2010 Chicago International Film Festival: Week One

A day-by-day guide to the Chicago International Film Festival.
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* Recommended titles

If you go
Where: AMC River East
322 E Illinois St
Tickets: call Ticketmaster at 312-902-1500, or go to ticketmaster.com. For more information, call 312-332-3456 or go to chicagofilmfestival.org.

 

* Recommended titles

If you go
Where: AMC River East
322 E Illinois St
Tickets: call Ticketmaster at 312-902-1500, or go to ticketmaster.com. For more information, call 312-332-3456 or go to chicagofilmfestival.org.

Thursday 7 | Friday 8 | Saturday 9 | Sunday 10 | Monday 11 | Tuesday 12 | Wednesday 13

Thursday 7
7pm Stone Dir. John Curran. 2010. 105mins. USA. It’s not clear why the festival decided to torture its opening-night audience with this excruciating muddle, a penal-code American Beauty about a parole officer (Robert De Niro) who allows himself to be seduced by the wife (Milla Jovovich) of an inmate (Edward Norton). The punishment is ours: You’ve rarely seen two dependable leads give such terrible performances. At the Harris Theater (205 E Randolph Dr). —Ben Kenigsberg


Friday 8
* 3:30pm Norman Dir. Jonathan Segal. 2010. 97mins. USA. Ignore the comedy label the fest has thrown on this unexpectedly moving little indie about a teen who lets everyone at school believe he has terminal cancer as a way to deal with trouble at home. The performances are solid (Richard Jenkins as the father. Need we say more?) and the thing grows on you after a slightly unsteady start. —Hank Sartin
3:50pm Postcard to Daddy Dir. Michael Stock. 2010. 85mins. Germany. Stock’s father sexually abused him, and this doc tackles the subject with raw honesty and a refusal to blur over the details. So personal you feel ashamed to keep watching, yet riveting. —HS
4pm The Hairdresser Dir. Doris Dörrie. 2010. 106mins. Germany. A little heavy-handed with the fat jokes but also full of empathy and humor, this German lightweight draws you into the trials and triumphs of a lovable overweight hairdresser chasing her dreams. —Ruth Welte
4:15pm If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle Dir. Florin Serban. 2010. 94mins. Romania/Sweden. And if I want to be free, I’ll leave. The films of the Romanian New Wave have been so consistently excellent it’s depressing to stumble onto this pedantic melodrama, in which a prisoner attempts to control his kid brother’s future from behind bars. —BK
4:45pm Our Life Dir. Daniele Luchetti. 2010. 98mins. Italy. This wildly incoherent movie—essentially La Promesse crossed with Bounce—stuffs its narrative with tragedies (a dead wife, a covered-up construction accident involving a Romanian immigrant), but all of the characters seem weirdly unperturbed. It may be one of the least convincing depictions of human behavior ever committed to screen. —BK
5pm Caterpillar Dir. Kôji Wakamatsu. 2010. 84mins. Japan. The horrors of war do battle with the horrors of didacticism as a WWII soldier returns home sans limbs and is revered by everyone except his wife, who tires of his conjugal pleas. —BK
6pm Legacy Dir. Thomas Ikimi. 2010. 95mins. Nigeria/U.K. Idris Elba stars as a former black ops soldier trying to uncover the corruption of his brother, a senator. (Not made available for review.)
6:10pm The Place in Between Dir. Sarah Bouyain. 2010. 82mins. France/Burkina Faso. Telling two stories—one in Burkina Faso, one in France—in parallel, this cross-cultural drama saves its big revelation for the end; the buildup doesn’t feel fully developed. —BK
6:15pm Sandcastle Dir. Boo Junfeng. 2010. 95mins. Singapore. A mawkish coming-of-age film centered on a teen who, among other things, investigates his late father’s role in Singapore’s Chinese student protests of 1956. Unless you’re interested in the event in question, avoid. —BK
7pm Tamara Drewe Dir. Stephen Frears. 2010. 111mins. U.K. The title temptress (Gemma Arterton) wreaks havoc in her rural English town in Frears’s adaptation of Posy Simmonds’s graphic novel; the humor is so specific as to be initially off-putting, but the movie thaws as it goes along and rallies with a winning ending. —BK
* 7:15pm Tuesday, After Christmas Dir. Radu Muntean. 2010. 100mins. Romania. Another great drama from the Romanian New Wave? This one observes a marital breakdown in a long-take style that recalls 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days. Few films about adultery spread their empathy so evenly. —BK
* 8:15pm The Myth of the American Sleepover Dir. David Robert Mitchell. 2010. 97mins. USA. The slumber parties themselves seem a tad pre–high school, but otherwise this modest, Michigan-set ensemble piece may be the most quietly disarming teen comedy since 2002’s Raising Victor Vargas. Give it a reel to win you over. —BK
8:30pm Drunkboat Dir. Bob Meyer. 2010. 98mins. USA. A teen buying a boat behind his mom’s back with the help of his alcoholic uncle. Shot in and around Chicago. (Not made available for review.)
8:40pm The Robber Dir. Benjamin Heisenberg. 2010. 97mins. Austria/Germany. A fiction inspired by the true story of a marathon runner who robbed banks in his spare time, this character study has its fans, but it feels at once underdeveloped as genre fare and overconceptualized in its approach. —BK
8:45pm Blame Dir. Michael Henry. 2010. 89mins. Australia. Distraught over a young woman’s romance-related suicide, her friends and family plot revenge. To think: If only the characters had done due diligence, they’d have saved us this tedious, moralistic Murder on the Orient Express.—BK
9:15pm Golden Slumber Dir. Yoshihiro Nakamura. 2010. 139min. Japan. When shadowy authorities frame Aoyagi for an assassination, the young deliveryman gets help from unexpected sources. Not quite an action film, this weird charmer’s mainly about friendship and nostalgia. —Lauren Weinberg
9:45pm Little Big Soldier Dir. Sheng Ding. 2010. 96mins. China/Hong Kong. If you’re going to direct a comic riff on historical action movies, you probably ought to have some talent for staging action or comedy, or perhaps both. Alas, that’s not the case here. —HS
10:30pm Sex Magic: Manifesting Maya Dirs. Jonathan Schell and Eric Liebman. 2010. 80mins. USA. Sedona, Arizona, “sacred sexual shaman” Baba Dez introduces viewers to the philosophy of tantra (but can’t cope with his own love life) in a numbing, profoundly unerotic infomercial that will appeal only to the New Age–inclined and/or fans of obnoxious cultist authority figures. —BK
11pm Bitter Feast Dir. Joe Maggio. 2010. 104mins. USA. Fired from his cooking show, a chef (James LeGros) elects to torture a mean-spirited food critic (Joshua Leonard). An uneven blend of horror and comedy, it includes one great scene, in which the know-it-all writer is forced to distinguish between sauces made of mulberry and nightshade. —BK
11:10pm Amphetamine Dir. Scud. 2010. 97mins. Hong Kong. A swimming instructor and a businessman have sweaty gay sex and deal with personal problems. The festival is describing this as an erotic drama and slapping a “mature audiences only” label on it. (Not made available for review.)
* 11:15pm Thunder Soul Dir. Mark Landsman. 2010. 84mins. USA. It’s tempting to say Landsman just got lucky with an amazing subject—an African-American high-school stage band that revolutionized stage-band music in the 1970s by doing funk songs, and a reunion concert decades later—but Landsman deserves credit for a sharp sense of documentary rhythm. Uplifting, tear-inducing and informative, this is also a blast. —HS


Saturday 9
12:30pm Caterpillar See Fri 8.
12:30pm Go For It! Dir. Carmen Marron. 2010. 83mins. USA. A lack of focus and pacing prevent this Chicago-based tale of a troubled teen with dreams of being a hip-hop dancer from fulfilling the emotional message at its core. —Jessica Johnson
12:45pm Shorts 2 Various dirs. 2010. 98mins. Various countries. A selection of animated short films from around the world. [CANCELED]
* 1:15pm Ten Winters Dir. Valerio Mieli. 2010. 99mins. Italy. Two students meet in Venice and then reconnect once every year for a decade in one of those cruel screenwriter’s fantasies that contrives to keep two obvious soul mates apart until it hits feature runtime. But as these movies go, it’s touching, well-acted and even a tad realistic in delineating its characters’ wrong moves. —BK
1:30pm If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle See Fri 8.
1:30pm Little Big Soldier See Fri 8.
2:45pm The Place in Between See Fri 8.
3pm Circus Kids Dir. Alexandra Lipsitz. 2010. 86mins. USA/Israel. Can a shared love for the Big Top bring peace to the world? That’s the question raised, though not necessarily answered, in this so-so doc following a multi-culti kids’ circus troupe from St. Louis to the Mideast to work with a group of Arab and Israeli peers. —Judy Sutton Taylor
3pm Panel: Sex on Screen
* 3:30pm The Myth of the American Sleepover See Fri 8.
3:30pm The Robber See Fri 8.
3:40pm Sandcastle See Fri 8.
3:45pm Tuesday, After Christmas See Fri 8.
5pm Blame See Fri 8.
5:30pm Drunkboat See Fri 8.
5:40pm The Neighbor Dir. Naghmeh Shirkhan. 2010. 105mins. USA/Canada. There’s a lot of pained looking out of windows and people listening to answering-machine messages in this inert drama about an Iranian-Canadian who intervenes in the life of her neighbor, a young mother who seems ready to ditch her kid. —HS
* 6pm Certified Copy Dir. Abbas Kiarostami. 2010. 106mins. France/Italy/Iran. Do us a favor: Don’t miss what is likely the only masterpiece in this festival—a romantic, elusive two-hander that marks a career rejuvenation for Iranian director Kiarostami. Over the course of a Tuscan day, a gallery owner (Juliette Binoche) and a writer (opera singer William Shimell) discover the power of perception and illusion. —BK
6:15pm Family Tree Dirs. Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau. 2010. 97mins. France. This moody talkathon about a secret that tears a family apart drags for the first half but picks up speed once the truth is out in the open. A few wonderful performances raise this a level, but it still feels a bit cramped and repetitive. —HS
* 6:30pm Copacabana Dir. Marc Fitoussi. 2010. 105mins. France/Belgium. This comedy about a bohemian free spirit who tries to “go straight” to get invited to her daughter’s wedding is essentially a giant showcase for Isabelle Huppert. That’s not a bad thing. —HS
7pm Black Perspectives Tribute: Forest Whitaker
7:15pm Our Life See Fri 8.
* 7:45pm Sasha Dir. Dennis Todorovic. 2010. 101mins. Germany. Who needs another coming-of-age movie? You do, if it’s this engaging family drama about growing up gay (and being in love with your piano teacher) in Germany. —RW
* 8pm Love Translated Dir. Julia Ivanova. 2010. 83mins. Canada/Ukraine. Can’t-look-away reality show meets intriguing investigative journalism: Ten bachelors—ranging from sad to despicable—go on a matchmaking tour to Odessa, Ukraine, in an attempt to find wives in just ten days in this fantastic documentary. —RW
8:30pm Red Hill Dir. Patrick Hughes. 2010. 97mins. Australia. After relocating to a secluded town, an Australian cop (Ryan Kwanten) squares off against an escaped Aboriginal prisoner (Tommy Lewis) who wants revenge against the other local officers. An antipodean Western, the movie starts as solid genre fare but becomes repetitive and earnest as it goes along. —BK
* 8:30pm Thunder Soul See Fri 8.
8:45pm Golden Slumber See Fri 8.
9:30pm The Sentiment of the Flesh Dir. Roberto Garzelli. 2010. 92mins. France. The festival blurb implies this slightly daffy but absorbing French thriller is the glasses-fogger of the year, but its eroticism is mainly Cronenbergian, combining the medical setting of Dead Ringers with the wound fetishism of Crash. A doctor and an anatomy illustrator get to know each other in the most intimate way possible—which includes somehow making MRIs seem hot. —BK
10:15pm Sex Magic: Manifesting Maya See Fri 8.
10:30pm Bitter Feast See Fri 8.
10:45pm Man at Bath Dir. Christophe Honoré. 2010. 72mins. France. Porn star François Sagat plays one of two men trying to heal from a breakup by boinking a lot of other guys. Expect to see some naughty bits. (Not made available for review.)


Sunday 10
11:30am The Neighbor See Sat 9.
noon The Human Condition Various dirs. 2010. 30mins. Various countries. A selection of short films, all coming in at a lean 60 seconds. The topic set for the filmmakers was the human condition, which apparently can be summed up in a minute.
12:30pm If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle See Fri 8.
* 1pm Brother & Sister Dir. Daniel Burman. 2010. 105mins. Argentina. Based on a novel by Diego Dubcovsky, Burman’s sedate character study of aging, lonely siblings has a cumulative power, owing mainly to finely observed performances by Antonio Gasalla as shy, closeted Marcos and, especially, Graciela Borges as overbearing diva Susana. —John Beer
1:15pm Our Life See Fri 8.
1:30pm Circus Kids See Sat 9.
1:40pm Family Tree See Sat 9.
* 1:45pm Sasha See Sat 9.
* 3pm Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives Dir. Apichatpong Weerasethakul. 2010. 114mins. Thailand. The winner of this year’s Palme d’Or is the most refined film yet from SAIC grad Weerasethakul (see interview)—a beguiling, serenely surreal meditation on nature, death and memory. —BK
3:30pm Caterpillar See Fri 8.
* 3:30pm Copacabana See Sat 9.
3:45pm Shorts 6: Best of the American Black Film Festival Various dirs. 2010. 97mins. USA. The program title says it all.
4pm Love Like Poison Dir. Katell Quillévéré. 2010. 92mins. France. Like poison? We wish. This picturesque Breton coming-of-age tale seems content to be fairly ordinary. —BK
4:30pm Waste Land Dir. Lucy Walker. 2010. 98min. U.K./Brazil. Walker’s documentary follows artist Vik Muniz as he collaborates with the brave employees of Rio de Janeiro’s biggest landfill. The film’s feel-good arc takes a few surprising detours. —LW
5:30pm Leap Year Dir. Michael Rowe. 2010. 94mins. Mexico. This year’s entry in the is-it-porn-or-is-it-art? sweepstakes, centered on a woman who seeks increasingly roughed-up sex with many anonymous men. Most of it feels exploitative, but it builds to a shocking, strangely tender conclusion. —BK
5:40pm How I Ended This Summer Dir. Aleksei Popogrebsky. 2010. 124mins. Russia. A man stationed at a remote Russian meteorological station harbors a secret from his only colleague. Especially with such a slow buildup, the film can’t afford to botch the outcome the way it does. —BK
6pm Conviction Dir. Tony Goldwyn. 2010. 106mins. USA. Hilary Swank does a “give me another Oscar” performance as a working-class woman who goes to law school to get her brother out of prison. Overcooked ham, anyone? —HS
* 6pm Mooz-lum Dir. Qasim Basir. 2010. 96mins. USA. Tariq shortens his name to “T” when he heads to college in fall of 2001, and leaves behind his strict Muslim father. While the coming-of-age plot can feel clichéd, superb performances by Evan Ross (college Tariq) and Jonathan Smith (middle-school Tariq) give this real emotional impact. Bring tissues; you’re going to cry. —Madeline Nusser
6:15pm The Sentiment of the Flesh See Sat 9
* 7:15pm Tony & Janina’s American Wedding Dir. Ruth Leitman. 2010. 81mins. USA/Poland. In 2007, Schiller Park resident Tony Wasilewski’s wife, Janina, was deported to Poland and barred from returning for ten years; their struggles to win her reentry are chronicled in this local advocacy doc, which wrenchingly highlights the injustices of current immigration bureaucracy and its impact on families. —BK
8pm The Middle of the World Dir. Jaime Ruiz Ibáñez. 2009. 92mins. Mexico. The premise—a mentally challenged teen is initiated into sex and becomes popular among the ladies of his small village—ought to lead to a lot of wacky sex-comedy jokes, but things turn uncomfortably dark in this uneven film. —HS
8:15pm The Princess of Montpensier Dir. Bertrand Tavernier. 2010. 139mins. France/Germany. No one’s idea of a return to form for Tavernier (Coup de Torchon, ’Round Midnight), this sporadically unboring costume drama badly needs some frisson. —BK
8:20pm I Will Follow Dir. Ava DuVernay. 2010. 88mins. USA. A woman struggles to build her life anew after the aunt she was caring for dies, but the past haunts her and her family as they pack up the aunt’s house. (Not available for review.)
8:30pm All Good Children Dir. Alicia Duffy. 2009. 80mins. Ireland/Belgium/France. Sent to live with relatives in the French countryside after his mother’s death, a young Irish boy’s emotions spiral out of his control. Beautifully weighted with a sense of building dread. —RW
* 8:30pm On Tour Dir. Mathieu Amalric. 2010. 111mins. France. A former TV producer learns the gaggle of American strippers he’s touring through France is the closest thing he has to a family. Scrappy in an endearing way, the movie has at least one scene—at the gas station—that seems destined to be a festival fave. —BK
9:30pm Bitter Feast See Fri 8.


Monday 11
2pm The Matchmaker Dir. Avi Nesher. 2010. 104mins. Israel. An Israeli boy in the late ’60s learns life lessons from a matchmaker, gets a visit from a hot cousin and otherwise goes through a series of contrivances his countrymen might refer to as “schmaltz.” —BK
3pm Daniel Schmid: Le chat qui pense Dirs. Pascal Hofmann and Benny Jaberg. 2010. 83mins. Switzerland. In the European poetic tradition of documentary, this film paints a lyrical but often elliptical portrait of noted filmmaker Schmid, whose journey through the explosive years of New German Cinema (he was a pal of Fassbinder) is pretty darn amazing, even with the limited consideration given to his films. —HS
3:15pm Tehroun Dir. Nader T. Homayoun. 2010. 95mins. Iran/France. A beggar in Tehran uses a baby on loan as a prop. When the child is kidnapped, the beggar has a serious problem. (Not available for review.)
* 3:30pm Love Translated See Sat 9.
3:50pm Family Tree See Sat 9.
* 4pm Copacabana See Sat 9.
4:10pm The Robber See Fri 8.
4:20pm Sandcastle See Fri 8.
5:30pm The Hairdresser See Fri 8.
5:50pm Shorts 1: Illinois[e]makers Various dirs. 2010. 95mins. USA. This selection of shorts are products of our great state.
* 6pm Louder Than a Bomb Dirs. Greg Jacobs and Jon Siskel. 2010. 99mins. USA. Four Chicago high-school poetry teams dazzle, inspire and kick serious ass with words as they prep for the world’s biggest youth poetry slam. Thankfully their journey is never saccharine. What it is: powerful and exhilarating. —Liz Plosser
6:10pm All Good Children See Sun 10.
* 6:15pm Certified Copy See Sat 9.
6:20pm Love Like Poison See Sun 10.
6:20pm Revolución Various dirs. 2010. 124mins. Mexico. Ten directors contribute short films about Mexico to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of the Mexican Revolution. (Not made available for review.)
8pm Lula, the Son of Brazil Dir. Fabio Barreto. 2009. 128mins. Brazil. The president of Brazil gets his own Generic Biopic, which charts his rise from poverty to leading a steelworkers’ union. Even potential voters may be bored. —BK
8:20pm Mamas & Papas Dir. Alice Nellis. 2010. 110mins. Czech Republic. Four couples cope with unwanted pregnancies, infertility and child death in a well-made but glib spot-the-connections piece from people who took the screenwriting in Babel (and the similarly themed Mother and Child?) too seriously. —BK [CANCELED]
8:20pm The Happy Housewife Dir. Antoinette Beumer. 2010. 100mins. Netherlands. Black Book’s Carice van Houten does what she can to class up a PSA on postpartum depression, but even she can’t do much once her character’s illness is written off as the result of unresolved daddy issues. —BK
8:30pm I Will Follow See Sun 10.
8:30pm Love Life of a Gentle Coward Dir. Pavo Marinkovic. 2009. 95mins. Croatia. After he starts dating a masseuse from his health club, a put-upon writer finds new inner strength to deal with all the pompous bullies and scheming power brokers in his life. Well, sort of. The comedic potential is mostly squandered, and there’s only so much comedy you can wring out of a guy being weak and cowardly. —HS
8:40pm Waste Land See Sun 10.
8:45pm Leap Year See Sun 10.
9pm Red Hill See Sat 9.


Tuesday 12
2pm The Building Manager Dir. Periklis Hoursoglou. 2009. 92mins. Greece. A put-upon guy takes over the management of his mother’s apartment building and starts a flirtation in this low-key sort-of comedy, which leaves little impression. —HS
2:30pm Loose Cannons Dir. Ferzan Ozpetek. 2010. 109mins. Italy. A gay man from a conservative family has to decide whether to come out to them or not in this light fare. It’s mostly perfectly fine, though the appearance on the scene of his swishy friends, played for maximum yuks, strikes a false note. —HS
3pm Little Big Soldier See Fri 8.
3pm My Joy Dir. Sergei Loznitsa. 2010. 127mins. Ukraine/Germany. The daisy-chain narrative is getting to be a bit of an art-house cliché, but this immersion in the depravities of backwoods Russia benefits from a dark sense of humor and a sharp visual style. —BK
3:30pm How I Ended This Summer See Sun 10.
3:45pm Missing Man Dir. Anna Fenchenko. 2010. 96mins. Russia. A middle-aged loner finds himself living a Kafka-esque nightmare: The police suspect him of something, his apartment building is torn down, and he ends up on the lam with a weird collection of strangers. The allegory probably resonates for Russians used to dealing with a mix of decaying infrastructure and monstrously corrupt bureaucracy, but I found it exhausting. —HS
3:45pm Nice Guy Johnny Dir. Edward Burns. 2010. 89mins. USA. If the 1995 Sundance jury could see what Burns was up to now, would they take back the award that launched his career? This predominantly Hamptons-set story of an obsequious DJ’s romantic woes is innocuous but rarely plausible. —BK
4pm Tuesday, After Christmas See Fri 8.
5pm Mamas & Papas See Mon 11.
5pm The Middle of the World See Sun 10.
* 5:30pm Mooz-lum See Sun 10.
5:40pm A Screaming Man Dir. Mahamet-Saleh Haroun. 2010. 91mins. France/Belgium/Chad. Even those who caught Haroun’s acclaimed Abouna and Dry Season have split on this arresting-sounding but sluggish drama set in war-torn Chad, about a father whose desire to retain his job as a pool attendant pits him against his son. —BK
6pm Black, White and Blues Dir. Mario van Peebles. 2010. 91mins. USA. A troubled bluesman (Morgan Simpson) rebuilds his life after his grandfather dies. Partially a road-trip film, it takes a few wrong turns after the singer and his friend (Michael Clarke Duncan) reach their destination. —BK
6pm ReelWomen Tribute: Paula Wagner
6:15pm Besouro Dir. João Daniel Tikhomiroff. 2009. 95mins. Brazil. A messiah figure in 1920s Brazil defends the oppressed black population and capoeira—a martial-arts-inflected dance banned at the time—in a screen version of a local myth that never makes sense of its story’s metaphysics. —BK
* 7:45pm Cold Weather Dir. Aaron Katz. 2010. 96mins. USA. A mumblecore mystery? Steven Soderbergh’s leaner, stranger Bubble got there first, but this one has its low-key pleasures, even if its Portland-set Hardy Boys plot (with ostentatious Sherlock Holmes allusions) ultimately seeks refuge in inconsequence. —BK
7:15pm Love Life of a Gentle Coward See Mon 11.
7:30pm Hitler in Hollywood Dir. Frédéric Sojcher. 86mins. 2010. Belgium/France. Cinema heavies (Manoel de Oliveira, Emir Kusturica, Wim Wenders) pepper the winking search across Europe for a long-lost film by a fictitious filmmaker, lending heft to a lucid argument against the cultural hegemony of you-know-who. —Zachary Whittenburg
* 8pm Black Swan Dir. Darren Aronofsky. 108mins. 2010. Natalie Portman stars as a ballerina who goes totally nuts in a story that intertwines The Red Shoes’ sense of obsession with Repulsion’s slippery reality. Aronofsky also knows enough to throw a little Showgirls—in the form of rival dancers Mila Kunis and Winona Ryder—into his ferociously entertaining mix. —BK
8:15pm The Princess of Montpensier See Sun 10.
8:20pm Black Field Dir. Vardis Marinakis. 2009. 104mins. Greece. Marinakis displays an eye for striking images (a group of 17th-century Greek nuns facing off against a wounded soldier, the maze-like interiors of the convent) in this slow, often dreamlike drama about a soldier on the run and a nun with a secret. —HS
8:30pm Sword of Desperation Dir. Hideyuki Hirayama. 2010. 114mins. Japan. That title might lead you to expect some sword action, but you’ve got to wait through a lot of court intrigue and a long section in which the hero is under house arrest to get to the action. The dramatic tension isn’t adequate to hold your attention for that long. —HS
8:40pm Shorts 4: Together Apart Various dirs. 2010. 99mins. Various countries. The shorts in this program have something to do with togetherness and…um…apartness.
9:30pm I Miss You Dir. Fabián Hofman. 2010. 95mins. Argentina/Mexico/Uruguay. Worthy subject matter (the disappeared in Argentina in the 1970s and ’80s and the holes their losses leave in families) gets a frustratingly mundane treatment in this drama, in which incident follows incident, never really adding up to the emotional impact that Hofman seems to intend. —HS
9:45pm Tehroun See Mon 11.


Wednesday 13
2pm Thunder Soul See Fri 8.
2:30pm Nannerl, Mozart’s Sister Dir. René Féret. 2010. 120mins. France. The storytelling is as stiff and constricting as the corsets in this costumer about Mozart’s older sister, whose musical talent was neglected by their ambitious father. At times, it feels as if Féret believes this is a profound feminist statement, the take-home lesson of which is “women in the past were underappreciated.” Got it. —HS
2:45pm Golden Slumber See Fri 8.
* 3pm Abacus and Sword Dir. Yoshimitsu Morita. 2010. 125mins. Japan. As a historical saga, Abacus and Sword opts for detailed reality (it’s based on the actual diary of an accountant for the Kaga Clan) rather than over-the-top drama. Recommended for those with more than a casual curiosity about Japan’s embrace of modernity. —John Dugan
3:20pm Shorts 4: Together Apart See Tue 12.
4pm Honeymooner Dir. Col Spector. 2010. 75mins. U.K. A hapless twentysomething recently dumped by his fiancée has a series of lightly comic adventures as he tries to recover. Spector adds some nice little touches to a scenario that’s all too familiar. —HS
4:15pm Hitler in Hollywood See Tue 12.
4:30pm Panel: New Directors: From Shorts to Features
4:30pm The Place in Between See Fri 8.
5pm Tehroun See Mon 11.
5:30pm Lula, the Son of Brazil See Mon 11.
6pm Loose Cannons See Tue 12.
6pm Shorts 7: LUNAFEST Various dirs. 2010. 80mins. Various countries. No relation to those tasty power bars; the shorts here are by and about women.
* 6:15pm Cold Weather See Tue 12.
6:15pm The Last Report on Anna Dir. Márta Mészáros. 103mins. 2009. Hungary. Absent the warm tones that kept optimism in the picture for Stasi-monitored German literati in The Lives of Others, this film travels deep into Eastern Bloc despair as an exiled Hungarian Social Democrat encounters a writer-turned-informant. —Zachary Whittenburg
6:30pm Red Dir. Robert Schwentke. 2010. 105mins. USA. After being targeted by the government, retired covert op Bruce Willis goes on the lam with an Internet girlfriend (Mary-Louise Parker) and reunites his old team (including Helen Mirren and a blitzed-out John Malkovich). Utterly perfunctory, this comic action film doesn’t seem worthy of its cast. —BK
* 7pm My Good Enemy Dir. Oliver Ussing. 2010. 90mins. Denmark. Two bullied kids develop a secret plan to get revenge on their oppressors, but soon they find that power corrupts. Violent comic books bear a weirdly heavy load of the blame for the situation, but there’s no denying this is suspenseful, unsettling and intriguing. —HS
7pm 127 Hours Dir. Danny Boyle. 2010. 90mins. USA/U.K. The true story of hiker Aron Ralston (James Franco)—who spent days trapped by a rock in Utah before carving his arm off to survive—is badly matched with a director who can’t sit still. Dodging the material’s challenges entirely, Boyle OD’s on fantasy sequences and short-circuits any suspense. —BK
7:45pm Shorts 5: Tales of the Unexpected Various dirs. 2010. 104mins. Various countries. We can only hope that this selection of shorts will include an appearance by the Spanish Inquisition. Because, you see, no one expects…never mind.
8:20pm Sword of Desperation See Tue 12.
8:30pm Asleep in the Sun Dir. Alejandro Chomski. 2010. 83mins. Argentina. After his mentally ill wife’s brief stay at a hospital changes her, a man slides into an increasingly surreal world. Chomski creates an unsettling mood through the emphasis of everyday details made weird. —HS
8:30pm The Hairdresser See Fri 8.
8:30pm A Screaming Man See Tue 12.
* 8:45pm We Are What We Are Dir. Jorge Michel Grau. 2010. 89mins. Mexico. With their father dead of an apparent poisoning, a family of Mexico City cannibals struggles to carry out a ritual without him. Carefully balancing urban realism and social critique with a hint of the supernatural—and keeping our sympathies in flux—Grau’s debut doles out information at just the right rate: It’s splatter horror at its most suggestive. —BK
9:30pm Besouro See Tue 12.
10:15pm The Defiled Dir. Julian Grant. 2010. 100mins. USA. A friendly zombie looks after a human woman and a baby in this no-budget, locally shot campfest, but an amateurish pace and wall-to-wall Wiseau-like scoring may cause actual brains to explode. —BK
10:50pm Big Tits Zombie Dir. Takao Nakano. 2010. 73mins. Japan. You got your zombies. You got your strippers with wicked sword skills. Any questions? (Not made available for review.)

For updates on any schedule changes and ticket information, go to chicagofilmfestival.org.

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