by Samantha Reid
Chicago’s summer festival season gets a fair share of hype, most of which is directed at Lollapalooza and the music scene. However, movie buffs have a lot to look forward to as well– most notably, the Chicago Critics Film Festival that will be making its return to the Music Box Theatre.
From May 9-15, film aficionados can head to the historic theatre for twenty-three highly anticipated film premieres hand-picked by Chicago’s top critics. A full festival pass will run movie-goers $150, but those looking to attend individual premieres can do so for as low as $12. Here’s a sneak peek of highlights from each night:
They Came Together
Kicking off the CCFF is the this romantic comedy spoof by director David Wain, who will also be in attendance for a Q&A at the event. While it’s not your average rom-com, the parody has garnered a lot of buzz, partly in thanks to it’s stellar comedic cast. Including Amy Poehler, Paul Rudd, Bill Hader, “How I Met Your Mother” star Cobie Smulders and “New Girl’s” Max Greenfield just to name a few, it’s a must-see for any comedy fans.
The One I Love
On Saturday, festival attendees won’t want to miss this dramedy from director Charlie McDowell. Elisabeth Moss of “Mad Men” fame stars alongside Mark Duplass from “The League” as a husband and wife whose marriage is on the rocks. Well-reviewed at Sundance Film Festival, Variety calls the film “smart, crowd-pleasing entertainment” and promises an unexpected plot twist that sets it apart from a garden-variety relationship story.
SFF documentary award winner, “The Overnighters” has been hailed as having “present day echoes of ‘The Grapes of Wrath.’” The film follows the stories of migrant workers as they arrive in droves in a small North Dakota town, hoping to strike their fortunes working on a new oil field. With no guarantee of work and nowhere to stay, the workers must depend on the hospitality of a local pastor for food and shelter as they make their way. The film makes its Chicago debut on May 11.
Frequencies (OXV: The Manual)
Sci-fi buffs can look forward to Darren Paul Fisher’s film “Frequencies,” which artfully combines the conventions of science fiction and romance to transcend traditional genre boundaries. The Hollywood Reporter compared the festival circuit favorite with futuristic legends like “1984” and “Brave New World.” In this imagined future, everyone is born operating on a certain frequency which determines their success for life. The movie then explores what happens when such a delicate class system is potentially disrupted. Sci-fi fans can check out “Frequencies” on May 12.
Nick Offerman: American Ham
Parks and Recreation fans, look no further. Nick Offerman, who has wedged his way into the hearts of network television audiences as Ron Swanson, stars in his own stand-up special airing at the Music Box Theatre on May 13. Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts will be on hand for a Q&A after the show. Not sure what to expect? The disclaimer says it all: “WARNING: MINOR NUDITY AND NOT SUITABLE FOR VEGETARIANS.”
“El Critico” details the life of a jaded film critic who despises the formula of the romantic comedy. It’s much to his chagrin, then, when he meets a beautiful woman and his life starts to mirror the exact kind of movie he hates. The movie weaves together the drama of the main character’s cynicism with situational humor and is chock full of great film references. “El Critico” debuts at the Music Box on May 14.
Saturday Night Live alum Jenny Slate has an impressive comedy resume. With credits on TV hits like “Parks & Recreation” and “Bob’s Burgers,” it’s no surprise to see her as the star of this Gillian Robespierre directed comedy “Obvious Child.” The film follows the attempted rise and subsequent fall of aspiring comedian Donna Stern, played by Slate,, as she loses her job and boyfriend all right before finding out she’s pregnant. The Guardian compares the film, which premieres on the last night of the festival, to Lena Dunham’s hit show “Girls,” but with “a bounce and vitality its own.”