Music Box Theatre
May 5-11, 2023
The Chicago Critics Film Festival offers a selection of well-loved and upcoming works that will no doubt amaze. What’s offered to showcases the best of the best. Not only is this event recognizing the art of cinema and film criticism, but also they celebrate milestones too! For example, The Right Stuff is getting an anniversary screening!
What I present here are my top picks. Reviews will be posted in the coming days of some of these. And for more information, please follow the CFCA and the festival on Twitter at @chicagocritics or Facebook.
A DISTURBANCE IN THE FORCE
Anyone who has wondered why a certain Star Wars Holiday Special was made way back when it will get some answers in this documentary by Jeremy Coon and Steve Kozak. There’s no advance spoilers to mention here, as I’m just as curious as to who is truly responsible. It did set a tradition for the entire canon though, and Life Day is hugely celebrated in this galaxy far, far, away.
AND THE KING SAID, WHAT A FANTASTIC MACHINE
According to the official synopsis, “From Camera Obscura and the Lumière Brothers all the way to YouTube and the world of social media, the film chronicles how we went from capturing the image of a backyard to a multi-billion- euro content industry in just 200 years.”
Rose is a pathologist who prefers to stay isolated, and Celie is a maternity nurse who has to take care of her six-year-old daughter. As for what that means when their worlds meet, well, Mary Shelley may well praise this modern update to the Frankenstein story. To say too much would ruin what goes on next.
Without the world’s first smartphone identified as the Blackberry, we wouldn’t have Samsung, Nokita and the iPhone. To know this company’s story is very important, because, honestly, without them these modern day communicators we all now have would not exist, and hey, Jay Baruchel is the star! This film is worth checking out since it’s rare to witness him in a non-comedic role.
This supernatural tale set in the mid-40s may well recall some early attempts at séances. But instead of getting the Fox Sisters involved in Sunnyside Brooklyn, this tale takes the scares elsewhere as it deals with vets and things they prefer best left in the closet. Can the brotherhood survive, or what else is there they can do to survive the night?
When this movie first debuted, Roger Ebert said it best, “a film so original and exciting, it stirred my imagination like Metropolis and 2001: A Space Odyssey.” That’s tough to add to and all I can say is that if you love science fiction and noir, to watch this film again on the big screen is all you need to appreciate the attention to detail put into this work.
ERNEST & CELESTINE: A TRIP TO GIBBERITIA
Fans of this merry duo will see the title characters do everything they can to return music to a country devoid of cheer. Music was recently banned here, and to learn why requires an adventure to discover why this happened and to return this home country of Earnest’s back to the way he best remembers it!
Rebecca (Margaret Qualley) and Hal (Christopher Abbott) are about to embark in a high stakes role playing game for power and control, and we’re not talking about Dungeons and Dragons here. It’s more about psychological warfare as they fight over who can own the hotel chain that Hal is supposed to get, but Rebecca wants. It’s a film worth checking out for those wanting to see who will win.
Unlike High School the Musical, this production is all about summer camp and learning how to sing. Just how well they do may well have some fans of this genre recalling Sing and other similarly themed works where teens are sent off to training. Just what they learn is important. Here, the story centres on a founder who gets terribly ill, and it’s up to his son to keep the school afloat. This movie is getting early festival screenings prior to its theatrical run.
This movie examines nearly everything that went on during NASA’s attempt to break the sound barrier. Although this work was considered a box office bomb during its first run, its subsequent praise puts this film above and beyond since it celebrated the American spirit. Film fans will love the effects work involved in chasing the dream, too. To watch it on the bigs screen again on an anniversary says it all.