Credit: Tiziana Fabi/AFP/Getty Images

The 49th Chicago International Film Festival

Director spotlights

James Gray, director of We Own the Night and Two Lovers, presents The Immigrant.

Chicago native John McNaughton‘s The Harvest is the director’s first theatrical feature in over a decade.

Tsai Ming-liang‘s Stray Dogs follows in the tradition of Chaplin and Ozu.

More than any other established director who’s waded into digital 3-D—Martin Scorsese, Werner Herzog, and Wim Wenders come to mind—Italian horror master Dario Argento seems well suited to the medium. Long before the technology arrived, he made such eye-popping films as Deep Red (1975), Phenomena (1985), and Suspiria (1976), the last of them particularly playful in its use of cinematic space. Argento has never been interested in realism, which is precisely what makes him great, and Suspiria, his first supernatural horror film, leaves behind the semirealism of his earlier giallos in favor of a more illusionist aesthetic. The famous “stained glass” murder sequence—in which a woman with a noose around her neck is sent hurtling toward the camera amid fluorescent shards of a stained glass ceiling—is disturbingly poetic, the closest that predigital cinema ever got to trompe l’oeil. A similar sequence in Deep Red, involving a clairvoyant who picks up some chilly vibes in an eerily lit concert hall, makes masterful use of protracted space to illustrate the metaphysical depth of the scene.

Playing as a “special presentation” this year, Dracula 3D seems like a natural for Argento in its content as well; he’s analogized sex and violence so often that I’m surprised he’s never approached the subject of vampirism before this. Yet the subject matter is irrelevant, really—it’s the 3D that has me most intrigued. For his entire career, Argento has displayed a fascination with dreamscapes, usually at the expense of logic. (In Deep Red, a jazz pianist instructs his backing band during practice that their playing is “too precise, too formal. It should be more . . . trashy,” a statement that accurately sums up Argento’s filmmaking ethos.) A mind as eccentric as his could make for a 3D experience that’s less a technological exercise than a personal statement. Dracula 3D screens Saturday, October 19, 11 PM, with Argento in person.