Sunday, November 29, 2015

2015 Chicago Film Fest Wrap-Up

Nearly half of the films seen by this viewer, 11 of 26 premiered at Cannes, where 24 Cannes films were featured overall this year, including 10 of the 21 films screened in competition, while in the previous year the fest showed 21 Cannes films overall, with only 4 of 18 in competition films, probably making this the highest number ever seen at the Chicago Festival, which may account for much better scores this year than in years past, even though it was considered a weak year at Cannes according to the attending critics.  Perhaps what was missing at Cannes this year were overblown, overrated offerings from big named directors, where instead the overall quality was more impressive than first believed.   While it is likely there are fewer consensus masterpieces premiering at Cannes these days, nonetheless there are outstanding, albeit smaller films to discover. 

Jonathan has created a Google spreadsheet allowing a small group of us to enter grades for each film we see: 

While again there are some major differences, as two of my highest rated films, Mountains May Depart and Mustang, an A and A-, were both mysteriously graded D’s by Evan and were his lowest rated films at the festival, as he was not impressed by the “sincerity” of the characters or the visual design of the first and found the second “unbearable.”  Both were award winners, as Mountains won Best Original Screenplay and the Audience Choice Award at the recent Golden Horse Awards honoring Chinese language cinema (Best Film, Best Director, and Best Cinematography was awarded to Hou Hsiao-hsien’s The Assassin), while Mustang won the Europa Cinemas prize at Cannes for Best European film in the Directors’ Fortnight.  It’s always curious how that works out, but it is the 3rd festival in a row where someone’s favorite, top-rated film was also someone else’s lowest rated and least favorite film experience overall.  This divisiveness and extreme variance in critical reception may account for the winners announced at Cannes as well, where there are fewer films being made today that draw universal praise, which may actually reflect the diminished influence of important film writers and powerful newspaper critics due to the advance of social media.  Much like the world of Hollywood, where box office numbers in the first week usually determine a film’s success, social media has a similar effect on festival films, where the initial reaction has a major impact, as evidenced by the critic ratings from Cannes,    

The graders this year include:
Jonathan Dabian, free lance software informer
Evan Wang, Masters in Biology from IIT and Film Center volunteer
Kirk Madsen, former Facets projectionist and House Manager
Frank Biletz, college history professor
Ivan Albertson, perennial Film Center volunteer
Waydell Walker, television production manager
Robert Kennedy from Cranes Are Flying

Robert at Cranes Are Flying


Mountains May Depart (Shan he gu ren)                                96


My Golden Days (Trois souvenirs de ma jeunesse)                94
The Assassin (Nie Yinniang)                                                  94
Heart of a Dog                                                                         94
The Homecoming (Blóðberg)                                                 93
Mustang                                                                                   93


Son of Saul (Saul Fia)                                                             92
Dheepan                                                                                  91
A Childhood (Une enfance)                                                    91


In Jackson Heights                                                                 89
Youth                                                                                      88
The Treasure (Comoara)                                                        87
In the Underground (Di Ceng Shen Chu)                              86
Hitchcock/Truffaut                                                                 85
The Infinite Happiness                                                           85
The Club (El Club)                                                                 84
Body (Cialo)                                                                           83


Cemetery of Splendor (Rak ti Khon Kaen)                            82
600 Miles (600 Millas)                                                           81
Homesick                                                                                81
In the Shadow of Women (L'ombre des femmes)                  80


Underground Fragrance (Xia Xiang)                                      76
As We Were Dreaming (Als wir träumten)                             74


The Red Spider (Czerwony pajak)                                         66

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