55th Chicago International Film Festival Begins October 16-27th

The 55th Chicago International Film Festival opens Wednesday, October 16th, with Edward Norton’s starring and directorial turn in the film adaptation of the Jonathan Lethem book “Motherless Brooklyn.” Bruce Willis co-stars as the friend whose murder the detective afflicted with Tourette’s Syndrome, played by Norton, investigates. The festival runs from October 16th through October 27th.

It was one year ago today (Oct. 15) that I met and spoke with Robert Forster as he appeared in Chicago in support of one of his last films, “What They Had.” I couldn’t resist walking over to him as he waited to appear onstage for the Q&A at the movie’s conclusion to tell him how much I enjoyed his starring role in “Medium Cool” (1969), a film that is often hailed as the only authentic example of “cinema verite” filmmaking in the United States, and one which was directed by famed Chicago cinematographer Haskell Wexler (“Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”) Now, both of these giants of the industry are gone, with Forster passing away just 4 days ago. Wexler was also a fixture in Chicago at the film festival and truly a world class cinematographer. I watched one of Robert Forster’s very last performances as “the Disappearer” in “El Camino: A Breaking Bad Film” on Netflix and went back in my photos from one year ago for this shot of him as he chatted with me in a very genuine and friendly fashion.

8 – A South African Horror Story

This film from director Harold Holscher has a wonderfully moody, menacing, supernatural plot and the South African cinematography is gorgeous.  It revolves around a South African native villager (aptly named Lazarus) and his interaction with a white South African farming family, who have returned to their farm after many years, bringing with them their orphaned niece, Mary.  The film is spine-tingling, creepy, and well-acted in the central performance by Tahamano Sebe as Lazarus. The female performances are weaker, but there are visceral scares, heartbreaking plot, and a very polished horror story.

We are not allowed to publish a more complete review until the film officially opens, but, while it is confusing at times, the use of a native dialect and the wonderful cinematography make it a far-above-average new horror offering. Filmmakers originally wanted to simply title it “8,” but the post script “A South African Horror Story” had to be added.

While it is sometimes confusing trying to figure out exactly what is happening, it is worth the effort to see the panoramas of the South African countryside, including many aerial shots (usually looking down on a car as it drives) and to experience a theme that we’ve encountered before, but in such a fresh setting.

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About Connie Wilson

Connie (Corcoran) Wilson (www.ConnieCWilson.com ) was the Quad City Times film and book critic for 15 years and has continued reviewing film uninterruptedly since 1970. She also publishes books (31 at last count) in a variety of genres (www.quadcitieslearning.com), has taught writing or literature classes at 6 Iowa/Illinois colleges or universities as adjunct faculty, was Yahoo's Content Producer of the Year 2008 for Politics, is the author of It Came from the 70s: From The Godfather to Apocalypse Now, and writes on a variety of topics at her own blog, www.WeeklyWilson.com.