The Incredible Jessica James is one of the best comedies that I’ve seen this year. Written and directed by Jim Strouse, the comedy stars Jessica Williams, Chris O’Dowd, Lakeith Stanfield & Noël Wells. Zabryna Guevera, Taliyah Whitaker, Sarah Jones, Will Stephen, Susan Heyward, and Megan Ketch also star. Jessica Williams, The Daily Show alumnus, breaks out in her role as Jessica James, a young playwright in New York City who is recovering from a breakup…"CCFF: The Incredible Jessica James is innovative, genuine"
Columbus may have been Kogonada’s first directorial feature film but it shows so much promise in what he’s going to offer us during the years to come. Written and directed by Kogonada, Columbus stars John Cho, Haley Lu Richardson, Rory Culkin, Michelle Forbes, and Parker Posey. Jin (Cho) finds himself in Columbus when his father ends up in a coma. The city is known for its architecture given the modernist buildings. While he’s not a…"CCFF: Columbus shows the promise of Kogonada"
Person to Person is certainly a unique film that has different story lines that don’t quite meet up like I had hoped for. Written and directed by Dustin Guy Defa, the New York-based movie stars Abbi Jacobson, Michael Cera, Tavi Gevinson, Michaela Watkins, Philip Baker Hall, Bene Coopersmith, George Sample III, Ben Rosenfield, Olivia Luccardi, and Isiah Whitlock. It’s a short film with a running time of only 84 minutes. There’s a lot to keep…"CCFF: Person to Person doesn’t intersect"
Dog Years, which will eventually be released as The Last Movie Star, shows us what would happen when an aging celebrity in the third act of their life decides to accept an invite to your basement film festival. Written and directed by Adam Rifkin, Dog Years stars Burt Reynolds, Ariel Winter, Clark Duke, Ellar Coltrane, Nikki Blonsky, Juston Street, AL-Jaleel Ishaq Knox, Kathleen Nolan, and Chevy Chase. Burt Reynolds stars as Vic Edwards, an aging…"CCFF: Dog Years (The Last Movie Star) walks through memory lane"
Take Me, already out on iTunes, played on the big screen in Chicago for what is likely to be the only time this past Monday night. It’s very funny. Directed by Pat Healy from a screenplay written by Mike Makowsky, the movie stars Healy, Taylor Schilling, Alycia Delmore, and Parks and Recreation favorite Jim O’Heir. With a running time of 83 minutes, the film is really short. O’Heir’s appearance is a pleasant surprise but it’s…"CCFF: Take Me lets Pat Healy return home"
Sam Elliott delivers a shining performance in The Hero as Lee Hayden. In the newest film from writer/director Brett Haley, Elliott gives one of the strongest performances I have seen so far during this year’s Chicago Critics Film Festival. We all know his voice–it’s just as iconic as Morgan Freeman. It’s one of two films that played in which Hayden confronts his own mortality when he gets diagnosed with cancer. He’s not getting much work…"CCFF: The Hero shines through in Sam Elliott"
The best way to sum up Lucky is that it is a tribute to the life and career of Harry Dean Stanton. John Carroll Lynch makes his directorial debut with Lucky from a screenplay written by Logan Sparks and Drago Sumonja. Stanton leads a cast that includes David Lynch, Ron Livingston, Ed Begley Jr., Tom Skerritt, Beth Grant, James Darren, Barry Shabaka Henley, and Yvonne Huff Lee. The performance by Stanton is one of the…"CCFF: Lucky is a tribute to Harry Dean Stanton"
Band-Aid is a funny relationship comedy where the fights are done through music. The movie throws a new perspective on love in cinema. Actress/writer Zoe Lister-Jones makes her directorial debut with this cute indie film about a couple, Anna and Ben (Lister-Jones, Adam Pally), that keep having fights to the point in which they decide they should write songs about their fights. The decision, with the hope of saving their marriage, to write the songs…"CCFF: Band-Aid fights it up through music"
Score: A Film Music Documentary, directed by Matt Schrader, played to 60 people on Saturday morning at the Music Box Theater in Chicago. When I screened the movie on Friday afternoon, it immediately jumped to the top of my shortlist for best documentary film in 2017. Financed in part through a Kickstarter campaign, the documentary is amazing but it could be so much more. It’s only 93 minutes but with a better budget, it could…"CCFF: Score: A Film Music Documentary amazes"