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.

Miss Sloane (R) ★★★

Jessica Chastain stars in “Miss Sloane.” Photo Credit EuropaCorp Films.

“Miss Sloane” Is Ambitious, Fierce 

If this past election has taught us anything, it’s that politics is an ugly business. Even more troubling than the viciousness of elections is that even with all of the time and money spent on campaigns, many argue that lobbyists, Super PACs, pollsters and strategists actually control D.C., not our elected officials. While it may seem like a cynical view, it’s at the heart of the of Miss Sloane, a drama that dives into the world of the lobbying. This often unflattering look at Washington lobbyists portrays them as unethical powerbrokers who will do anything to help their clients get what they want. It’s no wonder that the protagonist in this film confesses when it comes to morality, “I don’t even know where the line is.” 

Elizabeth Sloane, (Jessica Chastain, The Martian, 2015), the eponymous “hero” in Miss Sloane as the star lobbyist at one the most powerful firms in D.C. Elizabeth will seemingly use anything at her disposal to fight against regulation or taxation that threaten her clients, whether they be Fortune 500 companies or foreign countries.

Sloane’s win-at-all-costs tactics and impressive record attracts a potentially huge new client, the gun rights campaign, to her firm’s office for a meeting. The head of the gun rights’ lobby is looking for her services in converting women, who have not been gun allies traditionally, to their cause and thwart a new gun regulation bill that is an impending vote in the Senate. Sloane laughs at the proposed strategy to woo women and flippantly promises to look at the numbers, which later results in a lecturing from her irate boss (Sam Watterson, Newsroom, 2014). Read more…

Posted in Movies 2016, Reviews

Bleed for This (R) ★★★

Miles Teller stars in "Bleed for This." Photo Credit: Open Road Films.

Miles Teller stars in “Bleed for This.” Photo Credit: Open Road Films.

“Bleed for This” – Call It a Comeback

Boxing is nicknamed the “sweet science,” which is a strange name given that it is arguably the most violent and physically punishing sport. Anyone who steps into the ring needs to be fearless and have incredible toughness to withstand the toll one takes from receiving repeated shots to the head. Now, imagine the toughness you would need to step into the ring and take punches to the head after recently breaking your neck in a car accident.

In writer and director Ben Younger’s latest drama, Bleed for This, boxer Vinny Pazienza’s real life story comes to the big screen. The film covers his quick rise to boxing glory, the tragic accident that nearly cost him everything and his astonishing path to recovery.

The film opens with Vinny “Paz” Pazienza, played by Miles Teller (War Dogs, 2016), his family and his trainer helping him recover after losing a fight with the champion Roger Mayweather (Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s uncle). Paz and his trainer, Kevin Rooney (Aaron Eckhart, London Has Fallen, 2016) think he should fight at a more natural weight class given his struggles to cut weight and in the ring. Paz’s father (Ciarán Hinds, Frozen, 2013) who manages the training gym, is worried that Vinny is not ready for the change, but eventually agrees with Rooney’s plans and is able to arrange a title fight for his unrelenting son in his first match as a junior middleweight against Frenchman Gilbert Dele. Despite very low odds to win the title bout, Paz is able to rally from a rough start to dominate the fight and become the world champion.

Read more…

Posted in Movies 2016, Reviews

Arrival (PG-13) ★★★½

Amy Adams in ArrivalPhoto credit: Jan Thijs/ Paramount Pictures

Amy Adams in Arrival
Photo credit: Jan Thijs/ Paramount Pictures

When is an alien invasion movie not about an alien invasion?

Some of my favorite films (Looper, About Time, Safety Not Guaranteed, Back to the Future, Predestination) and novels (The Time Traveler’s Wife, Life After Life) have a clear theme in common: time. The passage of time, the manipulation of time, hopping around in time—I eat it all up. As a big X-Files fan I also tend to enjoy anything related to aliens. So you could say Arrival falls squarely into my sweet spot: it’s a brainy alien invasion film that deals with the effects of time on the grieving process, as well as humankind’s tendency to work against time.

Aliens show up in gigantic metallic-looking half-egg thingies at twelve locations around the world. No one can figure out why they’ve chosen the spots they’re hovering over. No one can figure out why they’re here. Everyone, of course, assumes the worst.

Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) recruits Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams) to join the team at the U.S. location in Montana to see if she can communicate with the spaceship’s inhabitants because she’s a renowned linguist. Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) is a physicist on the team who’s doing whatever it is physicists would do during an alien invasion. The three of them, along with a few other military types, go up into the half-egg at designated times to face the beings they call heptapods (that’s a hint about what they look like) and try to get the answer to one question: “What do you want?”

Read more…

Posted in Movies 2016, Reviews

Pixar Animation Studios Steve Jobs Theater Visit

A Film Critic Goes Inside Pixar Studios and The Steve Jobs Theater

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Pixar Animation Studios- Emeryville, CA. Photo Credit: Sarah Knight Adamson

An Invitation to Attend a Film Screening at Pixar Studios

Don’t you just love it when the sun, the moon, and the stars all align? Typically, I receive special film screening notices fairly regularly that take place in major cities like New York, LA, San Francisco, London, or Chicago. Imagine my delight when I discovered that a special screening of Finding Dory was not only being held on a day on which I’d be in San Francisco visiting family but also at the exclusive Steve Jobs Theater at Pixar Animation Studios. A rare occurrence indeed!

First of all, Pixar Studios in not open to the public, so the chances of ever seeing the inside for most of us are slim to none. You have to be invited or know someone to get inside. Needless to say, I jumped on the opportunity. Upon passing through security at the front gate, I walked toward the left of the expansive campus and was greeted by the ginormous iconic desk lamp, Luxo Jr., and its pal, the yellow ball with the blue stripe and red star. It’s been thirty years since the groundbreaking short film Luxo Jr. put Pixar on the map.

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Pixar Animation Studios- Emeryville, CA. Luxo Jr. and his pal ball. Photo Credit: Sarah Knight Adamson

Upon walking into the Steve Jobs Building, you will find a very large atrium area that can house the entire staff. Two life-sized characters greet you and are constructed entirely out of Legos: Woody and Buzz Lightyear from the Toy Story films. Near the front desk, you’ll also see the pink elephant Bing Bong from Inside Out. In front of the windows, you’ll see two giant cars; Luigi (yellow) is parked next to Guido (blue), both from Cars.

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Pixar Animation Studios- Emeryville, CA. Woody and Sarah Knight Adamson. Photo Credit: Sarah Knight Adamson

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Pixar Animation Studios- Emeryville, CA. Photo Credit: Sarah Knight Adamson

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Pixar Animation Studios- Emeryville, CA. Photo Credit: Sarah Knight Adamson

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Buzz Lightyear and Woody

Pixar Animation Studios- Emeryville, CA. 'Cars' film characters. Photo Credit: Sarah Knight Adamson

Pixar Animation Studios- Emeryville, CA. ‘Cars’ film characters. Photo Credit: Sarah Knight Adamson

To the far left front corner are several statues of the Incredibles family. To the far right front, you’ll see an awards cabinet that contains Oscars and Golden Globes, along with other accolades and mementos. Eight of Pixar-Disney’s films have won Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature Film: Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Ratatouille, WALL-E, Up, Toy Story 3, Brave, and Inside Out.

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Pixar Animation Studios- Emeryville, CA. Awards Cabinet Credit: Sarah Knight Adamson

Pixar Animation Studios- Emeryville, CA. The Incredibles Family Photo Credit: Sarah Knight Adamson

Pixar Animation Studios- Emeryville, CA. The Incredibles Family Photo Credit: Sarah Knight Adamson

Pixar Animation Studios- Emeryville, CA. Awards case Photo Credit: Sarah Knight Adamson

Pixar Animation Studios- Emeryville, CA. Awards case Photo Credit: Sarah Knight Adamson

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Pixar Animation Studios- Emeryville, CA. Awards case Photo Credit: Sarah Knight Adamson

Pixar Animation Studios- Emeryville, CA. Woody doll that was donated by a six year-old boy. Photo Credit: Sarah Knight Adamson

Pixar Animation Studios- Emeryville, CA. Woody doll that was donated by a six year-old boy. Photo Credit: Sarah Knight Adamson

One touching memento in the cabinet is a donation from a six-year-old boy who wanted a home for his much loved and much played with “Woody” doll. Here’s the letter explaining the circumstances:

Magic Kingdom Guest Relations
4730 Caribbean Way
Lake Buena Vista, FL

Dear John Lasseter,

On June 18, 2010, we had a young child about six years old by the name of Caleb come into the City Hall at the Magic Kingdom park. He brought us his well-played with Woody doll. You see, his parents bought him a new one, and he wanted his first one to have a great new home, so he left it here to spend infinity and beyond with Buzz Lightyear. We felt it was appropriate to share him with you. As you can see, he has been loved very much over the years. Thank you for giving everyone great characters that have heart.

Sincerely,

Magic Kingdom Guest Relations Cast

The entire lower left side consists of a state-of-the-art kitchen that’s equipped with a brick pizza oven. There’s a large seating area and an oversized painting from the film Ratatouille.

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Pixar Animation Studios- Emeryville, CA. Kitchen with Brick Pizza Oven Photo Credit: Sarah Knight Adamson

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Pixar Animation Studios- Emeryville, CA. Dining Area Photo Credit: Sarah Knight Adamson

The lower right side has a mailroom, breakfast room with multiple cereal bins, Pixar gift shop, and an area for special displays.

Pixar Animation Studios- Emeryville, CA. Mailroom Photo Credit: Sarah Knight Adamson

Pixar Animation Studios- Emeryville, CA. Mailroom Photo Credit: Sarah Knight Adamson

Straight ahead is a large mural backdrop painting of an ocean scene with a very small blue tang fish Dory from the film Finding Dory near the entrance of the Steve Jobs Theater. Upon entering the theater, you’ll find a stack of spiral tablets, pencils, and pens for note taking. The seats are made of a luxurious red velvet fabric and very comfortable.

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Pixar Animation Studios- Emeryville, CA. ‘Finding Dory’ backdrop. Photo Credit: Sarah Knight Adamson

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Pixar Animation Studios- Emeryville, CA. Steve Jobs Theater. Photo Credit: Sarah Knight Adamson

Pixar Animation Studios- Emeryville, CA. Steve Jobs Theater, selfie. Photo Credit: Sarah Knight Adamson

Pixar Animation Studios- Emeryville, CA. Steve Jobs Theater, selfie. Photo Credit: Sarah Knight Adamson

When the lights were dimmed, and the film was about to start, tiny twinkling lights that looked like stars covered the ceiling, creating a magical effect. Upon the start of the film, those lights disappeared. The most noticeable high-tech feature of the theater has to be the sound. It’s like no other I’ve experienced anywhere in the world, even in my forty-five-seat Chicago Lake Street Screening Room press theater. The Steve Jobs Theater’s sound is a standout. I have to add that the colors were very vibrant on the screen as well.

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Pixar Animation Studios- Emeryville, CA. Ball in front of The Steve Jobs Building. Photo Credit: Sarah Knight Adamson

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Pixar Animation Studios- Emeryville, CA. Luxo Jr. and his pal ball. Photo Credit: Sarah Knight Adamson

All in all, being invited to view a film here was a memorable experience, especially for a person whose job depends on spending countless hours inside a theater.

If you ever get the chance, I can recommend that you visit Pixar Studios, even if it’s just to see a film, because seeing a film at Pixar is a giant step above any theater in the world.

Sarah Knight Adamson© October 27, 2016

Posted in Photos, Red Carpet and Events, Red Carpet and Events

The Accountant (R) ★★★

Anna Kendrick and Ben Affleck in The Accountant Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

Anna Kendrick and Ben Affleck in The Accountant
Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

This movie is nuts.

The trailers for The Accountant would lead you to believe that it is a tense thriller in which Ben Affleck plays a high-functioning autistic man (Christian Wolff) who is both the go-to financial whiz for Really Bad Guys . . . and an international assassin. You would assume that Anna Kendrick (as Dana Cummings) was his innocent co-worker of sorts, and that J.K. Simmons (as Ray King) was a government agent tasked with figuring out who and where Wolff is and bringing him to justice. And all of that is pretty much the case. What you would not expect is that this movie would go so completely OFF THE RAILS in its third act that you’d be laughing out loud at its obvious and not-so-obvious twists and wink-wink-we-all-know-this-is-cray-cray banter between characters. It’s one of those movies that is SO bonkers that I walked out of the theater a bit dazed by everything that had transpired in its final thirty minutes.

The Girl on the Train is another currently-in-theaters film that unravels near its conclusion, ruining what could’ve otherwise been a decent mystery-thriller. Whereas The Accountant—which becomes even more ludicrous than Girl is as it nears its climactic finalesomehow still works. I think the difference is that The Accountant’s director and cast are in on the absurdity of it all and completely own it. They’re not taking anything too seriously. And for that reason, this is a film that you will either love or hate.

I surprised myself by being on the “loved it” side, because usually I have no tolerance for silliness within thrillers, and typically my base requirement is that they have to make SOME sort of sense. So I have to hand it to director Gavin O’Connor (Warrior) for looking at Bill Dubuque’s script—filled with characters like The Clichéd Gruff Guy About to Retire Who Just Needs to Solve This One Last Case, along with a martial-arts-trained autistic boy who grows up to be a strip-mall-working, fine-art-collecting Jason Bourne-meets-Will Hunting—and still be like, “Yep, I can do something with this.” Connor cuts away to a flashback whenever we need to understand something else about why Wolff is the way he is, and even though most of those flashbacks are pretty unbelievable in their own right, they keep things moving and—perhaps more importantly—keep you from thinking too much about the rest of the messy plot.

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Posted in Movies 2016, Reviews

Sully (PG-13) ★★★½

Aaron Eckhart and Tom Hanks in Sully. Photo credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Aaron Eckhart and Tom Hanks in Sully. Photo credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Sully is the movie America needs right now.

Time is on Sully’s side.

But it wasn’t on Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger’s (Tom Hanks) side on January 15, 2009, when a flock of Canadian geese took out both engines on the Airbus A320 he was piloting out of LaGuardia. Three minutes into US Airways Flight 1549, Sully and co-pilot Jeffrey Skiles (Aaron Eckhart) had to make life-or-death decisions under extreme duress as their plane lost power.

Sully, directed by Clint Eastwood, should not be seen by anyone who is already afraid to fly. It’s an understatement to say that its multiple sequences depicting what happened on that doomed flight were harrowing. They were downright terrifying. I was straight-up bawling each time Eastwood revisited the 208 seconds in which Sully decided his best bet was to guide the plane down to the water below. Bawling. I could not contain myself. Which is especially crazy because we all know this story has a happy ending! Maybe it’s because I spent three years of my life flying in and out of LaGuardia every few weeks for work. Maybe it’s because I could understand what the mother holding her baby must have felt like when she heard “Brace for impact” come over the speaker. Or the family members who were separated by several rows. Or the person traveling with an elderly wheelchair-bound relative. Maybe it’s because I remember being glued to the screen that fateful day, amazed to see 155 people emerge from a plane ON the Hudson River.

Or maybe it’s because the world—and the United States in particular—seems like an especially scary place right now, so the sight of dozens of people who didn’t know each other but were willing to help each other in an emergency is what I was really shedding tears over. Sully shows this country at its best, and we’re in dire need of such a reminder.

So I would recommend this film for those sequences alone. In the moments I wasn’t losing it, I was fascinated to learn exactly what happened in the plane, the cockpit, the radio control tower (which was also surprisingly moving), and elsewhere along the river as the flight began its descent.

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Posted in Movies 2016, Reviews

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