OPENING NIGHT: Digging for Fire @7 pm
There could not be a cooler double feature than the two films that are on hand for Opening Night. Director/Actor and Chicago favorite Joe Swanberg will be in attendance for a Q&A of his new film Digging for Fire, which made its debut at Sundance. It is a story about a married couple, trying to adjust as parents (Jake Johnson and Rosemarie DeWitt), that have a night apart from each other which involves some drinks, drugs, and something very strange in the yard. I am excited for the all-star cast, which includes Anna Kendrick, Orlando Bloom, Brie Larson, and Sam Rockwell.
It’s time Chicago had some elite level film festivals. Sure, the Chicago International Film Festival does a great job. That fest has been around for 50 years and has the most talked about, end of the year films come awards season. But I am talking about a festival that hits early in the film year, one that can match up with the Sundance’s, the Tribeca’s, and the South by Southwest festivals. For Chicago, that festival is becoming the Chicago Critics Film Fest, in its 3rd year now and getting better. A good way to prove to fans that you are a serious film fest is to schedule talented actors and directors, along with great films, at a beautiful theatre like The Music Box. Before you get your passes and individual tickets, here is AMovieGuy.com’s rundown of some of the must-see films at what should be one of the best Chicago fests of 2015:
Call Me Lucky @9:30 pm
Last year Bobcat Goldthwait (Police Academy; World's Greatest Dad) had such a great screening of his film Willow Creek that fans and members of the Chicago Film Critics Association could not wait to bring him back. He returns with his new documentary, Call Me Lucky, a film about comedian Barry Crimmins, who was an inspiration to Goldthwait and other comedians, with his politically outspoken humor. Goldthwait is as kind of a guest can be and is always willing to take a picture with fans, be sure to get yours.
Sunday May 3rd
Slow West @3 pm
Director John Maclean’s first film Slow West took home a grand jury prize at Sundance. And I give it grand praise. It stars Kodi Smit-McPhee and Michael Fassbender in a western, which is a match made in heaven for these actors. Smit-McPhee plays Jay, a 17 year old boy traveling the western lands for his one true love. Along the way he meets Silas (Fassbender) and together they will do their best to stay away from bounty hunters and murderers along the way. I am a big fan of the 12 Years a Slave star Fassbender and his work here with Maclean is well made. It is a must-see.
Thursday May 7th
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl @8:30 pm
Director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon will be in person for the screening of this already critically acclaimed film. If you know film than you know winning the Audience Award and a Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival is a big accomplishment. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl may sound like a long winded title, but this is a film that mixes both humor and heartbreak. Greg (Thomas Mann) becomes friends with Earl (RJ Cyler) and they become close with Rachel. The difficult twist to the trio, is that Rachel is in a battle with cancer. It sounds like a tearjerker, but don't let that keep you away because it is already a film being touted for Oscar buzz. Don't be left outside of the theatre for this one.
Raiders!: The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made @9:30 pm
Raiders is a documentary for the kid inside of all of us. If you do not know about the Raiders of the Lost Ark adaptation started in 1982 by three 11 year old friends Eric Zala, Mark Strompolos, and Jayson Lamb, then you will want to see this film. These three guys spent over 6 years making a homemade version of Steven Spielberg’s classic and finished all of it but the infamous airplane fight scene. This documentary gets them together once more to make that scene. We learn their story of growing up, making this film in their basements, the risks of burning their parents houses down, and how it all became a cult classic.
Saturday May 2nd
Results & Unexpected @4:15 & 7 pm
If you are worried about missing opening weekend of the big summer blockbuster- The Avengers: Age of Ultron, do not fear fans. It will be in theaters for the next 3 weeks, trust me. What you don’t want to miss is the opportunity to see an Avenger in person. Actress Cobie Smulders, the star of two of Saturday’s films- Results and Unexpected, will be there to answer questions after each film. Results was a big hit at Sundance this past winter. It stars Smulders and Guy Pearce as two personal trainers whose lives are changed by the introduction of a new, wealthy client (played by Kevin Corrigan).
Unexpected, directed by Kris Swanberg (the wife of Joe) is a heart-warming film about a Chicago high school teacher (Smulders) who befriends one of her students as the two of them both experience their unexpected pregnancies. This is a film that highlights Smulders charm and displays the streets and neighborhoods of Chicago. This is one of my favorites at the fest.