Monday
Sep222014

CIFF 50 Gets Off to a Sweet Start

It's gonna be a long October. For this movie lover, pouring over the 50th Chicago International Film Festival's press kit is like getting a peek at Santa's checklist--and wondering if there's enough space for all the amazing things coming down the chimney.

To use another childhood analogy, last Monday's press breakfast was like the roll-out of a summer reading list: opening night isn't for another few weeks, but those covering screenings, red carpet events, and special guest appearances already have a mountain of homework to scale before a single marquee gets switched on.

(Considering the picture I chose to accompany this piece, I should probably have a cute food analogy at the ready. How's about, "I can't wait to bite into the Chicago International..." On second thought, let's move on.)

Let's be frank: CIFF isn't sexy like Toronto, Cannes, or even New York. But it is a sprawling, multi-week event that draws attention to films from around the world. Some will struggle to find distribution long after planning has begun for round fifty-one, while others are destined to be the subject of retrospectives at the seventy-fifth and one-hundredth-anniversary celebrations. Venues across the Windy City will come alive as cast and crew from dozens of productions show up to make their mark, and legends return home to greet the fans that put them on the map.

As a film critic with a non-film-critic day-job, CIFF is doubly daunting. It's tricky enough slotting in weekly reviews of mainstream and independent releases; deciding between screenings and screeners of films I'm unfamiliar with is a gauntlet of moviegoing multiverses. Will I regret seeing the German drama about a 14-year-old Catholic girl's obsession with religious purification (Stations of the Cross) over an Argentinian look at open gay relationships (The Third One)? Do I eat up half a Sunday by venturing downtown to see Oliver Stone present a double-bill of Natural Born Killers and his three-and-a-half-hour Alexander: Ultimate Edition--or do I stay home with Algren, Tir, and Evolution of a Criminal?

Should I take a morning off to attend one of the many screenings CIFF hosts for Chicago Public Schools, in which students and teachers watch films from the festival that tie thematically with their curriculum (and occasionally include discussions with the filmmakers afterwards)? Or is it better to sneak out at night for the "After Dark" program's eleven-movie descent into madness?

Is it logistically possible to squeeze in family time, a ten-hour work day, and a 35mm print of an Isabelle Huppert film at the Music Box? And don't get me started on the Highlander-like challenge of choosing only one mega-event to try and cover: Liv Ullman's opening-night film, Miss Julie (starring Jessica Chastain); the closing-night Reese Witherspoon odyssey, Wild; or one of the two Centerpiece Films, Richard LaGravenese's The Last 5 Years (starring Anna Kendrick) and St. Vincent, starring Chicagoans Bill Murray and Melissa McCarthy.

Of course, I'll also need to set aside some mental "wild card" room for all the documentaries, shorts, exhibits, and panels.* At least I don't have to go through this alone. Tickets are now on sale, and you can view the packed lineup for the 50th Chicago International Film Festival (which runs October 9-23, by the way) at the festival's official Web site! Be sure to check back here in the coming weeks for news, reviews, rants, and raves.

See you at CIFF!

*All things considered, these are awesome problems to have.

Monday
Sep152014

Lionsgate Unleashes New MOCKINGJAY Trailer!

The countdown is finally over! This morning, Lionsgate unveiled the brand new trailer for the most anticipated film of the year, THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY – PART 1 on TheHungerGamesExclusive.com

Mark your calendars now: Advance tickets go on sale October 29 at 12PM ET / 9AM PST!

In conjunction with the debut, be sure to check out The Hunger Games Exclusive Series #2, including exclusive new images and interviews with Jennifer Lawrence, Liam HemsworthNatalie Dormer, Mahershala Ali, and more on TheHungerGamesExclusive.com.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay-Part 1 storms into theatres nationwide on November 21, 2014!

Monday
Aug182014

Meet The Girls of SIN CITY 2 at Hollywood Palms!

This weekend, Naperville, IL becomes Sin City! Stars Rosario Dawson, Crystal McCahill, and Patricia Rodriguez Vonne will invade the fabulous Hollywood Palms Cinema to screen the movie, meet fans, and sign autographs!* Click here to get your tickets now!
*The stars' weekend schedules are as follows: Crystal McCahill and Patricia Rodriguez Vonne will appear Friday through Sunday, and Rosario Dawson will appear Saturday and Sunday.
Thursday
Aug142014

DELIVERANCE at Studio Movie Grill Wheaton!

On Wednesday, August 27th at 7:30pm, Dave Canfield of Twitch Film and Fans for Living will host a screening of Deliverance at Studio Movie Grill in Wheaton, IL! Afterwards, stick around for a penetrating discussion of the film that made audiences the world over fear banjoes!

You can order your $2 tickets here,* or purchase them at the SMG box office. Special thanks to Studio Movie Grill and the Chicago Film Critics Association for sponsoring the monthly "Film with a View" series!

*Scroll down the page and click the mini Deliverance poster.

Thursday
Aug142014

Lionsgate Teases MORTDECAI, Starring Johnny Depp!

Lionsgate is pleased to share the teaser trailer for David Koepp's hilarious action comedy, Mortdecai! Charlie Mortdecai (Johnny Depp) embarks on an international adventure to uncover a stolen piece of art, which may hold the key to unlimited wealth. Will his outstanding charm and good looks be enough to complete this mission? Find out when Mortdecai opens February 6, 2015!

In the meantime, check out the teaser trailer below for a peak at globe-trotting hijinks featuring Gwyneth Paltrow, Ewan McGregor, Olivia Munn, Jeff Goldblum, and Paul Bettany. And keep up with Mortdecai via the film's official WebsiteFacebookTwitter, and YouTube pages!