entertaining erotic thriller about a lovelorn, middle-aged autopsy doctor (a moving Giovanna Mezzogiorno) whose one-night stand gets her mixed up with murder."

Natalia Meshchaninova's CORE OF THE WORLD (Russia/Lithuania) 
"If you like the suspenseful, contemporary working-class realism practiced by the Dardenne brothers, you will likely enjoy CORE OF THE WORLD, a solid, naturally-acted character study."

I also had a chance to look at Jia Zhangke's ASH IS PUREST WHITE (China). Taking a sometimes violent, sometimes comic, always surprising spin through the flux of modern China, the great Jia directs Zhao Tao in an engaging performance as a gangster's resilient girlfriend inventively seizing back her life after a 5-year prison stint.



This week over at CINE-FILE, I wrote about Ingmar Bergman's CRIES AND WHISPERS. It will always be with me, the image of the women in their white dresses in the red drawing rooms. 
It cannot be coincidence that, in his memoir The Magic Lantern, Bergman chooses the discussion of CRIES AND WHISPERS to say this: "Sometimes I probably do mourn the fact that I no longer make films. This is natural and it passes. Most of all I miss working with Sven Nykvist, perhaps because we are both utterly captivated by the problems of light, the gentle, dangerous, dreamlike, living, dead, clear, misty, hot, violent, bare, sudden, dark, springlike, falling, straight, slanting, sensual, subdued, limited, poisonous, calming, pale, light. Light."

It's playing at the Gene Siskel Film Center this week. Check out my review by heading to CINE-FILE Chicago and scrolling down, down to "Also Recommended."




This week over at CINE-FILE, I wrote about Ingmar Bergman's great SCENES FROM A MARRIAGE. I also get a kick out of thinking about it in terms of Elvis Costello's capsule review of Gold, by that other great Swedish import, ABBA: "Fast songs: for nights entertaining your Australian friends, or playing with the dressing-up box. Slow songs: a pop-music version of Bergman’s SCENES FROM A MARRIAGE." The complete mini-series is playing this week at Gene Siskel Film Center. 

I should have added, one key to a successful relationship? Don't behave like the people in SCENE FROM A MARRIAGE. 

I also write about Josephine Decker's MADELINE'S MADELINE, which is, I think, a partial breakthrough. It's playing over at Music Box TheatrePerhaps strangely, the film it most reminded me of, in its collage style, is the underground-style EAT THE DOCUMENT, by Bob Dylan, Howard Alk, and D.A. Pennebaker. 

To read both writeups, please pop over to CINE-FILE Chicago.



The week I wrote about Ingmar Bergman's THE DEVIL'S EYE. It's about on the level of a limerick, but a transcendent, unexpectedly touching limerick. Characterized by Bergman's unpretentious, humane intelligence, it's playing at Gene Siskel Film Center, this week. To check out my writeup, head to CINE-FILE Chicago and scroll down to "Also Recommended."



This week over at CINE-FILE Chicago, under "Also Recommended," I wrote about SAWDUST AND TINSEL, another '50s effort from the immortal Ingmar Bergman. It's suffused with that famous Bergman intimacy, as if he plumbed our darkest shadows to get to the light. It's playing as part of the Bergman 100 series at the Gene Siskel Film Center. To read my writeup, please go to CINE-FILE Chicago.