The time is almost upon us for the 4th Chicago Critics Film Festival (CCFF). This year’s line-up features films you may not have heard of this year or some that you’ve been dying to see all year. The festival is composed of films that the critics from the Chicago Film Critics Association have seen and loved at other festivals (Sundance, TIFF, SXSW, etc). The festival spans the length of a week (May 20th-26th) and takes place at Chicago’s historic Music Box Theater. Every film is worth checking out so make sure to see the full schedule for the festival and buy your tickets before they sell out.
That being said, it wouldn’t be a film festival without looking forward to a few films.
Morris From America
This coming-of-age story follows Morris as he tries to survive in a new and foreign place. It premiered at Sundance earlier in the year and won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award. If experiencing a film about culture shock, and all the comedic clashing that comes with it, isn’t enough to get you interested, the film also has actor Craig Robinson in it. As an added bonus, writer/director Chad Hartigan and Craig Robinson will be in attendance.
(Showing: Friday, May 20 at 7pm)
Also premiered at Sundance was this tale of terror about the fraternity hazing system. We’ve all heard about the abominable things these kids are forced to go through, but Goat sounds like it will highlight some of the physical and psychological damage that comes with it. This film boasts performances from the talented James Franco and Nick Jonas and a plethora of other shirtless, sexually objectified men. Just consider it prep work before going to see Neighbors 2 this weekend.
(Showing: Friday, May 20th at 9:30pm // Wednesday, May 25th at 3:30pm)
War on Everyone
If your sense of humor tends to range on the darker spectrum, like mine, this film sounds like it’s going to be up our respective alleys. There is nothing funny about police brutality or abuse of power, but irreverent cops with a penchant for violence and disregarding their own moral code could be a fun time. Writer/director John Michael McDonagh has more than earned my trust, especially when his previous film Calvary was one of my favorites of that year. As an added bonus, actor Michael Peña will be at the showing of the film.
(Showing: Saturday, May 21st at 7:15pm)
Into the Forest
This film might not have been on your radar yet, but watching the newly released trailer will be more than enough to have you hungry for an adventure through the forest. The post-apocalyptic, survival premise aside, this film had my attention with the leading actresses: Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood. Together they can breathe dramatic life into any wooded area. Director Patricia Rozema will be at the screening to answer any questions you might have for her.
(Showing: Saturday, May 21st at 9:30pm)
Hunt for the Wilderpeople
From fantastic writer/director Taika Waititi comes a story of adventure between an uncle, his nephew and a nation frantically looking for them. You may recognize his work if you were a fan of his film Eagle vs Shark or the show Flight of the Concords, but most recently from his drop-dead uproarious mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows, that made its U.S. début last year. This should prove to be a fulfilling enough film to tide us over until we see what he does with Thor: Ragnorak.
(Showing: Sunday, May 22nd at 6pm // Monday, May 23rd at 3pm)
The Blackcoat’s Daughter
By now, you’ve noticed the dark theme to this festival and realized the allure of it all. There’s a cryptic mystery and fear that comes from the shadows of secrets. Something sinister has happened in this all girl’s school and a bond gets created through it. The talented Emma Roberts stars in this horror story, but thankfully it looks nothing like her character in Scream Queens.
(Showing: Tuesday, May 24th at 10pm)
In a Valley of Violence
Director Ti West is no stranger to creating tense atmospheres with great violence and drama, and this film will be no exception. This will be West’s first western and it has such an impressive cast that there is a chance this film might be in league with The Hateful Eight. The best part of this showing is that West himself will be there to answer all of your questions about this film or any of his past ones.
(Showing: Wednesday, May 25th at 7:30pm)
Obviously you should already be on the website buying your tickets or buying the festival pass, a better deal for all these films you want to see. Look for me at the festival, because for the next week I’ll probably be living out of the Music Box theater.