Tag Archives: Chicago Film Festival

Because Everybody Loves Movies

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We street teamed on Sunday. We’re previewing tonight. The Junior Board is ready.

It’s nearly time for the 49th Chicago International Film Festival!

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Some of the board, though everyone was there in spirit (see banner in the background)

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Return to the Screen

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Keeping with tradition, it’s time to begin the great screening and writing nights and days for the 48th Chicago International Film Festival. Last year proved difficult at times, mainly because after a day of working, I had a night of watching and writing, but overall was greatly rewarding. Aside from seeing films in advanced, your write-ups are what people use to make their movie watching decisions. Plus last year, a few of the directors offered their gratitude for spot-on summaries. It’s a great networking tool to say the least.

I’ve screened three thus far and have yet to be disappointed. A lot of previous festival winners (Cannes, Sundance), which I think patrons of Chicago will greatly enjoy. So very confident the fest this year will be just as fantastic as last year. Schedules will hit stands later in September with the Festival running from October 11-25.

 

Screening Gifts

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Every year, the Chicago International Film Festival holds a secret screening night. They tease the film with all sorts of possibilities and keep under tight wraps what the film will be. You simply walk into the theater, take a seat and await fate. It’s seriously the closest thing to Christmas presents as a kid. I sit there anxious, my brain starts racing as title cards flip and my feet dance around as the waiting game begins. Needless to say, it’s my favorite event of the whole Fest.

This year’s proved to be a stellar pick from director J.C. Chandor, Margin Call. While the financial sector has never been a field of particular interest, this movie sucked me in. I’ll blame the stellar cast from Jeremy Irons to Paul Bettany to Kevin Spacey and Zachary Quinto. The movie felt all too real as it depicts the downfall of a financial agency and the eventual collapse of the economy. Needless to say, I have a new appreciation for financial dudes who slave away staring at screens and doing things with numbers I never could understand.

 

 

Then, by some grace of God, Chicago unearthed ANOTHER secret screening, this time at famed Music Box. While the feature leaked along with talent who would appear, I was completely shocked by the OTHER talent that walked out the curtain. Patton Oswalt took the stage to introduce….Jason Reitman. Reitman came out and then introduced Chicago-gal…Diablo Cody. And the three musketeers talked briefly before screening Young Adult.

Young Adult was a fantastic exposé of Mavis (played by Charlize Theron) on her quest to bring meaning to her life as her book series wraps with her final book. Naturally, she returns to her small hometown to find this solace, but instead, just finds her life is truly a wreck. Diablo Cody put it perfectly during the Q&A: “I wanted to show you that sometimes, assholes don’t change. In too many films you find the asshole becomes good. But as we all know, that isn’t the case.” The film is raw, the shots are amazing and it’s chocked full of awkward moments and delusional dreams.

 

 

I’m a sucker for secret films. I love the feeling you get while sitting there waiting for the film to happen. And the fact you’re walking in without knowing what awaits. It’s a thrill that just does not exist anymore in a world of instant, on demand and leaks on the world wide web. It’s the little things in life. And I’m so glad Chicago delivered two this week. If you find out your city holds a secret screening, immediately go. Even if the film’s bad (like last year’s Three Days at the Fest), that opening sequence of feelings is something everyone needs to experience.

Patton Oswalt, Diablo Cody and Jason Reitman during "Young Adult" Q&A at Music Box theatre

Silence is Golden

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Exciting news! I’ve been selected to contribute write-ups for The 47th Chicago International Film Festival! I’ll be watching films billed for the festival and writing synopses and summaries for the schedule (what the public reads to determine what film they’ll see) and for the program guidebook (a 200-page book with a deeper summary of the films).

While this is quite exciting, it’s extremely daunting to take on while working full-time, seeing as you have to watch the films. And I’m going to have to take a break from the blogging world to devote to the films. Which is proving difficult seeing as I want to shout from the rooftops about the latest film I just wrote up and how much I loved it and the music and the actors and the script. Sigh.

Epic posts towards the end of September with my preview guide. Until then, my silence is golden. I’ll occasionally post about life and what not, but just a heads up for you loyal readers, it’ll be a quiet end to summer and beginning to fall.

 

These Are A Few of My Favorite Things

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Your It List had a bunch of their contributors write in on their favorite things of 2010. I wasn’t asked this year, but there’s always next year, so I stole their questions and will answer them here.

Favorite Film
As a film addict, this is a dangerous question. A very dangerous question. We saw two much anticipated serial movies in Harry Potter and Toy Story. Black Swan is just as crazy good as everyone says it is. And the Film Fest delivered some gems in Trust and Nice Guy Johnny this year. If I’m going mega blockbuster style, I’ll have to throw in Inception as well. So really, this year delivered in movies for me. But okay, hands down favorite that I want everyone to see?  Conviction and/or The Town. Ben Affleck proved he’s still got it in Town (both on camera and behind) and Hilary Swank delivers another character driven piece in Conviction.

Favorite Album
It’s no surprise how much I love Mumford & Sons. But sadly, Sigh No More came out in 2009, at least, that’s when I first heard about it, then it crossed over the pond to here. That’s probably the album I listened to the most this past year. And then David Gray‘s Foundling wasn’t a personal fav, but it sure was when he played it live in Millennium Park this past summer. But Brandon Flowers‘  Flamingo was quite surprising and duh, Kanye’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy proved he’s still got it. Favorite: Kanye.

Favorite Book
I really got into non-fiction books this year and the best was Jerry Weintraub’s When I Stop Talking, You’ll Know I’m Dead. He literally knows or did know anyone worth anything in Hollywood. And his stories are insane. He’ll make you rethink your sales techniques. Close runner up: Jonathan Tropper This is Where I Leave You.

Favorite TV Show
30 Rock will forever be a favorite/staple in my life. But I’m so excited I finally hopped on the Modern Family bandwagon. Also to note: Mad Men really delivered this past season. So props goes out to the people of Sterling, Cooper, Pryce & Draper.

Favorite Twitterer
He was late coming in the game, but man, he is fantastic. @lord_voldemort7

“Horcruxes before hoes”

Runner Up: @preschoolgems

“I fell because I high-fived so hard.”

Favorite YouTube Video
Every week a fantastic one comes out. But this one from Google that premiered during the Super Bowl is epic. And it also has paved the way for the latest Google Ad.

Most excited for in 2011
Having one W-2 form. After multiple years of multiple jobs, I’m ecstatic to have just one for the 2011 year.

Who you want to kiss at NYE
Jake Gyllenhaal. But I’m sure he won’t be where I am. But just in case, I’ll be sure to curl my eyelashes!

Holiday Gift
Seeing as Edward Burns broke my camera during the Film Fest (yea, I’m never going to let this one go or stop believing it), I should probably get a digital camera. But Mom did get me some stellar rubber boots for the Chicago winter!

Frogger Becomes a Marathoner

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This past weekend brought the joyous occasion of the Chicago Marathon. And with it, our building was practically cut off from civilization as the race runs right on the street we cross every day to reach humanity and civilization from the 7 a.m. hour to the 4:30 p.m. hour. While this wouldn’t have been a problem, I had to head down the Film Fest in the city. Buses were out of the question, so I had to walk to the train crossing the Marathon path twice.

The first crossing wasn’t so bad. I made friends with some girls who worked at Duffy’s that needed to cross the street to make it to work. We waited for the gap and gingerly Froggered our way over the other side of Sheridan. I anticipated a lot worse, but we made it to the other side unscathed and more importantly, without disrupting a racer. It is also at this time it dawns on me that I have to cross again at Clark, where the people cattle will be a lot thicker and unruly.

I search frantically for another member of the crowd who needs to cross. Success. Amy needed to cross to get to Jamba Juice (the things we do for that deliciousness). So we walked down to Broadway/Surf to cross, thinking we have a lot of space that isn’t barricaded. We start running diagonal and miss the barricade opening. We turn around to see the mass running straight at us. It was like we were Simba, frantically searching for Mufasa to come and rescue us.

With nothing else to do, we started the unthinkable. RUNNING.

And we thought okay, we’ll just run until there’s another opening in the barricades. But there wasn’t one until we reached Wrightwood. Now granted, the distance is not all that far. But when you’re carrying a bag, wearing jeans and actually running in a marathon, you want this running jaunt to end immediately. People are cheering, “Go runners!” and “Yay runners.” While Amy, dressed in workout gear, and I, dressed in jeans and Film Fest shirt, come lollygagging down the path. At least it was free advertising for the Fest right?

Finally we found an opening and laughed our way, while fighting the massive crowd, back to Diversey. Quite the way to spend the 9 o’clock hour on a Sunday. And props to the rest of the runners who finished the other 99.5% of the race that I didn’t.