Films I Neglected To Review: I Want A New GlugBy Peter Sobczynski
Posted 04/10/20 10:10:47
Please enjoy short reviews of "Sea Fever," "We Summon the Darkness" and an assortment of other titles that you can stream to benefit two of Chicago's favorite art houses.
The Music Box Theatre and the Gene Siskel Film Center, two of Chicago's premier art house establishments, are continuing to partner with distributors to bring the films that might have ordinarily been playing on their screens into your homes via a streaming arrangement that will give the theaters a portion of the rental fee in order to help keep them in business during the current shutdown of all cinemas. Beginning at the Music Box is "Sorry We Missed You," Ken Loach's quietly powerful drama about a working-class family that is pushed to the edge when they lose their home in the wake of the 2008 financial meltdown and are forced to become part of the perennially unstable gig economy as a way to keep their heads above water. Viewers can also still rent the wonderful locally-made comedy-drama "Saint Frances," the quirky Coen-like Romanian crime film "The Whistlers" and the amazing Brazilian genr--bending thriller "Bacurau." Playing via the Siskel Center is "The Wild Goose Lake," Diao Yinan's crime thriller from China about a gangster on the run from both his former colleagues and the cops after a violent betrayal leads to him inadvertently shooting a cop. Although the narrative has been presented in a deliberately convoluted manner, it doesn't quite make up for the thin nature of the story. However, the visual style that Yinan utilizes is so striking that it ultimately makes the film worth a look. Also playing is "Beanpole," the brutal and wrenching Russian drama focusing on two women trying to come to terms with their respective psychological traumas in the immediate wake of the end of World War II, and "Colonel Redl," Istvan Szabo's Oscar-nominated 1985 historical drama chronicling an army officer (Klaus Maria Brandauer) as he rises through the ranks of the Austro-Hungarian Empire under the sponsorship of Archduke Franz Ferdinand (Armin Mueller-Stahl). The two theaters are both showing a pair of additional films--"And Then We Danced," a stirring romantic drama from the Republic of Georgia about a young male dancer (Levan Gelbakhiani) at a renowned dance academy who finds himself becoming attracted to the academy’s new male dancer (Bachi Valishvli) even as he becomes his chief rival for a position with the national dance company, and "Best of Cat Videofest," a 40-minutes compilation culled from a number of popular past programs of feline-centric videos.
And at this point, some of you may be thinking that it is more than a little tacky and tasteless to jam out a movie involving pandemics and quarantines at this particular moment in time. In fact, this project from writer-director Nessa Hardiman, which premiered at last fall's Toronto film festival, was always scheduled to come out on this particular date. Frankly, I have a sneaky suspicion that the influence of outside events may actually work in its favor. Watching it now in the age of COVID-19, the emphasis on the quiet, if occasionally gruesome, terror of a mostly unseen enemy that can utterly destroy a once-healthy person in just a day or so lends the whole thing a frisson that it might not have had for viewers under normal circumstances. If you can put all of that to the side--and that won't be easy--"Sea Fever" reveals itself to be a reasonably well-made and low-key but otherwise unexceptional riff on such horror classics as "Alien" and "The Thing" (even going so far as to offer up overt variations of the most famous scenes from those favorites) that doesn't really bring anything new to the party. The film does have its virtues--the setting for the story is unusual and lends itself to a number of nicely eerie moments, Corfield is quite good as the young scientist trying to use her cool intelligence and logic to keep her more emotional shipmates from doing something disastrous and it concludes on a note that is far more restrained, poignant and emotionally truthful than you might expect to see in a story that also includes more than its fair share of exploding eyeballs.I can't quite recommend "Sea Fever" in the end--it is a little too restrained and derivative for its own good and you can ultimately find more raw terror on the daily news--but horror buffs might find it to be an intriguing enough spin on a familiar thing to perhaps give it a shot.
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