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: After Everything (formerly 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: After Everything (formerly Shotgun)"

CCFF 2018: First Reformed

First Reformed is a mesmerizing drama about a pastor who counsels a husband and wife. Reverend Ernst Toller (Ethan Hawke) is a pastor at the First Reformed Church.  The Dutch Reform church used to be a station on along the Underground Railround but as it approaches 250 years, it doesn’t contain the magic that used to be there.  The congregation is small even as tourists continue to stop by.  This isn’t helped by Abundant Life…

"CCFF 2018: First Reformed"

CCFF 2018: Damsel

A wholly original film with a twist you never see coming, Damsel is a hysterical western from the minds of David Zellner and Nathan Zellner. Samuel Alabaster (Robert Pattinson) has tracked down the location of the woman he plans to marry, Penelope (Mia Wasikowska).  As he sets through in his journey, he hires Parson Henry (David Zellner) to officiate the wedding when he finds his future bride in addition to a gift, a miniature horse called Butterscotch.  Samuel…

"CCFF 2018: Damsel"

CCFF 2018: Leave No Trace

Debra Granik’s third narrative feature, Leave No Trace, is a emotionally powerful film to say the least. We first meet Will (Ben Foster) and his teenage daughter, Tom (Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie) in their fourth year of living in Forest Park.  It’s illegal to live in public land but the two of them have gotten away with living on the outskirts of Portland for so long.  After Tom gets noticed by someone walking in the woods, it…

"CCFF 2018: Leave No Trace"

Jurassic Park Remains A Classic After 25 Years

Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park remains an innovative, groundbreaking and inspiring classic as it did when it was originally released 25 years ago in June. Shortly after the incident on Isla Nublar and the quick introduction of lawyer Donald Gennaro, the film really gets going with paleontologists Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and paleobotonist Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) digging up a velociraptor in Montana.  Their dig is shortly interrupted by a helicopter, which leads to Grant and Sattler…

"Jurassic Park Remains A Classic After 25 Years"