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.

Coco (PG) ★★★

Coco is an action, adventure, and comedy animated film by Disney. Pixar Studios. Miguel, voiced by newcomer Anthony Gonzalez is a young boy living in Mexico and dreams of being a super-star musician like his idol Ernesto de La Cruz, (voiced by Benjamin Bratt). His family has forbidden music as his ancestor abandoned the family in order to peruse a musical career.

Miguel is driven to follow his dream despite the family ban and finds himself in the land-of-the-dead. During his adventure, he finds truth, friendship and the courage to become a musician.

Coco marks the reunion of director Lee Unkrich and producer Darla K. Anderson following their celebrated collaboration on the Best Picture Academy Award nominee Toy Story 3 (2010).

The Bottom-Line? Yes, the set design is gorgeous in the land of the dead, and the family-centered theme is a winner… however, Coco’s story-line didn’t wow me. In a somewhat, slow, lifeless tale of death, Miguel the hero, discovers murder and betrayal, all due to an intellectual property rights dispute. No wonder the younger kids in the theater were yawning and antsy; Coco is suitable not for kids under the age of 7 or 8. The final family scenes are impressive but with a 1 hour 49-minute runtime that’s way too long to wait in a child-centered film. I did love the short (21 minutes) Disney film Olaf’s Frozen Adventure that played before Coco. Parents, be prepared to stay at least 2 and a half hours at the theater.

Cast: Anthony Gonzalez (Miguel), Gael García Bernal (Hector), Benjamin Bratt (Ernesto de la Cruz), Alanna Ubach (Mamá Imelda), Renée Victor (Abuelita), Jaime Camil (Papá)

Credits: Directed by Lee Unkrich, Adrian Molina. Written by Adrian Molina and Matthew Aldrich.

Studio: Disney/Pixar

Run Time: 1 hour 49 minutes

Stay tuned, more to follow on both films!

Posted in Movies 2017, Reviews

Mudbound (R) ★★★★

Jason Mitchell (Ronsel Jackson),Garrett Hedlund, (Jamie McAllan) “Mudbound” Photo Credit: Netflix

Epic Southern Drama is an Intimate Portrait of Racism

Mudbound is a period-piece drama that takes place before, during, and after WWII on a cotton farm in Mississippi. It’s based on the novel written by Hillary Jordan, with themes of poverty, racism, violence, and a divided America. With stellar direction by Dee Rees, we follow six main characters as they navigate their lives under horrific circumstances in a film that looks like a beautiful piece of literature projected on the big screen. This graceful, disturbing film gives us an intimate portrait of that time. Get ready to be immersed in character, choices, and consequences.

Two poor families farm the same area: one white, owners, and one black, sharecroppers. They are forced to follow Jim Crow segregation laws due to the social climate of their Deep South locale and the fear of the violent Ku Klux Klan. Both families farm the same patch of land in the hard times; the often muddy Mississippi Delta is an unsympathetic place where dreams simply die or are diluted in the mud.

Jason Clarke, as landowner Henry McAllan, gives a cold, unbending performance in his outstanding portrayal of an unsympathetic character. He leaves the comforts of his Tennessee home with his new bride, the obliging, soft-spoken Laura (Carey Mulligan), to farm a plot of land with extremely harsh conditions. Ten minutes into Laura’s new circumstances, we are horrified to see her shockingly primitive living conditions. Mulligan gives an outstanding performance as well, as she transforms from her initially docile persona by blossoming into a fighter and a strategic problem solver, all while protecting herself and her children. And what a difficult situation to contend with. Not only is the dreary mud-soaked farm a challenge, Laura’s father-in-law, Pappy (Jonathan Banks, from Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul), is a mean-spirited bully and an angry racist who also lives with the family.

Henry’s younger brother, Jamie (Garrett Hedlund), stars as a handsome, outgoing WWII overseas fighter pilot who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) due to his service in the war. Read more…

Posted in Movies 2017, Reviews

Wonder (PG) ★★★ Radio Podcast 🎙

Podcast will post after radio review has aired. Stay tuned!

Wonder is a drama/comedy based on R.J. Palacio’s best selling book of the same name. The film as the book, tells the story of August (Auggie) Pullman, played by Jacob Tremblay, a good-natured, funny and smart, 10-year-old boy, who was born with noticeable facial deformities — a “craniofacial difference” caused by a variance in his DNA.

The director is Stephen Chbosky author and writer of Perks of Being a Wallflower 2012 and written by Steve Conrad. I interviewed Chbosky for his work on Perks in October of 2012.

Julia Roberts, an avid fan of Palacio’s book stars as Auggie’s mom, Isabel and Owen Wilson stars as the dad, Nate. Auggie’s been in and out of hospitals for years, enduring 27 surgeries allowing him to breathe, see, and hear without a hearing aid. As a result, he’s been home-schooled by his mom all his life; the film picks up just as the family is making the transition to sending him to elementary school. After all, Auggie has had to endure, we see him face his toughest battles yet. With encouragement from mom, dad, and his sister, we see the difficulties he has adjusting due to his facial looks. This, in turn, leads to bullying, which for Auggie is a constant struggle.

The story is told through individual narratives of the main characters through their voiceover; this builds the story by adding their inner thoughts.

Jacob’s prosthetic makeup was designed and created by Arjen Tuiten, which took over an hour to apply. He’s wearing a skull cap with prosthetic ears attached, a facial prosthetic that covers his face, and a wig. He’s barely recognizable as the little guy who won us over with is screen presence in the film, Room (2015).

The Bottom-Line? A must-see beautiful, graceful film for all ages—you can’t help but be touched by Auggie’s courage and the courage of his family. You will shed a tear or two, as this inspirable story tugs at all the right heartstrings. There are plenty of comical moments to lighten the heavy script and the inspirational quotes through out are good reminders for everyone.

Julia Roberts is lovely to watch as Auggie’s mom, you feel her pain, and sense of heartbreak and you’ll see her joy.

Here are a few quotes from the film:
“Here’s what I think: the only reason I’m not ordinary is that no one else sees me that way.”

“I wish every day could be Halloween. We could all wear masks all the time. Then we could walk around and get to know each other before we got to see what we looked like under the masks.”

“I think there should be a rule that everyone in the world should get a standing ovation at least once in their lives.”

“Courage. Kindness. Friendship. Character. These are the qualities that define us as human beings, and propel us, on occasion, to greatness.”

Cast: Jacob Tremblay, August (Auggie) Pullman, Julia Roberts, Isabella Pullman, Owen Wilson, Nate Pullman, Isabel Vidovic, Via, Noah Jupe, Jack Will, Mandy Patinkin, Mr. Tushman, Daveed Diggs, Mr. Browne

Credits: Director, Stephen Chbosky, writer, Steve Conrad

Studio: Lionsgate

Run Time: 1 hour 53 minutes

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

Mudbound (R) ★★★★ Radio Podcast 🎙

Podcast will post after radio review has aired on H360 Radio Network. Stay tuned!

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

Justice League (PG-13) ★★★

“Justice League”

Review coming soon! Stay tuned…

Posted in Movies 2017, Reviews

“BIG TIME” Architecture Documentary, Stars Bjarke Ingels ★★★★ by Kathrine LeBlanc

“BIG TIME” documentary stars Bjarke Ingels. 

Star Architect Bjarke Ingels is Uniquely Changing City Skylines

BIG TIME, directed by Kaspar Astrup Schröder, is an inspirational documentary film that captures influential architect Bjarke Ingles through his journey of changing our built environment by designing never-before-seen building concepts. He’s solving some of the most significant problems in new ways with his fast-growing architecture firm BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group).

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 magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” article. If you’re not familiar with Bjarke Ingels’s firm BIG’s architectural prowess, lay your eyes on just a few of their cool buildings below:

VIA 57 WEST is part of the 57 WEST residential superblock in Manhattan, New York

Current design by BIG company for World Trade Center 2.

For certain, this is not your typical “talking heads” documentary style, but rather a “fly on the wall” approach in which viewers are immersed in an architect’s personal life and work. Yep, the prize at the end of the day is that bright shiny new building that changes the landscape of a city—but what about the battles that are fought along the way? What about the pressures of making sure the plans work? Read more…

Posted in Movies 2017, Reviews

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