David Lowery’s A Ghost Story closed out the Chicago Critics Film Festival with a nearly sold out crowd. Reuniting his Ain’t Them Bodies Saints co-stars, Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara, writer-director Lowery returned to Sundance this year with a film that could only be made as such. A story of this nature could not be done in any other medium, be it print or visual. Affleck stars as a white-sheeted ghost who returns to his…"CCFF: A Ghost Story closes out festival"
Menashe brings Yiddish back to the big screen for the first time in some 60-70 years. Directed by Joshua Z Weinstein, this is his first narrative feature. The screenplay was written by Weinstein, Alex Lipschultz, and Musa Syeed. Starring Menashe Lustig, the film is loosely inspired by his life. Given that the film is in Yiddish with English subtitles, it will be interesting to see what will happen come awards season and whether it will…"CCFF: Menashe brings Yiddish back to the big screen"
Mr. Roosevelt shows what happens when a struggling comedian returns home to Austin to bury her cat. It’s the directorial debut for Saturday Night Live alumnus Noël Wells. SNL may not be for everyone but that doesn’t mean that cast members can’t be successful following a short stint. Her performances in The Incredible Jessica James and her work on Mr. Roosevelt shows that a brief career on SNL isn’t the end of the world. She…"CCFF: Mr. Roosevelt shows comedy, grief"
La Barracuda deals with family drama in a new way two half-sisters meet for the first time in Texas. Julia Halperin and Jason Cortlund direct from a screenplay written by Cortlund. The film stars Allison Tolman, Sophie Reid, JoBeth Williams, Luis Bordonada, Larry Jack Dotson, Butch Hancock, Bob Livingston, and The Mastersons. Sophie Reed stars as Sinaloa, a British woman whose mother has died and has come to Texas in order to meet her half-sister,…"CCFF: La Barracuda is a new take on family drama"
The Incredible Jessica James is one of the best comedies that I’ve seen this year. Written and directed by Jim Strouse, the comedy stars Jessica Williams, Chris O’Dowd, Lakeith Stanfield & Noël Wells. Zabryna Guevera, Taliyah Whitaker, Sarah Jones, Will Stephen, Susan Heyward, and Megan Ketch also star. Jessica Williams, The Daily Show alumnus, breaks out in her role as Jessica James, a young playwright in New York City who is recovering from a breakup…"CCFF: The Incredible Jessica James is innovative, genuine"
Columbus may have been Kogonada’s first directorial feature film but it shows so much promise in what he’s going to offer us during the years to come. Written and directed by Kogonada, Columbus stars John Cho, Haley Lu Richardson, Rory Culkin, Michelle Forbes, and Parker Posey. Jin (Cho) finds himself in Columbus when his father ends up in a coma. The city is known for its architecture given the modernist buildings. While he’s not a…"CCFF: Columbus shows the promise of Kogonada"
Person to Person is certainly a unique film that has different story lines that don’t quite meet up like I had hoped for. Written and directed by Dustin Guy Defa, the New York-based movie stars Abbi Jacobson, Michael Cera, Tavi Gevinson, Michaela Watkins, Philip Baker Hall, Bene Coopersmith, George Sample III, Ben Rosenfield, Olivia Luccardi, and Isiah Whitlock. It’s a short film with a running time of only 84 minutes. There’s a lot to keep…"CCFF: Person to Person doesn’t intersect"
Dog Years, which will eventually be released as The Last Movie Star, shows us what would happen when an aging celebrity in the third act of their life decides to accept an invite to your basement film festival. Written and directed by Adam Rifkin, Dog Years stars Burt Reynolds, Ariel Winter, Clark Duke, Ellar Coltrane, Nikki Blonsky, Juston Street, AL-Jaleel Ishaq Knox, Kathleen Nolan, and Chevy Chase. Burt Reynolds stars as Vic Edwards, an aging…"CCFF: Dog Years (The Last Movie Star) walks through memory lane"
Take Me, already out on iTunes, played on the big screen in Chicago for what is likely to be the only time this past Monday night. It’s very funny. Directed by Pat Healy from a screenplay written by Mike Makowsky, the movie stars Healy, Taylor Schilling, Alycia Delmore, and Parks and Recreation favorite Jim O’Heir. With a running time of 83 minutes, the film is really short. O’Heir’s appearance is a pleasant surprise but it’s…"CCFF: Take Me lets Pat Healy return home"
Sam Elliott delivers a shining performance in The Hero as Lee Hayden. In the newest film from writer/director Brett Haley, Elliott gives one of the strongest performances I have seen so far during this year’s Chicago Critics Film Festival. We all know his voice–it’s just as iconic as Morgan Freeman. It’s one of two films that played in which Hayden confronts his own mortality when he gets diagnosed with cancer. He’s not getting much work…"CCFF: The Hero shines through in Sam Elliott"