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.

Goodbye Christopher Robin (PG-13) ★★★½ Radio Podcast 🎙

Will Tilston, Domhnall Gleeson and Margot Robbie in the film GOODBYE CHRISTOPHER ROBIN. Photo by David Appleby. © 2017 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved

Podcast will post after the film review has aired. Stay tuned!

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

Victoria and Abdul (PG-13) ★★★ Radio Podcast 🎙

Judi Dench and Ali Fazal star in ‘Victoria and Abdul.’  Photo Credit: Focus Features

Radio Podcast will be posted after the review has aired. Stay tuned! 


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

The 53rd Chicago International Film Festival 2017 Preview


The 53rd Chicago International Film Festival will shortly be in full swing with tickets on sale now. A new Artistic Director, Mimi Plauché plans to continue the eclectic mix of programming that has been the trademark of founder Michael Kutza by selecting the best of the awards-season contenders, indie standouts, and hidden gems. The festival dates are October 12- October 26, 2017.

Sarah’s Backstage Pass has covered the CIFF starting in 2010, and always looks forward to discovering, learning, educating and interacting. The excellent programming and diverse offerings bring people together to celebrate film as an art form that can indeed amalgamate cultures.

The film offerings include 139 features, of which, 25 will celebrate their North American Premiere and 29 their U.S. Premiere.

The International films of the Festival that are submissions for the 89th Academy Awards, to be held on (March 4, 2018), include: Racer and the Jailbird (Belgium), Men Don’t Cry (Bosnia and Herzegovina), November (Estonia), BPM (120 Beats Per Minute) (France), Scary Mother (Georgia), In the Fade (Germany), Under the Tree (Iceland), The Insult (Lebanon), Barrage (Luxembourg), Thelma (Norway), Spoor (Poland), The Line (Slovakia), Summer 1993 (Spain), The Square (Sweden), The Divine Order (Switzerland). Please check the program link for tickets and schedule.

Chadwick Boseman stars as Thurgood Marshall. Credit: Open Road Films

Marshall is the Opening Night film, on Thursday, October 12 at 7 p.m., with director Reginald Hudlin, actor/producer Chadwick Boseman, actors Josh Gad and Sterling K. Brown, and producer Paula Wagner are all scheduled to attend the premiere at AMC River East 21 (322 E. Illinois St.).

Marshall is based on a true incident in the life of Thurgood Marshall, as a young lawyer, long before his appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court. The NAACP sends Marshall to conservative Connecticut to defend a black chauffeur against his wealthy socialite employer in a sexual assault and attempted murder trial. Marshall is driven to discover the truth in the high profile trial which in turn ultimately set the groundwork for the Civil Rights Movement. 

Key dates, special guests and tributes:
October 16 – Tribute: Vanessa Redgrave
October 18 – Centerpiece film: Lady Bird
October 19-22 – Industry Days
October 20 – Awards Night
October 21 – Tribute: Alfre Woodard
October 25 – Tribute: Sir Patrick Stewart
October 26 – Closing Night Ceremony; Closing Night film: The Shape of Water; Tribute: Michael Shannon

The Chicago Architecture Biennial is a partner during the Festival and throughout the four months of the Biennial. Films will explore captivating buildings as well as the architects who designed them.

‘Big Time’ was produced by Sonntag Pictures (Denmark), led by Sara Stockmann. Architect Bjarke Ingels shown here.

Sarah’s Backstage Pass will be highlighting the Danish film Big Time, a documentary of the architect Bjarke Ingels. Check back for an interview with the director, Kaspar Astrup Schröder and Bjarke Ingels the subject of the film.

The film is spread over a period of 6 years while Bjarke Ingels works to complete his largest projects yet, the New York skyscraper VIA 57W, which houses the newly opened multiplex Landmark at 57 West, and World Trade Center 2. The Wall Street Journal has stated that Bjarke Ingels has ‘rapidly become one of the design world’s biggest stars’ and his name recently appeared in TIME’S 100 Most Influential People.

Big Time Screenings: Sat Oct 14 at 6pm @ AMC Theatres – River East 21, attended by Kaspar Astrup Schröder and Bjarke Ingels  Sun Oct 15 at 3pm @ AMC Theatres – River East 21, attended by Kaspar Astrup Schröder

Exploring the international refugee crisis and the ongoing immigration debate are the focus of nine documentaries: Before Summer Ends (Switzerland, France), Mr. Gay Syria ( France, Germany, Turkey), The Other Side of the Wall (Spain), and Sea Sorrow (Vanessa Redgrave’s directorial debut); the features The Charmer (Denmark); The Insult ( Slovakia, Ukraine), Aki Kaurimaski’s The Other Side of Hope (Finland); and the shorts Across My Land (U.S.) and The Comet (Sweden; both part of the program Shorts 5: Speak, See, Remember).

Winnie the Pooh’s Origin Story ‘Goodbye Christopher Robin’ CREDIT: Fox Searchlight

Wars may have ended but, for these central characters the traumas still remain: Birds Are Singing in Kigali (Poland), Goodbye Christopher Robin (United Kingdom), Last Flag Flying (U.S.), Men Don’t Cry, (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia, Germany, Croatia), Mudbound (U.S.), the world premiere of Zoo (United Kingdom) and the shorts Seven Minutes (Israel) and Les Intranquiles (Switzerland; both part of the program Shorts 5: Speak, See, Remember).

Check back for our coverage of Goodbye Christopher Robin, Sarah Knight Adamson screened the film in London last week, visited the outdoor setting for the film in Hartfield, England as well as the Pooh Corner Shop. She will also interview British director Simon Curtis.

Short film notes: 21 of the 53 (40%) shorts are directed by women, 9 out of 53 have Chicago roots (all eight shorts featured in Shorts 1 – Chicago Style: City & State and Standing Nymph and Man (U.S.; Shorts 8 – These Walls Talk: Architecture).

A Gentle Night (China; Shorts 6 – Meditations & Emergencies) won the Short Film Palme d’Or, 500,000 Years (Thailand; Shorts 3 – Living After Midnight: After Dark was produced by Kick The Machine, Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s production company.

The Burden (Sweden; Shorts 2 – Blurred Lines: Animation) won top prizes at the Annecy Film Festival and the Göteborg Film Festival. Returning shorts filmmakers Helena Giron and Samuel Delgado ( Plus Ultra, Spain; Shorts 3 – Living After Midnight: After Dark ), Kevin Jerome Everson and Claudrena Harold ( Fastest Man in the State, U.S.; Shorts 7 – Another Country: Black Perspective).

Sam Shepard, the late great actor, and playwright will be remembered with the presentation of his last film as an actor, Camille Thoman’s stylish thriller Never Here as part of its International Film Noir program.

With a myriad of films, filmmakers, special guests, topics and events to be shared, discovered, and devoured, the full schedule can be found at the Chicago International Film Festival’s website:

The Chicago International Film Festival

The Chicago International Film Festival runs from October 12-26.

Sarah Knight Adamson © October 7, 2017

Posted in Film Festivals, Red Carpet and Events, Red Carpet and Events

Stronger (R) ★★★★ Radio Podcast 🎙

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

The Kingsman: The Golden Circle (R) ★★★ Radio Podcast 🎙

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The Kingsman: The Golden Circle (British Secret Service Comedy)

This is the sequel to The Kingsman: Secret Service (2014) A year has passed since Eggsy Unwin (Taron Egerton) and the spy organization Kingsman saved the world, yet lost his mentor Harry Hart (Colin Firth) to a gunshot. The opening scene is worth the price of admission as Charlie Hesketh, a former Kingsman trainee who lost his arm and vocal chords in the prior film, ambushes Eggsy. This insane hand to cybernetic hand combat scene takes place in the back seat of a black cab with the completion in Hyde Park Lake all while Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” blares in the background.

Poppy Adams, (Julianne Moore) the world’s largest drug cartel queen, broadcasts a message telling the world about a toxin she laced within every recreational drug available.

Statesman, a secret American organization posing as a Bourbon whiskey distillery in Kentucky introduces us to Jeff Bridges as Agent Champagne and Channing Tatum as Tequila they wear Stetsons and carry electrified lassos to play off the English Bowlers and weaponized umbrellas.

The Bottom-line: This is a wacky film with a fight scene in the Cambodia jungle, inside a 1950s red and white “Diner” set that uses a giant donut (think Randy’s Donuts) for a shield. Elton John is dressed in a peacock feathered suit while he’s kicking some bad guys around while “Saturday (Wednesday) Night’s Alright for Fighting” blares. The zaniness won me over by the film’s endless parade of creative ridiculous gadgets and weapons.

Cast: Taron Egerton as Gary ‘Eggsy’ Unwin ,Colin Firth as Harry Hart, Julianne Moore as Poppy, Mark Strong as Merlin, Pedro Pascal as Agent Whiskey, Sophie Cookson as Roxy Morton, Halle Berry as Ginger, Channing Tatum as Agent Tequila, Jeff Bridges as Agent Champagne, Poppy Delevingne as Clara, Elton John as himself.

Credits: Director Matthew Vaughn, Writer (comic book The Secret Service) Mark Millar, Dave Gibbons, Writer Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn, Cinematographer George Richmond, Editor Eddie Hamilton, Composers Henry Jackman, Matthew Margeson.

Run Time: 2 hours and 21 minutes

The radio podcast will post after the review has aired. Stay Tuned.

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

Home Again (PG-13) ★★★ Radio Podcast 🎙

Reese Witherspoon stars in “Home Again” Directed by Hallie Meyers-Shyer, the daughter of Nancy Meyers. Nancy Meyers is the writer and producer of many films such as “It’s Complicated”, “Father of the Bride”, and “Private Benjamin”.

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Staring Reese Witherspoon (Alice) she’s a recently separated mom who moves back to her hometown of LA with her two young daughters. Austen her husband played by Michael Sheen lives in NY.

Candace Bergen, Alice’s mother, suggests that Alice should help out three filmmakers she recently met as they need a place to stay. They end up living in her guesthouse. When a romantic involvement starts with one of them the film takes a serious shift.

The Bottom Line: This is a fantastic romantic comedy with plenty of laughs and old fashion family fun, they just don’t make them like this anymore. It’s pleasantly entertaining as well. I especially enjoyed seeing Candace Bergen back on the big screen!

Cast: Nat Wolff (Teddy), Reese Witherspoon (Alice Kinney), Candace Bergen (Alice’s Mom), Lake Bell (Zoey), Michael Sheen (Austen)

Credits: Directed and written by Hallie Meyers-Shyer.

Studio: Open Road Films

Run Time: 1 hour 37 minutes

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

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