(VOD) For far too many years, I’ve habitually trawled through the entirety of the Chicago International Film Festival (CIFF) yearly schedule and shot off a list to a few friends to map out what we wanted to see together. The list would include not just a list of film titles and descriptions, but also trailers not linked in the CIFF schedule, additional context, interest level, and a list of potential screening times/conflicts.
It’s never been a fun job, but it’s a necessary one because CIFF is surprisingly daunting for reasons best left for another time, and most folks I know don’t bother with CIFF unless someone else puts in a bit of effort. Every year, I’m rewarded by finding a gem I wouldn’t have noticed otherwise, and had I not put in the effort, I probably would have missed out on THE TWENTIETH CENTURY last year. Thankfully, unlike many films that screen once at CIFF and are never heard from again, THE TWENTIETH CENTURY was picked up by Oscilloscope and can be purchased today!
The description I sent off in the yearly missive was: “It may be puerile, but I keep hearing that it’s like Maddin meets John Waters, and I’m down for that.”
Upon watching it, yes, Guy Maddin is an obvious inspiration, with its extreme Soviet-inspired camerawork, choppy editing/frame-gaps, kink, and scrutiny of Canada. However, director Matthew Rankin’s use of color, tempo, and symmetry makes it very much the work of a new auteur instead of something simply derivative. Yes, it’s weird but, despite its eccentricities, it’s rarely off-putting, and it’s supremely entertaining. The trailer will immediately inform you as to whether it’s something in or out of your wheelhouse. If it tickles you, please, pick up a copy.
- Fun fact: I created a Music Box Theatre Chrome extension last year, partially so I could easily add their film fest activities to my Google Calendar, with the intention of doing the same for CIFF 2020. Obviously, those plans have been shelved for CIFF 2021 or 2022. https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/music-box-filmtinerary/khodkfdoncfchgdpkfkfabkeiblngjgo?hl=en