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The 2014 Chicago Critics Film Festival

May 7, 2014

calvarygleeson

 

Film enthusiasts in Chicago have much to be excited for this week. The 2nd annual Chicago Critics Film Festival, or CCFF, runs from May 9th through May 15th at the beautiful Music Box Theatre. It’s the only film festival created by film critics. So, unlike other film festivals out there, you’re not going to find that random dud you were at one point excited for or curious about. These films were hand-picked by select members of the Chicago Film Critic Association, in an effort to bring the best of what they’ve seen to viewers as passionate as they are.

 

Some of the films have previously screened at festivals and will be released later this year, while others have not been picked up yet – which means you can see them here first!

What’s most impressive about the fest is the wide variety of films from all over the world. From raunchy comedies to surreal animation and compelling dramas to unique horror flicks. What else? How about two programs of selected Shorts as well? The inaugural CCFF last year was great, but this year there are not only more films to choose from, but more foreign films as well – and more time to watch them too. Instead of a long weekend, the festival runs from Friday to Thursday.

You can pick and choose what you want to watch or purchase a Full Festival Pass that will automatically get you into the Closing Night Party! Find all the details here as well as description of each film and the date and time they are scheduled to play.

 

 

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As for me, I’ve only seen one out of the 23 films premiering at this year’s festival, but I can easily recommend you check out “That Dick Miller Guy”. It’s a documentary that focuses on American character actor Dick Miller, who was in most of Roger Corman’s movies and all of Joe Dante’s, but, if you’re a fan, then you’d know him as Walter Paisley. Before this doc, I only knew of Miller that scene in the gun shop in “The Terminator”, but I learned that he also worked with the likes of Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Robert Zemekis and Quentin Tarantino (a deleted scene from “Pulp Fiction”).

The film covers his career in a light and breezy (often funny) manner, with the cantankerous 85 year-old Miller reminiscing about his career along with his wife, brothers and friends. Character actors aren’t as recognizable as “that guy” in movies today, so to celebrate and learn about one of the last great ones, is a real treat. Miller is scheduled to attend the screening of the film on Sunday, May 11th and will discuss his career with Peter Sobczynski (rogerebert.com) and Steve Prokopy (Ain’t It Cool News). “Bucket of Blood” one of the Roger Corman films Miller’s most famous for, will be shown immediately after.

But where do I go from here? How do I select which films to see?

Well, I’ll likely follow the advice of fellow film critic, Brian Tallerico. As a Board Member of the Chicago Film Critics Association (CFCA) – as well as Editor of rogerebert.com – Tallerico is one of the individuals tasked with choosing which films should be included in the festival. Here is his list of his Top Ten Films appearing at CCFF this year…..

 

 

 

  1. Calvary
  2. The Overnighters
  3. Starred Up
  4. The One I Love
  5. Animals
  6. Housebound
  7. That Guy Dick Miller
  8. Private Violence
  9. Copenhagen
  10. The Congress

 

 

No doubt the rest of the films are worth your time as well, but if you’re wondering what to see, it looks like those ten are the absolute must-see films. I’m definitely interesting in them as well as others, like “Mystery Road” starring Hugo Weaving and “Obvious Child” starring Jenny Slate (Jon Rafael’s sister from “Parks and Recreation”).

Another great aspect of the festival are the Special Guests who are scheduled to appear to discuss their films. If you come opening night, you’ll see writer/director David Wain, discuss his new rom-com, “They Came Together” with The Dissolve’s Scott Tobias. His film, which stars Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler, Ed Helms, Cobie Smulders, Michael Shannon and Melanie Lynskey, will open June 27th – but again, you can see it here first!

 

 

animals

 

 

 

You can also find comedian/director Bobcat Goldthwait discussing his horror film “Willow Creek” with Prokopy. It’s about a self-proclaimed Bigfoot expert who gets lost on a camping trip with his girlfriend and realizes they aren’t alone. Will it be straight-up horror and be a dark comedy like his last film. You’ll have to see it yourself to determine that. But that’s not all! You can see actors Martin Starr and Jocelyn DeBoer talk about their movie, “Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead” and director Jordan Vogt-Roberts discussing his comedy, “Nick Offerman: American Ham”.

Also scheduled to attend is local actor, David Dastmalchian (“The Dark Knight” and “Prisoners”) to discuss the closing night drama, “Animals”, which he wrote and stars in. Director Collin Schiffli will also be there to talk about the film which tells the story of a young couple living out of a broken-down car near Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo. That should be enough incentive for you. If you plan on coming, look me up and by all means convince others to attend as well. This will be my first time attending as a CFCA member and I couldn’t be prouder to attend such an event in Chicago that celebrates some of the best films that haven’t yet been seen or are coming soon.

 

 

Chicago Film Critics Association

 

 

willowcreekposter

 

 

 

 

 

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