Some big attractions for final days of Chicago International Film Festival
BY Bill Stamets and ROGER EBERT October 15, 2011 10:15PM
Updated: November 17, 2011 8:44AM
The 47th Chicago International Film Festival heads into its final week with films by Wim Wenders, Jay and Mark Duplass and Alexander Payne.
All films screen at AMC River East, 322 E. Illinois. Capsule reviews of selected titles follow:
“My Best Enemy” (Austria/Luxembourg), 4:15 p.m.: Wolfgang Murnberger cites “The Emperor’s New Clothes” and filmmakers Ernst Lubitsch and Charles Chaplin as inspiration for this diverting World War II saga about a Michelangelo drawing of Moses that Hitler wants to give to Mussolini, as a Nazi and a Jew swap outfits for a Holocaustic forgery caper. (BS) Also, 5:20 p.m. Tuesday.
“Sleep” (Japan), 8:50 p.m.: One of the festival’s best-looking works, this lustrous nocturnal drama follows a family of victims who seek redemptive justice 17 years after a 15-year-old dancer is raped. This humanist melodrama goes overboard with tribulations but offers artful catharsis. (BS) Also, 8:10 p.m. Tuesday.
“Hotel Swooni” (Belgium), 2 p.m.: Director Kaat Beels sets this formulaic exercise in family fix-up in a posh Brussels hotel. Three families intersect in a roundelay of episodes that test their bonds and thread together their fates. (BS)
“The Descendants” (USA), 8:45 p.m.: George Clooney stars in Alexander Payne’s deeply involving present-day drama about a member of one of Hawaii’s early land-owning white families. Pressured to sell a huge tract of surviving virgin forest for a commercial development, he finds his plans are tested when his wife is killed, and his daughters (Amara Miller and Shailene Woodley) force him to reconsider the decision. The land is in a family trust, but his choice is his alone. In a way, like a sequel to “The Hawaiians” (1970), based on James Michener’s novel. (RE)
“Jeff Who Lives at Home” (USA), 7 p.m.: Jay and Mark Duplass (“Cyrus”) offer a delightful day in the life of a stoner slacker who looks for signs of his destiny. He redeems himself with an ending that called for the resources of four different Coast Guard agencies. (BS)
“Pina” (Germany), 6:15 p.m.: Wim Wenders directs a spellbinding sampler of four dances choreographed by the late avant-gardist Pina Bausch. The 3-D cinematography lends literal depth to a tribute that offers zero dimensions as a biography. Wenders will attend the screening. (BS)
“The Artist” (France), 7 p.m.: The surprise hit of Cannes 2011, and winner of the best actor award for Jean Dujardin. It is a silent film — nearly — and a loose retelling of “Singin’ in the Rain,” about a silent star failing to make the transition to talkies. The talkies make the hero yesterday’s sensation, and elevate a charming starlet named Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo) to fame. His new film is ignored, hers is a hit, he sinks into depression, she remains loyal, and fate decides. At age 39, Dujardin resembles a young Sean Connery and would have made a great silent-era star. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this is a significant box-office success. (RE)