Today at the Chicago International Film Festival: Eddie Redmayne swoops in to introduce his film ‘The Aeronauts’
Also screening: a suspect hypnotism doc, a horror film drawn from Guatemalan civil war.
Eddie Redmayne, the Oscar-winning star of “The Theory of Everything” and the “Fantastic Beasts” movies, will introduce his new film Wednesday night at the Chicago International Film Festival.
The screening of “The Aeronauts” is scheduled for 5:45 p.m. at AMC River East, 322 E. Illinois. The film’s director, Tom Harper, also will attend.
Literally uplifting, “The Aeronauts” is both a lovestruck adventure and a buoyant paean to STEM.
Redmayne plays an aspiring meteorologist put down by the natural science establishment. “We can save thousands of lives,” he urges. “I want to rewrite the rules of the air.”
Felicity Jones is cast as a plucky pilot, the widow of a French balloonist. The mismatched agendas of a crowd-pleaser and a record-breaker turn their ballyhooed ascent into a cliffhanger at an icy, low-oxygen altitude.
History of science buffs will like the 1862 debates at the Royal Society of London. Imagine the hubris of forecasting where God’s own winds will blow.
This Amazon Studios film comes to Chicago theaters in December. Redmayne now is shooting “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” by writer-director Aaron Sorkin.
Also Wednesday at the festival:
• ‘The Hypnotist’ (Finland) “I consider Jesus as the first great hypnotist in history,” declared Olavi Hakasalo (stage name: Olliver Hawk). This Finnish hypnotist supposedly acquired his skills from “cannibals in Australia.” He advocated hypnosis as “a weapon of war” and “a practical weapon in creating a new society.” Peculiar and paranoid, he secretly coached politicians and TV newscasters to commit mass hypnosis. Director Arthur Franck assembles plausible-looking photos and newspaper clips, and casts 70 people to appear in faked footage. Franck ends on a “making-of” scene. Showing the hypnotist’s death caught live on camera feels like faux transparency. The festival places this confounding work about mind control in the Documentary Competition. 1 p.m. Oct. 23
• ‘La Llorona’ (Guatemala/ France) In his press notes filmmaker Jayro Bustamante estimates “the 36-year Guatemalan civil war left 250,000 dead, over 40,000 missing and some 100,000 displaced.” This original mix of horror and magical realism exhumes genocide ordered by generals. Indigenous women from the mountains testify in a national tribunal. And haunt the grand home of a family with three generations of guilty secrets. The title spirit is drawn from ghost lore of Latin American. Unsettling visitations, trespasses and confessions occur when a supernatural SJW enters the household. 2:15 p.m. Oct 23
• ‘By the Grace of God’ (France) Sexually violated by a Catholic priest at summer camp when they were boys, three French men publicly accuse Father Preynat and challenge Philippe Barbarin, the Cardinal of Lyon, with a cover-up. Francois Ozon (scheduled to attend today’s screening) sensitively dramatizes an ongoing crisis in the church hierarchy. In lengthy voice-overs, characters read their letters and emails over many years. The cardinal objects to “pedophile” since “in the etymological sense, ‘pedophile’ means to love children and our Lord tells us to love children. Not too much, obviously.” Ozon titles his film using an ill-chosen phrase used by the Cardinal at a press conference. The very last line — a son’s question to his father — and the last upward camera move are revelatory. 8:30 p.m Oct. 23
Bill Stamets is a Chicago freelance writer.