A Kid Like Jake explores Gender Identity

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 in the theater become very clear in the final act through the performances of Claire Danes and Jim Parsons.  Through Silas Howard’s direction and the camera framing of cinematographer Steven Capitano Calitri, the performances come off as theatrical rather than cinematic.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  While…

"A Kid Like Jake explores Gender Identity"

On Chesil Beach feels Theatrical, not Cinematic

On Chesil Beach doesn’t quite rise up to to the level of previous adaptations of Ian McEwan’s works. Set in 1962, this is a film that can be very confusing to follow.  We eventually learn that Florence Ponting (Saoirse Ronan) and Edward Mayhew (Billy Howle) just got married a few hours earlier.  They are planning to consummate their marriage at a hotel along Chesil Beach in southern England on the Dorset coast.  However, Florence realizes that she…

"On Chesil Beach feels Theatrical, not Cinematic"

First Reformed: A Mesmerizing Drama

First Reformed is a mesmerizing drama about a pastor who counsels a husband and wife. Reverend Ernst Toller (Ethan Hawke), a former Army chaplain, is a pastor at the First Reformed Church in the fictional town of Snowbridge, N.Y.  The Dutch Reform church has grown some fame by having been a station on along the Underground Railround.  However, as the church approaches 250 years, it doesn’t contain the magic that used to be there.  While…

"First Reformed: A Mesmerizing Drama"

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"

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"