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CIFF: "The Aerial"

By Rob Christopher in Arts & Entertainment on Oct 8, 2007 2:15PM

This is part of Chicagoist's continuing coverage of the Chicago International Film Festival.

2007_10aerial.jpg Today is too hot and too humid to hang around the house. Instead, head over to the Landmark Century to catch the final screening of an amazing film from Argentina called The Aerial. We were late catching this one yesterday, but boy, we're glad we did. Picture a film from the late silent era codirected by Terry Gilliam, Tim Burton and Georges Melies, and you'll start to get a sense of this magical dystopian fantasy. A vast city is controlled by an evil media CEO known as Mr. TV, who has stolen all the people's voices (they can only "speak" using subtitles, which are integrated into the visual fabric of the movie). Using a sinister new device, he conspires to steal their words as well, and the only person who can thwart his plans is a young boy with a secret: He can use his voice.

Shot in delirious black and white and crammed with all sorts of inventive reuses of cinematic tricks (optical printing, miniatures, superimposition, stop-motion animation), it puts to shame most Hollywood special-effects extravaganzas. Much like The Science of Sleep, it's a celebration of the organic, the "homemade," the analog. It's snowing during most of the movie, which makes an elegant visual shorthand for film grain, and there is also a preoccupation with spirals and electricity that are positively Lynchian. At its core, though, this is simple fairy tale of good versus evil that just plain looks awesome. Besides, doesn't watching a bunch of snow sound great right about now?

The Aerial has its final screening this afternoon at 3:00. Call 312-332-FILM. (Image via CIFF.)