Netflix original War Machine goes big but misses

War Machine is easily the biggest Netflix original film to date and the military satire contains solid acting performances even as it misses on some levels. Written and directed by David Michôd, Brad Pitt leads a cast that includes Emory Cohen, RJ Cyler, Topher Grace, Anthony Michael Hall, Anthony Hayes, John Magaro, Scoot McNairy, Will Poulter, Alan Ruck, Lakeith Stanfield, Josh Stewart, Meg Tilly, with Tilda Swinton and Sir Ben Kingsley.  Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner,…

"Netflix original War Machine goes big but misses"

Table 19 should have RSVPd with a No

Anna Kendrick leads a star-studded cast in Table 19.  Unfortunately, all of them should have responded “no.” That’s not to say that this film isn’t cute because it is at times and it might even be better than the worst weddings you’ve ever been to.  I feel bad saying this because I usually enjoy films that are associated with the Duplass Brothers. Written and directed by Jeffrey Blitz from a story by the Duplass Brothers,…

"Table 19 should have RSVPd with a No"

Dying Laughing shows life on the road

Dying Laughing is another top-notch comedy documentary and this one focuses on what life is like on the road.  This review is better late than never–talk about timing! Directed by Lloyd Stanton and Paul Toogood, the star-studded interview subjects include Kevin Hart, Jamie Foxx, Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld, Garry Shandling, Sarah Silverman, Cedric The Entertainer, Eddie Izzard, Billy Connolly, Steve Coogan, Mike Epps, Jerry Lewis, DL Hughley, Amy Schumer, Allan Havey, Bob Saget, Bobby Lee,…

"Dying Laughing shows life on the road"

The Lovers is A Crazy Family Affair

The Lovers gives us a new approach to marital themes in a way that is sure to resonate with audiences. Written and directed by Azazel Jacobs, the film stars Debra Winger, Tracey Letts, Aidan Gillen, Melora Walters, Tyler Ross and Jessica Sula. What we had already known from the trailer was that both spouses, Michael (Letts) and Mary (Winger) in a marriage were having an extramarital affair.  Their son is coming home and bringing is…

"The Lovers is A Crazy Family Affair"

The Wedding Plan: Israeli Comedy isn’t typical Rom-Com

The Wedding Plan is an Israeli comedy that provides for some fresh twists in the romantic comedy genre. Written and directed by Rama Burshtein, the film stars Noa Koler, Amos Tamam, Oz Zehavi, Irit Sheleg, Ronny Merhavi, Dafi Alpern, Karin Serrouya, Erez Drigues, Oded Leopold, Udi Persi and Jonathan Rozen.  The film is in Hebrew with English subtitles. Burshtein’s second feature takes a look at the subjects of love, marriage, and faith as Koler stars…

"The Wedding Plan: Israeli Comedy isn’t typical Rom-Com"

CCFF: A Ghost Story closes out festival

David Lowery’s A Ghost Story closed out the Chicago Critics Film Festival with a nearly sold out crowd. Reuniting his Ain’t Them Bodies Saints co-stars, Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara, writer-director Lowery returned to Sundance this year with a film that could only be made as such.  A story of this nature could not be done in any other medium, be it print or visual. Affleck stars as a white-sheeted ghost who returns to his…

"CCFF: A Ghost Story closes out festival"

CCFF: Menashe brings Yiddish back to the big screen

Menashe brings Yiddish back to the big screen for the first time in some 60-70 years. Directed by Joshua Z Weinstein, this is his first narrative feature.  The screenplay was written by Weinstein, Alex Lipschultz, and Musa Syeed. Starring Menashe Lustig, the film is loosely inspired by his life.  Given that the film is in Yiddish with English subtitles, it will be interesting to see what will happen come awards season and whether it will…

"CCFF: Menashe brings Yiddish back to the big screen"

CCFF: Mr. Roosevelt shows comedy, grief

Mr. Roosevelt shows what happens when a struggling comedian returns home to Austin to bury her cat. It’s the directorial debut for Saturday Night Live alumnus Noël Wells.  SNL may not be for everyone but that doesn’t mean that cast members can’t be successful following a short stint.  Her performances in The Incredible Jessica James and her work on Mr. Roosevelt shows that a brief career on SNL isn’t the end of the world.  She…

"CCFF: Mr. Roosevelt shows comedy, grief"

CCFF: La Barracuda is a new take on family drama

La Barracuda deals with family drama in a new way two half-sisters meet for the first time in Texas. Julia Halperin and Jason Cortlund direct from a screenplay written by Cortlund.  The film stars Allison Tolman, Sophie Reid, JoBeth Williams, Luis Bordonada, Larry Jack Dotson, Butch Hancock, Bob Livingston, and The Mastersons. Sophie Reed stars as Sinaloa, a British woman whose mother has died and has come to Texas in order to meet her half-sister,…

"CCFF: La Barracuda is a new take on family drama"

CCFF: The Incredible Jessica James is innovative, genuine

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"