The Art of Self-Defense: A Dark Comedy

The Art of Self-Defense takes a dark comedic look at toxic masculinity but does so while grounding it in the world of karate. Accountant Casey Davies (Jesse Eisenberg) is forced to sign up for karate classes after a he gets jumped by a motorcycle gang.  It’s only because there’s no more dog food.  Man’s best friend comes first, right?!?  Casey does the first logical thing he can think of when he leaves the hospital: buy…

"The Art of Self-Defense: A Dark Comedy"

Chicago Critics 2019: Yesterday

Danny Boyle’s Yesterday may be inspired by a world without The Beatles but unfortunately, the film loses its focus somewhere on the long and winding road. Imagine a world where The Beatles never came into existence.  This is what screenwriter Richard Curtis asks in a crowd-pleasing screenplay.  Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) was about to give up his dreams as a singer-songwriter.  Best friend Ellie (Lily James) shows support for Jack but it isn’t enough.  For…

"Chicago Critics 2019: Yesterday"

2019 Chicago Critics Film Festival Opens Tonight

The 2019 Chicago Critics Film Festival is set to open this evening and run through Thursday evening at the Music Box Theatre.  For ticket information for this year’s Chicago Critics Film Festival, please click here. ALICE Director: Josephine Mackerras | 103 mins After discovering that her husband’s addiction to escorts has left their family penniless, Alice finds herself drawn into the world of high-end prostitution as a means of caring for herself and her child. Screens: Tuesday, May…

"2019 Chicago Critics Film Festival Opens Tonight"

After Everything is no Nicholas Sparks film

Even though a health crisis is at the center of this relationship-driven dramedy, After Everything 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…

"After Everything is no Nicholas Sparks film"

Madeline’s Madeline: The Definition of Art House

With a standout performance from newcomer Helena Howard, Madeline’s Madeline lives up to the very definition of art house cinema. Madeline (Helena Howard) is a member of a theater troupe that plays more to the physical side of acting.  There’s a lot of method to the director Evangeline’s (Molly Parker) approach.  The director’s approach, rooted in improvisation, probably isn’t the best idea for this young woman.  Because having been diagnosed with some sort of mental illness, Madeline’s…

"Madeline’s Madeline: The Definition of Art House"

Eighth Grade captures Spirit, Awkwardness

Eighth Grade 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 to others, she’s not the perfect person when it comes to applying…

"Eighth Grade captures Spirit, Awkwardness"

Leave No Trace: An Emotionally Powerful Film

Debra Granik’s third narrative feature, Leave No Trace, is a emotionally powerful film with a breakout performance from actress Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie. We first meet Will (Ben Foster) and his teenage daughter, Tom (Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie) in their fourth year of living in Forest Park on the outskirts of Portland, Oregon.  It’s illegal to live in public land but the two of them have gotten away with living in the woods for so long.  It’s not…

"Leave No Trace: An Emotionally Powerful Film"

Three Identical Strangers: Crazy, Sad, and True

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…

"Three Identical Strangers: Crazy, Sad, and True"

Damsel: A Wholly Original Western

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…

"Damsel: A Wholly Original Western"

American Animals: A Crazy True-Crime Story

American Animals uses a narrative/documentary hybrid approach in telling the absurd but true story of the Transylvania University library heist. Flashback to the fall of 2003 if you will.  Spencer Reinhard (Barry Keoghan) is touring the Special Collections archive at the Transylvania University library.  The freshman finds himself intrigued and fascinated by the artwork of John James Audubon.  Admiring the artwork, Spencer starts to get these absurd idea to steal the rare collection.  He manages to…

"American Animals: A Crazy True-Crime Story"