54th Chicago International Film Festival Initial Lineup

The first wave of films was announced this afternoon for this October’s 54th Chicago International Film Festival.  The festival runs October 10-21, 2018 at AMC River East 21. “We are very excited to be showcasing new films from some of the most impressive directors in the world, whether returning veterans, such as past Gold Hugo-winners Mike Leigh and Hirokazu Kore-eda, or up-and-coming filmmakers with distinctive visions,” said Mimi Plauché, the festival’s artistic director. “For the…

"54th Chicago International Film Festival Initial Lineup"

Black Cop: A Scathing Satire

In his feature directorial debut, Black Cop, writer/director Cory Bowles uses unapologetic satire to explore the racial tensions within the police force and communities. As a result of Trailer Park Boys, Bowles has quite the social media following and deals with a number of trolls.  As such, this is a film that is best viewed through the right lens.  Otherwise, it’s going to come off as nothing but absurd. For one cop, who is known…

"Black Cop: A Scathing Satire"

Director Stephen Cone talks Princess Cyd

Chicago-based filmmaker Stephen Cone spoke to Solzy at the Movies about Princess Cyd during the Chicago International Film Festival. Among the topics Cone and I discussed were the filmmaking scene in Chicago and whether or not LGBTQ filmmakers are the best people to make LGBTQ-themed films. Written and directed by Cone, the film stars Rebecca Spence, Jessie Pinnick, Malic White, James Vincent Meredith, Tyler Ross, and Matthew Quattrocki. The film will be released at the Museum…

"Director Stephen Cone talks Princess Cyd"

Chicago Film Festival: The Shape of Water

The Shape of Water is perhaps the finest film ever to be directed by Guillermo del Toro and actress Sally Hawkins delivers a top-notch performance in the Cold War-set film. With a screenplay co-written by  del Toro and Vanessa Taylor, the film stars Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Doug Jones, Michael Stuhlbarg and Octavia Spencer. Set in 1962, a classified asset is brought into a government laboratory in Baltimore where Strickland (Shannon) is hellbent…

"Chicago Film Festival: The Shape of Water"

Chicago Film Festival: The Ballad of Lefty Brown

The Ballad of Lefty Brown shows that the western isn’t dead and gives actor Bill Pullman a showcase role in the thriller. Written and directed by Jared Moshé, Pullman leads a cast that includes Bill Pullman, Kathy Baker, Jim Caviezel, Joe Anderson, Diego Josef, Tommy Flanagan and Peter Fonda. Edward Johnson (Fonda) gets elected as a senator of Montana and Lefty Brown (Pullman) is by his side when he’s shot to death.  Nobody ever takes Brown–a sidekick for…

"Chicago Film Festival: The Ballad of Lefty Brown"

Chicago Film Festival: Black Cop

In his feature directorial debut, Black Cop, writer/director Cory Bowles uses unapologetic satire to explore the racial tensions within the police force and communities.  Bowles made this film in response to social media and if not viewed through the right lens, it’s a film that could come off as being absurd. For one cop, who is only known as Black Cop (Ronnie Rowe Jr.), he gets pushed over the edge and decides to target the…

"Chicago Film Festival: Black Cop"

Chicago Film Festival: Joe Swanberg’s Closing Keynote Session

Chicago filmmaker Joe Swanberg sat one-one-one with Anthony Kaufman of the Chicago International Film Festival as Industry Days headed towards a close. Swanberg had stepped in to replace Marc Evans, the President of the Motion Picture Group at Paramount Pictures., after it was announced that Evans would be stepping down by the end of the year. On producing a series for Netflix, Swanberg said that he missed the test screenings that came with releasing new films.  Those…

"Chicago Film Festival: Joe Swanberg’s Closing Keynote Session"

Chicago Film Festival: Ali’s Wedding

Although it means well, Ali’s Wedding is one of the weaker films selected for the two-week festival. Directed by Jeffrey Walker from a script he co-wrote with Osamah Sami, the film stars Sami, Helana Sawires, Don Hany, and Ryan Corr. The film is based on a true story and after watching the large majority of the film (it wasn’t offered as a screener link, only a P&I screening), it may have been for the best…

"Chicago Film Festival: Ali’s Wedding"

Chicago Film Festival: Scaffolding

Scaffolding is one of four Israeli films to be shown during the Chicago International Film Festival. Written and directed by Matan Yair, the Israeli film stars Asher Lax, Ami Smolartchik, Jacob Cohen, and Keren Berger. Lax makes his professional and cinematic debut as an actor and takes home an Ophir Award nomination in the process. Asher (Lax) is a troublemaker and he’s always been this way in school.  Despite the rage and violence that Asher…

"Chicago Film Festival: Scaffolding"

Breathe: An Emotionally Exhausting Film

Andy Serkis’ feature directorial debut, Breathe, is a film that is emotionally exhausting to watch and it is one that would have best been served as a documentary rather than what could easily be described as an expensive home movie. Serkis directs from a screenplay written by William Nicholson.  Breathe stars Andrew Garfield, Claire Foy, Tom Hollander, and Hugh Bonneville. The filmmakers were smart to focus on the love story in the film’s first few…

"Breathe: An Emotionally Exhausting Film"