CCFF 2018: Puzzle

Starring Kelly Macdonald, Marc Turtletaub’s Puzzle is a character study that plays like a period drama.  This would especially be the case if it were not for the use of smartphones. Agnes (Kelly Macdonald) is in her early 40s.  She’s not a woman who tends to leave her community.  Once Agnes gets a jigsaw puzzle as a birthday gift, it’s as if her entire world has changed.  She’s not just good at it but she soon…

"CCFF 2018: Puzzle"

Source Code arrives on 4K Ultra HD

The 2011 smartly-written time-bending thriller, Source Code, arrived on 4K Ultra HD this past week giving audiences the opportunity to watch the sci-fi thriller over and over. It’s right before Captain Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) truly comes to terms in learning he’s in the body of teacher Sean Fentress (Frédérick De Grandpré) in which the Chicago Commuter Rail train explodes.  Even though it’s a sci-fi thriller, there’s an added layer of romance between Fentress and Christina…

"Source Code arrives on 4K Ultra HD"

CCFF 2018: Eighth Grade

Eighth Grade, the closing night selection of the 2018 Chicago Critics Film Festival, is a film that perfectly captures the spirit and awkwardness of being a student in the final year of middle school. Kayla Day (Elsie Fisher) may be close to starting high school but before doing so, she must survive the end of eighth grade.  It’s not easy for the smartphone-obsessed teenager.  Even though she has a YouTube channel where she offers advice…

"CCFF 2018: Eighth Grade"

Revenge: A Very Bloody Thriller

Revenge is a dish that’s best served cold but a very bloody one in the case of Coralie Fargeat’s feature directorial debut. If blood isn’t your forte, it’s best-advised to stop reading now and stay away from Revenge because there’s a lot of blood.  A lot of it.  It’s enough to make one want to turn away from the screen at various times.  But if it’s something that is right up your alley, please stick…

"Revenge: A Very Bloody Thriller"

CCFF 2018: American Animals

American Animals takes an interesting approach to storytelling with a narrative/documentary hybrid in telling the absurd but true story of the Transylvania University library heist. Flashback to the fall of 2003 when Spencer Reinhard (Barry Keoghan) is touring the Special Collections archive at the Transylvania University library.  Fascinated by the artwork of John James Audubon, Spencer starts to get these absurd idea to steal the rare collection.  He does so with the help of his…

"CCFF 2018: American Animals"

CCFF 2018: A Kid Like Jake

A Kid Like Jake is a film that ought to add to the conversation about gender identity among young children. The roots of A Kid Like Jake as a play becomes clear in the final act of the film through the performances of Claire Danes and Jim Parsons in particular.  Through Silas Howard’s direction and the camera framing of cinematographer Steven Capitano Calitri, the performances come off as theatrical rather than cinematic. Danes and Parsons…

"CCFF 2018: A Kid Like Jake"

CCFF 2018: On Chesil Beach

On Chesil Beach doesn’t quite rise up to to the level of previous adaptations of Ian McEwan’s works. The film is rather confusing to follow.  We eventually learn that Florence Ponting (Saoirse Ronan) and Edward Mayhew (Billy Howle) just got married a few hours earlier and are planning to consummate their marriage.  Not all goes as planned, however, when Florence realizes that she can’t go through with it and runs out, causing Edward to chase after her. …

"CCFF 2018: On Chesil Beach"

CCFF 2018: Searching

Searching is an intense roller coaster of a thriller that takes place on entirely on computer and smartphone screens. We’re quickly caught up on the backstory of the Kim family, including late wife Pam (Sara Sohn).  Watching her battle with lymphoma play out in a matter of mere moments doesn’t do it justice.  There are the typical first day of school photos or piano lessons.  The early minutes of the film are tame compared to…

"CCFF 2018: Searching"

CCFF 2018: Three Identical Strangers

Three Identical Strangers tells the crazy but true and sad story of Bobby Shafran, Eddy Galland, and David Kellman. The three of them were separated at birth when they were adopted by three different families.  Bobby was sent off to live with the affluent Shafran family.  Eddy went to the middle class Gallands.  As for David, he went to live with the blue-collar Kellmans.  All were adopted by Jewish families who had an older daughter living…

"CCFF 2018: Three Identical Strangers"

CCFF 2018: Shotgun

Even though a health crisis is at the center of this relationship-driven dramedy, Shotgun is as far from a Nicholas Sparks film as it gets. Elliott (Jeremy Allen White) works behind a sandwich counter with his roommate and best friend, Nico (DeRon Horton).  It’s all fun and games for the two of them–drinking or getting high–until Elliott learns he is suffering from a rare diagnosis of Ewing’s sarcoma.  There’s a lot of nitty-gritty detail about…

"CCFF 2018: Shotgun"