Many layers surrounding a horrific occurrence in Chicago history are dissected in an educational, often confrontational manner in Cooked: Survival by Zip Code. The title itself has layers since Chicago is a part of Cook County, but the word cooked can also be viewed as an informal adjective, meaning “altered dishonestly.” Residents certainly should expect support, check-ins from city workers, and a whole lot more during this particular summer, but the city let them down in a way that cost hundreds of lives along with continuing inquiries as to how this even happened.
As usual, the CFCA has put together a very strong group of films, many of which have taken home awards and nominations from prestigious festivals such as SXSW and Sundance. Collin Souter always puts together a terrific short film collection that I can’t recommend enough. As usual, there will be enveloping dramas, insightful documentaries, creepy horror features and so much more on the docket.
This might be the ultimate unsubtle existential nightmare for our modern times, while simultaneously having a surreal self-awareness and absurd sense of humor that I found engaging while many may find it indulgent and gross. It’s also kind of poking fun of Room 237 theorists while saying pop culture does in fact contain hidden meaning. Probably why weirdos like me might gravitate towards this. Make no mistake, Mitchell is constantly playing with the viewer in ways that are frustrating but compelling, while never neglecting graceful camerawork, oddly original detours, another triumphant Disasterpeace score, and several details that simply don’t make sense. Now to go back to listening to pop music and playing Super Mario Bros. Oh and trying to figure out what it all means, only to discover that it may not really mean anything.
Regardless, there’s a strong balance of pathos and empathy throughout the proceedings, that is almost audacious in of itself to not go too gory or too “depraved” as things progress. Depraved is an incredibly thoughtful horror parable with a strong sense of morality and compassion that is rare these days. This one has definitely made me curious about Fessenden as a writer/director, since I imagine certain themes showcased here resonate throughout his career. For this particular film, I was consistently impressed by the confidence behind the camera, the ability to get consistent, well-tuned performances, and to take a familiar dish while also giving its own distinct flavor and seasoning.
Last year, this terrific new film festival devoted to genre cinema out in NYC showcased several titles that wound up among many critics’ favorite films of 2019, including Revenge and The Endless. This year, more interesting showcases and films will emerge starting March 20th. I wanted to highlight a few of those for everyone out on the East Coast, in anticipation for their eventual release nationwide!