The Marilyn Chronicles at Chicago film fest

Chicago saw the installation this summer of a 26-foot-tall tacky statue of Marilyn Monroe by J. Seward Johnson, so maybe it’s fitting that the city’s film fest hosted two Marilyn flicks, both much more elegant than the gargantuan “Seven Year Itch” tribute.
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Simon Curtis’ “My Week with Marilyn” (UK) offers a glimpse into a brief period in the troubled actress’ life: her 1956 trip to London to shoot “The Prince and the Show Girl” in which she co-starred with Sir Laurence Olivier.
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The source material is “The Prince, the Showgirl and Me,” a memoir by Colin Clark, an assistant director on the film and son of art historian Sir Kenneth Clark (of “Civilisation” fame). Curtis brings the memoir to life with sumptuous cinematography and spellbinding, Oscar-worthy performances from Michelle Williams as Marilyn, Kenneth Branagh as Olivier and Eddie Redmayne as Colin Clark.
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“MWWM” also explores profound changes in the world of film acting as the Stanislavski/Method school took hold of Hollywood and clashed with British style, still deeply rooted in stage tradition.

"Nobody Else But You"

Darkly funny, quirky and delightful to watch was the story of a modern-day Marilyn, “Nobody Else But You,” by Gérald Hustache-Mathieu. Sophie Quinton plays Candice Lecoeur, a luscious weathergirl in a remote French village whose life oddly parallels Marilyn’s and in a “Laura”-like way becomes the focus of a murder mystery.

Hustache-Mathieu’s most brilliant achievement is the unlikely mix of disparate mood and tone – farce, black humor, drama – fluidly, splendidly coming together. The audience loved it and high-energy Hustache-Mathieu was humbly charming at the post-screening Q&A.
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In writer/director Julia Leigh’s erotic reworking of the fairy tale “Sleeping Beauty” (Australia) we meet another stunning blonde: Emily Browning as Lucy, a desperate college student using her looks to make a living in the sex industry. Though I admired Browning’s performance, the movie was disappointingly sluggish and dull.
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Tomorrow: More highlights from the fest
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Sun, screenings, superb restaurants at Chicago Film Fest

I’m hoping the glorious weather lasts here in Chicago.

Of the film fest’s plethora of titles, I’ve seen “We Need to Talk About Kevin” by Lynne Ramsay, “A Dangerous Method” by David Cronenberg,“Rabies” by Aharon Keshales,“Patang” by Prashat Bhargava,“My Week with Marilyn” by Simon Curtis and “Once Upon a Time in Anatolia” by Nuri Bilge Ceylan.

Looking forward to tonight’s “Nobody Else But You,” a mystery by Gérald Hustache-Mathieu.

And of course I’m finding time to eat well in a city jam-packed with passionate chefs. More later …

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