“The Whale” headlines week at CIFF


Mary Grace Blake

The Music Box Theater lit up for its 58th anniversary.

The 58th Chicago International Film Festival is in full swing. The festival showed a variety of movies in the past week, some of which were the American theatrical premier screenings. While this is far from a comprehensive list of what has been shown at the festival, these are still some films to recommend.

The best thing I have seen at the festival so far is “The Whale” directed by Darren Aronofsky. This movie is based on a play which the playwright helped adapt for the big screen. The story follows Charlie, a morbidly obese recluse played by Brendan Fraser. He spends his days teaching online college following traumatic events that occurred long before the time of the movie. Charlie is a self destructive man who has shut himself off from the world, including his daughter and ex-wife. Fraser gives an Oscar winning performance as Charlie, and deserves all the praise he has received for his role in this movie. While seemingly depressing and gloomy, “The Whale” delivers a surprising amount of hope and humanity that I hope will resonate with audiences.

Director Darren Aronofsky was at the red carpet for the Chicago International Film Festival’s screening of “The Whale.” This screening was the first time it had been shown to an American audience. 

“It is great to be back at the Chicago International Film Festival,” Aronofsky told The DePaulia. “I saw this story as a play about ten years ago and it was on the surface characters that I did not relate to, but by the end of the play I was so deeply moved that I thought it would be a great piece of cinema.”

The Killing of a Journalist” is a documentary film directed by Matt Sarnecki. It tells the story of Jan Kuciak, a Slovakian investigative reporter who was murdered along with his fiance after his investigations reveal deep rooted corruption in the Slovakian government. This documentary is more about the aftermath of Kuciak’s murder and the hunt for justice. “The Killing of a Journalist” is a very scary movie because it is a very true story about what can happen to journalists, but it is an excellent example of why quality journalism is important.

“Decision to Leave” is a Korean mystery movie directed by the talented Park Chan-wook. “Decision to Leave” follows a police detective who becomes infatuated with one of his suspects — that is all I will say. This is a movie best experienced with as little prior knowledge of the plot as possible and I want all of you to have the same amazing experience that I did. What I will say is that this movie is shot beautifully and every still from this movie could easily be framed. Definitely give this one a watch when it plays near you.

Something else that is worth a watch is Martin MacDonaugh’s “The Banshees of Inisherin.” This is a comedy set in civil war Ireland about a falling out between two drinking buddies. It is very simple on the face, but manages to be one of the most creative and funny things to come out in a long time. This movie is also gorgeous; the island of Inisherin is a place full of natural beauty which is on display in this movie. Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson are downright hilarious as these grown men having an argument that would make sense for third graders. This movie is gut bustingly funny, with almost every line met with laughter from the packed theater. Go see this one if you’re  ready to laugh a lot.

The festival still has a few days left with a plethora of promising screenings on the horizon. This film festival so far has been an excellent showcase of talent from around the globe and a way to see what to expect in the next few months for movies.