Cooly stylized, sometimes to the point of visual and aural delirium, Liz Marshall’s “The Ghosts In Our Machine” tracks the struggle of photographer Jo-Anne McArthur to have her bold images of the treatment of animals other than man seen by the world. Beauty and terror are quietly arrayed, sometimes commingling in the same images. It’s an artful way to make a case about the sentience of other animals than man: by focusing on McArthur’s work and sometimes guerrilla methods—“I feel like I’m a war photographer and I’m photographing history”—“Ghosts” begins a few steps beyond tract-making and moves on from there. “I’m trying to save the world,” she whispers at one point, in unironic righteous glee. We like her. We see the world as she sees it around her. The possibility of beauty is behind each fraught image. Marshall shares cinematography credit with John Price, Iris Ng (“Stories We Tell”) and Nick De Pencier (“Act of God”). 92m. (Ray Pride)
“The Ghosts In Our Machine” opens Friday, December 6 at the Music Box. The trailer is below.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” in words and images will be published in Spring 2022.