Sarah Knight Adamson is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association and a voting member for the Critics Choice Awards for Movies.

Sarah Knight Adamson and Jessica Aymond are both Members of the Chicago Film Critics Association

Film Rating Code:

★★★★ Outstanding Film- Run, don’t walk to the nearest movie theater.

★★★½ Excellent Film- Highly recommend seeing the film in a movie theater.

★★★ Very Good Film- Recommend seeing the film in a movie theater.

★★½ Good Film- Wait for the DVD, the film is still worth viewing.

★★ Wait for the DVD and proceed with caution.

★½ Wait for the DVD the film has major problems in most areas.

★ Can’t recommend the film.

Cars 3 (G) ★★★

Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) faces new challenges in Cars 3
Image credit: Disney•Pixar

The Cars franchise is back on track. KA-CHOW! 

I know exactly when I achieved the pinnacle of parenting. Yes, my son was only three at the time, but I’m confident that I will never top what I did for him that day: I took him to meet Lightning McQueen.

The proof is in this picture taken at Cars Land in Disney’s California Adventure in 2015—if you zoom in, you will see the definition of pure joy on my son’s face. Lightning is REAL!

Image credit: Erika Olson

I had seen Cars before I had kids and loved it, so it wasn’t solely my son’s obsession with the film that endeared me to the inhabitants of Radiator Springs. But now that I have watched the movie countless times and can recite every word by heart, it has earned a truly special place in my heart. It’s yet another Pixar creation that holds up well over multiple viewings and the passage of time.

But we shall not speak of Cars 2 . . . no, we shall not. Except to say that whoever thought it was appropriate to have these beloved characters shooting at each other and talking about killing each other (on top of Mater’s disastrous cultural insensitivity) should never work on a children’s animated film again.

Needless to say I was nervous about Cars 3. Thankfully there was no reason to be. This installment strongly harkens back to the original, even going so far as having the climactic finale revolve around an important lesson Lightning (Owen Wilson) learned from his mentor Doc Hudson (the late Paul Newman) about helping others. (Doc has a fairly significant presence in the film thanks to unused dialogue and outtakes from the original.)

The set-up this time is that Lightning McQueen finds himself blindsided by a rookie racecar—Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer)—and other high-tech “next generation” cars like him. These sleek racing machines train in state-of-the-art facilities and reach speeds over 200 mph, and Lightning just can’t compete.

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Posted in Movies 2017, Reviews

Wonder Woman (PG-13) ★★★★ Radio Review

Gal Gadot stars as “Wonder Woman.” Patty Jenkins directs. Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

My quick take🎬: So much to love about ⚔Wonder Woman!⚔

Director Patty Jenkins of Monster (2003), fame brings us another stellar film. Gal Gadot’s performance is fantastic to watch, she not only carries the entire film, but she also brings strength, intelligence, compassion and beauty to her role. Chris Pine is fun to watch as he takes a back seat, he brings humor and light-heartedness to the darkness of their wartime situation. If you ever thought you might want to see a superhero movie, then this is the one to go and see! I loved it! Radio Review coming soon! Stay Tuned!

Radio Reviews air on H360 Radio Network on Saturday nights, ✔️ out a station near you!  The podcast will post after the review airs. Stay tuned.

Posted in Film Review Podcast Archives, Hollywood 360, Movies 2017, Radio Podcasts, Reviews

Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story ★★★★ Radio Podcast

Directed by Daniel Raim. Photo Credit: Adama Films

Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story is a documentary that’s based on a true story. Storyboard artist Harold Michelson and his wife, a film researcher, Lillian Michelson are two nameless heroes of Hollywood’s greatest films.

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Posted in Film Review Podcast Archives, Hollywood 360, Movies 2017, Radio Podcasts, Reviews

Interview with Daniel Raim Writer/Director of “Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story”

 A HOLLYWOOD LOVE STORY. A Zeitgeist Films release. Director Daniel Raim. Photo: Adama Films / Zeitgeist Films

Interview with Writer/Director Daniel Raim for the film Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story

Daniel Raim had a goal in mind when he set out to make a documentary about two unsung Hollywood legends—Harold & Lillian Michelson— give these two talented people the credit they deserve. Movie fans are familiar with the work of Harold and Lillian Michelson, even if they don’t recognize the names. You see, they worked mostly uncredited on Hollywood films, however, storyboard artist Harold and film researcher Lillian left a time-honored mark on classics by Mel Brooks, Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, Mike Nichols, Steven Spielberg, and many more. Stitched together by love letters, film clips, storyboards, and open conversations with both Harold and Lillian, along with Danny DeVito, Mel Brooks, Francis Ford Coppola, and others, this love letter to the Michelsons is not only a deeply moving portrait of love, but a tribute to their work that shaped many of the classic films we all know and love.

Lillian and Harold Michelson in Los Angeles in December 1947 in Daniel Raim’s HAROLD AND LILLIAN: A HOLLYWOOD LOVE STORY. A Zeitgeist Films release. Photo: Adama Films / Zeitgeist Films.

Sarah Knight Adamson: I want to tell you out of the gate, I totally love your movie so much. I’m very happy that you made this movie, because you’ve documented these two lives. Not just one life; two of these amazing film legends. You’ve shed tremendous light on the artistic side of filmmaking that frankly enhances the viewing experience not just for film critics, but for the whole world. I applaud you for that.

Daniel Raim: Thank you very much.

SKA: Can you talk briefly about your beginnings as a filmmaker with, I believe your teacher at the time, Robert F. Boyle?

DR: This was 1997 and I was a student at the American Film Institute. My professor was Robert Boyle. He was 90 years old at the time. He was also the subject of my first documentary.

Harold Michelson (right) in the Art Department at Paramount Studios in 1978 working on Star Trek: The Motion Picture in Daniel Raim’s HAROLD AND LILLIAN: A HOLLYWOOD LOVE STORY. A Zeitgeist Films release. For hi-res downloadPhoto: Adama Films / Zeitgeist Films.

SKA: Can you talk about how, during the making of a film, it’s less about making sets that looked real, but more about the storytelling. I guess in my mind, I think of The Graduate, and that iconic leg. Is that real? Is she [Anne Bancroft] really going to just sit there and pose like that? Probably not in real life, but it tells a story. Read more…

Posted in Celebrity Interviews, Interview Archives, Interviews

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (PG-13) ★★

Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
Image credit: Walt Disney

Only for diehard franchise fans.

A month ago, Disneyland guests on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride were treated to a cool surprise when Johnny Depp popped up on the attraction in place of the animatronic Captain Jack Sparrow. If you didn’t see clips of it already, I recommend looking them up online—it was pretty hilarious.

Unfortunately, that little stunt was more entertaining than the majority of the film Depp was at the park to promote: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (or POTC5 as I will call it from here on out).

So, yeah… any time we’re talking about the FIFTH film in a franchise, I feel like most people’s expectations are going to be pretty low, and mine certainly were. The bad news is that POTC5 failed to recapture the original film’s spark, and a lot of its story felt recycled. And clearly nothing is going to be able to recreate the weird mix of confusion and delight most felt when seeing Depp as Sparrow for the first time in 2003. But I will say that POTC5 is at least much better than the last two installments in the franchise.

It opens with a great flashback of Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann’s (Keira Knightley) young son Henry sneaking out in the middle of the night, reconnecting with his cursed father under the sea and promising him that he’ll find the trident of Poseidon in order to break the spell. At this point I thought that perhaps the totally new writing and directing team (Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg as co-directors and Jeff Nathanson in charge of the screenplay) was going to breathe new life into the franchise.

Then we move ahead nine years and see a grown Henry (Brenton Thwaites) trying to warn his shipmates against sailing into the dangerous Devil’s Triangle—but they of course don’t listen and incur the wrath of a zombie crew of pirates and their leader, Salazar (Javier Bardem). Henry learns that Salazar wants revenge on Sparrow for leading his ship into the Triangle decades ago, and Henry promises to deliver that warning to the perpetually drunk Captain. Eventually, Sparrow’s old nemesis Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) shows up and says he’ll help Salazar track down Captain Jack.

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Posted in Movies 2017, Reviews

Alien: Covenant (R) ★★½

Katherine Waterston stars in Alien: Covenant.
Image credit: 20th Century Fox

Alien: Covenant < Prometheus. Yeah, I said it.

I was thoroughly frustrated by Alien: Covenant and was actually mad when I left the theater. Aside from Michael Fassbender in dual roles and the cast itself, there was absolutely nothing new about this sixth installment (and second prequel) of the nearly forty-year-old Alien franchise. I am usually one of those people who never sees a film’s twists coming. With Alien: Covenant, I not only predicted every single thing that was going to happen, but I was also bored out of my mind.

A cool prologue involving trillionaire CEO Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce) and the synthetic from Prometheus, David (Fassbender), gave me hope at the very beginning that Ridley Scott was going to pull off an Alien trifecta (Covenant is the third film he’s directed after the original two). But it was not to be.

We flash forward to ten years after the events of Prometheus and are aboard the Covenant, whose crewmembers are all deep-dozing in pods as they travel on a years-long mission to colonize a distant planet. But their on-board upgraded synthetic, Walter (also Fassbender), gives them a harsh wake-up call after the ship’s systems start going haywire. The captain is killed during this emergency, and the moment we find out who the captain was, I was immediately taken out of the film. All I’ll say is that it’s a well-known, goofy actor whose presence in flashbacks was as a huge distraction and served no purpose other than making the new captain Oram (Billy Crudup) have a weak reason to constantly seem unsure of himself.

Now that the entire crew is awake, they decide to investigate a human transmission coming from a nearby planet and see if that planet is a better bet for colonization than the one they were supposed to reach in seven more years. Spoiler alert: IT’S NOT.

Read more…

Posted in Movies 2017, Reviews

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