The Chicago Ineffectual Film Festival | Year In Review | Chicago Reader

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The Chicago Ineffectual Film Festival

Synopses of This Year's Most Popular Entries


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Truth or Mayor: To prove he's sincere, big-city mayor hires video crew to shoot documentary of a typical year in office. Movie is at once candid and poignant as camera follows mayor through the excruciatingly painful process he uses to make his unpopular decisions. It begins with a long stint in a sweat lodge, followed by a dip in an icy lake, followed by a walk over hot coals. Then back to the sweat lodge, lake, coals, ad infinitum until a decision is reached. In his most ingenuous moments mayor invites selected businessmen and pols into bed with him and also prays, invoking the name of his father and various departed ward bosses. A perfect family movie, except perhaps for a few scenes in a shrink's office in which mayor beats his breast and other body parts to protest his impotence over city's problems.

Zone Alone: Big city mayor discovers child within after entire City Council, county commissioners, Park District board, and mayoral press secretaries take off for European junket, inadvertently leaving mayor behind at City Hall. Mayor toughs it out until hard-hitting media types invade, determined to find out if he is having fun. Mayor keeps them at bay through a series of hackneyed Keystone/Milwaukee cop gags, including refusal to believe a press conference is actually happening. Mayor escapes press by fleeing to City Hall basement where he discovers its lone resident--a homeless hairy man who introduces mayor to the "zone alone," a subterranean spot reminiscent of Terry Gilliam's Brazil, where who your father was doesn't count. Mayor battles for manhood in a nightmarish chase scene in which he is pursued by his conscience and a horde of hairy homeless men bound for O'Hare. Junketing pols return just in time to prevent mayor from becoming too sensitive a guy. Bring plenty of Kleenex to this one.

It's a Blunderful Life: Beleaguered mayor can't understand, after 2 years in office, how his father successfully bossed city for 20. Frustrated by such problems as huge schools deficit, soaring murder rate, controversial new Com Ed franchise, and layoffs at City Hall, mayor threatens to end it all by jumping off Chicago Skyway on Christmas Eve. Gaping motorists and eyewitness news teams create major traffic jam until a friendly librarian arrives, eager to show mayor how to use on-line catalog and microfiche at a south-side branch library. Research turns up stellar moments in Daley pere history, such as: Summerdale police scandal of 1960; "shoot-to-kill" orders during the 1968 riots; police violence during 1968 Democratic Convention; Daley and fellow Illinois delegates mouthing anti-Semitic epithets on the '68 convention floor; and cover-up of deadly 1969 police raid on Black Panther pad. Movie is worth seeing for this dramatic footage alone, much of it made available to filmmakers for the first time from cameras confiscated by the first Mayor Daley's Red Squad. Heartened by his dad's ability to blow off his losses, Daley fils repairs to City Hall, where he hangs mistletoe everywhere and dares naysayers to kiss it. Librarian disappears into the stacks unnoticed and unappreciated; branch library later closes due to budget cutbacks.

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